The SEC is getting a lot of hype from the national media as we head into the 2015 college football season. They deserve the recognition because the conference appears to be loaded again. However, they play some pretty darn good football out west in the Pac-12 Conference. If a national champion comes from the Pac-12, it won’t be an upset.
This league is deep and talented. The traditional powers – USC and Oregon – won’t be the only teams in contention. Rich Rodriguez has turned Arizona into a winner nad I will definitely be betting on them this year. Stanford is still Stanford. Arizona State is on the rise. UCLA and Washington are going to have their say in the manner. Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Pac-12 in 2015.
It’s been a long time since Oregon wasn’t a contender in the Pac-12. 2015 will be no different. The Ducks will need to replace All-American QB Marcus Mariota, but they feel pretty confident in Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams. The Ducks first true test comes in week 2 at Michigan State. If Oregon can prove they can go on the road and defeat a very good team early on, don’t be surprised if Oregon is back in the College Football Playoff at the end of the season.
College football is better when USC is great. The Trojans have been down recently, but they’re almost back. 2015 very well could be the year USC gets back into the national spotlight. Quarterback Cody Kessler is the best returning QB in the league and just might be a sleeper bet for the Heisman Trophy candidate. If USC is going to have any shot of living up to its hype, they’ll need some improved play on defense. The Trojans return 7 starters on defense, but the teams struggled last year on that side of the ball. Coach Steve Sarkisian is banking on experience turning it around.
For whatever reason, Rich Rodriguez didn’t get it done at Michigan like he did at West Virginia. Now he’s making waves in the Pac-12 at Arizona. The Wildcats aren’t projected by many to contend in the Pac-12 this year, but the upper echelon teams had better come to play against Arizona. Quarterback Anu Solomon put up big numbers last year. His favorite target – Cayleb Jones (1,019 yards) – is back to torture Pac-12 secondaries. Arizona’s biggest concern is in the secondary. They return just one starter (Jarvis McCall) from a secondary that ranked 118th in the nation against the pass. If RichRod can find a couple of surprise pass defenders…watch out.
If you are a fan of Oregon State, Colorado, or Washington State, we are sorry to tell you this, but your team doesn’t have much of a chance this year. Mike Leach is trying hard to get that thing turned around at Wazzou, but it just isn’t happening. The Cougars simply aren’t talented enough to compete. Mike Riley bolted from Oregon State to take the Wisconsin job, so that means the Beavers will go from being average to worse. And then there’s Colorado. Things just haven’t worked out for this program since they joined the Pac-12. Although the Buffs return 9 defensive starters, it probably would have been a good thing to lose 9 defensive starters.
If you are a fan of Stanford, Washington, California, Arizona State, UCLA, or Utah, we have some good news for you. Your team might not win the league this year, but it’s going to be a good year to buy season tickets because these are going to be exciting teams to watch. Out of these teams, Arizona State has the best shot to win the conference. That’s because they have one of the most talented unknown quarterbacks in the country (Mike Bercovici). In limited play last year, Bercovici showed NFL potential. UCLA must replace all-conference QB Nick Hundley, but they’re feeling pretty good about freshman stud Josh Rosen.
- Pac-12 North Champ: Oregon
- Pac-12 South Champ: USC
- Pac-12 Champs: USC
- Pac-12 Offensive POY: Cody Kessler, QB USC
- Pac-12 Defensive POY: DeForest Buckner, DE Oregon
- CFB Playoff Teams: USC