BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Monday, August 20, 2012

2012-2013 Pac-12 Projections

Well I think it is safe to say that there are only two teams contending for the Pac-12 this season. The Ducks and Trojans will most likely face off twice against each other this season. Once during the regular season on Nov. 3rd in Los Angeles and in the Pac-12 Championship on Nov. 30th. The conference overall will be much improved though with all of the coaching changes that occurred in the off-season. Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez, Arizona State hired Todd Graham, UCLA hired Jim Mora, Jr, and Washington State hired offensive guru Mike Leach. A much improved team this year in the Pac-12 will be the Utah Utes, who under performed last season because of an early season injury to Quarterback Jordan Wynn.

SOUTH DIVISION          W-L    Analysis

1. USC                              13-0     The Trojans are back and ready to contend for a Pac-12 and National Championship after a two season absence with a two year bowl ban. Senior Heisman candidate Matt Barkley returns for his final season and looks to lead the Trojans to prominence once again. Barkley was unstoppable last season throwing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdown passes. Barkley's targets include potential All-American Jr. Wide Receiver Robert Woods, who had 1,292 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, and So. Marquise Lee, who had 1,143 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. The running game returns Sr. Curtis McNeil, who rushed for over just 1,000 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with current Penn State transfer Jr. Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 total yards and 7 touchdowns. The offense also will return six other starters on offense from last season, including potential All-American Sr. Center Khaled Holmes. Seven starters return on a defense that was ranked 16th in the country in defense against the rush at 111.4 ypg. The Trojan Defense returns one of the best safeties in the country Sr. T.J. McDonald, as well as Jr. cornerback Nickell Robey. Sophomore Linebackers Hayes Pullard and Dion Bailey also look to improve after they both recorded 81 tackles last season. The Trojans schedule sets up nicely and the Trojans should be 8-0 when they host Oregon on Nov. 3rd. If they win this showdown with the Ducks look for the Trojans to win the rest of their season games and end the regular season 12-0. The Trojans will then play Oregon again in the Championship in either Los Angeles or Eugene. If they win, the Trojans will be heading to Miami and will be in the hunt for another National Championship.

2. Utah                               8-4      Utah had their chance to win the Pac-12 South in their very first season being apart of the Pac-12 Conference, but blew it when they missed a game tying field goal near the end of regulation against Colorado and lost 17-14. Utah was mediocre at best last season and this is mostly because of the loss of their starting QB Jordan Wynn in the fourth game of the season. Jr. QB Jordan Wynn is back though and the Utes are looking to be a much improved team this season. The running game looks to be solid too with potential All-Pac-12 Running back Sr. starter John White returning, who rushed for 1,519 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. The offense also returns seven other starters. This Utah offense ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in total offense last season. The Ute Defense was a complete different story last season as they were ranked first in scoring in the Pac-12 last season only giving up 20.2 ppg. The Ute Defense returns seven starters and is led by one of the best Defensive Tackles in the country Sr. Star Lotulelei, who had 7.5 TFL last season. The Utes have a very good chance of starting the season 4-0 before they host USC on Oct. 4. Utah avoids playing Oregon and Stanford, so they have a legitimate shot at hitting 8 or 9 wins this season. After Utah plays USC, every game after is very winnable.

3. Arizona                          7-5      What is there to say after the Wildcats season last year? Well, not much. The Cats started off with a victory over Northern Arizona 41-10 then fell on their face the next five games. Arizona was outscored by a combined total of 178-96 points in their games against Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, and USC. The tipping point is when the Cats traveled to Corvallis and lost to an awful Oregon State Beaver team 37-27, and soon after Head Coach Mike Stoops was fired. Now it is up to New Head Coach Rich Rodriguez to get the program back on track, after he left a disappointing three year coaching tenure at Michigan just two years ago. The Cats lose QB Nick Foles, but Sr. Matt Scott looks to lead the Cats after returning from another injury. Scott should be a good fit for Rodriguez's speed-option offense. The backfield for the Cats will look to be much improved with So. Running back Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for six touchdowns last season. The defense returns six starters, which includes Sr. MLB Brian Wagner and Jr. SS Marquis Flowers. It will be key for the Wildcats to start off 3-3, in order to have a chance of going bowling. A key game for the Wildcats will be on Oct. 20th when they host Washington. This game could put them in a position to go over .500 for the season.

