Welcome to the first ever entry of The Pacific Dozen: THE Pac-12 College Football Blog!
Although the 2011 college season might seem like eons away, it is never too early to look ahead at what the future might bring.
With National Signing Day just around the corner, the seeds of excitement created by these prospects plant enchanted whispers of uncharted future possibilities in the minds of fans for each and every team.
Since the future will be on the tip of the tongues of college football fans across the nation on February 2nd, let’s take a guess at how the final standings of the first season in the Pac-12 conference will look.
Andrew Luck has enough weapons on offense to make a decent run at the first ever North title. The Cardinal defense is also still legit, returning six starters, which includes stalwarts Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas. Playing Oregon at the Farm should work in Stanford’s favor this time around.
The Ducks return a massive part of their churning offense, which really allows them to contend in any game, during any situation. However, three extremely tough games against matured teams to end the season should make it hard for Oregon to come out of this season unscathed.
Washington brings back 16 total starters from last season. RB Chris Polk and WR Jermaine Kearse were selected All Conference in 2010, which give the Huskies offense an undeniable punch. Washington is also making some noise with their 2011 recruits, currently landing 12th on Scout.com’s recruiting rankings.
California has two Thursday night tilts against Oregon and USC on their schedule in 2011, which could mean epic failures in primetime. Having to play at Stanford, in Autzen, and against Utah should mean another season filled with in-conference woes for the Bears.
5. Oregon State
Although Oregon States losses a chunk of their offense with the departure of Jaquizz Rodgers, they do return a nice group of starters on offense, which should help them win a few games within its division. It will be a tough road though, especially playing the Arizonas and Utah from the South Division.
6. Washington State
Placing the Cougars at the bottom the divisions is hardly a surprise. Washington State has struggle immensely the past few seasons and it should still be another season or two until they are completely out of these shameful woods.
Some might want to believe that USC is experiencing a down period, but just looking at its 2011 recruiting class, the story seems to saying something different. The Trojans out-of-division game will hardly be a cake walk. They should find a way to take a game or two from the North and should not have a problem handling all of their in division games this season.
Utah’s first season playing a full schedule against BCS caliber teams should be very interesting. They will either completely collapse or be able to hold their own. The Utes seem to stack up well against the rest of the competition in the South, but will quickly learn that they are not in the Mountain West any more.
3. Arizona State
Unlike the Wildcats, Arizona State found its groove towards the end of last year. The Sun Devils’ offense finally should signs of life, scoring 30 or more points in four of their last five games. With 11 players returning from that offense, things could be getting brighter in Tempe.
Although Arizona seemingly fell apart toward the end of the season, they still have enough weapons on offense and defense to remain dangerous in 2011. Nic Foles should lead this team to several conference wins, but Arizona will once again struggle when it matter most.
UCLA’s offense ranked 104th last season in scoring and even though they return seven players, they still have a ton of work ahead of them. Although their defense will keep them in most games, the Bruins should struggle against this scoring happy conference.
Bottom dwelling in the Big 12 for several seasons has cast doubt on just how Colorado will make the transition into the Pac-12. The Buffaloes won’t exactly turn heads in 2011 and they could have troubles keeping out of the South’s cellar for at least the first season.