By Taylor Sturm @TSturmRS on July 30, 2014
The Pac 12 is one of the most exciting football conferences in the country, and that will not change in 2014. There is no heavy favorite in preseason to win the Pac 12 title, so several teams will be more than capable of making a push to the college football playoffs. Here are five bold predictions for the 2014 Pac 12 season.
I’m not a big believer in the Trojans in 2014. However, USC plays two fairly easy non-conference games, could beat Notre Dame at home on Nov. 29 and doesn’t play two of the top three teams in the Pac 12, Oregon and Washington. The two games away at Stanford and away at UCLA are the only two games that USC should be considered an underdog.
The Wildcats have had back-to-back 8-5 seasons under Rich Rodriguez, but where they maintain consistency, several other Pac 12 teams have improved in leaps and bounds. Arizona could easily begin the season 4-0, but, unfortunately, I think they will struggle to win two of their remaining games.
I wouldn’t call this a bold prediction, but Mariota is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college football. If he can stay healthy, expect a huge season from a QB who has consistently improved over his career. While a majority of the SEC is in a transition season for quarterback and the Big 10 is relatively weak outside the top four, this is Mariota’s year to shine.
Perhaps one of the biggest questions this season is how good Washington will actually be. The Huskies would be a dark horse to win the Pac 12, but no one really knows how much Bishop Sankey’s absence will affect the team offensively. I think the Huskies will have a nine or ten-win season, with their most impressive win coming against the Bruins at home, who will be caught sleeping.
Oregon is a better team than UCLA, but the Ducks face Michigan State early in the season as well as the Bruins away from home. UCLA has an easier schedule and, despite a loss to Washington, will win the Pac 12 and advance to the College Football Playoffs.
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