1. Oregon: Head coach Chip Kelly says that the Ducks are better then they were last season and are poised to make another title run. Darren Thomas will lead the face paced offense once again with running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner at his sides. The only problem for the Ducks offense is the graduation of their two best receivers but they have many speedy athletes to fill in. Ducks defensive leader Casey Matthews graduates but first team all american PR/CB Cliff Harris will carry the 2011 defense. More on LaMichael James and the Ducks here: Oregon's LaMichael James
|LaMichael James leads Oregon in the hunt|
for another National Championship appearance
3. Washington: Jake Locker is gone but RB Chris Polk pops out from under his shadow and everyone realizes that the little guy can play. Polk almost got to 1500 rushing yards last season and will try and improve on that performance this year behind a veteran line. The quarterback situation will hold the Huskies back but overall they should still be able to keep it close with the likes of Oregon and Stanford.
4. Oregon St: QB Ryan Katz returns to lead one of the best passing attacks in the conference, if James Rodgers comes back and is performing well from his injury last season. James' brother Jacquizz left early for the draft so their is a wide open hole in the backfield but whoever it is will have a veteran line blocking for them. The front seven will be a very big problem for the Beavers with only two mediocre players returning.
5. California: Ever since Aaron Rodgers graduated back in 2004 the Bears have failed to thrive and this could be another one of those season with an inexperienced QB. The Bears return a solid line and receiving core and they always have loads of talent and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball but I think this season will be another disappointing one.
6: Washington St: The Positive is that they return 16 starters. Negative: The 16 starters came from a team that went 2-10 and 1-8 in the conference last season. The Cougars have won two conference game since 2007 seven, Two! Jeff Tuel will try and have the Cougars match that this season. Tuel is a very underrated quarterback and can make some great throws while also being able to scramble away from pressure. The Cougars have some rising stars on defense but as a whole it looks to be pretty weak. Washington St hopes to get out from under the losing cloud and finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
|Sophomore Robert Woods will be Matt Berkley's|
top receiving target
*1. USC: This looks like it could be the year that Matt Barkley carries the Trojans back to a double digit win season. The Trojans have the most talent out of anyone in the Pac 12 and its Lane Kiffin's job to put them in the right places on the field. Berkley's top targets will be offensive rookie of the year Robert Woods and Kyle Prater while sophomore Dillion Baxter and senior Marc Tyler will be in the backfield. The Trojan defense is always one of the most athletic in the nation but the past few season the athletes have failed to produce. Look for the defense to step up once again this season and carry the Trojans to a 10-2 season.
2. Arizona St: The Sundevils not only have a new logo for the upcoming season but also have 20 returning starters, yes 20! The Sundevils are by far the most depth in the conference for the upcoming season. Quarterback Brock Osweiler, who started the final two games, is the least experience player on an electrifying offense that returns all their key skill players and the entire line. MLB Vontaze Burfict isa freak of an athlete and will lead a veteran defense. Look for the Sun Devils face Oregon in the first Pac 12 Championship game.
3. Utah: Welcome to the Pac 12 , Utes' fans. No more easy conference games vs New Mexico, Colorado St, and Wyoming\ but they still have the easiest schedule in the conference, no Stanford or Oregon and they face Arizona St and Washington at home. Scrambler Jordan Wynn will lead the Utes' offense that should be very successful under their new offensive coordinator. Utah lacks a proven running back and will hamper the offense and their defense need some improvement in the secondary but they should challenge Arizona St for that Pac 12 championship appearance.
|Nick Foles look to have another|
3,000 yard season
5. UCLA: The Bruins come into the season with experience, 17 returning starters, and amazing young talent but once again go into the season with uncertainly at the quarterback position. There is support for who ever steps in at quarterback as he will have some amazing athleticism at the WR receiver position and 1,000 yard rusher Johnathan Franklin in the backfield. Look for the defensive line, especially the ends, to cause havoc on the opposing quarterback all season long.
6. Colorado: Its very surprising that this program has fallen so far after winning the national championship twenty years ago. This season doesn't look like it will relieve any pain for Buffaloes fans, even with the switch to the Pac 12 and a new coach at the realm. This looks to be a tough year in Boulder with arguable the hardest schedule in the Pac 12. The Buffaloes face Ohio St, Stanford, Oregon, Washington, and the entire Pac 12 south. Running back Rodney Stewart had over 1,300 yards last season and will anchor a struggling Buffaloes offense while linebacker John Miller with be a leader on defense that lost first round draft pick CB Jimmy Smith.
|Andrew Luck comes in as the Heisman favorite|
and my favorite for Pac 12 POY
*USC is banned from participating in a Bowl game and the Pac 12 championship game.
Pac 12 Championship Game: Oregon over Arizona St
Player of the Year: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Defensive Player of the Year: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St
Coach of the Year: Dennis Erickson, Arizona St
Freshman of the Year: James Vaughters, DE/LB, Stanford