Pac-12 Preview: Can Stanford Repeat?

Discussion in 'NFL Writer's Block' started by JEMicklos, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. JEMicklos

    JEMicklos Captain

    The Pac-12 is a competitive conference. There is no one clear favorite this year. The one thing that you can guarantee, is that the offense will be potent. Oh, and that Oregon will put out some interesting uniform combinations.

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    We will start with the California Golden Bears of the North Division. The Bears struggled through a 3-9 record last season. It cost head coach Jeff Tedford his job. Former Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny dy**s was tabbed to replace him.

    The Bears will be returning three starters from a year ago. The most inexperienced position on the offense happens to be quarterback where the three candidates have attempted ZERO passes. The battle for the starting gig is still neck-and-neck between freshman Jared Goff, redshirt freshman Zach Kline, and junior Austin Hinder. Cal will need to find a starter, or it could be a really long season. Explosive junior Brendan Bigelow will man the backfield this season. Sophomore receiver Bryce Treggs is the only returning offensive player that isn’t a lineman. The line returns both guards in sophomore Jordan Rigsbee and junior Chris Adcock. This offense had no problem the ball last season, but struggled to pbutt.

    The defense returns six starters from a year ago, but will be undergoing a philosophy change. This season, Cal will switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3. Due to that change, junior outside linebackers Brennan Scarlett and Chris McCain will move to defensive end. Scarlett should have no problems making the transition. McCain on the other hand, will have to rely on his speed to avoid blockers as he weighs in at 215 compared to Scarlett’s 265. Junior ballhawk Nick Forbes will stay in the middle as sophomore Jalen Jefferson will move outside. Cal will also get a boost from Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt. The defensive line does return 6’5â€, 320 pound nose tackle Deandre Coleman. The secondary does not return a single starter from a year ago. Redshirt sophomore Stefan McClure will start at corner for the first time since injuring his knee in November of 2011. This defense was awful last season. It must improve, or else.

    Cal’s schedule will be tough this year. They travel to Oregon, Washington, and Stanford. Luckily, they do get to host Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon State, Arizona, and USC. If Cal can get average play from their quarterback and the defense can improve, they could top out at 5-7. If their struggles from a year ago continue, Cal could struggle through another 3-9 year. Either way, a bowl berth just doesn’t seem attainable this season.

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    The Oregon Ducks are known more for their uniforms than their play on the field. That is a shame considering the Ducks are on of the most enjoyable teams to watch. Head coach Chip Kelly did depart for the Philadelphia Eagles, but offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich stepped up to take his place. Helfrich should be able to limit any slide in offensive production. Luckily for Helfrich, the NCAA did not hammer them with heavy sanctions.

    Oregon returns eight starters from a year ago. Sophomore Marcus Mariota returns after a phenomenal season where he threw for 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. The ground game looks to be a committee this year. Junior playmaker De’Anthony Thomas returns, but he really does not have a set position. Thomas ran for 700 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 45 balls for 445 yards and 5 touchdowns, and had 2 kick returns for touchdown last year. Senior Josh Huff returns to lead the receiving corps. The offensive line did lose both guards, but returns everybody else. This offense was one of the best in the nation last year, and that should continue.

    The Ducks return seven starters from a year ago. The defensive line lost Dion Jordan, but returns junior Tony Washington, who split time with Jordan last season. The Ducks also return seniors Taylor Hart, Wade Keliikipi, and Ricky Havili-Heimull to the line. Senior Boseko Lokombo is the only returning linebacker. The secondary returns every starter. The secondary was the weakness of this defense though.

    The Ducks schedule got a little tougher. They will travel to Virginia, Washington, Arizona, and Stanford on a Thursday night. The Ducks get to host Tennessee, UCLA, and Oregon State this year. With Helfrich taking over, the offense shouldn’t skip a beat but the defense must improve. If the defense improves, we could be talking about Oregon finishing 12-0 and getting ready for the Pac-12 Championship Game. If the defense slips, Oregon could be looking at a 9-3 season. Either way, their season will end with a bowl berth.