4. UCLA                           6-6       UCLA has been to bowl games their last three of five seasons, but it has been brutal for the fans of Westwood. The Bruins found a way to win the Pac-12 South last season, with USC on their last year of probation and Utah and Arizona State choking to end the season. Even though the Bruins won the Pac-12 South, UCLA was not satisfied with it's 6-7 season record and Rick Neuheisel was fired. So in comes Jim Mora, who looks to finally end a decade of mediocracy and end a five game losing streak to in city rival USC. The Bruins return seven on offense including Sr. Quarterback Kevin Prince, who has been anything but consistent these past few years in the UCLA offense. The Bruins also return Sr. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who rushed for 976 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, as well as Sr. Tight End Joseph Fauria, who caught 6 touchdowns last season. The defense returns nine starters and looks to improve with a new coaching staff after being ranked 8th in the Pac-12 Conference and 89th in the country in total defense. So. Linebacker Eric Kendricks looks to improve this season after recording 77 tackles last season. He is joined by Sr. Linebacker Patrick Larimore and Sr. Cornerback Aaron Hester. The Bruins will be .500 at best this season, and will need to win games at home against Houston (Sep. 15th), Oregon State (Sep. 22nd), Arizona (Nov.3) and away games at Rice (Aug. 30th) and  Colorado (Sep. 29th). The Bruins will need to either win at Arizona State (Oct. 27th) or at Washington State (Nov.10th) to get their sixth win. Look for the Bruins to improve as a team this year, more so than record wise.

5. Arizona State                 5-7    If you want to talk about a disappointing team from the 2011 season, the first one that comes to mind is the Arizona State Sun Devils. Prior to the season, the Sun Devils looked to be a lock for the Pac-12 South Title with big arm QB Brock Osweiler. The Sun Devils looked like a solid team after they crushed USC at home 43-22. The Sun Devils were 5-1 when they headed to Eugene and were defeated by the Ducks 41-27. After this loss, the Sun Devils looked awful as they lost road games at UCLA and Washington State. As well as home games against Arizona and Cal.  The Sun Devils had disappointed everyone yet again, and Head Coach Dennis Erickson was fired. Now it is up to new Head Coach Todd Graham to get the Sun Devils back in order. The Sun Devils though are still in a three way QB race consisting of Redshirt Freshman Michael Eubank, Sophomore Mike Bercovici, and Sophomore Taylor Kelly. The Sun Devils will have their work cut out for them as they only return 4 starters on offense. Sr. Running back Cameron Marshall, who rushed for 1,050 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, will need to be the leader of the offense this season. The defense also only returns four starters from last season. The Sun Devil defense will be led by Sr. Linebacker Brandon Magee. The Sun Devils schedule will be challenging as they will have a rather rough out of conference schedule playing home against Illinois (Sep. 8th) and at Missouri (Sep. 15th). The Sun Devils should be satisfied if they are able to hit five wins this season. Their conference schedule is going to be brutal. They will need to win games at Colorado (Oct. 11th), home against UCLA (Oct. 27th), at Oregon State (Nov. 3rd), and their last two vs Washington State (Nov.17th) and at Arizona (Nov. 23rd).

6. Colorado                        4-8    A team that used to be a threat in the Big 12 Conference will again be a disappointment in the Pac-12. Last season, The Buffaloes went 3-9 and were among one of the worst offenses and defenses in the country. The Buffaloes return just 9 starters (3 offense; 6 defense). The Buffaloes will start new Sophomore QB Connor Wood, a transfer from Texas, or Sophomore Nick Hirschman. The offense will need their underclassman to step up their game if they want a chance at being successful this season. The Buffaloes lost a big part of their offense from last season with the departure of Running back Rodney Stewart to the NFL draft. On defense, the Buffaloes were ranked 102nd in total defense in the country last season and will need to improve with the Senior leadership of Linebacker Jon Major and FS Ray Polk. The Buffaloes should start the season off 3-0 as they will face a struggling Colorado State program in the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver, FCS-opponent Sacramento State, and at Fresno State. After that though, look for Colorado to sneak out one or two conference wins.

