Pac-12 Preseason Power Rankings – The Daily Evergreen
After a season where WSU finished 1-3 in the Pac-12 North, a “regular” 12-game schedule for the Pac-12 is about to begin in a few days.
The Pac-12 are looking to compete with powerful conferences like the ACC, SEC and the Big 12 this year and are trying to secure a college football playoff bid for the first time since 2016.
But with a new season on the horizon, how do the Pac-12 teams stack up ahead of the season? We will take a look.
1. No.11 Oregon
Being the presumed favorites to win the conference most years, including this year, the Ducks are currently the Pac-12’s best chance for deep college football playoff success. Led by the two-back tandem of junior backers CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, the running game is going to be scary for opposing defenses, with Dye and Verdell named as the Pac-12’s best two-back combo.
The question is how the Ducks will replace former quarterback Tyler Shough, who transferred out of Oregon in the offseason. They have Boston College transfer senior quarterback Anthony Brown as an alleged starter ahead of week one. But anything could happen before their first match.
Game 1: 11 a.m. Sept. 4 vs. Fresno State
2. No. 15 Southern California
Oregon being the favorite of the North, Southern California is the favorite of the South. The Trojans start out ranked # 15 in the pre-season AP poll. USC still has junior quarterback Kedon Slovis under center paired with a receiving core from junior wide wide receiver Drake London and red-shirted second-year wide receiver Tahj Washington, who transferred from Memphis. The backfield has Texas transfer senior running back Keaontay Ingram who will be the leader in this stacked attack. USC has a lot of help in the secondary, with senior security Isaiah Pola-Mao being the biggest name in that defense. It could be a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Championship if USC can have more consistency in their games.
Game 1: 2:00 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. San Jose State
3. No. 20 Washington
The Pac-12 North in defense Champions start third in the Pac-12 this season, looking to be in contention again with Oregon for the North Division and in contention for a New Years Eve six-bowl game. The Huskies are led under center by redshirt sophomore Dylan Morris. But with the transfer of Colorado State graduates quarterback Patrick O’Brien, the Huskies will have full competition to see who gets under center this fall.
They also have first-year quarterback Sam Huard, who is the nephew of former NFL quarterback Brock Huard. Behind the quarterfinals competition is another tandem of two full-backs of senior running backs Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew, who are also known to turn heads. This Washington team will turn heads as the season progresses.
Game 1: 5 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Montana
4. # 24 Utah
First of all, rest in peace Ty Jordan. The Utes got a major acquisition this offseason by securing the transfer of Baylor, senior quarterback Charlie Brewer. He led Baylor to an 11-game winning season in the 2019-20 season which was a bit short in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia.
Utah secured another key transfer from Oklahoma, senior wide receiver Theo Howard. Most of this team’s questions revolve around high school, but with an offensive boost Utah could definitely challenge USC in the South Division.
Game 1: 4:30 p.m. Sept. 2 vs. Weber State
5. Arizona State No. 25
Arizona State sits at the bottom of the AP poll at No. 25, but sits just five in my power ranking. The Sun Devils have their junior quarterback Jayden Daniels, who makes comparisons to NFL quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, and some see the similarities between him and former Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley. Led by head coach Herm Edwards, the defense received a big boost as they grabbed transfer from USC graduates cornerback Jack Jones. Arizona State will float low in the Top 25 for most of the season and be in the middle portion of the Pac-12 standings.
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2 vs. Southern Utah
The biggest question at the helm of UCLA is their head coach, Chip Kelly, and whether or not he can do it. The Bruins still have senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson as a starter. He is also compared to Lamar Jackson for his ability to escape from the pocket and be mobile while composing and throwing the ball.
UCLA also picked up the transfer from Texas A&M, second-year wide receiver in red shirt Kam Brown. On the defensive side of the ball, they also acquired the transfer of Notre Dame graduates linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath. UCLA will consistently be in the middle of the Pac-12 this season unless Kelly can save that team.
First games: 12:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Hawaii and 5:30 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. 16th LSU
The Cardinal, like the Bruins, will be an intermediate team this year. Their biggest question mark is how they’re going to replace former quarterback Davis Mills, who was in the NFL Draft this offseason. With a defense that saw a lot of time last year, Stanford’s defense will be able to withstand attacks from the opposing side. But can the offense produce?
The quarterback competition consists of senior Jack West, second student Tanner McKee, sixth-year transfer Isaiah Sanders and first-year Ari Patu. The offense still has senior wide receiver Michael Wilson. If Stanford can find a star quarterback, Stanford could be dangerous.
Game 1: 9 a.m. Sept. 4 at Kansas State
The Golden Bears haven’t had the best 2020 season, but they can only consider the 2021 season after going 1-3 in the shortened season. California still has red-shirted senior quarterback Chase Garbers under center, and as a key part of that offense is passing play, an experienced quarterback comes as no surprise to the Golden Bears.
Senior wide receiver Nikko Remigio will be the number one target for Garbers this year. Because it is the offense, the racing game will be in question for California. The defense will look to carry this team, with red-shirted senior linebacker Kuony Deng in the lead, trying to break the tackling record set by former California linebacker Evan Weaver.
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Nevada
The Buffaloes turned a lot of heads last season, competing for the Pac-12 South Division title last year. But a lot of offensive questions stop any positive messages coming from Colorado. After former quarterback Steven Montez decided to go pro, the alleged starter is now transfer from Tennessee, sophomore quarterback JT Shrout, who doesn’t have the best experience as a starter.
The offense will always come through running back Jarek Broussard, who passed junior running back Alex Fontenot last season after an exceptional season on the pitch. With relatively strong defense, but no receiver core, this team’s ceiling is pretty limited on offense.
Game 1: 6 p.m. Sept. 3 vs. Northern Colorado
10. Washington State
The Cougars have had a ton of off-season news with Laura’s sophomore quarterback Jayden making headlines, as well as acquiring transfer from Tennessee graduates quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. The coming season for the Cougars will be one for the history books. WSU has a two-back tandem among senior running backs Max Borghi and transfer graduate Deon McIntosh, the Pac-12’s best one-two combo. However, with the quarterback battle in question, head coach Nick Rolovich is left wondering who the starter will be heading into in week one.
On the defensive end of the ball, the Cougars will rely on sixth-year linebacker Jahad Woods and senior cornerback Jaylen Watson. The Cougars are on thin ice this season with quarterback questions and a secondary that needs to improve.
Game 1: 8 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Utah State
11. State of Oregon
The Beavers must now replace Jermar Jefferson in the backfield. With the transfer of Colorado graduates quarterback Sam Noyer, the question arises as to whether this offense can more happen without their main contributor. The team will pass through junior tight end Teagan Quitoriano, who will be the main wide receiver on this attack. The defense doesn’t look promising either, so the cap for this team is pretty low.
Game 1: 4 p.m. Sept. 4 at Purdue
A team still trying to find their identity within college football, the Wildcats will look to prove their worth now under the guidance of first-year head coach Jedd Fisch who will face this team. There is a quarterback competition between WSU transfer, red shirt freshman Gunner Cruz, freshman Will Plummer, and South Florida transfer, sophomore Jordan McCloud. Arizona has a bright future, but no immediate success is in sight this year.
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. BYU