A sneak preview at the Pac-12 conference
Running back Nick Wilson (28) reaches for the ball from quarterback Anu Solomon and runs the ball downfield on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 in a game against UCLA. The Wildcats are 11-1 when Wilson racks up 100 or more yards.
California — The Bears are losing quarterback Jared Goff and their top six receivers so their offense may struggle this year. Their defense also has question marks so this year might be similar to the end of last year.
Stanford — If the Pac-12 cannot contain running back Christian McCaffrey again this season, Stanford might literally run away with the conference. In last year’s 10 conference games, he carried the ball 260 times for 1629 yards and helped the Cardinal go 9-1 in conference play.
Oregon — The Ducks running game will lead this team. They have led the Pac-12 Conference in rushing for many years and that should not change with the return of running back Royce Freeman. The Ducks beat Stanford and USC last season so they know they can take on the other conference powers regardless of the quarterback.
Oregon State — The Beavers have been abysmal these past few seasons and it might stay that way.
Washington — ESPN has given them a 49 percent chance to win the division so there are gigantic expectations for the Huskies this year. They only play three ranked teams this season so 10 wins should be very manageable this year.
Washington State — The Cougars are a solid dark horse candidate to win the Pac-12, if you are going against the grain. If Luke Falk had thrown for 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns to only 8 picks at an L.A. school, he would be receiving much more preseason buzz. The Huskies are losing their top receivers but Falk should be able to compensate for that this season.
Arizona — Scooby Wright III is gone, but running back Nick Wilson and quarterback Anu Solomon are still in the fold for the Wildcats. If they can avoid the injury bug, they could put up points in bunches for Arizona. The only problem is: Will the defense make enough stops for them to win enough games to contend?
Arizona State — The Sun Devils might be in rebuilding mode this season after losing quarterback Mike Bercovici and others to graduation. Many had them as a dark horse Pac-12 contender last season, but those plans fell flat. They gave up 39 sacks last year and lost most of their line so they might not have time to go deep down the field.
Colorado — After three straight last place finishes in the division, the Buffaloes have nowhere to go but up this season. Head Coach Mike McIntyre is 10-27 over the last three seasons so there is a good chance he may be fired sometime this season. He might have to make a bowl game but who in the conference are they beating?
Utah — Despite sharing a division with USC and UCLA, the Utes have quietly won the most games in the division over the past two years. Player turnover may, however, be their downfall. They lost running back Devontae Booker, their starting quarterback and top three receivers to the NFL, so this year may be rough.
UCLA — The Bruins only have ranked matchups against Stanford and USC so their schedule is much more manageable than USC. They also get USC at the Rose Bowl this season so they have the schedule to succeed. Josh Rosen could be a player of the year contender if he takes advantage of this schedule and puts another good season together.
USC — Will this year be the year USC puts it all together and wins the Pac-12? Stanford might be their greatest competition but quarterback Max Browne has enough weapons to contend. The Trojans face a gauntlet of a schedule so UCLA might win the division this year despite possibly being their inferior.
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