Pac 12 Football Predictions – 2013 Season

The Pac 12 North boasts two teams with legitimate National Championship hopes, while the South is wide open and waiting for a team to step up and take control of the division.


North Division

  • 1. Stanford 11-1 (8-1): At first glance it seems the Cardinal offense is filled with question marks, but a closer look reveals big potential on that side of the ball. QB Kevin Hogan is a legitimate dual-threat and is 5-0 as a starter. Stanford will replace RB Stepfan Taylor with a trio of backs including Taylor Gaffney, who spent last season playing baseball, and redshirt freshman Barry Sanders Jr. Hogan and the group of backs will operate behind one of the nation’s best lines. The only real question on offense is at WR, but Stanford knows how to utilize RBs and TEs as good as any team in the country, so the lack of proven wideouts shouldn’t be a major concern. Much like the offensive line, the defense is loaded. A pair of ferocious defensive ends, a trio of talented LBs, and a secondary stacked with NFL players ensures the Cardinal defense will again be among the best in the nation. The schedule is a bit tougher than Oregon’s, but Stanford gets the Ducks at home and looks strong enough to make a run at the Rose Bowl.
  • 2. Oregon 11-1 (8-1): How much will the loss of Chip Kelly effect the Ducks? There will almost certainly be a drop off: Kelly led the Ducks to four BCS games and won 46 games in his four seasons. The good news is that few teams in the country return as much talent as Oregon. QB Marcus Mariota is coming off of a fantastic season and is getting Heisman publicity, and do-everything RB De’Anthony Thomas will get his chance to shine with the departure of Kenjon Barner. The Ducks also return a deep receiving corp and at least three future NFL players on the line. The defense must break in several new linebackers, but a loaded secondary and solid line should make the transition easier. Even with the loss of Kelly, the Ducks seem like a lock for double-digit wins and another run at a BCS bowl, with only a November date at Stanford standing between Oregon and the Pac 12 Championship game.
  • 3. Washington 7-5 (5-4): The Huskies have the potential to have a big-time offense if QB Keith Price can return to the form he showed as a sophomore. RB Bishop Sankey busted out for almost 1,500 yards last season, and WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins form one of the best 1-2 receiving combos around. The defense was much improved last season and returns all three linebackers, a pair of stars in the secondary, and a line that was able to generate decent pressure a year ago. Still, it all starts and ends with the play of Price; a return to form could mean a run at nine or ten wins, but the more realistic outcome is a mid-tier bowl.
  • 4. Oregon State 7-5 (4-5): Whoever wins the quarterback battle will have plenty to work with, as RB Storm Woods appears primed for a breakout season and WRs Brandin Cooks and Kevin Cummings form a potent combo. The offensive line also returns a ton of experience. The defense is led by a pair of defensive ends, including Scott Crichton, who could end up all-conference in 2013. There is also ample experience littered throughout the back seven, which makes the Beavers a veteran group on both sides of the ball. We don’t expect OSU to compete with Oregon and Stanford for the division crown, but a duplicate of last season’s 9-4 mark is not out of the question.
  • 5. Cal 4-8 (3-6): The Bears are a mystery on offense. New coach Sonny Dykes will implement a new system, and Cal has no experienced quarterback, proven running back, or dependable line to depend on. RB Brendan Bigelow was outstanding in limited action last season, but can he do it as a feature back? The defense was poor last season but does have a pair of solid building blocks in LBs Nick Forbes and PSU transfer Khairi Fortt. Don’t expect the Bears to make a bowl game, but Dykes’ spread attack could very well orchestrate an upset of a heavily favored team at some point this season.
  • 6. Washington State 4-8 (2-7): The Cougars fell short of expectations in Mike Leach’s first season, and now Leach must find a new quarterback to replace Jeff Tuel. The winner of the QB battle will have a boatload of receivers with which to work, but won’t get much help from a paltry running game (less than 30 yards per game last fall) and a patchwork line. The defense will never put up nice stats due to the offensive system in place, but there is plenty of experience returning and the unit should improve over last season’s performance. A bowl game might still be out of reach as Leach continues to build his team, but you can’t sleep on Wazzou’s Air Raid attack.


