Will USC’s Or UCLA’s Offense Spearhead The Southland For The Battle Of L.A.? (2017 PAC-12 Football Preview)

  • By TBelcher
  • August 29, 2017
  • 0

The Pac-12 hasn’t had a National Champion since the 2004 USC Trojans. With a ton of talent in the conference, this could be the year that changes. Looking at the teams in the conference, there are two teams fighting for playoff position. This is a quarterbacks league and for the first time in a long time, the Pac-12 has legit NFL quarterbacks spread throughout the conference.

It will be a tight race until the end to determine a Pac-12 champion. Fans will finally get to see the battle for Los Angeles between USC and UCLA. The build up around this game is the match-up between stud quarterbacks Sam Darnold (USC Trojans) and Josh Rosen (UCLA Bruins).

This has the makings of a classic. Both QB’s come in with a lot to prove. Darnold will want to show he is the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Rosen wants to show that he is a franchise quarterback.

Darnold stepped in last year and did a tremendous job getting this team to the Rose Bowl and winning it. Even though he’s led his team to a number of victories, he needs this year to justify the hype.

Rosen, on the other hand, was supposed to be the greatest quarterback in UCLA history when he stepped onto campus. He has shown flashes of greatness but injuries and mediocre receivers have held him back. Questions about his character have surfaced as well. Rosen has talked about the difficulties of being a student athlete but those difficulties don’t excuse the questions about his leadership which have been many GM’s biggest concern.

USC and UCLA isn’t the only rivalry you should look at this year. The battle between Washington State and the University of Washington for the Apple Cup will be interesting as well. These two teams feature gunslingers as well in Jake Browning (Washington Huskies) and Luke Falk (Washington State Cougars).

Both quarterbacks lead explosive offenses that can put video game numbers on the board. Not to mention, both these teams are led by great coaches in Chris Peterson (Washington) and Mike Leech (Washington State). The winner of this game will definitely have implications on the Pac-12 race.

The Willie Taggart era is taking off in Oregon. The Ducks will be led by All-American running back Royce Freeman but it’s coach Taggart that has to get this program back on top. It wasn’t but a few years ago when this Oregon program played for the National Title and boasted a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Ducks have some weapons but it’s an evaluating season for Taggart and his staff. That doesn’t mean Oregon can’t mess things up and surprise everyone by taking the PAC-12 title.

The Stanford Cardinals could also sneak into the conversation for conference champion. Head coach David Shaw has a new running back to build this offense around in Bryce Love. Love will have to carry this offense if quarterback Keller Chryst doesn’t come back at 100 percent.

Coach Shaw will have to make sure this defense can hold its weight. If this unit can be steady, then Stanford is a contender for the Pac-12.

2017 will be an exciting year for this conference. Expect a lot of scoring records to be rewritten and it wouldn’t be PAC-12 Football without a couple of upsets.


North Division 

California Golden Bears: 3-9 (1-9)

Oregon Ducks: 8-4 (5-4)

Oregon State Beavers: 6-6 (3-6)

Stanford Cardinals: 8-4 (4-5)

Washington Huskies: 12-0 (9-0)

Washington State Cougars:9-3 (6-3)


South Division

Arizona Wildcats: 4-8 (2-7)

Arizona State Sun Devils: 4-8 (1-8)

Colorado Buffaloes: 9-3 (7-2)

UCLA Bruins: 7-5 (4-5)

USC Trojans: 10-2  (8-1)

Utah Utes: 7-5 (3-6)


Conference Championship Game

USC Trojans vs Washington Huskies

A dream scenario for the PAC-12 would be Washington and USC for the conference title. Washington wants to get back to the playoffs and show that they belong. A win would make the hype around USC real. The Pac-12 title game could have implications on a few races. The winner of the Pac-12 will possibly be in the College Football Playoffs. Washington has an explosive offense led by quarterback Jake Browning. USC is returning six starters from a defense that ranked third in the Pac-12. USC’s offense will have to be accounted for as well. Sam Darnold will definitely want to prove he’s the best quarterback in the country and worthy of the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. Also, his place in the Heisman Trophy race could hinge on his performance in this game. Washington should come out on top. They have the better team and the better coach in Chris Peterson. Expect a tight game until the end. If Washington gets on a roll early and this defense can get to Darnold early, it could be a blowout. USC has the run game to control the clock and keep the Washington offense off the field. If Ronald Jones Jr. gets going, watch out.

Washington Huskies 27-24 USC Trojans


Conference Champion 

Washington Huskies

Chris Peterson was brought in to change the program around like he did at Boise State. It’s year four and it feels like it’s his program now. He has his quarterback in Jake Browning and let’s not forget about his stud running backs, Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. The Husky backfield will power this offense. Defensively Washington will be solid but of course, they will be tested this year. If they can manage to play smart football and get off the field in three downs in key moments, they will repeat as champions. The schedule is favorable for Washington to run the table but ego will be this team’s worst enemy. This team can’t come in thinking teams are going to lay down. They will have to bring the intensity every time and coach Peterson will not have it any other way.


