Pac-12 South: 2015 Preview
While the Pac-12 North should be a cakewalk for Oregon, the South is up for grabs.
As many as five teams have a realistic shot at winning the division.
Unlike the SEC West, where the winner will likely be a clear favorite in the conference title game, if the Pac-12 South contenders beat each other up like they did last year, there's no guarantee those mystics on the CFP Anointment Patrol will invite them to the party.
If USC can keep their coach from making stupid mistakes, they could just sneak in and take the division.
Steve Sarkisian, drunken stupor and all, welcomes back QB Cody Kessler, who had a great opener, throwing for four touchdowns against undermanned Arkansas State. Tre Madden rushed for 106 yards, as USC should be explosive on offense all year. The defense will be rebuilding, but should be better than most in the conference.
None other than UCLA, has found their quarterback in freshman Josh Rosen who torched Virginia for 351 yards and three touchdowns. The Bruins also have Soso Jamabo and Paul Perkins to run the ball and coach Jim Mora continues to rave about über-LB and occasional RB Myles Jack, who very well could be starting in the NFL next season.
Trips to Arizona, Stanford, and Utah will be tough, but expect the UCLA-USC game on Sat 28 Nov to mean something extra for at least one of these teams.
Arizona State is another contender even though they lost their opener to Texas A&M, 38-17. Mike Bercovici has taken over at quarterback but was not good against the Aggies. Dude needs to improve before the Sun Devils get USC and UCLA back-to-back on Sat 26 Sep and Sat 3 Oct.
The Sun Devils only had 102 yards rushing last week -- they'd lost featured RB Kalen Ballage to mono -- and that along with a defense that was supposed to be strong will have to improve. Odds are they will, and soon.
Arizona is in Year 4 of the Rich Rodriguez Era. Their rise during that time has been impressive; the Wildcats advanced to the Pac-12 championship game last year, where they were destroyed by Oregon, 51-13. Anu Solomon is back at quarterback and threw for 229 yards in their opening win over UTSA. The Wildcats did suffer a big loss defensively in their opener, though, as LB Scooby Wright injured his knee and is out for 3-4 weeks.
Returning QB Travis Wilson returns at quarterback, and he threw for 208 yards against the Wolverines while rushing for 69 more. The defense needs to step it up, what with trips to Oregon, USC, and Arizona on the docket.
Everyone is correct in saying Colorado will finish last in the division, so the Buffaloes suprised no one by being upset in their opener at Hawaii, 28-20. A bit of home cookin' helped to seal the deal, too:
Nothing like piling on a program struggling to get up, it seems.
The Buffaloes have Sefo Liufau at quarterback and Mike Adkins running the ball, but coach Mike MacIntyre will need more help -- as the scarcity of strong defense plagues those in Boulder, too -- in his attempt to improve over last year's 2-10 season where Colorado was winless in the Pac-12.
With Labor Day weekend coming so late this year and the college season geared to begin at that time, many teams across the country have squeezed schedules, ie- one or no bye weeks.
The resultant attrition could affect quite a few programs, and in a division as balanced as the Pac-12 South, team depth may ultimately determine who's playing for the conference title in December.