It’s late June on the calendar and baseball is in full swing (no pun intended). For some it may be too early to begin prognosticating upcoming Pac-12 college football year. For some, like myself, it’s already too late to predict how 2012 turns out for Pac-12 squads. Below is the best and worst case scenario for each team with my predicted order of finish.
Best Case (11-1): The most dangerous duo in the country, Kenjon Barner and De’ Anthony Thomas, score touchdowns in bunches. Either Bryan Bennet or Marcus Mariota establish themselves as a starting QB and continue the Ducks offensive prowess right into their fourth strait BCS game.
Worst Case (8-4): Neither Bennet or Mariota can fill the shoes of Darron Thomas while the few defensive holes are exposed against the better Pac-12 offenses.
Best Case (11-1): A strong core in the offensive line bulldozes the competition paving the way for Stepfan Taylor‘s Heisman run. The defensive front seven slows down USC at home early and the Cardinal are back in a January bowl game.
Worst Case (7-5): Head coach David Shaw vacillates between Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes at QB as both fail to keep Pac-12 defenders from loading the box, while new starters in the secondary force the Cardinal into shootout after shootout.
Worst Case (6-6): A weak offensive line fails to protect Tuel and the Cougars defensive front seven are eaten alive on the ground as WSU limps into a bowl game.
Best Case (9-3): The Huskies rebound from the Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor and Keith Price gets Heisman consideration. A win at home against USC has folks in Seattle buzzing about the return of a former Pac-12 power.
Worst Case (5-7): A rebuilt offensive line hinders Price, while receivers Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins fail to live up to the hype. A young defensive line is exposed in Baton Rouge September 8 and the Tigers kill the psyche of Steve Sarkisian‘s bunch.
Best Case (8-4): The Beavers rebound from a three win 2011 with a 16 returning starters led by quarterback Sean Mannion who balances an offense that couldn’t run the ball last season.
Worst Case (5-7): The offensive line struggles throughout the year to make any real improvement in the running game and head coach Mike Riley can’t get off the hot seat.
Best Case (6-6): Zach Maynard continues his development at quarterback as the Bears rushing attack led by Isi Sofele grinds out enough wins for a bowl game.
Worst Case (3-9): Jeff Tedford pulls his hair out as Maynard reverts back to his interception prone 2011 self. A defensive front seven with only one returning starter makes for a long year in Berkeley.
Pac 12 South
Best Case (12-0): With the postseason ban gone, Matt Barkley leads a stacked Trojans roster to the National Championship game in Miami.
Worst Case (10-2): A lack of depth is exposed at Stanford early and Lane Kiffin has to get creative filling in for injured starters. Troy misses out on its best opportunity for a championship since 2005.
Best Case (10-2): Jim Mora goes legend in his first year at Pasadena guiding the Bruins through a navigable schedule with a defense chock full of talent. UCLA gets USC and Stanford at home at the end of the year with a chance to play for the South title.
Worst Case (7-5): Mora is let down at quarterback as Kevin Prince once again struggles with consistency and is forced to play the freshman Brett Hundley much too soon.
Best Case (10-2): The Utes ride returning talent on both sides of the ball and give the Trojans a run for their money in the South.
Worst Case (8-4): Quarterback Jordan Wynn isn’t himself returning from a 2011 shoulder injury. An early loss to BYU sets the tone for the rest of the year.
Best Case (7-5): Todd Graham goes bowling in his first year as head coach. Jamal Miles and Cameron Marshall keep this top 30 offense going as Mike Bercovici does an adequate job of replacing Brock Osweiler at quarterback.
Worst Case (4-8): The defense struggles and the tough road schedule is too much to handle and Sparky misses out on the postseason.
Best Case (6-6): Matt Scott picks up the read-option attack of new coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats get an upset win at Stanford and make up for an ugly 2011.
Worst Case (3-9): The new offense goes through growing pains through a brutal Pac-12 schedule. No improvement is made on a 110th ranked defense.
Best Case (6-6): The Buffs start the season 4-0 and Connor Wood proves it was a smart decision to transfer from Texas. The first bowl game since 2007 gives head coach John Embree a much needed selling point for a struggling program.
Worst Case (3-9): A loss to in-state rival CSU out of the gate brings back the demons from the past six seasons and Embree’s stay in Boulder is a short one.