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    The Oregon State Beavers had an impressive season last year. The Beavers started 6-0 before alternating wins and losses. Can the Beavers carry over last year’s success?

    The Beavers return eight starters from a year ago. The problem for the Beavers is deciding a starting quarterback. Sean Mannion returns with his 18-5 career, but Cody Vaz will push him. Either quarterback is good option. Sophomore Storm Woods returns after a good freshman season. The Beavers did lose Markus Wheaton, but junior Brandin Cooks returns after 1,151 yards receiving last season. The offensive line returns starters everywhere except right tackle. This offense should be able to build off of last year’s success.

    The defense returns seven starters from a year ago. Both defensive ends are back, but they will be breaking in two new defensive tackles. Sophomore Joel Skotte takes over at middle linebacker, but will be sandwiched by both returning outside linebackers. The secondary returns three starters, but lost corner Jordan Poyer. Senior Sean Martin will be tested by opposing offenses.

    Oregon State’s schedule got easier after last season. The Beavers will travel to Arizona State and Oregon while hosting Stanford, USC, and Washington. If Oregon State’s offense can improve and the defense continues last year’s stellar play, Oregon State could top out at 9-3. If the offense struggles and the defense slips a little, the Beavers could be looking at 7-5. Either way, a bowl berth is a coming.

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    The Stanford Cardinal had themselves a pretty good season last year finishing 12-2. The Cardinal won the Pac-12 and the Rose Bowl. This season, expectations are much higher.

    The Cardinals return five starters on offense. Back is sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan, who showed the ability to execute under pressure. Stefan Taylor is gone, but senior Tyler Gaffney is back to man the backfield. Junior Ty Montgomery will be relied on in the passing game as none of the returning skill positions starters return. The offensive line returns four senior starters led by All-American left guard David Yankey. They will have to fill the hole at left tackle, but have two highly touted sophomores in Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy. The offense may not have been explosive, but they were efficient and didn’t turn over the ball too much.

    The defense returns eight starters from a year ago. This defense was great against the run, but showed a weakness against the pbutt. The defensive line returns both defensive ends who are Preseason All-Conference nominees. Three senior linebackers return from a year ago, led by the heart and soul, Shayne Skov. Junior James Vaughters returns after medically redshirting last season to replace Chase Thomas at outside linebacker. The secondary returns three starters. this secondary has been heralded as the best in school history. Junior Wayne Lyons will take over the corner spot opposite of sophomore Alex Carter.

    The Cardinal’s schedule got much easier. The will travel to USC and Oregon State. They will host Arizona State, Washington, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Oregon on a Thursday night. If Stanford can roll over last season’s momentum, they can top out at 12-0 and play for their second straight Pac-12 title. If the offense struggles and the defense slips a little, we are talking about a 10-2 season. Either way, it looks real good for them.

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    The Washington Huskies had a tough 7-6 season last year. After starting the season 3-1, they lost their next three. They followed that skid with a four game winning streak, but lost the Apple Cup to Washington State and the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl to Boise State.

    The Huskies offense returns nine starters, led by senior quarterback Keith Price. Price was hampered last season by a makeshift offensive line and an inexperienced receiving corps. Junior tailback Bishop Sankey is back after rushing for 1,439 yards last season. Junior Kasen Williams is back from a year ago to lead the receivers, but junior tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be the main receiving threat. Seferian-Jenkins and Williams have both gotten in trouble off the field though. The offensive line returns starters at every position except center. With some continuity along the offensive and an experienced receiving corps, Keith Price could be in for a huge year.

    The defense returns eight starters from a year ago. The defensive line returns three starters, all juniors. The linebacking corps returns two starters led by sophomore outside linebacker Shaq Thompson. The secondary returns only two starters. Greg Ducre will have to step up and fill Desmond Trufant’s shoes. The secondary was the strength of the defense last season, but might wind up being the weakness this year.

    The Huskies schedule looks much more favorable this season. They will travel to Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon State while hosting Boise State, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington State. If the offensive line can stay healthy and the defense keeps up the production, we could see the Huskies top out at 11-1. If the offensive line can’t stay healthy and the defense slips, Washington could bottom out at 8-4. Improvement no matter what.

