WhatIfSports 2016 Pac-12 preview: Projected standings and game-by-game predictions

BY Jake Westrich • December 24, 2016

Which team will be crowned Pac-12 champions? WhatIfSports.com played every game of the 2016 season 101 times to generate game-by-game predictions for each Pac-12 team, as well as projected conference standings.

All games were played using WhatIfSports' college football simulation engine, which uses its highly sophisticated algorithms to simulate every play of the game. The conference standings table displays the most likely outcome for each team, whereas the team-by-team schedules display absolute records. 

2016 Pac-12 Projected Conference Standings
North W L Overall Record
Stanford Cardinal 7 2  10-2
Washington Huskies 6 3  9-3
Oregon Ducks 5 4  8-4
Washington State Cougars 5 4  8-4
California Golden Bears 4 5  7-5
Oregon State Beavers 2 7  3-9
South W L Overall Record
UCLA Bruins 6 3  8-4
USC Trojans 5 4  7-5
Utah Utes 5 4  8-4
Arizona State Sun Devils 4 5  6-6
Arizona Wildcats 3 6  5-7
Colorado Buffaloes 2 7  4-8

SEE ALSO: SEC PreviewBig 12 Preview, Big Ten Preview, ACC Preview

Three Storylines

Oregon Comes Down to Earth

After seven straight seasons of double-digit win totals, Oregon slipped to 9-4 last year, ending the season with an overtime loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl. Is the setback an aberration or is the Oregon program heading in the wrong direction? The Ducks begin the year ranked 24th in the AP poll, their lowest preseason ranking since 2007 and their first outside the Top 10 since 2010.

Can Christian McCaffrey Do It Again?

McCaffrey's 2015 season was one of the best in the history of college football. He broke Barry Sanders' 27-year-old record for all-purpose yards, compiling 3,496 yards. Sanders totaled 3,249 yards during his 1988 Heisman season. McCaffrey was denied the Heisman Trophy last year, finishing second in voting to Alabama's Derrick Henry.

College Football Is Back in the State of Washington

The Washington Huskies haven't won 10 games since an 11-1 season in 2000, but voters have the Huskies ranked 14th in the AP preseason poll. Meanwhile, across the state in Pullman, the Washington State Cougars won nine games in 2015, the program's most since a 10-3 season in 2003.

Three Players to Watch

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC

Smith-Schuster led the Pac-12 in reception yardage in 2015, hauling in 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 scores. He'll be working with a new quarterback this year though, as Cody Kessler will be suiting up for the Cleveland Browns.

RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

McCaffrey's 2015 season by the numbers: 337 rush attempts for 2,019 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns; 45 receptions for 645 yards (14.3 yards per catch) and five touchdowns; 37 kickoff returns for 1,070 yards (28.9 yards per return) and one touchdown; 15 punt returns for 130 yards (8.7 yards per return) and one touchdown; 2-for-3 passing for 39 yards and two touchdowns.

RB Royce Freeman, Oregon

Freeman is the latest in a line of talented running backs at Oregon. He followed up a freshman campaign in which he ran for 1,365 yards with an even better sophomore year. Freeman's 1,836 rushing yards were fourth-most in the country last season. He showed some talent as a receiver as well, catching 26 passes for 348 yards.

Three Games to Watch

Stanford @ Washington: Friday, September 30

If preseason rankings hold true, this late-September matchup between Stanford and Washington could go a long way in determining the winner of the North division. It would be unwise to count out Oregon, and Washington State is an up-and-comer, but the Cardinal and Huskies appear to be the teams to beat.

Stanford @ Oregon: Saturday, November 12

Stanford and Oregon have produced a number of memorable games, most recently last season's 38-36 thriller in which unranked Oregon upset No. 7 Stanford and spoiled the Cardinal's College Football Playoff hopes. The rematch in Eugene this season will be must-see theater and will showcase the conferences two best running backs in McCaffrey and Freeman.

USC @ UCLA: Saturday, November 19

The two LA-based schools are the favorites in the Pac-12 South. UCLA was 5-4 in conference play last year, but brings back talented quarterback Josh Rosen. The Bruins will be one of six USC opponents ranked in the preseason Top 25, a group headlined by No. 1 Alabama.

