With only a few weeks to go before college football begins, it is time to break down how each of the Pac-12 teams look heading into the regular season. With Zona Zealot’s super complicated and accurate algorithm (aka my opinion), we break down the Pac-12 from one to twelve:
With the best coach in the Pac-12, the best running back in the Pac-12 and 14 returning starters, Oregon looks to pick up right where it left off. Will Oregon be alright without QB Darron Thomas? We think so.
The Trojans are arguably the best team in the country on paper heading into the season and have one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in Matt Barkley. So why aren’t they #1 on the ZZ Power Rankings you ask? Because Oregon is the defending champ. If USC wants the number one spot, they have to take it.
Utah had seven wins last year and return 17 starters this year. If anyone has a chance to upset USC in the Pac-12 South, this is the only team that can do it.
Washington also had seven wins last year and return 15 this year. The Huskies, however, have a huge space to fill in losing their most dangerous offensive weapon, Chris Polk.
Stanford is overrated in many polls. With only three returning starters on offense and the absence of Andrew Luck, the Cardinal is not going to find itself in the same position it was in last year. Stepfan Taylor will find the load on his back extremely heavy.
California looks like a basic, solid team with a solid Quarterback in Zach Maynard that belongs somewhere directly in the middle of the Pac, and that’s all I have to say about the Golden Bears.
The default “champs” of the Pac-12 South last year, UCLA brings 15 players back and could have a pretty good year. The one downside? Bringing in a new coach with a brand new system takes time, and not everyone is sold on the Jim Mora hire.
Speaking of a brand new system, RichRod has brought some excitement to Tucson with his intensity and introduction of the spread option and 3-3-5 defense. With only 4 wins last year, 10 returning starters and a brand new system, the Wildcats could see themselves much lower on this list at the end of the season. Offensive weapons Matt Scott (QB), Ka’Deem Carey (RB) and Dan Buckner (WR), however, could make things interesting as this team develops.
9. Washington State
See a pattern with new coaches and new systems seeing themselves on the bottom half of our ZZ PR? The Cougars bring in Mike Leach to change things up and potentially make two teams relevant in the state of Washington.
10. Oregon State
Oregon State came away with only three wins last season. However, they return eight starters on defense and eight starters on offense, including their quarterback. The talent is not really there, but the Beaver’s balance may give them a few unexpected wins.
Colorado won only three games last year and don’t look any more impressive on paper this year. Expect Colorado and ASU to battle it out in the basement of the Pac-12 South
12. Arizona State
Am I a little biased and did part of my reasoning come from the fact that I wanted to see ASU in last place somewhere in a preseason poll? Of course. But with a brand new coach, only twelve returning starters and a starting quarterback yet to be named, things will be rough this year for our foes up north.