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    The Washington State Cougars had a rough season last year. The Cougars started the season 2-1, then lost eight straight. The bright spot of the Cougars season, the season ending upset of hated rival Washington in the Apple Cup. Can the Cougars improve in Mike Leach’s second season at the helm?

    The Cougars return seven starters on offense. Junior Connor Halliday returns as the starting quarterback, but sophomore Austin Apodaca will push him for playing time. The top four receivers from a year ago return. The offensive line was a weakness last year, giving up 57 sacks. Two of those starters return this season in sophomore left tackle Gunnar Eklund and senior center Elliot Bosch. The Cougars don’t even try to run the ball. They finished dead last in the FBS last season in rushing yards per game with 29. That trend is unlikely to change, as Leach does coach this team.

    The defense returns nine starters from a year ago. The defensive line lost one of those starters, the linebacking corps lost the other. The entire starting secondary returns this season, led by senior safety Deone Bucannon. This defense wasn’t the worst in the Pac-12, but it wasn’t good by a long shot. That must change for the Cougars to have a legitimate chance to compete this year.

    The Cougars schedule is much tougher this season. They host Stanford, Oregon State, and Arizona State on Thursday night, which just so happens to be Halloween. They will travel to Auburn, USC, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington for the Apple Cup. The Cougars open the season with Auburn and USC while having Oregon State and Oregon back-to-back. If the Cougars offensive line can keep Halliday upright, the Cougars could top out at 5-7. If the offensive line continues to struggle, the Cougars could be looking at another 3-9 season. Either way, I see no bowl berth in their future.

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    The Arizona Wildcats were a pleasant surprise last season, finishing 8-5 in Rich Rodriguez's first season as head coach. The offensive was explosive but, the defense was dreadful. That seems to be how Rodriguez coached teams are though. Can Arizona build off of last season’s momentum?

    The Wildcats return five starters on offense. Quarterback Matt Scott is gone, and there is no clear cut favorite to replace him. It could be USC transfer Jesse Scroggins or senior B.J. Denker. Don’t count out freshman Anu Solomon though. Junior All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey is back after rushing for 1,929 yards last season. Carey must stay out of trouble off the field though. The receiving corps was supposed to be lead by All-American candidate Austin Hill, but he went down with a torn ACL in spring practice. Luckily, Arizona is ridiculously deep at receiver. The offensive line returns three starters from a year ago. This Wildcat offense set the world on fire last season, finishing in the top 25 for every major category.

    The defense every single starter from a year ago. That may seem like a good thing until you realize that those are the same starters that finished in the bottom 20 of every major defensive category. The defensive line will have a new starter at nose tackle in senior Tevin Hood. The defense will have another year of experience under defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 scheme. The defense must improve, there is no other way to put it.

    The Wildcats schedule looks a lot easier compared to last season’s. The Wildcats will travel to Washington, USC on a Thursday night, and Arizona State for the Big Game. The Wildcats will host UCLA and Oregon this season. If the Wildcats can settle on a quarterback and the defense improves, they could top out at 9-3. If they can’t figure out who the quarterback will be and the defense is as horrendous as last season, the Wildcats could bottom out at 7-5. Either way, a bowl berth seems to be in reach.

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    The Arizona State Sun Devils had a nice season last year, finishing 8-5 in Todd Graham’s first season as head coach. Every year though, this team seems to be ready to break through and contend for a Pac-12 title. Will this finally be the year?

    The Sun Devils return six starters on offense from a year ago. Junior quarterback Taylor Kelly is back after having a really nice season last year. Senior Marlon Grice looks to shoulder most of the load out of the backfield this season. Senior tight end Chris Coyle is back this year as the team’s leading receiving threat. The receivers will need to step up this year. The offensive line returns three starters, but will need to replace both guards. This was an offense that was pretty good last season.

