1. One Honest Thought On Each Pac 12 Team
Click on each team for the preview, 5 things to know
Pac 12 North
The focus will be on the offensive side and any improvement to take the program up a few notches under Justin Wilcox, but the bread will still be buttered with the defense. Even Weaver might be gone, but the linebacking corps is still phenomenal.
Get to the College Football Playoff. USC is the one team that has the potential to be even-good with these Ducks, and there could certainly be a loss at Utah, or to Washington, or – because it’s Oregon and it has a big problem in the state – at Arizona.
Don’t measure this year’s team by wins and losses – as ridiculous as that might seem. Measure it by how much more dangerous the team is under Jonathan Smith and whether or not there are overall strides made from a solid 2019. If the lines are okay, the team should be a pesky annoyance throughout.
Just say in one piece, Stanford. The offensive line could be special, and the defense has NFL parts, and the passing game should be effective, but everyone has to be healthy. It’s amazing how quickly everyone seemed to forget just how good this program was before last year.
Watch out for the Huskies to be sold way, way short this year. Maybe it’s because of the changes in the offensive backfield, or the new head coach, but there doesn’t seem to be the respect that others are getting in the division. The defense has the talent to be the league’s best, and the offensive line is more than good enough to hold its own. The bar for Jimmy Lake in his first year is set at winning the Pac-12 North – at least.
How’s it going so far under Nick Rolovich? And you thought having Mike Leach as the head man was interesting. Football-wise, the offense doesn’t slow down. The passing game should still be amazing, but the defense will have too many problems holding serve.
Pac 12 South
Kevin Sumlin is having a hard time putting this all together. The Wildcats will always have their moments offensively, but when you lose a fleet of defensive backs to the transfer portal, and star LB Tony Fields takes off, too, it’s hard to make the strides needed on defense. Other than the home game against Colorado, Arizona should be the underdog against everyone else.
Get ready for a whole lot of ugly wins. The defense is going to have games when it rises up and shuts down everything on the other side, but the offensive line might not be quite where it needs to be to take over. If that O line starts to roll and the running game works, look out.
Hey, Karl Dorrell, welcome back to life as a head coach in the Pac-12. That’s so nice of the conference to give you at Oregon, Utah, at Arizona and at USC to kick off your era. The expectations for the Buffs will be next to nothing in this craziest of all seasons, but don’t be shocked if this defense screws someone up.
It’s not just that UCLA hasn’t been able to get rolling under Chip Kelly. It’s that no one seems to think any switch is about to flip on. Kelly has his guys in place in Year Three, but where are the stars? A huge season – like, 7-3 huge – would make the Bruins one of big national stories.
The offense plus all the loads of experience on the defensive side should be enough to take a relatively soft South. Win two of the three against Oregon, Stanford and Utah on the road, win everything in LA, and it’ll almost certainly be 9-1 with a shot at the CFP going into the Pac-12 Championship. There’s no excuse for anything less with the team that’s returning.
Sort of how Washington is being a bit undersold and underloved, that’s Utah in the South. It might be the way the team collapsed at the end last season, but getting QB Jake Bentley from South Carolina was huge, and the lines overall are the best in the Pac-12 – or right there with Oregon’s. With USC coming to Salt Lake City, a third straight trip to the Pac-12 Championship is the bar.