To view a team's game-by-game predictions, select the school below:

Arizona | Arizona State | California | Colorado | Oregon | Oregon State | Stanford | UCLA | USC | Utah | Washington | Washington State

2016 Arizona Wildcats
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 BYU Cougars 45.5 27.6-29.4
2 Grambling State Tigers 95.0 47.4-9.3
3 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 67.3 35.1-27.4
4 Washington Huskies 38.6 28.0-30.9
5 @UCLA Bruins 44.6 27.1-30.3
6 @Utah Utes 36.6 24.8-27.9
7 USC Trojans 40.6 29.7-31.6
9 Stanford Cardinal 34.7 27.1-32.9
10 @Washington State Cougars 40.6 30.1-34.2
11 Colorado Buffaloes 59.4 29.2-26.8
12 @Oregon State Beavers 65.3 30.6-26.0
13 Arizona State Sun Devils 51.5 30.4-29.2
2016 Arizona State Sun Devils
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 95.0 47.9-7.9
2 Texas Tech Red Raiders 56.4 32.0-30.5
3 @UTSA Roadrunners 64.4 30.9-24.8
4 California Golden Bears 49.5 29.5-29.7
5 @USC Trojans 44.6 27.4-30.0
6 UCLA Bruins 41.6 25.8-29.8
7 @Colorado Buffaloes 65.3 29.1-25.0
8 Washington State Cougars 48.5 32.4-33.5
9 @Oregon Ducks 48.5 30.8-31.9
11 Utah Utes 50.5 24.4-25.5
12 @Washington Huskies 42.6 26.4-28.5
13 @Arizona Wildcats 48.5 29.2-30.4
2016 California Golden Bears
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 @Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 71.3 33.3-25.4
2 @San Diego State Aztecs 49.5 29.6-28.9
3 Texas Longhorns 49.5 28.6-28.7
4 @Arizona State Sun Devils 50.5 29.7-29.5
5 Utah Utes 44.6 27.0-28.6
6 @Oregon State Beavers 60.4 30.1-25.0
8 Oregon Ducks 50.5 30.4-30.8
9 @USC Trojans 38.6 29.2-32.2
10 Washington Huskies 51.5 29.4-30.9
11 @Washington State Cougars 40.6 31.2-33.9
12 Stanford Cardinal 41.6 28.8-31.9
13 UCLA Bruins 47.5 28.6-31.9
2016 Colorado Buffaloes
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Colorado State Rams 60.4 30.6-28.0
2 Idaho State Bengals 95.0 44.1-6.7
3 @Michigan Wolverines 24.8 23.0-31.2
4 @Oregon Ducks 36.6 26.5-31.4
5 Oregon State Beavers 60.4 27.9-25.2
6 @USC Trojans 34.7 25.9-30.6
7 Arizona State Sun Devils 34.7 25.0-29.1
8 @Stanford Cardinal 26.7 23.6-32.2
10 UCLA Bruins 37.6 24.7-29.3
11 @Arizona Wildcats 40.6 26.8-29.2
12 Washington State Cougars 40.6 28.8-31.5
13 Utah Utes 31.7 22.8-26.1
2016 Oregon Ducks
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 UC Davis Aggies 95.0 54.6-6.7
2 Virginia Cavaliers 55.4 30.7-28.6
3 @Nebraska Cornhuskers 56.4 31.5-29.2
4 Colorado Buffaloes 63.4 31.4-26.5
5 @Washington State Cougars 46.5 33.6-33.1
6 Washington Huskies 46.5 29.8-31.6
8 @California Golden Bears 49.5 30.8-30.4
9 Arizona State Sun Devils 51.5 31.9-30.8
10 @USC Trojans 45.5 31.4-31.3
11 Stanford Cardinal 47.5 30.7-32.4
12 @Utah Utes 58.4 29.2-28.0
13 @Oregon State Beavers 70.3 32.5-26.3
2016 Oregon State Beavers
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 @Minnesota Golden Gophers 43.6 25.6-26.8
3 Idaho State Bengals 95.0 44.9-7.5
4 Boise State Broncos 30.7 25.6-29.9
5 @Colorado Buffaloes 39.6 25.2-27.9
6 California Golden Bears 39.6 25.0-30.1
7 Utah Utes 34.7 23.1-27.2
8 @Washington Huskies 28.7 22.6-30.5
9 Washington State Cougars 39.6 28.6-33.0