NORTH DIVISION         W-L    Analysis

1. Oregon                          11-2     The Ducks have been the recent powerhouse of the Pac 10/12. They have won the conference the last three years and finally won their first Rose Bowl in 95 years last season. A main reason for the recent success of the Ducks is because of Head Coach Chip Kelly and the offensive scheme that he runs against his opponents. Kelly knows how to get his players to be at their very best every time they take the field. The Oregon Ducks will look to be a national power once again this season and returns eleven starters from last season. The Ducks may have lost QB Darron Thomas early to the draft and RB LaMichael James, but the offense is looking to reload. The QB battle continues between So. Bryan Bennett, who last year came in and helped the Ducks beat Arizona State with his speed, and Redshirt Freshman Marcus Mariota, who many claim may very well be the starter this season. An offense that was ranked 3rd nationally scoring an average of 46.1 ppg last season will return potential All-Americans Sr. RB Kenjon Barner and the one they call "Black Mamba" So. RB De'Anthony Thomas, who proved he is one of the fastest and dynamic players in the country last season. The offense will also return Jr. Wide Receiver Josh Huff, Sr. Left Guard Carson York, and Sr. Right Guard Nick Cody. The defense returns six starters, which includes potential 1st team All-Pac-12 players Sr. DE Dion Jordan, Sr. Linebacker Michael Clay, and Sr. FS John Boyett. The defense will also consist of Sr. MLB Kiko Alonso, who made key plays in the Rose Bowl win last season, Jr. Linebacker Boseko Lokombo, So. CB Terrance Mitchell, and True Freshman DE Arik Armstead. The Ducks schedule is very favorable this season as they do not have any tough non-conference games and most likely will not be challenged until Nov. 3rd when they travel to USC. After USC, the Ducks will travel to Berkeley, and this could be a trap game as they have struggled the past few years when they have traveled to Cal's Memorial Stadium. The Ducks should be a lock for the Pac-12 Championship game and win or lose against USC in that game, the Ducks should be in good shape for a fourth consecutive BCS bowl game.

2. Stanford                         8-4      With the loss of one of the best players in Stanford history QB Andrew Luck, the Cardinal will take a step back, but still be a good team. The Cardinal return 13 starters, including one of the best Running backs in the country Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The Cardinal Offense will be led by Taylor and new starting Quarterback Brett Nottingham, who thew only eight passes and one touchdown last season. Another key for the Stanford offense will be potential All-Pac-12 first teamer So. Left Guard David Yankey. The Cardinal Defense will return seven starters including high profile player Sr. Linebacker Shayne Skov, Jr. Defensive End Ben Gardner, and Sr. Linebacker Chase Thomas. The defense will look to improve on what was already a great last season. The Cardinal defense ranked 3rd nationally in rush offense only giving up an average of 84.4 ypg. The Cardinal should be good for eight wins this season. The Cardinal will be tested though in their third and fourth game, as they must host USC (Sept. 15th) and play at Washington (Sept. 27th). The Cardinal will then play in South Bend against Notre Dame on Oct. 13th. After this game, the Cardinal will be in the clear until they travel to Oregon on Nov. 17th.

3. Washington                   7-5      The Huskies will again be a 7-5 team. QB Keith Price is being praised for what he has done since Jake Locker left. Last season, Price had a completion percentage of 66.9, 3,063 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes. The Huskies lose top Running back Chris Polk, but return six starters on offense. Sophomore Bishop Sankey will replace Polk at the Running back position and stand out Sophomore Austin Seferian-Jenkins will return at the Tight End position, where he had 538 yards receiving and 6 touchdown receptions last season. The Husky Defense returns seven starters from last season, which includes Jr. SS Sean Parker, who recorded 91 tackles and 4 interceptions. The Huskies also bring back Sr. CB Desmond Trufant. If the Huskies want to improve their record from last season, it will be necessary for them to improve one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 last season. The Huskies gave up an average of 35.9 ppg (11th in the Pac-12), the most memorable game where the nation saw the vulnerability of the Husky Defense is when they gave up 67 points against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl last season. The Huskies start their season off at home against San Diego State then travel to a hostile Tiger Stadium at LSU. Early in the season, the Huskies must also host Stanford (Sept. 27th), travel to Oregon (Oct. 6th), and then host USC (Oct. 13th). We will see if the Huskies have improved since last season in their first six games.