    The defense returns eight starters from a year ago. The entire defensive line returns led by All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton. Three of the starting linebackers return from a year ago. This front seven was a weakness last season. That must be fixed this year. Arizona State’s secondary was one of the best in the nation last season, but only returns two starters. The secondary will be relying on junior corner Lloyd Carrington and junior free safety Damarious Randall to step right in.

    The Sun Devils schedule does not look easy. They will travel to Stanford, UCLA, and Washington State on a Thursday night. They also will face off against Notre Dame at Cowboy Stadium. Arizona State will host USC, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon State, and Arizona this season. If the offense doesn’t skip a beat and the defense can improve against the rush, they could easily top out at 10-2. If the secondary slips from year and they still struggle against the run, the Sun Devils could bottom out at 6-6. Either way, I see Arizona State going bowling back-to-back years under Graham.

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    The Colorado Buffaloes were bad last season. The Buffaloes struggled to a 1-11 finish last year. In comes former San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre. The offense was terrible, and the defense was horrendous. that doesn’t make for a winning tandem.

    The Buffaloes return eight starters on offense from a year ago. With MacIntyre’s arrival, came his up-tempo offense. That offense is better suited for this team. The quarterback position seems to be settled with Texas transfer Connor Wood being entrusted with the job. Sophomore tailback Christian Powell is back after he was the lone bright spot of this offense last season. Junior Paul Richardson is back after an injury plagued season last year. The offensive line brings back every single starter from a year ago. This offense figures to be better than last season’s disaster.

    The defense returns seven starters from a year ago. This is the same defense that was in the bottom five in three of the four major defensive categories a year ago. The defensive line return two starters in sophomore nose tackle Josh Tupou and senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe. Senior Derrick Webb is the only returning starter at linebacker. Believe it or not, the secondary was actually the “strength†of this defense last year. All four starters return this year.

    The Buffaloes’ schedule is tougher this season. Road trips to Oregon State, Arizona State, UCLA, and and Washington look quite daunting. They will host Oregon, Arizona, and USC as well. Let’s not forget that they open the season against rival Colorado State at Mile High Stadium to open the season. If this team improves all the way around, Colorado could top out a 4-8. If this team does not improve at all, they could bottom out at 1-11 yet again. Either way, Colorado needs to make some sort of progress.

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    The UCLA Bruins shocked a lot of people by winning the Pac-12 South Division last year. This season, they won’t sneak up on anybody. The Bruins will look to improve in head coach Jim Mora’s second season after finishing 9-5.

    The Bruins return six starters on offense this season. Sophomore Brett Hundley is back once again the man the ship. He put together the best season ever by a UCLA quarterback last season and will be looking to build on that success. Unfortunately, running back Johnathan Franklin moved on to the NFL. Franklin holds the UCLA career and season rushing records. To fill his shoes, UCLA will be looking utilizing redshirt junior Jordan James and redshirt freshman Paul Perkins. The receiving corps is led by senior Shaq Evans. The offensive line returns every starter except at right tackle where freshman Caleb Benenoch looks to be the leader.

    The defensive returns five starters from a year ago. The defensive line returns two starters. The linebacking corps returns two starters, led by senior Anthony Barr. The secondary returns only one starter in sophomore free safety Randall Goforth. The Bruins defense had a real up and down season, and that must improve.

    The Bruins schedule looks tough. They get to host Washington and Arizona State, but they will be traveling to Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona, and USC. Those games against Stanford and Oregon are back-to-back. If UCLA can build off of last year’s momentum, they could top out at 11-1 with the Pac-12 South Division title. If Hundley has a sophomore slump, UCLA could bottom out at 7-5.

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    The USC Trojans were under a lot of pressure last season. Many people had them contending for the National Championship. Even after USC lost to Stanford, they were 6-1 before their season fell apart. USC tumbled to a 7-6 finish with losses to Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Head Coach Lane Kiffin pushed my father, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, out and replaced him with Clancy Pendergast. Kiffin will be coaching for his job this year.

