Oregon looks to win their 3rd straight Pac-12 Title. Can anyone stop them?
Photo: Mark Rebilas USA TODAY
Article by Kyle Kollman
The Ducks are ranked 11th in the AP Poll and are the Media’s pick to win the Pac-12. Speedy 5th year Quarterback, Anthony Brown, will be difficult to stop with CJ Verdell and Travis Dye in the backfield and plenty of talented receivers to throw to in Johnny Johnson, Troy Franklin and Devon Williams. On defense, Oregon made a home run hire at DC when they landed Tim DeRuyter who had great success at Cal over the past 4 years. Mario Cristobal may have the most talented team in the Pac-12 but they do have a tough schedule, including a non-conference showdown at Ohio State. Road trips to Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Utah will make it difficult to win the conference for the 3rd straight season.
Washington returns 18 starters from last season's team that won the Pac-12 North Title and enters 2021 with unfinished business after being unable to play in the Pac-12 Championship due to Covid. The Huskies should have the stingiest defense in the conference and that unit will keep the Huskies in every game. On offense, UW may have one of the best offensive lines in the Country and will look to pound the rock with Richard Newton and Cam Davis. The biggest question mark is the passing game. Can Dylan Morris and OC John Donovan push the ball vertically on defenses? If the UW offense can put up points, this is likely the best team in the Pac-12. Ultimately, the schedule couldn’t be better for the Huskies as they avoid USC and Utah in the South, while UCLA, Oregon, and ASU must travel to Husky Stadium. The Huskies are ranked #20 in the first AP Poll, but could see their stock rise as the season progresses.
The Trojans enter this season as the Pac-12 South favorites and are ranked 15th in the country. Kedon Slovis returns to lead an electric offense and Graham Harrell’s “Air Raid” has an embarrassment of riches at receiver in Drake London, Bru McCoy and KD Nixon. The Trojans avoid both Washington and Oregon in the North and get Utah and UCLA at home. Squarely on the hot seat, it would seem Helton would be out if he can't win the conference.
An absolute make or break season for the Sun Devils with an NCAA investigation looming over the program. Hopes are high in Tempe as Jayden Daniels may be the most talented Quarterback on the West Coast. He is paired with a talented stable of running backs in Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum who will give ASU a dangerous run game. Defensive Tackle, Jermayne Lole, is out for the season with an injury, but they do return 19 starters, including 10 on defense. The Devils have forced 27 turnovers in the last 10 games and finished 2020 #1 in both scoring offense and defense in the Pac-12. ASU comes in at #25 in the initial AP Poll and anything short of a Pac-12 South title would be a disappointment for Sun Devil fans.
The Utes have a formidable front 7 and have allowed the least points in Pac-12 over the past 3 seasons. On offense, Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer will be under center and brings experience and game breaking ability and will have solid options to throw to in Brant Kuithe and Britain Covey. This team will undoubtably rally around the tragic loss of star player Ty Jordan, who passed away on Christmas.
Chip Kelly and the Bruins dominated Hawaii last weekend and will now face a tough test as LSU comes to town. Michigan transfer, Zach Charbonnet, scored three touchdowns against Hawaii and amassed over 100 yards on just 6 carries. The Bruins get 20 starters back from last season and should field their best defense under Kelly. The hype train will be full stream if UCLA can knock off LSU in the Rose Bowl.
The Cardinal finished last season with 4 consecutive wins on the road. Don’t count out David Shaw and scrappy Stanford in the North as they get both Oregon and Washington at home this season.
Justin Wilcox always fields a strong defense and will do so again with 8 returning starters. The issue for the Golden Bears is the offense after placing dead last in total yards, yards per carry and passing yards per game in 2020. This season should determine if Bill Musgrave is the answer at Offensive Coordinator and an average offense would see Cal compete for a Pac-12 North title.
The talented backfield of Deon McIntosh and Max Borghi will solidify Rolovich’s “Run and Shoot” offense. The concern in Pullman is on the defensive side after giving up 38 points and 462 yards per game last season. Wazzu has a tough schedule with trips to Utah, Cal, ASU, Oregon and Washington. If the Cougs can reach a Bowl, it will be a successful season.
The Buffs will ride with Brendon Lewis at Quarterback and return the leading rusher in the Pac-12 in Jarek Broussard who will be the bell cow for the offense this season. The defense returns their captain, Nate Landman, for a 5th season and Carson Wells and Mekhi Blackmon should contribute to what could be a sneaky good defense. Karl Dorrell started 4-0 in his first season in Boulder and will look to build on that success this season.
11. Oregon State
Colorado transfer, Sam Noyer, has been named the starting QB and showed flashes of quality play last season. The Beavers will need to replace Jermar Jefferson who carried the offense in 2020 and their ability to replace his production will play a major role in whether they can reach a Bowl in 2021. Omar Speights and Avery Roberts lead a defense that returns 9 starters and will likely be improved from last season.
Jedd Fisch begins his rebuild in Tucson while inheriting the worst defense and offense in the Pac-12. Fisch has hit the ground running on the recruiting trail while already receiving commitments from two 4 stars in the class of 2022 and hiring Don Brown for defensive coordinator was a fantastic move. Fisch will call plays and has extensive experience in the NFL. The Wildcats will have their struggles, but will look for silver linings this season to build on.