4. Cal                                6-6       The Golden Bears look to be almost identical to last season. They return 11 total starters (6 offense; 5 defense). The offense returns Sr. QB Zach Maynard, who threw for 2,990 yards and 17 touchdowns. Maynard will have two star players to assist him on the offensive side of the ball, one in the backfield and one out wide. Sr. Running back Isi Sofele looks to be a threat within the Cal offense again, as he rushed for 1,322 total yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He also averaged 5.5 yards per carry. At the wide out position, Maynard will have potential All-American Jr. Wide Receiver Keenan Allen, who had 1,343 yards last season and 6 touchdowns. Cal's Defense was among one of the best in the Pac-12 last season ranking first in passing at 204.2 ypg and first in total ypg at 332.9. Sr. Tackle Aaron Tipoto and Sr. CB Marc Anthony will be the leaders of the Golden Bear Defense this season. The Golden Bears should start off the season 2-0 with home wins over Nevada and Southern Utah, but the next two games will be challenging. The Golden Bears must travel to Ohio State and USC back-to-back weeks. The last four of five games will be difficult for Cal, as they host Stanford, Washington, Oregon, and then play at Utah. Look for Cal to steal one of these games though. Cal will look to surprise their fans in a new and remodeled Memorial Stadium.

5. Washington State          6-6       There is about to be a new era in Pullman. Washington State had probably one of the best hires this off-season hiring offensive guru Mike Leach. Look for the Cougs to be a much improved team this season with 14 returning starters, as well as the return of Sr. QB Jeff Tuel, after he was sidelined for most of the season with a calf injury. Tuel is probably one of the best Quarterbacks in the Pac-12, and he will have All-American candidate Jr. Wide Receiver Marquess Wilson, who had 1,388 yards and 12 touchdown receptions last season. The Cougs will also have So. RB Rickey Galvin in the backfield, who may not get many opportunities to run the ball in Leach's system, but will still have a chance in the receiving game, as he had 242 yards receiving and 1 touchdown reception last season. As bad as the injury problem was for Washington State last season, they still were ranked 9th in the country in passing with 322.3 ypg. Washington State's offense will be a force to be reckoned with if the line can give Tuel enough time to throw the ball. On the defensive side of the ball,  The Cougars will need much improvement as they were 95th in the country last season in ppg with 31.8. Sr. Linebacker Travis Long will lead the Cougar Defense this season. Look for Washington State to have their best season since 2006 and become bowl-elgible for the first time since 2003. It will be interesting when the Cougars and Mike Leach travel to BYU on opening weekend. We will see how much improvement the off season has done for these Cougars. Don't be surprised if the Cougars hit 7 wins this season.

6. Oregon State                 5-7       A team that in 2008 and 2009 was one victory away from going to the Rose Bowl has been 8-16 the past two seasons. The Beavers lost to FCS foe Sacramento State on opening weekend 29-28 in overtime last season, then traveled to Madison and was blown out by Wisconsin 35-0. Their first win didn't come until their fifth game of the season when they defeated Arizona at home. Mike Riley's team has struggled as of recent, and they have been outscored 86 to 41 in the past two Civil War games with in-state rival Oregon. The Beavers do return 15 starters from last season (7 offense; 8 defense), including So. QB Sean Mannion and Sr. CB Jordan Poyer. The Beavers need to expand on offense after only averaging 21.8 ppg (100th in the country), 86.9 rushing ypg (118th in the country), and turning the ball over 31 times. Sr. Wide Receiver Marcus Wheaton will need to be a big threat if this offense wants to thrive this season. The Beaver Defense also struggled last season as they gave up an average of 30.8 ppg (89th in the country), and was ranked last in the Pac-12 giving up 196.8 rushing ypg. The question is will the Beavers be an improved team with a majority of the starters returning from last season? The answer is probably not. Oregon State must play Wisconsin and BYU in out of conference games. Oregon State is going to have another rough season and the Beavers should be happy if they hit five wins. Mike Riley may be on the hot seat after this season.

Pac-12 Championship Match-up: USC vs Oregon

Top Ten (Pac-12)

1. Biggest Game: Nov. 3rd- Oregon @ USC
2. Most Valuable to his team: QB Matt Barkley, USC
3. Biggest potential upset: Nov. 10th-Oregon @ Cal
4. Most Explosive player: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
5. Best Head Coach: Chip Kelly, Oregon
6. Biggest Surprise Team: Washington State Cougars
7. Best Defensive Player: T.J. McDonald, USC
8. Biggest Disappointment: Oregon State Beavers
9. Biggest Surprise Player this season: QB Jordan Wynn, Utah
10. Toughest environment to play in: Autzen Stadium, Oregon Ducks

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