    The Trojans return six starters on offense. Sophomore Max Wittek is the leader to replace Matt Barkley at quarterback. Senior Penn State transfer Silas Redd is back at tailback. The player to watch on this offense though is junior All-American receiver Marqise Lee. The offensive line returns starters at every position except left guard.

    The defense returns seven starters from a year ago. The defensive line returns three of those starters. Both linebackers are back in juniors Hayes Pullard and Lamar Dawson. The secondary returns two starters from a year ago. The secondary was seen as the weakness of this defense last year. If the corners can’t get the job done, look for starting receivers Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor to get some reps.

    USC is the the unique position of playing thirteen regular season games. They will host Arizona on a Thursday night, Stanford, and UCLA this year while traveling to Hawaii on a Thursday night, Notre Dame, and Oregon State. If USC can pull everything together, they could top out at 12-0 and find themselves playing for their first ever Pac-12 Championship. If USC’s defense continues it’s lackluster play and the offense can’t figure out their quarterback, we’re talking about a bottom of 6-6.

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    The Utah Utes have not enjoyed their time in the Pac-12 so far. After a 5-7 finish last season, some fans are wondering why they ever left the Mountain West. This could truly be a make-or-break year for head coach Kyle Whittingham.

    The Utes return six starters on offense. Sophomore Travis Wilson is back at quarterback. Senior Kelvin York looks to be the favorite to take over in the backfield. Junior receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott will be the main targets this year. Three starters return to the offensive line, but they will be replacing the entire right side. This offense was pretty bad last year and must improve.

    The defense returns six starters on defense from last season. Both defensive ends are back but Star Lotulelei, Paul Kruger, and Joe Kruger have all moved on to the NFL. Senior defensive tackles Tenny Palepoi and LT Tuipulotu will be looked at to anchor the middle. Two of the linebackers return. Junior free safety Eric Rowe is the only returning starter in the secondary. Utah’s defense was better than the offense last season.

    Utah’s schedule looks difficult this season. They will have to travel to BYU, Arizona, USC,and Oregon while hosting Utah State, Oregon State, UCLA on a Thursday night, Stanford, and Arizona State. If the offense improves from last seasons disaster, the Utes could top out at 6-6. If the defense slips at all, Utah could bottom out at 2-10.

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    There are some good games to look out for this year.

    Week 1: Utah State @ Utah. Utah will be looking to upset the Aggies and take back control of this in-state rivalry on a Thursday night opener. USC @ Hawaii. Hawaii does not look very good this year, but starting the season at home on a Thursday night could help. Boise State @ Washington. This is will a huge test for both squads. Washington will be looking for revenge for their bowl loss last season. Colorado State vs Colorado. This is the in-state rivalry of Colorado. Colorado needs the win to build some confidence.

    Week 3: Ohio State @ Cal. Cal kept it close with Ohio State in Columbus last season. Could Cal pull of the upset? Wisconsin @ Arizona State. Wisconsin was tripped up by Oregon State last season. Could Arizona State get them this year? UCLA @ Nebraska. Nebraska will be looking for revenge after UCLA’s 36-30 upset last year.

    Week 4: Utah @ BYU. These games always come down to the wire. This should be another classic. Arizona State @ Stanford. Stanford will be tested early by Arizona State. Can Arizona State get over the hump and pull off the upset?

    Week 5: Arizona @ Washington. This ought to be a shootout. Just watch for the points. USC @ Arizona State. Arizona State has had a miserable time against the big boys of the Pac-12. Could that change this year?

    Week 6: UCLA @ Utah. Utah will be looking for the Thursday night upset. UCLA will need to avoid the trap game. Notre Dame vs Arizona State. Arizona State will face off against the Irish in Cowboy Stadium. Washington @ Stanford. Stanford will be looking for revenge after Washington’s 17-13 upset last season.

    Week 7: Arizona @ USC. USC will be looking to avenge last season’s 39-36 upset, and avoid being trapped on a Thursday night. Oregon @ Washington. Washington will be looking to pull off the upset in Seattle.

