The Pac-12 is loaded with talent and could even produce the 2016 Heisman Tropy winner, but as a league it is up for grabs in both divisions. Who will prevail with a potential chance to reach the College Football Playoff? Here are Bruce Feldman's predictions for every Pac-12 team in 2016.
6. Pac-12 North: Oregon State (2-10, 1-8)
Utah State QB transfer Darrell Garretson will help -- and he does have two pretty good wideouts -- but I just don’t think they’re anywhere near good enough in the trenches yet to hang in a stacked North division. Gary Andersen’s team should start showing improvement, but it may take longer than desired due to the strength of the division. Last year: 2-10, 0-9, no bowl game.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
5. Pac-12 North: Cal (6-6, 3-6)
It’s not going to be easy to replace the first pick of the draft AND their top six receivers. Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb is just what Cal needed. He’s got NFL talent. Unfortunately, the defense looks pretty mediocre and losing steady Hardy Nickerson Jr. stings. Last year: 8-5, 4-5, beat Air Force in Armed Forces Bowl.
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY SportsRobert Stanton
4. Pac-12 North: Oregon (8-4, 6-3)
This is probably the best collection of backs and receivers Oregon’s ever had. Dakota Prukop, the new QB, is an excellent runner and should fit well if he can become more consistent in the passing game. The defense was dreadful last year and that was with DeForest Buckner, the best D-lineman in the conference. Now Buckner’s in the NFL, but I do expect them to play hard for new DC Brady Hoke, who comes from the Rocky Long defensive tree. Last year: 9-4, 7-2, lost to TCU in Alamo Bowl.
Getty ImagesSteve Dykes
3. Pac-12 North: Washington State (9-3, 6-3)
Former walk-on QB Luke Falk proved a Godsend for Wazzu. He brought much-needed leadership and presence to the Cougars’ offense. They should be even more explosive this fall, but the defensive front is undersized and pretty thin to expect them to be able to win a very good division. Last year: 9-4, 6-3, beat Miami in Sun Bowl.
James Snook-USA TODAY SportsJames Snook
2. Pac-12 North: Washington (9-3, 6-3)
I love their secondary and Jake Browning, their QB. I see them as a Top 15 team this year that could be a Top 5 squad next year. Last year: 7-6, 4-5, beat Southern Miss in Heart of Dallas Bowl.
1. Pac-12 North: Stanford (10-2, 7-2)
This is the tougher division, and the Cardinal have the biggest QB question of the top half of the North. But they also have the best player in the league in Christian McCaffrey and what figures to be a very good secondary. They also rarely beat themselves. Last year: 12-2, 8-1, beat Iowa in Rose Bowl.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
6. Pac-12 South: Colorado (4-8, 2-7)
The offense is a little different this fall, but I’m not sold on their O-line. While I think they’ll stay in a bunch of Pac-12 games, I’m not sure they have enough to turn the corner this year. Last year: 4-9, 1-8, no bowl game.
5. Pac-12 South: Arizona State (6-6, 3-6)
I have the Sun Devils getting to .500 as they break in another new QB and hope to make some strides on defense. I flip-flopped a few times but ultimately gave them a win over Texas Tech. Last year: 6-7, 4-5, lost to West Virginia in Cactus Bowl.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
4. Pac-12 South: Arizona (7-5, 4-5)
Opening with BYU is tough, as is a brutal October that includes back-to-back road games to UCLA and Utah followed by visits from USC and Stanford, and then they have to visit Wazzu in early November. Expecting anything more than 2-3 in that stretch feels overly optimistic when you’re talking about a team that has limited talent on defense. Last year: 7-6, 3-6, beat New Mexico in New Mexico Bowl.
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
3. Pac-12 South: USC (7-5, 5-4)
The Trojans have the roughest schedule in the country. It starts with Alabama and features 11 teams that went to bowl games last year. Clay Helton’s team has a lot of skill talent and a gifted secondary, but it is breaking in a new QB and is very, very inexperienced on the D-line. Last year: 8-6, 6-3, lost to Wisconsin in Holiday Bowl.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
2. Pac-12 South: Utah (8-4, 5-4)
Once again, they should be nasty on both lines, but they have a new QB and I’m not sure the offense will be explosive enough to win the South. Last year: 10-3, 6-3, beat BYU in Las Vegas Bowl.
Getty ImagesEthan Miller
1. Pac-12 South: UCLA (9-3, 7-2)
Josh Rosen’s the headliner. He’s got fantastic physical tools and is also very smart. What he doesn’t have is proven wideouts to rely on. If he had USC’s receivers, UCLA probably could be a playoff team. Instead, I think the Bruins are a fringe Top 15 team. Last year: 8-5, 5-4, lost to Nebraska in Foster Farms Bowl.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsGary A. Vasquez
Pac-12 title game: Stanford over UCLA
Josh Rosen vs. Stanford would be a fascinating matchup for the Pac-12 title. I’ll go with David Shaw, whose teams have won three of the past four Pac-12 titles and given the Bruins fits of late.