10 @Stanford Cardinal 18.8 23.1-33.4
11 @UCLA Bruins 30.7 25.6-32.4
12 Arizona Wildcats 34.7 26.0-30.6
13 Oregon Ducks 29.7 26.3-32.5
2016 Stanford Cardinal
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Kansas State Wildcats 55.4 28.0-24.9
3 USC Trojans 64.4 31.0-28.4
4 @UCLA Bruins 57.4 30.6-27.3
5 @Washington Huskies 54.5 29.7-29.3
6 Washington State Cougars 61.4 34.0-29.7
7 @Notre Dame Fighting Irish 54.5 30.0-28.6
8 Colorado Buffaloes 73.3 32.2-23.6
9 @Arizona Wildcats 65.3 32.9-27.1
10 Oregon State Beavers 81.2 33.4-23.1
11 @Oregon Ducks 52.5 32.4-30.7
12 @California Golden Bears 58.4 31.9-28.8
13 Rice Owls 80.2 34.0-24.7
2016 UCLA Bruins
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 @Texas A&M Aggies 43.6 27.0-28.8
2 UNLV Rebels 72.3 32.4-25.5
3 @BYU Cougars 57.4 28.4-26.3
4 Stanford Cardinal 41.6 27.3-30.6
5 Arizona Wildcats 55.4 30.3-27.1
6 @Arizona State Sun Devils 58.4 29.8-25.8
7 @Washington State Cougars 59.4 32.2-30.3
8 Utah Utes 52.5 25.8-27.2
10 @Colorado Buffaloes 62.4 29.3-24.7
11 Oregon State Beavers 69.3 32.4-25.6
12 USC Trojans 40.6 30.4-31.7
13 @California Golden Bears 52.5 31.9-28.6
2016 USC Trojans
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 @Alabama Crimson Tide 37.6 24.5-27.8
2 Utah State Aggies 65.3 32.3-27.5
3 @Stanford Cardinal 35.6 28.4-31.0
4 @Utah Utes 56.4 28.1-26.2
5 Arizona State Sun Devils 55.4 30.0-27.4
6 Colorado Buffaloes 65.3 30.6-25.9
7 @Arizona Wildcats 59.4 31.6-29.7
9 California Golden Bears 61.4 32.2-29.2
10 Oregon Ducks 54.5 31.3-31.4
11 @Washington Huskies 40.6 28.0-29.8
12 @UCLA Bruins 59.4 31.7-30.4
13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 50.5 30.9-30.7
2016 Utah Utes
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Southern Utah Thunderbirds 95 46.5-9.1
2 BYU Cougars 49.5 24.5-24.7
3 @San Jose State Spartans 66.3 29.2-24
4 USC Trojans 43.6 26.2-28.1
5 @California Golden Bears 52.5 28.6-27
6 Arizona Wildcats 63.4 27.9-24.8
7 @Oregon State Beavers 65.3 27.2-23.1
8 @UCLA Bruins 47.5 27.2-25.8
9 Washington Huskies 32.7 23.5-26.1
11 @Arizona State Sun Devils 49.5 25.5-24.4
12 Oregon Ducks 41.6 28-29.2
13 @Colorado Buffaloes 68.3 26.1-22.8
2016 Washington Huskies
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 78.2 33.3-23.8
2 Idaho Vandals 85.1 35.6-21.7
3 Portland State Vikings 95.0 49.4-6.5
4 @Arizona Wildcats 60.4 30.9-28.0
5 Stanford Cardinal 45.5 29.3-29.7
6 @Oregon Ducks 53.5 31.6-29.8
8 Oregon State Beavers 71.3 30.5-22.6
9 @Utah Utes 67.3 26.1-23.5
10 @California Golden Bears 48.5 30.9-29.4
11 USC Trojans 58.4 29.8-28.0
12 Arizona State Sun Devils 56.4 28.5-26.4
13 @Washington State Cougars 60.4 32.3-29.1
2016 Washington State Cougars
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Eastern Washington Eagles 95.0 51.9-7.7
2 @Boise State Broncos 54.5 32.7-31.0
3 Idaho Vandals 79.2 37.2-26.4
5 Oregon Ducks 52.5 33.1-33.6
6 @Stanford Cardinal 38.6 29.7-34.0
7 UCLA Bruins 40.6 30.3-32.2
8 @Arizona State Sun Devils 51.5 33.5-32.4
9 @Oregon State Beavers 60.4 33.0-28.6
10 Arizona Wildcats 59.4 34.2-30.1
11 California Golden Bears 59.4 33.9-31.2
12 @Colorado Buffaloes 59.4 31.5-28.8
13 Washington Huskies 39.6 29.1-32.3




share story