The PAC-12 brought in 2 new teams in Utah and Colorado (hence no longer being called the PAC-10). It is a great analogy for what this conference is all about, one team (Utah) is a good one, while the other is bad (Colorado). It is certainly a conference with really good teams at the top, and pretty bad ones at the bottom.
This offense has been really good for quite some time now. It is a system that has transcends players and even coaches. Expect more scoring this season. They do lose key defensive players like Casey Matthews, and one wonders what the situation with good cornerback Cliff Harris will be. There are some allegations hanging over this program, and it will be interesting to see how that affects this season.
Final Schedule: They begin the season with their toughest game (LSU), and USC and Stanford being the next two toughest games. Nevada and Oregon State can sneak up on them. They aren't going to go undefeated and going to the national championship again, but they will still probably win the conference.
Jim Harbaugh has moved on to try to figure out what to do with the San Francisco 49ers, but Andrew Luck stayed. He is the best quarterback in college football, and that will be a good start. They only have 5 starters returning on that side of the ball, but their star runningback is one of them. While their secondary and linebackers look good, both sides of the line could be a concern.
Final Prediction: Oregon, USC, and Notre Dame are the ranked teams on the schedule. San Jose State and Duke are relatively easy teams to start the season with. The line problems make me worry a little about this team, but 10 wins is not out of reach.
They are making the move from the Mountain West to the PAC-12, as this will be their first year in a BCS conference. Its not like they aren't ready though, as this program has been very solid and causing havoc for some time now. It appears there won't be a size problem for this team, especially on the defensive line. They did struggle to run the ball last year though, and they have to do a better job on that if they expect to compete for the conference title. They had quarterback problems as well, as Jordan Wynn struggled with injuries. One can't predict whether that will repeat or not, but it seems like they will be able to put up some points this year with big plays.
Final Prediction: USC is the only ranked team on the schedule, and its not too crazy to suggest they could win that game. They get to start the year against Montana State, but there isn't a lot of easy games on the schedule. One can expect about 9 wins for this team.
They are coming off two mediocre years in a row (for USC that is, most schools would take their seasons in a second) and the Lane Kiffin hire was a probably not the best. They are also ineligible to play in a bowl because of penalties stemming from the Reggie Bush incident. However, they are starting the year ranked in the top 25. Their defense wasn't very good last year, but their offense was solid. This team is loaded with talent, and don't be surprised if USC improves in both categories.
Final Prediction: They get to start the year against Minnesota, but they have to play Stanford, Notre Dame, and Oregon. 8 wins can be expected from Kiffin's team.
Here is a program that has turned it around. They went from winless in 08 to winning the Holiday Bowl last year against Nebraska. They do lose star quarterback Jake Locker, but he was ineffective many times last year and my guess is that he will be disappointing for the Tennessee Titans. They return 7 starters on that side of the ball, and so they should have a decent offense. They return 8 starters on defense. The secondary is really good, and that is going to be important for this conference.
Final Prediction: USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska are going to be really tough for Washington to beat, but not impossible. They begin the year with FCS team Eastern Washington, but they are a really good FCS team, if Washington isn't ready to play, they could lose that game. 7 wins would actually be kind of disappointing for this team.
They just missed a bowl game last year with 5 wins. They have been a disappointing team for the past few years, and its hard to imagine that will change. They couldn't pass much at all last year, and they have to figure out how to replace their departed star runningback from last season. They had a decent defense last year, but they only return 5 starters.
Final Prediction: A pretty soft non-conference schedule (the hardest being Fresno State) gets offset by a tough conference schedule including games against USC, Oregon, and Stanford. They are a borderline team, and will probably get 6 wins.
Stoops is under .500 in his 8 years in Arizona, but there seems to be some kind of upswing for this program. They have a very solid quarterback in Nick Foles, as he is one of the top 2 or 3 in the conference. However, they are replacing their whole offensive line, and thats not good news. The defense also lost several key players to the NFL, and they really couldn't keep up with the good offenses of OK State, Stanford, and Oregon anyway.
Final Prediction: After starting the season against Northern Arizona, they get a gauntlet of 4 ranked teams in a row (OK State, Stanford, USC, and Oregon). I would be surprised if they won any of those games. They are a borderline team, and I will go with 6 wins.
Last year was an extremely disappointing year for Oregon State, as they failed to make a bowl game. Their defense was terrible last year and only returns 4 starters. Even though they return 8 starters on the offensive side, they lost their stud tailback Jacquizz Rogers. They do return James Woods (not to be confused with the actor who dies in the opening scene of “Be Cool”), but it appears that this is a rebuilding year.
Final Prediction: Stanford, Oregon, and Wisconsin are the ranked teams they play, while they get breaks with an opener against Sacramento State, the rest of their games are not easy. Expect another 5 win season.
They ran good last year, but they couldn't pass the ball, and it is beyond the beginning of the end to Rick Neuheisel's tenure at UCLA. They seemed to use about half a dozen quarterbacks last year, and now with major coordinator changes, more uncertainty looms. The defense doesn't look like it will be very good either.
Final Prediction: Houston, Texas, USC, and Stanford are all pretty tough games. San Jose State and Colorado are probably the two easiest on the schedule. About 4-5 wins seem about right, and the end of Neuheisel's time in UCLA.
They were pretty close to being a good team last year, and they were a team that a lot of people liked coming into this season. However, they had a crazy off-season, with the star runningback getting shot, the starting quarterback retiring because of too many concussions, and a key member of the secondary and a key receiver already suffering season ending injuries. This is a lot to deal with for a program that is by no means dominant. Their line was good last year, and all 5 return and that could carry the offense. The defense is supposed to be pretty good, but this is a team that killed themselves with penalties and special team mistakes last year.
Final Prediction: They miss Stanford and thats good news, but they also scheduled Missouri (ranked 21st) and still have USC and Oregon to deal with. UC Davis is a nice start, but its a pretty tough schedule. They can't hang with the guys on their schedule. 4 wins.
This will be their first year in the PAC-12, and with them they bring a new coaching staff, and new schemes. This has been quite a loser football program since they were drummed 70-3 in the Big 12 championship game a few years ago. Their roster is going through a lot of changes, including losing a couple of key members in the secondary to the NFL. Their offensive line is going to be really good and that should carry a struggling offense.
Final Prediction: A start against Hawaii is tough, as is Ohio State, Stanford, Oregon and USC. 3-4 wins seem to be the ceiling for these guys.
They have went 5-32 in the past 3 years. They do have an experienced quarterback, and a couple of talented receivers coming back. The line is not very good though, and that makes it really hard to have an efficient passing game. The defense returns 8 starters, but it was terrible last year, so it doesn't seem like that would matter.
Final Prediction: Idaho State and UNLV are two nice teams to start the season with, but they aren't necessarily automatic wins. Stanford and Oregon are the two ranked teams on the schedule as they avoid USC. 2 wins for these guys.