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Pac-12 Football: Roundtable & Predictions

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Who’s going to win the Pac-12? Surprise team?

NCAA Football: Oregon at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Pick To Win The Pac-12

Marcus Russell: Washington. While the Huskies have a lot of production to replace offensively, they are loaded with talent up and down their roster. I think Jacob Eason will run the offense seamlessly and the defense will continue to be elite. I’m not sold on Oregon or Utah knocking off Washington in 2019.

John Severs: Washington. Oregon and Utah have gotten better, but I don’t think either program will have the consistency to match the Huskies over a full season. The defense lost a few key players, but the team’s recruiting is so deep it feels like they’ve already reloaded, and the offense shouldn’t lose a step.

Hayden Tharp: Washington.

Travis Johannes: Utah, much to Marcus’ dismay, Utah has built a hell of a team over the past few years and returns a lot of talent from last years squad. The have a easier path in the south and will be able to slow down whoever comes from the north.

The_Coach: Washington. It’ll be hard to knock the Huskies off their perch and there’s no team who proved anything a season ago to believe that in one year, they’ll be equipped enough to change the Huskies reign. Utah did a strong job, but even they will have to go on the road to USC and Washington in 2019. It looks like the Huskies are in for another dominant season.

Leo Castaneda: Utah. Their defensive line is going to be nasty (three players were All-Pac-12 selections last year). I think they’ll win the South pretty easily and if they can get better on the offensive side with Andy Ludwig back as coordinator, then they should be able to better challenge whoever comes from the North.


Surprise Team Of The Year

Marcus Russell: USC. The flashy LA school hasn’t been nationally relevant since Pete Carroll left but they’ve dealt with a bunch of turmoil, loss of scholarships and injury concerns. With a little bit of continuity and some luck in the health department I think USC will have a good season despite a daunting schedule.

John Severs: UCLA. I think with another year of Chip Kelly getting his offense set up that the Bruins will be a bit more impressive than last season. It’s still not going to be a great team, and certainly not one that could challenge the Pac 12 South, but I feel like we’re going to be seeing them on highlight reels quite a bit.

Hayden Tharp: Arizona State.

Travis Johannes: Cal. They have already built one hell of a defense, I think this is the year that Beau Baldwin gets that offense going.

The_Coach: Arizona. I won’t let their season opening loss on the road at Hawaii define how I view what Khalil Tate and this squad can be. Realistically, if Tate doesn’t come up a yard short on his last-chance scamper, maybe the Wildcats win in overtime and we’re talking about Arizona differently. You never know. Kevin Sumlin should be able to fix this team into a surprisingly competitive group.

Leo Castaneda: UCLA. They did not start well last year, but they did manage to win three games against Pac-12 foes in their last seven. They were also quite competitive against Washington, Arizona State, and Stanford, losing just by a score. I think Chip will teach this team to win a bit more.


Breakthrough Player Of The Year

Marcus Russell: Talanoa Hufanga. Beaver fans know the Corvallis-native. He looked amazing as a true freshman, but injuries held him back. Look for him to breakthrough as a sophomore and become a leader for this USC secondary.

John Severs: Dorian Thompson-Robinson - UCLA QB. With another year in the system, for both Chip Kelly and Thompson-Robinson, I think the UCLA is going to start putting up some absurd numbers.

Hayden Tharp: Max Borghi - Washington State RB.

Travis Johannes: Whoever starts at QB for Mike Leach. Seriously though the guy is gonna throw for a million yards and a boat load of TD’s. He may not be the best QB in the conference but he will have the best stat line

The_Coach: Jaylen Dixon - Utah WR. As a sophomore in 2018, Dixon grabbed 32 balls for 589 yards, finishing his freshmen campaign with a stunning 18.4 yards per catch average. Despite his 5’ 9”, 170-pound frame, Dixon is an easy target who can easily find the creases in defenses and is always a threat for a big play downfield. If Tyler Huntley has the strong season he’s projected to, Dixon will be right there alongside him.

Leo Castaneda: Jake Luton. Hey, he’s got the weapons around him. If the offensive line and improved mobility can keep him off his back, then Luton will put up some big numbers that will take the offense to another level.


Coach Of The Year

Marcus Russell: Kyle Whittingham. I dislike Utah, but Whittingham has done one amazing job with this Utah program since he took over in 2005 for Urban Meyer and an undefeated team. Utah is going to be really good this season and Whittingham deserves this award for his career work in getting Utah into a Pac-12 South favorite position.

John Severs: I’m saying Herm Edwards. Mostly because I think it would be funny, but the Sun Devils were good last year and will probably be better this year. ASU could surprise some people in the Pac 12 South.

Hayden Tharp: Kyle Whittingham.

Travis Johannes: I should go Kyle Wittingham, but screw it I'll throw a curveball and go Josh Wilcox. As I said earlier I think Cal is my surprise team who will be a serious contender in the north.

The_Coach: Clay Helton. Trust me, I know how this sounds, but if the Trojans leapfrog Utah in South Division, it’ll mean they managed their Pac-12 slate and made it to a conference title game. Besides their road trip to Washington, USC’s in-league away contest opponents consist of Colorado, Arizona State and California. It’s about beating Stanford, Utah and Oregon at home now for the Trojans.

Leo Castaneda: Kyle Whittingham. I echo Marcus Russell. Whittingham gets the recognition he deserves after winning his first Pac-12 title.


Does The Pac-12 Make The College Football Playoff?

Marcus Russell: No. Washington, Oregon and Utah are all going to be good football teams but no of them is going to stand out from the pack. It’ll be very tough for any of them to put together an undefeated or one-loss season.

John Severs: No. The Pac-12’s has a problem in that none of its top teams are going to devour each other. I don’t think anyone gets out of the season without 2 losses, which is probably disqualifying for the playoff.

Hayden Tharp: No.

Travis: I want to say yes... but I can’t. I think Utah wins the Pac-12 with one loss, which still wont be enough to hurdle some of the power 5 heavyweights.

The_Coach: No. Even a one-loss Pac-12 squad would be tough to fit in the College Football Playoff picture, so long as the Big 12 and SEC have some one-loss contenders as well. The best chance for a one-loss team would be if USC could manage their schedule and beat Notre Dame on the road in South Bend. Otherwise, I don’t think any team in the league will have strong-enough quality wins.

Leo Castaneda: I think the Pac-12 gets the Playoff Monkey off its back. It will come down to Utah or Oregon. Utah only if they go undefeated. Oregon if they beat Auburn (and they have a decent year in the SEC) and win the Pac-12 with just one hiccup.