Football Pac-12 Power Rankings

Shawn P. O'Connor, Evergreen columnist

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  1. (13) Washington

The defending conference champs automatically earn the top spot in the rankings, but UW could quickly fall. Replacing the program leaders in passing and rushing yards — as well as nine of eleven defensive starters — will be a tall order, but the Huskies always seem to find a way.

Record prediction: 9-3 (6-3)

  1. (11) Oregon

Herbert for Heisman? I’m not so sure, but Oregon should be dominant regardless. Auburn will pose a huge challenge in week one but avoiding Utah in confer­ence play will help their chances tremendously.

Record prediction: 9-3 (7-2)

  1. (14) Utah

Playoff dark horses? Utah has a chance to represent the Pac-12 in the playoffs, but they need to take care of business in 12 straight weeks, something the Utes haven’t been able to accomplish since join­ing the Pac-12. The South is weak enough that the Utes should cruise.

Record prediction: 10-2 (7-2)

  1. (23) Washington State

Can the Cougs maintain their recent level of success with Anthony Gordon behind center? WSU is ripe for regression but doubting Mike Leach is rarely wise. Washington State should be able to handle their non-confer­ence slate, so the first real test will likely be at Utah in Week 5.

Record prediction: 9-3 (6-3)

  1. California

Bold prediction: Cal ends bowl season with ten wins. The Pac’s number one passing defense lost only two starters in the off­season, and their defensive line might be the best in the nation. Expect the Golden Bears to win a ton of low scoring football games and be a dark horse in the North.

Record prediction: 9-3 (6-3)

  1. (25) Stanford

Stanford won nine games last season despite a 115th ranked passing defense. KJ Costello is my pick for the Pac-12’s top quarterback, finishing behind only Gardner Minshew II, former WSU starting quarterback, in most key passing stats last season. Stanford should be a quality team this season, but a patchy defense and a tough division could be a recipe for a fourth-place finish.

Record prediction: 8-4 (5-4)

  1. Southern California

USC is firmly in a rebuilding year. Freshman JT Daniels showed a few bright moments last season but couldn’t get his Trojans bowl eligible. Southern California will go bowling this year, but just.

Record Prediction: 6-6 (5-4)

  1. Colorado

Colorado’s offense should be explosive with Steven Montez under center for another year in the mountains. New head coach Mel Tucker will have to pick up the pieces after seven straight losses to end the season last year.

Record Prediction: 7-5 (5-4)

  1. UCLA

Chip Kelly needs to get his Bruins rolling after a terrible 3-9 mark last year. The Bruins should play better under Kelly year two, but UCLA won’t be bowling for the second consecutive year, the first back-to-back seasons the Bruins have missed the postsea­son since 1989-90.

Record Prediction: 5-7 (3-6)

  1. Arizona State

A true freshman signal call­er will start the season opener for the first time in Sun Devils program history. Quarterback Jayden Daniels will start against Kent State Week One, ushering a new era in the desert. Expect growing pains for this young program, and a rough season of growth.

Record Prediction: 4-8 (2-7)

  1. Arizona (0-1)

Six forced turnovers and 28 points off turnovers were appar­ently not enough for the Wildcats to defeat the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the Pacific as they fall 45-38 in “Week Zero.” Tate looked good, passing for 361 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 100 more yards. This loss dropped U of A from 8th to 11th place in these rankings.

Record Prediction: 3-9 (1-8)

  1. Oregon State

Another tough year is on the way for the Beavers. Sophomore running back Jermar Jefferson may lead the conference in rush­ing, but OSU will struggle to win four games.

Record Prediction: 3-9 (1-7)