The PAC-12, for us on the east coast, is a conference that we don’t really watch as much as the other conferences. With games ending well after midnight, it makes for a long day when you start at 9:00 am with College Gameday. If it’s a good matchup, you can bet I’m staying up to watch.
The North division is led by Washington this year. Usually Stanford or Oregon have taken this spot, but times are changing out west. Jake Browning is back, as is RB Myles Gaskin. With Dante Pettis gone, other WRs will have to step up. And their defense is becoming one of the better units in the country. Stanford returns Heisman candidate Bryce Love. Look for a big season from him. QB KJ Costello is back under center with his top receivers returning too. Oregon is looking to get back on track after 2 disappointing seasons. I think RB Tony Brooks-James will be a breakout player this season.
Cal is bringing back almost their entire offense. QB Ross Bowers will have his main targets back with Vic Wharton being the standout here. Patrick Laird will once again lead the running attack coming off a solid season. The defense is improved, but still has a way to go. They’ll be fun to watch. Washington State will experience some growing pains. Losing Luke Falk to the NFL was bad enough, but the tragic suicide of backup Tyler Hilinski will weigh heavy on this team. RB Jamal Morrow is gone, as are the top 2 WRs from last season who accounted for 14 TDs. Oregon State will trudge through another dismal season, most likely. RB Artavis Pierce will try to fill the shoes of Ryan Nall. Meanwhile, their passing game has to improve. Jake Luton needs to step up for the Beavers to have any chance at all.
The South division, once again, is USC’s to lose. Even losing 3 key offensive players (Darnold, Jones, and Burnett), they seem to be able to refuel quickly. WR Tyler Vaughns showed a lot of promise last season. He’ll be one of the top PAC-12 WRs this year. Utah will have Tyler Huntley at the helm again. He’s not flashy, but he can win games. Zack Moss will be a beast out of the backfield. Arizona is a team that I can see in the top 10 by season’s end. QB Khalil Tate is pure electricity. Most of his receiving group is back as well. With JJ Taylor in the backfield, the Wildcats are an evenly balanced offensive unit.
QB Steven Montez will be leading the Colorado offense onto the field. His top 3 receivers are gone, so is his RB. They’ll have their work cut out for them in what is likely a transitional season. Arizona State lost their top 2 RBs, but the passing game is intact. N’Keal Harry will prove to be one of the better WRs in the conference, if not the country. I see Manny Wilkins relying on him quite a bit. UCLA is another PAC-12 team that is depleted on offense. Rosen and his top 2 receivers are gone. The running back by committee will provide fresh legs all season, but the passing game is a huge question mark right now. I personally like the versatility that RB Soso Jamabo brings. I expect the Bruins to use him in various roles.
The PAC-12 gives us east coast folks a lot of reasons to stay up and watch football, not like we really needed one. A few teams need to answer some questions, a few others are merely refueling. But this is always a great conference to watch. Unfortunately, the schedule inadvertently robbed us of a Washington vs Arizona matchup. But the USC vs Arizona on September 29th should be a great game. It’s almost here……..who’s ready?