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2013 PAC 12 Football Preview 

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As we are now in the homestretch before the college football season begins let’s dive into another power conference and figure out who to watch and who will finish where.

Players to watch:

Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE, Wash (Jr.)

This guy is the biggest advantage probably in all of college football. At 6’6 276lbs this guy is like Tony Gonzalez in his prime. For those of you who don’t really remember what that was… imagine if Jimmy Graham were a much better blocker.

Marqise Lee WR, USC (Jr.)

If Jadeveon Clowney weren’t in the mix I would say this kid is probably the most talented at his position in the country. Lee is an absolute freak. Last year alone he caught 118 balls for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. Maybe they don’t have the quality arm to get him the ball in positions to make plays but I can promise you he will do so anyway. Those numbers may not be as high this year but this kid has a rich future of playing on Sunday.

Marcus Mariota QB, Ore (So.)

Super Mario’s number will be called upon much more often this year. While De’Anthony Thomas has proven himself to be a solid running back he isn’t exactly a workhorse like Barner or James prior to him. That means the sophomore will have to handle the load a bit more and could have a monster season.

Anthony Barr LB, UCLA (Sr.)

This running back turned LB is still getting used to his new position. In his first year as a linebacker Barr recorded 83 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. With a years worth of experience under his belt look for those numbers to go way up, and look for him to take charge as the leader of that defense.

Will Sutton DT, ASU (Sr.)

Apologies to Sutton for putting a guy who has only played one year at his position ahead of him even if this isn’t really a ranked list. This guy recorded 13 sacks last season including two in their bowl game. With two guys lined up alongside him to take some of the focus away he should have a career year and really burst onto the scene with some nice momentum heading to the NFL Draft.

How they’ll finish:


6. Cal (20-1)

This is going to be an entertaining team. They are as young as they get and with new head coach Sonny Dykes they will be running one of the fasted offenses in the conference. There is a decent chance this offense ends up being sloppy this year. Yet the Golden Bears seem to have some potential here. If they can block well they could have a chance to score some points. They do however have a really tough schedule. Their out of conference games are tough enough with Northwestern and Ohio State. After their clash with OSU they have a bye week followed by the following run… @ Oregon, vs Washington State, @ UCLA, vs Oregon State, @ Washington, vs Arizona, vs USC, @ Colorado, and @ Stanford to finish the year… something tells me they will run out of gas and end up in last place here.

5. Washington State (20-1)

I am a big fan of second year Cougar Gabe Marks. Last year he seemed to run out of gas. But this year he will be in better shape. He seems to possess that crazy work ethic that the real pros possess. With Mike Leach at the helm this offense is going to look to find this kid a lot and should make many a big play.

4. Oregon State (5-1)

Here’s the issue with the Beavers. They do in fact have a great defense, but they have a problem with caving in once a team takes the drive deep. They ranked 81st in the country in red zone touchdown percentage. They need to fix that but only were able to bring in a couple junior college guys to try and help. They should finish right around the same mark as last year which isn’t enough to compete here.

3. Washington (6-1)

For the Huskies the offensive line is the biggest question mark. They need to get better at blocking for senior quarterback Keith Price. He has so many weapons around him that they should succeed this year. Besides having the greatest mismatch in the game in TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Price also has junior wideout Kasen Williams, who is a trustworthy target. Young Jaydon Mickens, and his big play potential out of the slot, and DiAndre Campbell should emerge and senior James Johnson returns off of a wrist injury a year ago. They should have plenty of weapons. They also have a very nice pass defense. If they can corral the opponents ground game they should really succeed this year. They could even surprise everyone and win this conference.

2. Stanford (+250)

One would have thought if they were going to fall off it would have happened last season. After winning the conference a year ago they return another stout offensive line and a loaded defensive front seven on D. They are going to win nearly every battle in the trenches and that should offset any deficiencies in other areas, namely sophomore QB, Kevin Hogan.

1. Oregon (-120)

As far as the starters go the Ducks are just as good if not better than Stanford at every position. Even their front seven is right there with the Cardinal. Plus they boast a far superior offense that should rush for 300+ yards on a weekly basis. An additional year from Super Mario should boost this team to the next level.


6. Colorado (25-1)

Wow is this team bad. They haven’t finished over .500 since 2005 including a remarkable 1-12 finish one year ago. New head coach Mike McIntyre will look to change their losing ways by implementing the Pistol offense but that requires quite a bit of talent and speed at some key positions. McIntyre won double digit games last year at SJ State but don’t expect anything near that this year. Things may be looking up in Boulder, as far as their future is concerned, but they will still finish the year looking up at everyone else in the PAC-12.

5. Utah (9-1)

The Utes have struggled in their two years since joining the PAC-12. While of course that is expected when you move into a power conference, but I’m not sure this is the year they really flourish. They have some possible replacements for some stars they lost last year but that’s about it. It wouldn’t appear the Utes have better enough to really compete. Not to mention that they are saddled with a really tough schedule including a stretch of vs UCLA, vs Stanford, @ Arizona, and @ USC before their second bye and then vs Arizona St, @ Oregon and @ Washington St immediately following said bye week. If not for the difficult schedule they probably would have been bumped up ahead of Arizona.

4. Arizona (+275)

The Wildcats have one stud in runningback Ka'Deem Carey, but question marks at almost every other position. The read-option offense is a Rich Rodriguez staple and should allow Carey to get plenty of touches. However without any real option at quarterback, as of now, things could get ugly in Arizona. That could be especially true if their defense doesn’t shape up. Last year they didn’t allow less than 38 points in any of their losses which puts far too much pressure on an offense that likes to stay on the ground.

3. USC (+175)

Everyone knows the way to replace Matt Barkley is by naming two starting quarterbacks with similar talents. And everyone knows the best way to fix an awful run defense is by implementing a 5-2 defensive scheme which moves the interior lineman to the outside and the defensive ends to linebackers. With everyone adjusting to almost a completely new playbook as well as new positions is the proper way to bounce back from a down year.

2. Arizona State (3-1)

While this team could end up winning the division the fact that they have to play UCLA and Stanford on the road as well as USC at home the week after Stanford will probably be their undoing. They have a great pass rush including Will Sutton and Carl Bradford who combined for 24.5 sacks last season. Enter sophomore Jaxon Hood. While you won’t hear his name as much as the other two he will receive the benefit of the other two receiving so much focus. Hood has the motor and the will to be a great player and playing alongside Sutton and Bradford is only going to help him get better. As a whole though that defense needs to perform better. In their five losses last year they allowed an average of 37ppg. That puts far too much pressure on an offense based around the tailbacks.

1. UCLA (+250)

There are a few things that scare me about this UCLA team. First, they need to somehow replace Jonathan Franklin, who will be playing on Sundays, taking handoffs from Aaron Rodgers. Second, the Bruins allowed a staggering 58 sacks last year. And third, their secondary looked a bit lost at times last year and now this year they have almost nobody that exudes confidence. They don’t even have one guy they can turn to as a leader. They have a lot of maturation to overcome in their secondary.

The best thing going for them is their sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley. This kid could be a fixture in the football world for years to come. If they can just protect the pocket even marginally better they can put up a lot of points and reach the PAC-12 conference title for the second year in a row.

Best Bets to win the PAC-12:

Oregon +150

Stanford +400

UCLA +650


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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