Jul 23, 2014; Hollywood, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats safety Jared Tevis poses for a photo during the Pac-12 Media Day at the Studios at Paramount. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Pac-12 Preseason Projections

The Pac-12 preseason media projections are out and debates have started. In a quarterback driven era of college football, some of the top quarterbacks in the country come from the Pac-12, making the conference arguably the best from top to bottom this year. It’s not odd to think that 10 teams could receive a bowl bid this year, a step up from the 9 bids the Pac-12 received last season.

Taking a look at the projections, the media has claimed Oregon as the winners of the Pac-12 with 232 points and UCLA right on their tails with 231 points. Following the top two is Stanford with 192 points, USC with 181 points and Arizona State with 163 points to round out the top five.

To make thinks a little easier to read

North (points)
South (points)
1. Oregon (232)1. UCLA (231)
2. Stanford (192)2. USC (181)
3. Washington (142)3. Arizona State (163)
4. Oregon State (125)4. Arizona (119)
5. Washington State (87)5. Utah (82)
6. California (41)6. Colorado (43)

Of course it’s tough to count Oregon and their blazing offense out and Jim Mora has brought UCLA back into the national spotlight. Stanford lost quite a few pieces to the NFL Draft but there’s still no reason for them to not repeat as Pac-12 Champions. USC has been quite the popular picks among analysts largely due to the hiring of Steve Sarkisian. One thing these teams all have in common? Quarterbacks with a top 30 QBR (Mariota 1, Hundley 4, Hogan 12, Kessler 26).

After the top four, there are a lot of questions in the Pac-12. Arizona State lost 9 starters on defense and have lost two potential starters due to academic issues. Next comes Washington, who has been getting a lot of love. But without their offensive trio of Keith Price, Bishop Sankey and Austin Saferian-Jenkins, it’s hard to think that even a mastermind coach such as Chris Peterson can help rebuild a top 15 offense in one year. Oregon State is led by Sean Mannion, who led the nation in passing. Although Mannion will be without first round draft pick Brandin Cooks, who accounted for almost 40% of Mannion’s yards, the Beavers still had 8 receivers with over 100 yards.

Next comes Arizona with a lot of questions on offense. Ka’Deem Carey, the nation’s leading rusher in yards per game for the past two years is no longer an option and the Wildcats will be losing guys who accounted for 3,437 of their 3,444 rushing yards from last year. Those 7 yards coming back are from Nate Phillips, who led the team in receiving by 229 yards and 5 touchdowns. Which brings up the next concern; quarterback. There is no quarterback on the roster with a pass attempt at the Division I level under their belt. But on the bright side, Arizona has one of the best receiving cores in the nation stacked with Austin Hill, Nate Phillips, Grant Samajie, Trey Griffey Jr., Cayleb Jones, Davonte Neal and Cam Denson.

Utah will finally have Travis Wilson back at quarterback, who is deadly when healthy. But with their schedule, the Utes will really have to battle for a bowl bid. Washington State surprised many last year and can continue to do so this year. With a one possession loss at Auburn and wins at USC and Arizona, the Cougars bolstered their credibility in the Pac-12. As for Colorado and California, they both just need a lot of help. They play each other again this year, so at least one of them will win a conference game.

It’s very interesting to see how the Pac-12 will shape up from top to bottom. But for now, we twiddle our thumbs and wait for football season.

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