Welcome back to the Pac-12 Notebook! We return this series for a second year to help keep you readers informed on the ups and downs of this conference.
It’s an exciting time as for football fans as college football goes into full swing this weekend. Before we get too deep into the weeds, we need to take a look at the whole conference to figure out who is the class of the Pac.
#12. Oregon State Beavers
Well, this sucks. Another year, another power ranking with the Beavs at the bottom. Even though it hurts to rank the Beavs this low, there is optimism heading into the season. The Beavs will look to have one of the more dangerous offenses in recent OSU memory, while the defense has been reshaped by transfers. Linebackers Avery Roberts from Nebraska, Kyrei Fisher from Arkansas and Addison Gumbs from Oklahoma will create a much more formidable Beaver defense. Now, I’m not going to say that we’re bowl contenders, but the Beavs will be much more competitive this season.
#11. Arizona Wildcats (0-1 Overall)
The only team on this list that has played a game cracks the list at the 11 spot. The Wildcats were all over the place against Hawaii. The offense showed spurts and came literally within a yard of keeping the game alive. Khalil Tate looked like the old Heisman contender we all thought he was as he posted 361 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with over 100 yards rushing. While Tate was dangerous, he defense was the opposite. They had no pass rush the entire night and couldn’t bail out the offense. While the defense forced several turnovers, that came more as a result of Hawaii QB Cole McDonald forcing the situation as opposed to pressure. The offense will give fans a reason to cheer, but it could be another rough year for the cats.
#10. Colorado Buffaloes
Our friends at the Ralphie Report may not be too happy about this ranking. It’s a tough road for the Buffs, though, as Colorado will navigate one of the tougher schedules in the nation with a defense made up of a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. There may not be much stopping other defenses in Boulder this year. On the other hand, the Buffs just happen to have one of the most gifted players in the nation with wide receiver Laviska Shenault. Having veteran QB Steven Montez under center will also be a boost. If the Buffs go bowling, they should consider the season a massive success.
#9. UCLA Bruins
After a poor season by UCLA standards, people have started hopping on UCLA as a sleeper team in 2019. And there may be some truth behind it. Heading into the second year under Chip Kelly’s system, the offense will return almost completely intact. In addition, a defense that was oft-injured and very young one year ago now comes into the year more experienced to boot with more talented recruits. UCLA can quickly rise up these rankings.
#8. Cal Bears
Easily the biggest strength for the Bears in 2019 will be their defense. Cal should have arguably the top defense heading into the season, which should keep them in just about every game this year. However, the offense will need be better as well in order for Cal to get over the hump. QB Chase Garbers will need to step up in a big way as the Golden Bears will be replacing a bunch of players on offense. Still, Cal will be a strong team that should find themselves in bowl contention this season.
#7. USC Trojans
USC stands to gain the most of any team on this list. They quite possibly could have the most talented roster in the conference. There is a lot of inexperienced players that have a ton of potential, but need proper coaching. JT Daniels will be the starting quarterback of the Trojans and will have an impressive group of running backs and receivers to lean on. If Daniels can elevate his game, and Clay Helton and his team can coach up the young guys, the Trojans could contend for the south.
An experienced offensive line and a defense that returns eight players will be the tone setters for the Sun Devils in 2019. The experience of these players will be needed as the Sun Devils turn to true freshman Jayden Daniels to be the starting quarterback for a Sun Devils team that looks to get over the hump and fight for the Pac-12 South. Oh, and the Sun Devils also have this guy who’s pretty good named Eno Benjamin. He might win a Heisman or something.
We say this over and over again, but do not count out David Shaw. Stanford may have fallen off of their usual standard of play, but Shaw is still one of the top coaches in the entire country and he will have the Cardinal ready to play. KJ Costello is legit and can help the Cardinal put up some points this season. Injuries will be the biggest hurdle for Stanford, as they are already hampered with dings heading into the season. Regardless, they can easily make noise in the North.
Even with the departure of Gardner Minshew, the Cougs are still a dangerous team. Mike Leach has proven time and time again that he can create one of the most dangerous air raid offenses in the entire country regardless of who is under center. Plus Mike Leach is easily the most fun person to listen to about, well, anything. Mike Leach rocks. Back to football, the defense will also be solid. The Cougs are always a well coached team; expect nothing different this year.
#3. Oregon Ducks
Now we reach the top tier in this conference. Any of the remaining teams will be among the favorite for their divisions, and could realistically win the Pac-12. The Ducks come in at number three here, but them and our number two team are not far apart. The Ducks look to have the complete package on offense and defense. Important starters will be returning all along both sides of the ball, including star QB Justin Herbert. The Ducks should make a push for the North, and the overall conference title.
Here we are again talking up Chris Petersen and the Huskies. While U-Dub will be replacing it’s QB and RB, they return important starters on the offensive line. In addition, the Huskies will have nine players who started at least one game return this season. The defense has never been a problem for the Huskies, but keeping the offense consistent with a new guy under center will be a challenge for Washington. Still, it shouldn’t slow the purple and gold down. Expect them to be legit players for the CFP.
#1. Utah Utes
Tyler Huntley is back. Zack Moss is back. The Utes are back. Kyle Whittingham led Utah to win the Pac-12 South last season, and they will be looking to set even higher goals this year. Whittingham is excellent at helping prepare his teams to be physically imposing teams. Utah is a tough, well-coached squad that has the talent on it’s team to create a real threat to win the conference this season. Be prepared to watch the Utes take a big leap this season.
And there you have it! Our first set of power rankings is in the books. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!