Photo courtesy of Sporting News

Offensive Player of the Year

Sam Darnold, Redshirt Sophomore, Quarterback, USC Trojans

Darnold is billed as the top player in College Football this year and rightfully so. After taking over the USC offense last year, Darnold went off throwing for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Now imagine him having a full year to start healthy. A scary sight. Darnold is not only an excellent passer, he can make plays with his feet as well. I wouldn’t say he is a dual threat but his ability to make things happen when the play breaks down is decent. He has a solid supporting cast around him to get it done. All Darnold has to do is stay healthy and focus.



Photo courtesy of Pro Football Weekly

Defensive Player of the Year

Azeem Victor, Senior, Linebacker, Washington Huskies 

The senior linebacker had his junior year cut short by a leg injury. Victor will want to show everyone he is back. A long-rangy linebacker, Azeem can do a lot of things on the football field. This year will be important for the senior linebacker. A strong showing will have him in the mix for a lot of national defensive awards. Like Florida State’s safety Darwin James, Azeem is still his conference best defender coming off an injury.


Coaches on the Hot Seat

Photo courtesy of Arizona Desert Swarm

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona Wildcats

Coach Rodriguez’s time at Arizona has been mediocre at best. The only way he stays after this year is if he can get this team to a bowl game. Truthfully, they don’t have the roster to do it. Anything under six wins is not going to cut it this year.


NFL Draft Prospects according to   http://www.walterfootball.com


Sam Darnold**, QB, USC
Height: 6-4. Weight: 225.
Projected 40 Time: 4.78.
Projected Round (2018): 1.

Josh Rosen*, QB, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 210.
Projected 40 Time: 4.75.
Projected Round (2018): 1-3

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 205.
Projected 40 Time: 4.79.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 

Jake Browning*, QB, Washington
Height: 6-2. Weight: 205.
Projected 40 Time: 4.73.
Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 

Cooper Bateman, QB, Utah
Height: 6-3. Weight: 224.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
Projected Round (2018): FA.

Ronald Jones II*, RB, USC
Height: 6-1. Weight: 195.
Projected 40 Time: 4.57.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Height: 5-11. Weight: 230.
Projected 40 Time: 4.56.
Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 

Lavon Coleman, RB, Washington
Height: 5-11. Weight: 228.
Projected 40 Time: 4.59.
Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 

Myles Gaskin*, RB, Washington
Height: 5-10. Weight: 193.
Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7

Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona
Height: 5-10. Weight: 199.
Projected 40 Time: 4.53.
Projected Round (2018): 7-FA

Daniel Marx, FB, Stanford
Height: 6-2. Weight: 254.
Projected 40 Time: 4.80.
Projected Round (2018): 7-FA.

Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Height: 6-1. Weight: 185.
Projected 40 Time: 4.55.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4.

Deontay Burnett*, WR, USC
Height: 6-0. Weight: 170.
Projected 40 Time: 4.47.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4.

Darren Carrington, WR, Oregon
Height: 6-2. Weight: 195.
Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
Projected Round (2018): 3-5

Dalton Schultz*, TE, Stanford
Height: 6-6. Weight: 240.
Projected 40 Time: 4.80.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7

Trey Adams*, OT, Washington
Height: 6-7. Weight: 302.
Projected 40 Time: 5.32.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 

Casey Tucker, OT, Stanford
Height: 6-6. Weight: 300.
Projected 40 Time: 5.32.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 

Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
Height: 6-5. Weight: 310.
Projected 40 Time: 5.28.
Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 

David Bright, OT/G, Stanford
Height: 6-5. Weight: 293.
Projected 40 Time: 5.32.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 

Scott Quessenberry*, G/C, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 314.
Projected 40 Time: 5.29.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 

Cody O’Connell, G, Washington State
Height: 6-8. Weight: 354.
Projected 40 Time: 5.19.
Projected Round (2018): 3-5

Viane Talamaivao, G, USC
Height: 6-2. Weight: 315.
Projected 40 Time: 5.31.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 

Brandon Fanaika, G, Stanford
Height: 6-3. Weight: 321.
Projected 40 Time: 5.35.
Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 

Porter Gustin*, DE/OLB, USC
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260.
Projected 40 Time: 4.74.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 

Lowell Lotulelei, DT/NT, Utah
Height: 6-2. Weight: 310.
Projected 40 Time: 5.40.
Projected Round (2018): 3-4.

Vita Vea*, NT/3-4 DE, Washington
Height: 6-5. Weight: 332.
Projected 40 Time: 5.20.
Projected Round (2018): 1-3. 

Azeem Victor, ILB, Washington
Height: 6-4. Weight: 232.
Projected 40 Time: 4.78.
Projected Round (2018): 3-4.

Iman Marshall*, CB, USC 
Height: 6-1. Weight: 200. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.53. 
Projected Round (2018): 1-2.

Quenton Meeks*, CB, Stanford
Height: 6-1. Weight: 195.
Projected 40 Time: 4.53.
cted Round (2018): 2-4. 

Alijah Holder*, CB, Stanford 
Height: 6-2. Weight: 174. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.50. 
Projected Round (2018): 2-4.

Tyree Robinson, S, Oregon
Height: 6-4. Weight: 205.
Projected 40 Time: 4.64.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 

Jaleel Wadood*, S, UCLA 
Height: 5-10. Weight: 175. 
Projected 40 Time: 4.69. 
Projected Round (2017): 5-7. 

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