Shibley’s 2017 Pac-12 Preview

This will be a fun conference to watch out west. It looks like a three team race at the top, but unlike the Big Ten, the teams below the top three are all pretty solid and may cause an upset or two.

North Division

Champion: Washington

The Huskies offense will keep on chugging along with QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin leading the way. That should hopeful make up for the void in the secondary as the Huskies lost three defensive backs to the NFL. However, Chris Petersen is a proven winner who did so much with less when he was the head coach of Boise State. Now the rebuild is complete and it is time to maintain it also helps that the Huskies would avoid playing USC until the Pac-12 Championship game.

Best of the Rest: Stanford

Want to talk about consistency? Look no further than the Stanford Cardinal. Head Coach David Shaw’s team won 10 games last season and it was considered by many to be a down year (I’d love for that to be a down year at Tennessee again). Yes, dynamic do everything Christian McCaffrey is gone but the Cardinal know how to fill the voids and just keep on winning.

Anyone Else?

Mike Leach has brought Washington State back from the dead. With QB Luke Falk chucking the ball all over the place, the Cougars can get off to a great start with five straight home games to open the season, concluding with USC coming to Pullman on a Friday night.

South Division

Champion: Southern California

It is really tough to ignore the nine game win streak that USC closed the 2016 season with climaxing with the thrilling win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Sam Darnold is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and everything looks dandy for the Trojans. A few things to consider: While Darnold is awesome, the Trojans still have to replace three starters on the offensive line, plus the majority of the receptions from last season. It will also be very tough to replace All-American CB Adoree’ Jackson.

Best of the Rest: Utah

The Utes are always near the top of the division thanks to a consistently solid defense. The offense needs to be able to make more big plays if the Utes are to get all the way to the top. With all the talent USC has, plus the Utes have to travel to Los Angeles to play USC, I do not seeing them getting any higher. At least this season.

Anyone Else: 

Josh Rosen is back from injury to lead UCLA again. Of course this is a make of break year for the Bruins and head coach Jim Mora after the bottom fell out after Rosen went down last season. The first game against Texas A&M is crucial to alleviate some of the pressure.

Colorado is the defending division champions. While many believed they overachieved last season, it is not like this program is going back to the division basement any time soon.

PAC-12 CHAMPION: Washington

One of the biggest factors against USC this season is that they play 12 straight games without a bye to start the season. That does not give the Trojans much room for error is injuries start to pile up. Meanwhile, Washington will have that offense rolling long enough for the defense to catch up and the Huskies will be going full-bore by the end of the season.