South Division

  • 1. USC 9-4 (6-3): – Lane Kiffin’s seat is getting pretty warm after falling from pre-season #1 to a 7-6 record a year ago, and Kiffin no longer has Matt Barkley to lean on. Despite the loss of Barkley, the offense should be in fine shape with superstar WR Marqise Lee, RB Silas Redd, a stacked line, and a pair of skilled TEs. The defense is getting a makeover with a switch to the 5-2 under new coordinator Clancy Pendergast. The 5-2 may initially seem like a disadvantage in the spread-heavy Pac 12, but USC is loaded on the defensive line and their ends are every bit as quick as normal LBs. Getting more of the lineman on the field every down is a good thing. The real worry is the secondary, which is inexcusable given that it is stacked with highly-touted recruits. USC is just too good to continue middling around .500, but another season like last year’s could leave Kiffin searching for a job.
  • 1. UCLA 8-4 (6-3): Sophomore QB Brett Hundley was an immediate star last season, but can he avoid the notorious sophomore slump? If so, the Bruins should roll into a 3rd straight Pac 12 Championship Game despite the loss of stud RB Johnathan Franklin. Hundley can do it with his arm and his legs, and there is plenty of young talent at the skill positions to complement veteran WR Shaq Evans. The front seven on defense will be nasty and is led by LB Anthony Barr (13.5 sacks in 2012). Overlooked LB Eric Kendricks is a tackle-machine and an excellent complement to Barr’s pass rushing ability. The secondary is inexperienced but is teeming with young talent. The youth at the skill positions and in the secondary may be cause for concern, but coach Jim Mora has quickly converted us into believers.
  • 1. Arizona State 8-4 (6-3): ASU will ride QB Taylor Kelly, a pair of backs with big potential, and one of the nation’s best TEs to another season of high performance on offense. The only real question on that side of the ball is if any WR can emerge as a go-to threat to complement the TE Chris Coyle and the running backs. The attacking defense boasts the best returning sack combination in the nation: DT Will Sutton and LB Carl Bradford had 13 and 11.5 sacks, respectively. Sutton is a lock for first-team All-American, but there is talent around him with DL Jaxon Hood and a pair of capable ends. The pressure Sutton and company put on opposing quarterbacks should again make ASU one of the league’s best passing defenses and will allow the Sun Devils to challenge for a division title.
  • 4. Arizona 6-6 (3-6): As good as the Wildcats were and will be on offense under Rich Rodriguez, that’s how bad they were on defense in 2012. The offense must break-in a new quarterback and lost star WR Austin Hill in the spring, but RB Ka’Deem Carey and a solid line will allow the high-powered attack to again pile up yards. The defense will again be the weak point, despite returning virtually every significant contributor from last season. The high-octane offensive attack keeps the defense on the field often, and Rodriguez has yet to show that he can put a solid unit on the field. Expect a similar result to last season, with the offense powering its way to a few wins while the defense works to catch up.
  • 5. Utah 5-7 (3-6): Another team that underachieved in 2012, the Utes will be looking to bounce back and return to a bowl game in 2013. The problem is the offense has question marks at every position. There is potential with QB Travis Wilson, who got plenty of work as a freshman and may be ready to take control of the offense, but he doesn’t have much for proven players around him. It’s a similar story on defense, where the Utes’ inexperience is a recipe for disaster in the Pac 12. Kyle Whittingham has successfully reloaded in the past, but the stakes are higher now that Utah is a full-time member in a power conference. Look for another so-so season for the Utes.
  • 6. Colorado 2-10 (0-9): New coach Mike MacIntyre inherits a squad that hasn’t been relevant in years and doesn’t seem poised to change that any time soon. The Buffaloes were near the bottom of the nation on both sides of the ball last year. Uncertainty at quarterback and a new system means Colorado likely won’t improve much on offense this season. On defense, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe provides a sack threat and LB Derrick Webb returns as the team’s leading tackler, but the Buffaloes just don’t have the talent to run with the big dogs in the Pac 12. Look for another quiet year in 2013.

Let’s hear your predictions in the comments!


Tweetback for this post? Add Pac 12 Football Predictions – 2013 Season to your tweet.


Tags: ,

Leave a Reply