    Week 8: USC @ Notre Dame. The old rivalry continues. Can USC take back the rivalry in South Bend? Washington @ Arizona State. This game ought to be great. Keith Price vs Taylor Kelly. UCLA @ Stanford. Stanford beat UCLA back-to-back weeks last season. Can UCLA get revenge for that.

    Week 9: Stanford @ Oregon State. Oregon State has had a fairly easy schedule up to this point. Can they pull of the upset, of will they be the Mississippi State of the Pac-12? UCLA @ Oregon. UCLA faces the other top dog of the North Division, on the road nonetheless.

    Week 10: Arizona State @ Washington State. Washington State will look to pull off the upset on this Thursday night showdown. USC @ Oregon State. USC still remembers the 27-21 upset stunner. Oregon State will be looking to pull the same magic on a Friday night this time.

    Week 11: Oregon @ Stanford. This is the big one of the North Division. Stanford pulled off the upset last year in Eugene. Will Oregon get their revenge? UCLA @ Arizona. Points ought to be a plenty is this one.

    Week 12: Washington @ UCLA. This ought to be a huge Friday night matchup. This is the stretch run of conference play. Oregon State @ Arizona State. This will be a good matchup to watch. Both teams will fight hard. Stanford @ USC. This has turned into quite a rivalry. Stanford upset USC last season, and USC will be looking to return the favor.

    Week 13: Arizona State @ UCLA. Both teams will be fighting for the top spot in the South. Will Arizona State pull off the upset, or will UCLA stay on top. Washington @ Oregon State. These two look to be competing for the third spot in the North. Who will show up? Oregon @ Arizona. Many people see this as a trap game for Oregon. Can Oregon stay focused, or will they thrash Arizona for the second year in a row.

    Week 14: Oregon State @ Oregon. Oregon State will be trying to pull off the upset in this Civil War Rivalry. Oregon will be looking to continue their dominance in this rivalry. Washington State @ Washington. The Cougars pulled off the upset last season. Can Washington take back the Apple Cup? UCLA @ USC. These games always wind up being classic. If everything goes right, this game should decide the South Division. Notre Dame @ Stanford. Stanford will be looking to get revenge for the injustice in South Bend last season. Not only that, but they could be undefeated going into to this rivalry game. Arizona @ Arizona State. The desert rivalry also known as the Big Game. Last year was a classic and I expect this year to be no difference.

    The Pac-12 looks much stronger this season. I have Stanford repeating as the North Division champs and UCLA repeating as the South Division champs. I have Stanford once again, sweeping UCLA to take the Pac-12 Championship. Where do I have Stanford play? Wait and see.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
  2. DCoach_R

    DCoach_R Special Teamer

    Very nice write up on this division. I am a Beavers fan and I see great things year for them. I do say that Cody Vaz will most likely get the call behind the center more often this year after his very strong finish last year. If Mannion can stay healthy, the Beavers can give the Division and Standford a run for their money. GO BEAVS!!!!
  3. axmickl

    axmickl Rookie

    Its a little hard to keep up with a conference that might as well be playing on the moon. For us ACC and SEC fans we call it "The PAC What". Do they actually play football out there?
  4. axmickl

    axmickl Rookie

    By the way, that must have been a great review to keep me reading all the way to the end.
  5. axmickl

    axmickl Rookie

    I am wondering how 261 people could have read this great review and only 2 had comments worth posting. Is it possible that the liberal west has very few fans capable of having an opinion somebody else didn't dictate to them?
  6. DCoach_R

    DCoach_R Special Teamer

    Well, I commented because I am a Oregon State Beavers Fan, and any information I can read on them is great. This write was an awesome one with comparisons basically of each team and what to expect from them this year. I think this division has a great chance of having at least another maybe 4 or 5 team in the top 25. Those teams being Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, UCLA maybe.
  7. axmickl

    axmickl Rookie

    Thank you, its nice to hear from someone from the PAC12. I thought the whole coast had fallen into the sea.
  8. ragman

    ragman Pro Bowler Fantasy Guru

    Great article.

    I heard this morning that 75% of Stanford's receivers are gone from last year's team. That's hard to replace if you're expecting to win a conference title.