Big 12 South
University of Southern California (USC) Quarterback Matt Barkley returned for his senior season for the opportunity to lead the Trojans to the National Championship! With four returning linemen and three NFL caliber receivers, and the addition of Penn State transfer Running Back Silas Redd, this could be the best offense in the country! Look for them to smash the 35.8 PPG they averaged from last year. The defense returns seven starters, including everyone from the secondary. The only weakness might be the line, where three starters departed, but the Trojans have highly touted replacements ready to step in. NCAA sanctions stripped the Trojans of many scholarships and the bigger issue might be a lack of depth. If the Trojans stay healthy, they could win the National Championship!
Big game: November 3 hosting Oregon My prediction – 12- 0
Utah Last year, the Utes made the move from the Mountain West Conference to the PAC 12. Injuries to several key starters, including Quarterback Jordan Wynn, cost the Utes last year. Wynn is back, healthy, and ready to lead what should be an explosive offense. Joining Wynn in the backfield will be John White, who rushed for over 1,600 yards last year! The top six receivers and three linemen also return. On defense, the Utes are big and nasty! Seven starters return to a unit that gave up 20.2 PPG last year.
Big game: October 4 hosting USC My prediction – 10-2
California – Los Angeles (UCLA) Jim Mora comes in from the NFL to take control over what many consider to be an under-achieving program. With several quality players back on offense, I believe the Bruins will easily put up better numbers than the 23.1 PPG they averaged last year. The defense should be the strength early, as nine starters return to a team that allowed 31.4 PPG last year. I look for big improvement on this side of the ball, and I think as the season goes on, this team becomes very dangerous!
Big game: November 17 hosting USC My prediction – 8-4
Arizona Exit Mike Stoops, and enter Rich Rodriguez who returns to coaching after being fired at Michigan. He is known for his offensive prowess, and will have some players to work with, as the entire offensive line is back, as well as Quarterback Matt Scott, who steps into the starting role with some experience, and brings a different dimension, as he is a capable runner. On defense, six starters return to a unit that yielded 35.4 PPG last year.
Big game: September 8 hosting Oklahoma State My prediction 6-6
Arizona State (ASU) Everything is new at ASU, with well-traveled Todd Graham taking as head coach. The offense and defense lose seven starters. The good news is that 1,000 yard rusher Cameron Marshall returns.
Big game: November 23 at Arizona My prediction 3-9
Colorado Along with Utah, the Buffalos joined the conference last year. Things didn’t go as well for Colorado as they struggled in 2-7 record in the Pac-12. On offense, the Buffs have only 3 starters returning, all on the offensive line. Coach John Embree had open competition at all the skill positions at the start of fall practice. I think they will struggle to match the 19.8 PPG from last year. The defense has six starters back from a unit that allowed 36.5 PPG last season.
Big game: September 2 vs. Colorado State in Denver My prediction – 3-9
Oregon I absolutely love this team! The Ducks are my pick to win the North division, lose to USC, and then beat them in the conference championship, for the right to play Oklahoma for the national title. The offense suffers some heavy losses, including Quarterback Darren Thomas, Running Back La Michael James and two offensive linemen. Freshman Marcus Mariota steps in at QB for Thomas, with a big arm and amazing speed — I expect him to produce at a higher level than his predecessor. Backs Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas form what may be the best running back combo in the country. The Ducks also have several gifted receivers ready to step up. The key here is getting these guys experience, and they will be able to do that with a soft non-conference schedule. The defense will be solid with six starters returning.
Big game: November 3 at USC My prediction – 11-1
California I think the Golden Bears could have one of their best teams in years. Quarterback Zach Maynard, top rusher Isi Sofele (1,382 yards- and top receiver, Keenan Allen 98 rec. 1,343 yards all return. I see improved offense over last year’s 28.3 PPG. Defense is where the Bears might struggle a bit, as they five of the six top tacklers. The secondary will be the strength of the D with three starters back.
Big game: October 6 hosting UCLA My prediction 8-4
Stanford The Andrew Luck Show has moved on to the NFL. He didn’t go alone – he was joined by two of his linemen and Tight End Coby Fleener. I it’s going to be very tough to replace this kind of talent. The Cardinal do get back Running Back Stephen Taylor who rushed for 1,363 yards and caught an additional 25 balls last season, but I expect a big decrease in the 43.2 PPG from last year. The defense is in better shape as seven starters return, including all four starting linebackers.
Big game: October 13 at Notre Dame My prediction 6-6
Washington The Huskies are a year away from being a real threat, starting only three seniors! The Huskies are led by Quarterback Keith Price, who passed for more than 3,000 yards and had 33 TDs. Breaking out this year should be Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Receiver Kasen Williams who could both land on the All-Conference team. The young Huskies should top last season’s 33.4 PPG. Justin Wilcox was brought in from Tennessee to take over at defensive coordinator. He has seven returning starters to work with, only one of whom is a senior. I think you’ll see improvement from the 35.9 PPG allowed last year.
Big game: September 27 hosting Stanford My prediction 6-6
Washington State The Cougars will be a lot of fun to watch this year. I love the hiring of Mike Leach. This guy knows how to recruit and run a prolific offense. Quaterback Jeff ‘Tuel is back along with All-Conference Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson who caught 82 balls for 1,388 yards last year. I expect bigger numbers from an offense that scored 29.8 PPG last year. The defense will be led by a secondary which returns intact. Finding replacements at the linebacking position will be a major concern.
Big game: November 23 hosting Washington My prediction – 5-7
Oregon State The Beavers return 15 starters, including Quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw for 3,328 yards last season, but added 18 picks. The defense should be the strength of the team, and should improve on last year’s 30.8 PPG. The non-conference schedule is tough, with a home encounter against Wisconsin and a road game at BYU.
Big game: October 20 hosting Utah My prediction – 2 -10