The Ducks lost Chip Kelley to the NFL, but the system will stay intact and they'll return a ton of talent, led by Marcus Mariota and D'Anthony Thomas. The Ducks should not only be in the thick of the Pac 12 title race, but the national championship race as well.
No Luck? No problem. The defending Pac 12 champions will start the year with a top 10 ranking and national championship aspirations. Tyler Gaffney returns to bolster the running back spot while QB Kevin Hogan should thrive in his first full year as a starter. The offensive line and the defense will again be as good as any in the country.
The Bruins' all-time leading rusher in Johnathan Franklin is gone, but UCLA returns one of the best QBs in the conference in Brett Hundley as well as likely preseason Pac 12 defensive player of the year, Anthony Barr. Jim Mora is stockpiling talent through great recruiting classes and the Bruins could be a darkhorse national title contender if they can find a decent running back and get more consistency from a young offensive line.
It's kind of a do or die year for Steve Sarkisian. Every time we think this team has turned the corner, they drop a shocker, like the Apple Cup loss last year to Wazzu. This team will go as Keith Price goes. If he can return to 2011 form, the Huskies improving defense, and the weapons on offense in Bishop Sankey, Kasen Williams, and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, could make them a contender to push Oregon and Stanford in the north.
Matt Barkley and Robert Woods are gone, but Marquise Lee is back and should continue to put up ridiculous numbers. The question is, who will be throwing him the ball? Max Wittek, Cody Kessler, or Max Browne? The Trojans should still be able to get to a bowl, as their talent level is very high, but depth concerns with sanctions taking place will keep them from competing for a conference title.
6. Arizona State
When was the last time the Sun Devils put up solid back to back seasons? Will Sutton will be back as the defending Pac 12 defensive player of the year and Taylo Kelly returns to lead a good offensive attack, but top receives Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles are gone. On paper, the Devils look pretty good, but something about this team stinks. Boom or bust candidate for the conference?
7. Oregon State
The Beavers surprised everyone in 2012 with a 9 win season. Will they go back to their less than stellar ways in 2013? A lot wil depend on who wins the QB battle, and if they can find someone to replace the departed Markus Wheaton. Brandin Cooks is good, but he can't do it alone.
Matt Scott is gone and the nation's leading rusher, Kadeem Carey, can't seem to stay out of trouble. Arizona doesn't have much on the defensive side of the ball. Rich-Rod is building something in Tucson, but they may take a small step back this year.
Goodbye Star. Goodbye John White. Two of the all-time Utah greats depart and filling their shoes will be tough. Fortunately, Utah will have some continuity at QB with Travis Wilson returning and a plethora of talented receivers on the roster. The offensive line should be improved, but the defense is poised to a take a step back with three starters on the line and the top four corners all leaving.
Sonny Dykes is now the head man in Berkeley. First thing he needs to do is find a QB, and Zach Kline is a pretty good option. There's plenty of talent at Cal, especially at receiver, but they make take another year or two before they're back to being a bowl team.
11. Washington State
Year two of the Mike Leach experiment should be better now that he's getting his players fully implemented into the system. Offensive firepower should be on display, but the defense is still a work in progress. Wazzu will need to get a few breaks to get to a bowl game.
New coach. Same bad team. The Buffs should again be the worst in the conference. The talent just isn't there for them to win more than 4 games in 2013.
Way Too Early Pac 12 Power Rankings
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