Pac-12 Season Preview (Football)
The Pac-12 is back and has some contenders for the College Football Playoff.
The Contenders for the Pac-12 title are USC, Oregon and Washington.
USC is looking to return back to its glory days with a new high powered air raid offense that was introduced by offensive coordinator Graham Harrell last season. The Trojans found great success in the air as quarterback Kedon Slovis had a breakout year and is looking to capitalize on it this year.
USC is loaded on offense and specifically in the wide receiver position. USC only lost one starting receiver last year in Michael Pittman Jr. Redshirt freshman Bru McCoy is poised to have a breakout year as he was sidelined due to injury last season. The men of Troy are looking to rebuild their empire.
Coming off of a Rose Bowl victory, the Oregon Ducks have proven that the Pac-12 is ready to make a run for the college football playoff. Despite losing quarterback Justin Herbert to the NFL draft, along with left tackle Penei Sewell and defensive backs Jevon Holland and Thomas Graham Jr. who all opted out of the season, the Ducks are still the favorites for the title.
While losing key players, the defense is still young and ready to prove itself. A new quarterback in Tyler Shough, backed by a young core, it will be a team effort for the Mighty Ducks to go to the playoff.
The Washington Huskies have flown under the radar more since the Oregon Ducks found their success. But new head coach Jimmy Lake is looking to bring the Huskies back to the top.
The defensive minded Lake has a defense that could frustrate its opponents in the Pac-12. A fierce secondary is the foundation of the defense. Led by cornerback Elijah Molden and specialist Trent McDuffie the Huskies are challenging for the title.
However, as of right now, the Huskies have yet to name a starting quarterback with all four quarterbacks still in contention for the job. Whoever is under center for the Huskies could have a lot to do with how successful they are.
An experienced California Bears team is patiently waiting to explode. A team years in the making is looking to challenge for the Pac-12 North title.
Led by quarterback Chase Garbers, the offense is looking to make strides. The defense loses three key players in Evan Weaver, Ashtyn Davis and Jaylinn Hawkins but the defense should remain strong.
The biggest question is that if the wide receivers can step up on the offensive side. If all goes well, then the Golden Bears are contenders.
Arizona State was the team that dashed the conferences playoff hopes last year by beating Oregon and are seeking to take the Pac-12 South title. The Sun Devils are a young team that now has some experience under their belt.
True sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels is an exciting player with a good receiving corp. The biggest concern for the Sun Devils is who will replace Eno Benjamin at running back.
After coming off of a historic season, the new look Utah Utes are looking to run the table again. Utah lost six players from its defense to the draft, as well as reliable running Zack Moss. But the Utes have done good in the transfer portal.
Former South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley and former Texas quarterback Cameron Rising are both challenging for the starting spot. The running game should still be strong, but no one can forget this team. Utah has gone 55-25 since 2014 and should never be overlooked.
Stanford is a weird team this year. Getting back to its ground and pound run game is David Shaw’s priority as he will be rotating running backs Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat. Davis Mills will control this offense at quarterback and will look to throw to Michael Wilson as his top target.
The Stanford defense may not be the Stanford defense we have seen the past years. Losing defensive leader Paulson Adebo and defensive end Casey Toohill means that players will have to step up.
Washington State looks to start the Nick Rolovich era off with a bang with a successful season. Keeping the same offensive scheme is important to the Cougars as they are known for the air raid offense.
Although the Cougars are known for the air raid, all eyes will be on running back Max Borghi. Borghi is the heart of the offense even though the Cougars are a pass first team. On the defensive side, being undersized and young, it looks like a typical Washington State defense.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson made waves last year and this young UCLA Bruins team is going to shock some of the favorites.
Chip Kelly’s squad is slowly building but all of the pieces aren't quite there yet. The Bruins have found their quarterback, but question marks are all around the defense. Will the Bruins look to take a Washington State approach and just try to outscore opponents? Or will the defense tighten up?
Oregon State is bound to have a better year than last season.
The Beavers have hung around in games they should not have been in but could not finish the job. Surprisingly, the Beavers have an experienced team but a young quarterback. Also, Oregon State had a great recruiting class this year. Will other games flip their way or will the beavers fall short again?
Colorado has not made waves in the Pac-12 South for a while. The Buffalo lack consistency in that they can be world beaters or lose badly to a team they should beat.
Stability needs to be present in this program as they lost head coach Mel Tucker to Michigan State. A new face and a new Colorado Buffalo team will emerge this season.
Arizona is young and looking to rebuild back to the top of the conference.
Grant Gunnell has looked like a new version of himself over camp and we should see a breakout year for the sophomore. New faces will be all around the defense as there will be seven new starters. The Wildcats are building a young team to challenge for the conference title in the future.
Cole Koffler is a freshman majoring in communications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.