Welcome, Beaver Nation! If you’re here reading this, then you’ve officially tuned into the newest series of articles that will help keep you in tune with the rest of the Pac-12 during the college football season.
We intend to provide a couple storylines, players, and games to watch every week, and cap off every article with a power rankings. Usually, we will provide brief recaps on what has happened, but since we are in week zero (idk why that’s a thing, but it is) and no Pac-12 team has played, we will keep it short and sweet on the summaries.
Without further ado, let’s get into what the BTD staff will be watching this weekend...
What to Watch For...
Washington vs Auburn in Week 1
One of the most alluring parts of week 1 in CFB is the massive non-conference games that we get to watch. And week 1 is hitting us with a doozy of a game with #6 U-Dub taking on the #9 ranked Auburn Tigers. Washington will be the class of the Pac-12 and are looked at as our heavy favorite to compete for a shot at the CFP. If the Huskies want to be taken seriously by the selection committee, a W here is a must.
Bryce Love’s Start to the Heisman Race
We saw how fantastic Bryce Love was for the Cardinal in a record breaking 2017 season. Now, he comes into the 2018 CFB season as the Heisman Trophy favorite. Stanford will have an offense that can support his conquest with an underrated receiver/tight end group and the Stanford staple: a mauling offensive line. Love bringing home the Heisman Trophy would be a major win for the conference in terms of publicity.
USC Start a True Freshman Quarterback
Late Sunday evening, Clay Helton announced JT Daniels would start for the USC Trojans in week 1. After a Pac-12 Championship behind Sam Darnold, USC worked through a rotating door of QBs this offseason before settling on the true freshman Daniels. It is going to be interesting how the freshman will transition to the college level, especially when leading a team that boasts the pedigree that USC does. No pressure, right?
OFFICIAL: @USCCoachHelton named true freshman @jtdaniels06 the USC starting quarterback. #FightOn pic.twitter.com/uA5j73BMDX— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) August 27, 2018
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. Washington Huskies (#6 - AP Poll)
The Huskies are viewed as the cream of the crop of the Pac-12 and are the highest ranked team in the conference so far by all polls. UW features a ridiculous amount of NFL talent led by Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin. Chris Petersen has done a fantastic job of turning the boys in purple into a perennial contender for the Pac, and this season should be no different.
Up Next: versus Auburn (in Atlanta, GA)
2. Stanford Cardinal (#13 - AP Poll)
The Huskies may be #1 in this power rankings, but the Cardinal are a very close second. David Shaw has kept the Cardinal as one of powerhouse teams of the conference year after year, and this season should be no different. Heisman favorite Bryce Love will be back, and KJ Costello looks like the future of Stanford football at the QB position. Stanford and UW are the top teams in the Pac-12 and should ultimately be 1 of the 2 teams to win the conference.
Up Next: versus San Diego State
3. Arizona Wildcats
The first hot take of the article! The recent hire of Kevin Sumlin is a great fit for this Wildcat team. Sumlin’s spread offense and QB guru skills will all be massive benefits to U of A’s superstar QB, Khalil Tate. The defense may be spotty for this team, but the Wildcats could become one of most potent offenses in the Pac-12 this season.
Up Next: versus BYU
4. USC Trojans (#15 - AP Poll)
The defense will be a massive strength for the Trojans and there will be a ton of athletic talent on the offensive side of the ball. The biggest question for the Trojans is the most important one on the team, how is the QB? J.T. Daniels will be the guy for the Trojans to start the season and his play will dictate how far USC will go.
Up Next: versus UNLV
5. Utah Utes
Another surprise pick to start the year by placing unranked Utah ahead of the Ducks! Utah is a team that many fans around the conference are sleeping on. Kyle Whittingham is a seasoned coach and will be fielding arguably the strongest defense in the entire Pac-12 this season. The Utes are in the unsettling south side of the conference, so a few key wins could help Utah shock the conference by winning the division.
Up Next: versus Weber State
6. Oregon Ducks (#24 - AP Poll)
The first non-Stanford-or-Washington North team arrives on the list. Oregon is a healthy ways behind either of the other 2 aforementioned North teams, but they could still realistically push for 9 wins and a New Year’s Six bow game. This team’s path rides on the shoulders of QB Justin Herbert. The junior is a legit playmaker and could go in the top 10 in the next NFL draft. As Herbert goes, so do the Ducks.
Up Next: versus Bowling Green State
7. Arizona State Sun Devils
Manny Wilkins will be back for ASU to complement one of the stronger receiving cores in the conference. The Sun Devils will have strong personnel groups for some spots, but the team is still a mystery due to a shoddy defense. At the very least, watching Herm Edwards in press conferences could be enough to give them an additional bump in the power rankings for making us laugh.
Up Next: Versus UTSA
8. UCLA Bruins
UCLA stands as an enigma in this conference. Chip Kelly is a masterful offensive mind, but it will be interesting to see how the current players at UCLA will transition to his offense. Expect the Bruins to experience a transition year, but a bowl game should be within reach.
Up Next: versus Cincinnati
9. Washington State Cougars
Sure, Luke Falk is gone. But that doesn’t mean the legend that is Mike Leach won’t figure out how his replacement can hang up 300 yards every week. Wazzu will always have an extremely potent offense as long as Leach is there. The biggest thing for the Cougs is if the defense can stop anyone this season. Still, they should hit 7-8 wins this year due to a favorable home stretch.
Up Next: @ Wyoming
10. California Golden Bears
Thanks to Justin Wilcox, the Bears were surprising competitors in the North last season. Wilcox and Cal will be fighting for postseason play this upcoming season, and the pieces are in place for them to get over the 6-game hump. This includes workhorse RB Patrick Laird, who should shoulder the Cal offense. The tough deal for Cal is they have one of the hardest schedules of anyone in the conference this season.
Up Next: versus North Carolina
11. Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado doesn’t have a lot positive momentum going after a rough season last year. Mike MacIntyre is a quality coach who can elevate the Buffs. The problem is that Colorado has lost most of their good players that were a part of that fantastic 2016 team.
Up Next: @ Colorado State
12. Oregon State Beavers
Now, here me out: I wanted to put the Beavs higher...even one spot if anything. The problem is that I just can’t...we all saw last season. This team is firmly among the weakest P5 teams in the entire country. Until we see otherwise, Jonathan Smith and Oregon State will have a long ways to climb before they earn any national respect.
Up Next: @ Ohio State
There you have it: our first Pac-12 Football Notebook has come to its finish. And now it’s time for your thoughts on this first week in Pac-12 football.
What will you all be looking for this weekend? Have any comments on the Power Rankings?
Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!