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NCAAF: 2019 PAC-12 Power Rankings

2019 NCAAF PAC-12 Power Rankings

2019-2020 NCAA Football Season

Cover The Spread 365 2019 PAC-12 Power Rankings

Ah, the PAC-12. The Conference of Champions. While the conference features no real national championship contenders, it figures to be a very competitive season to determine to champion of the Conference of Champions.

Oregon State won two football games last year. Only one of those was against a PAC-12 opponent. With the worst recruiting class in the conference, things do not appear to be getting much better. I expect them to once again be the worst team in the conference.

Apart from a miracle of a 10-win season in 2016, Colorado has been bad for at least the past decade. The return of a shaky defense in 2019 shouldn’t inspire much confidence that things are changing anytime soon for the Buffaloes. The Buffaloes do return dual-threat quarterback Steven Montez to try to keep the team close in shootouts. The rising senior had 23 total touchdowns in 2018.

Chip Kelly failed to turn UCLA into a power, or even jump start their offense. The supposed-offensive guru coached the Bruins to the 98th-best scoring offense in the nation. UCLA isn’t doing themselves any favors this year with Oklahoma on-tap for their non-conference schedule. Chip Kelly and company better hope that their 40th ranked recruiting class can contribute immediately to avoid another losing season.

Kevin Sumlin didn’t turn Khalil Tate into the Heisman contender we all were promised. But, that didn’t matter, with Tate at the helm, the Wildcats’ offense was dangerous, averaging 457.7 yards per game. Their problems stemmed from the defense which doesn’t figure to get much better. Khalil Tate and company will once again be expected to win shootouts if Arizona is to find success this season.

Cal exudes mediocrity to me. They went 7-6 in 2018, 4-5 in conference. Their recruiting class ranks eighth of 12 teams. The one area they excel is on defense. The Golden Bears held offenses to just 20.4 points a game. That kind of defense can win the team games. Its going to require a significant step forward from the offense for the team to earn a spot near the top of the North division. I don’t see the offense being any better than mediocre, meaning Cal will most likely find themselves right back in the middle of the pack.

In the long line of strange hires in the PAC-12 the past few years, Herm Edwards has to stand at the top. He was proven a capable college coach however, going 7-6 in his first season at the helm. The Sundevils have the potential to finish in the eight or nine-win range if they can find a replacement for quarterback Manny Wilkins. Eno Benjamin should take some of the load off whoever wins the starting quarterback job, as he topped 1,600 yards rushing a season ago.

PAC-12 Power Rankings NCAAF 2019

Utah won the South division in 2018 and are many people’s favorites to repeat. However, its elite defense from a season ago will have to replace the production of its top two players, Cody Barton and Chase Hansen. While even a significant drop-off from the 19.4 points per game they allowed in 2018 would still leave them with a solid defense, the Utes lack the dynamic offense to make up for the lack of production. Utah should remain near the top of the PAC-12 once again, just don’t expect them to win the South.

The Cardinal have been the most consistent team in the PAC-12 for nearly a decade at this point, last winning fewer than eight games in 2008. That has all come through coaching changes, losing Heisman-candidate quarterbacks, and a drastically different PAC-12 landscape. So don’t be weary of Stanford losing Bryce Love, this is a program built to win, and will do so because of its defense, a unit that allowed just 22.9 points per game in 2018

USC will always recruit will. And while the Trojans may not have Reggie Bush or Matt Barkley walking through the door, this years iteration is not lacking in talent. With the third-best class in the PAC-12 the Trojans add seven four-star recruits to the mix which is more than enough to bolster an already talented group. Don’t let last year’s 5-7 record fool you. After all, four of their five wins came in conference. Don’t be surprised to see the Trojans in the PAC-12 title game at the end of the season.

Critics of Washington State cite the loss of Gardner Minshew as the main reason the Cougars can’t compete in the PAC-12 North in 2019. Minshew was phenomenal in 2018, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns, but a lot of that production can be credited to Mike Leach’s air raid offense. Can Minshew’s successor, whoever it may be, the Cougars expect at least a three-way competition for the job, match his efficiency throwing the football? No. But, they can match his production in an offense predicated on moving the ball through the air.

The Huskies fell short of preseason expectations in 2018, but even failing to live up to aspirations led Washington to a 10-win season. A team that was supposed to rely on the arm of Jake Browning, instead turned into a defensive juggernaut, allowing just 16.4 points a game and a shade over 300 yards. With that kind of defensive stopping power combined with a whopping 15 four-star recruits, Washington will find themselves in a battle for the top of the PAC-12 by season’s end.

It looked as if the post-Chip Kelly Ducks may never reach the national prominence of their predecessors, then Justin Herbert came to Eugene. Herbert may very well be the best quarterback in the nation, and he’s miles above any other signal caller in the PAC-12. Oregon isn’t a shoe-in as the best team in the PAC-12 by any means, they have concerns to address on the defensive side of the football but with the best recruiting class in the conference and best quarterback, the Ducks should be the favorites to reign over the PAC-12 in 2019