The 2017 Daly Dose College Football Preview: The Pac 12

Pac 12 Conference

The Pac 12 is deep with talent, and there are two or three teams that are capable of contending for a national title. Yet, there is more to this group than just the top teams. The middle of the pack teams are brimming with talent too, and every week is a battle in this conference. Even a lower level team like Cal is dangerous, if you threaten the environment.

Pac-12

North

1. Stanford Cardinal

Predicted finish: 11-1

The biggest question for the Cardinal will be under center, as projected starting quarterback Keller Chryst is coming off of a significant injury. Yet, we shouldn’t underestimate this team, as they return a significant amount of talent on both sides of the ball. And does it really matter who plays quarterback for Stanford with their smash-mouth offensive front? I mean, they made Andrew Luck look good.

2. Washington Huskies

Predicted finish: 11-1

It was a memorable season in 2016 for the Huskies. They rolled through the season, winning 12 games, and making it to the College Football Playoff Semifinal. Sure, they lost 24-7 to Alabama, but this team proved they can play with the big boys, and they return 13 starters in 2017. The lone unit that could be undermanned is the secondary. Good thing the Pac 12 isn’t loaded with quarterbacks that might take advantage of it.

3. Washington State Cougars

Predicted finish: 9-3

Predictably, the Mike Leach-led Cougars will be exciting to watch with senior quarterback Luke Falk throwing the ball all over the field. If the defense line comes together, this could be a very dangerous team. And also just as predictably, the Mike Leach-led special teams will be awful, and cost this team a big game at the worst possible time.

4. Oregon Ducks

Predicted finish: 8-4

The Ducks will be one of the more interesting teams to watch in 2017. Coming off of a disappointing 4-8 season, and the firing of the coaching staff, new coach Willie Taggart will have his hands full. The Oregon defense will be a focal point, as they allowed over 40 points per game last year. They do return eight starters from that unit, but I’m not sure why I am saying that like it’s a good thing.

5. Oregon State Beavers

Predicted finish: 4-8

The Beavers finished 4-8 in 2016, and they look to be improving. Head coach Gary Anderson is working to build a physical rushing offense that can chew up clock, and wear down opponents.  Don’t forget that the Beavers actually beat their in-state rival Oregon for the first time since 2007 last year. Sure it was Oregon’s worst season since the early 1980’s , but just stop dwelling on the negatives for once, will you?

6. California Golden Bears

Predicted finish: 3-9

Cal fans will point at their 2016 season and see the positives in Sonny Dyke’s final season, like the season-finale win over UCLA. Critics will point at the Bears history of mediocrity and laugh, and laugh.

 

South

1. USC Trojans

Predicted finish: 11-1

The Trojans could be a little bit of a mystery this season. Yes, they have Heisman candidate and NFL-bound quarterback Sam Darnold back. Yet, they lost a ton of talent around him, including the bulk of his offensive line. It isn’t all bad news though. It could be good experience for Darnold to get knocked around this year. It will prepare him for his future with the Jets or the Browns.

2. UCLA Bruins

Predicted finish: 11-1

UCLA was a huge disappointment last season, going just 4-8, as quarterback Josh Rosen suffered a shoulder injury and missed significant time. This team should bounce back, with a healthy Rosen in the lineup…that is, if he can get better protection, more consistency from his receivers, and if he can somehow endure the heinous challenge of quarterbacking UCLA while attending some college courses. We all have our crosses to bear.

3. Utah Utes

Predicted finish: 7-5

They may not be the sexiest program in the Pac 12, but the Utes have proven to be the most consistent. All head coach Kyle Whittingham does is keep winning the Pac 12 South. In fact, he has done it six out of the past seven seasons. He won’t do it this year, though. This team has too many holes to fill, and too tough of a schedule. So yeah, they’ll probably do it again.

4. Colorado Buffaloes

Predicted finish: 7-5

The Buffs had a storybook season in 2016, after winning just 10 games in head coach Mike MacIntyre’s previous three seasons, CU won 10 games, made it to the Alamo Bowl, and finished the season ranked in the Top 25. Sure, they got blown out in that Alamo Bowl game 38-8 by Oklahoma State. We never said it was a great storybook. Or even one with a happy ending. It was a story, and someone made a book out of it. Get off our back.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils

Predicted finish: 5-7

The Sun Devils will have some talent. This is a collection of top-ranked recruits. They will play fast, and aggressive. They will look to attack opponents on both sides of the ball. They will also be inexperienced, make silly mistakes, and have to overcome a number of injuries. Oh yeah, and more importantly, they will lose more games than they win.

6. Arizona Wildcats

Predicted finish: 5-7

We’re not saying that head coach Rich Rodriguez is trying to run this program into the ground on purpose. But let’s say he was. It would look pretty similar to what we are currently seeing, wouldn’t it?

Did you miss our Daly Dose Other Notable Teams Preview?

Up next: The Daly Dose SEC Preview!

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