1.) Stanford– Stanford has an interesting schedule. It looks like they booked Notre Dame with the intentions of building a tough out-of-conference schedule and then threw in Rice from Conference USA and Kansas State from the Big 12. Kansas State could have had a good year last year but they blew two close games against two tough opponents to end the year with a losing season. So if Stanford wants to get in the big show it will depend on a few factors.
- Will the out of conference scheduled teams play better than expected?
- Will Stanford lose to a good team in the PAC-12, or a shlub?
Stanford is probably in position to win the PAC-12 if they do as expected this year. Christian McCaffrey was a record setting beast last year, and should continue his rampage this year. I would imagine ESPN will be talking about him on game day more than a 13 year old girl talks about the cute guy in class to her girlfriends. A huge factor of McCaffrey’s success this year as well as Stanford’s will depend on their new savior QB Chryst. He will need to play with some serious attitude and leadership to help with the exodus of talent from the team.
2.) Utah– Coming off a 3 loss season, HC Kyle Whittingham is locked in a contract till 2020. This gives the college team consistency and stability, though recruiting was lackluster with only 3 four star recruits. Expect weak LB play. The new QB transfer Troy Williams may take over as starting QB if he meshes well with team. Yes Travis Wilson will be missed, but hey this is college football and teams move on quickly. Expect a resurgent offense with a lot of experience.
Not to be outdone, at least the defense is stacked with experience if not tons of talent. Last year the Utes displayed the best rushing defense in the PAC-12 allowing their competition only 108 yards a game on the ground. Expect another solid year from the FS Marcus Williams.
What needs to happen to make them win the South?
The running game needs to earn its wings, last year QB Wilson ran like a beast. This year he is not there and senior RB Joe Williams needs to step up to the plate and double his output. Basically, anyone with a W in their name needs to do their job Well.
Team to watch –
Washington Huskies- Last year Washington was 7-6, 5-4 in conference. This will be the team to watch with anticipation in the PAC-12. Last year the team boasted a huge number of freshman and freshman starters. This year look out for the maturity to be evident in the team, not only in size but also in their decision making. Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin should work in tandem to throw bigger numbers against their opponents. Last year Gaskin smoked 1000 yards and had 14 TD’s. Look for another 1000+ yr and more touchdowns as the team utilizes him to his fullest. Good news for the Sophomore QB, WR Dante Pettis returns and this will allow him to stretch the field.
I wont go into too much detail on the PAC-12 as it will be discussed ad-nauseum by ESPN, ABC and whomever covers college football. These guys tend to obsess over PAC-12 and I don’t want to join them.