The Pac 12 is shaping up to be arguably the deepest conference in the country. The top three or four teams in the conference may reside in the North, but there are 10 teams (5 in each division) that could end up playing in the conference title game. Below are the pre-spring Pac 12 conference rankings.
No reason to think that the Ducks will slow down at all after last year's run to the national championship game. With Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, as well as redshirt freshman Lache Seastrunk and true freshman DeAonthony Thomas, the Ducks' offense could be even better in 2011. Three senior offensive linemen starters leaving will be the only thing that could get in their way. Too many losses on the offensive line for Stanford to do what they did last year, despite having Andrew Luck return. Wrong division for the Cardinal. They'd win the South. Washington may have made the biggest strides in the country from game 1 to game 13 in 2010 and proved that they are a team to reckoned with as long as Steve Sarkisian is the coach. Losing Jake Locker hurts, but he was never as good as the hype might have indicated. Oregon State had a down year and will need to replace Jacquiz Rodgers, but QB Ryan Katz is back and James Rodgers returns from injury. If he's fully healthy, he could put up ridiculous numbers. What to make of Cal? The ASU of the North. The perennial underachievers that can't seem to get over the hump despite loads of talent. They need to get back to a bowl game or Jeff Tedford is out. Wazzu will be better in 2011, but still might not win more than 3 games.
The Pac 12 South isn't going to be tremendously strong. It's not far fetched to think an 8 or 9 win team with only 5 or 6 conference victories could win this division. On paper, Utah and Arizona State have the best teams, but the Sun Devils are chronic underachievers and the Utes are in their first year in a big boy conference. If USC wasn't on probation they might be the pick. The Trojans will be in every game, but lose one or two that they shouldn't. No one knows what to make of UCLA. They have the talent to win 10 or 11 games, but Rick Neuheisal hasn't proved that he's ready to take this team to an elite level. Arizona loses a bunch of starters after their late season collapse. They do get the best pro QB prospect in the conference though in Nick Foles back (don't tell Andrew that I said that). No one in the country throws a nicer ball than Foles. Colorado has a new coach and is at least a year away from making noise. Any of the top five teams could win this division, but the I'll take the Utes as they get the game against the Sun Devils in Salt Lake City.
Championship at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon
Oregon over Utah
Pre-Spring Pac 12 Conference Rankings
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