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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Preseason College Previewkakke: Pac-12 South Division

I wish Barkley would stop making me like him.

Moving on to a slightly more interesting conference, we start in the Pac-12 (Ah, the west coast, where the number after the conference name is accurate) South division. Unlike the ACC, most people actually know which teams are in the Pac-12 and care about what they do. Sometimes this is because they have a national title contender, sometimes it’s because of the crazy shit they do, but most of the time it’s because both of those things combine and form USC.

So here we have the Trojans, emerging anew from the cocoon of NCAA sanctions and bowl bans with the probable #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, a young coach who perhaps has enough experience to no longer be considered young, and national title aspirations. Last season USC couldn’t represent the Pac-12 South in the Pac-12 Championship or a bowl, and that ended up proving what pretty much everyone knew; this division is USC and a bunch of teams who are going to get beaten by USC. After a massive logjam the regular season ended with 6-6 UCLA winning this division. That earned them an ass-kicking at the hands of Oregon in the title game (Final score was 49-31, and it was worse than that, trust me) then a bowl bid… at 6-7… where they Fought Hunger in a bowl game sponsored by cheese… and lost to an equally undeserving Illinois team 20-14.

There is no question USC will return respectability to the division this fall, but are there other contenders that can push USC? This division has FOUR new coaches out of six, which should illustrate how terrible it was last season, and oh boy, are the four new coaches juicy. RichRod at Arizona attempting to resuscitate his career after the biggest disaster in Michigan history, Todd Graham at Arizona State after ditching Pittsburgh in the biggest asshole way possible, Jim Mora Jr. (HAHAHA) at UCLA which is… Jesus Christ UCLA… and a new head coach named who-fucking-cares at Colorado, where winning a single game should be considered a major accomplishment. Great pickup with Colorado, Pac-12. Real winners, they are.

So without further ado, venture beyond the jump for the 100% accurate predictions for the Pac-12 South:

Team                  Overall W-L       Conference W-L

USC                        12-0                        9-0

Utah                           9-3                        6-3

Arizona                       6-6                        4-5

Arizona State              5-7                        3-6

UCLA                        3-9                        2-7

Colorado                    0-12                      0-9

University of Southern California: I think I need to lead this off by saying that a team with a player who lit his bed on fire with a blunt, intentionally, because God told him to, has to go undefeated in the regular season. There are very few ways to commit arson that are better than that. Oh yeah, and the team is pretty damn good too. They start the season with a home game against Hawaii which is… why wouldn’t you play an away game against Hawaii?! It’s a built-in vacation! After that they have two difficult games on the season, one at Utah and another at home vs. Oregon. Last year’s USC-Oregon game might have been the best game of the season, and we should all be lucky enough to see that game twice this year. USC has the best quarterback in the nation, a team loaded with more talent than the rest of Southern California combined, and a bunch of seniors who had the fortitude to play out their scholarships knowing they would only have one chance to play in a bowl game. This shit is a lock. Best Possible Inaccuracy: I actually think it’s more likely they get beat at Utah than lose at home to Oregon. Utah’s defense is monstrous, and if they get their offense up to even 40th or 50th in the nation that game’ll be tough.

Utah: Speaking of the Utes, in their second season as a member of the Pac Whatever they have a good shot at contending. I should reiterate: Utah’s defense is very solid. They graduate some good linebackers and defensive linemen but replace them with more of the same, and their secondary, which got tested considerably last season (this is the Pac-12: they pass a lot) was dominant and has 3 of 4 starters returning. Of course, the defense is what will have to save them as their offense was abominable last season and the only possibility for improvement this year is that everyone is a year older. QB Jordan Wynn will return to health, but is that a good thing? He has never proved himself to be good, and all I think whenever I watch him play is “Wow. That guy is scrawny.” Utah has a chance to upset USC in a night game at home on October 4th and they miss Oregon completely. Beyond those two teams Utah is an above-average team in an average division and has a good chance at 9 wins. Best Possible Inaccuracy: I have Utah losing against USC and also losing two more games, but honestly they could easily win out or go 6-6. It all depends on that offense. I’ll say the most likely difference is Utah beating Washington State at home on November 3.

Arizona: And now for the crap. Lucky for RichRod, the Pac-12 is pretty mediocre this year once you get past the two instant losses to USC and Oregon (just add water!). They get AZ State and Oregon State at home, plus easy wins against Colorado, Toledo, and South Carolina… State. So one more win to get to 6-6 is probable. It’s nice that they have some easy wins on the schedule because RichRod needs a year or two of recruiting before he can fully implement his offense. Arizona is full of very non-RichRod types (think Tate Forcier), which is going to turn this season into a transitional period. It will be interesting to see if Arizona can ever be more than what Mike Stoops got them to (7 wins and a bowl) and also if RichRod can succeed again. Best Possible Inaccuracy: Well, they could lose at UCLA on Nov. 3. That would leave them at 5-7, which should still be considered an acceptable season considering everything.

Arizona State: AZ St. started last season on fire; their only two losses in their first 8 games came at Illinois (back when Illinois was also on fire, plus Arizona teams do terribly anywhere east of Colorado) and at Oregon. They even beat USC 43-22! Then they lost all the rest of their games; games against UCLA, Washington State, Arizona, and Cal. For some reason they got a bowl game against Boise State, and… well that ended as you might expect. So what did Arizona State do? They hired the biggest asshole coach this side of Bobby Petrino (Hey sup guyz jus txting 2 say got job @ ASU, iz leaving, GL !). While that’s all fine and dandy, there’s a fairly good chance this team is the group that got beaten by bad teams at the end of last year than the team that whooped USC’s ass. They play the teams that beat them at home last year on the road this year and they get USC, Oregon, and Utah at home. So they have to get most of their wins on the road. That will not end well. Best Possible Inaccuracy: I have their seven losses as @ Mizzou, vs. Utah, @ Cal, vs. Oregon, @USC, vs. Washington St., and @Arizona. Maybe they can pull an upset vs. Mike Leach at home? (If you haven’t surmised this yet, suffice it to say I may have overrated AIR COUGAR in the Pac-12 North Standings).

UCLA: When you hire Jim Mora Jr., you’re gonna have a bad time. This guy has never proven himself to be a good coach anywhere, and all but one year of his career was spent in the NFL. Being a bad coach. Ruining Michael Vick. Why would you hire Jim Mora Jr.?! The Bruins aren’t getting better this year, they have non-conference games against Nebraska and Houston, and goddamnit, THEY HIRED JIM MORA JR. Best Possible Inaccuracy: I have them winning their first two Pac-12 games, against Oregon State and at Colorado, then losing out. Maybe they can beat Arizona and RichRod at home on November 3. Or maybe JIM MORA JR.

Colorado: Colorado was tanking before Dan Hawkins and nepotism struck Boulder, but Hawkins drove Colorado straight through the tank down into division 2 territory. And I mean actual division 2, not the FBS. It’s going to take many, many years for the Buffs to return to something nearing respectability. Best Possible Inaccuracy: They play Sacramento State at home on September 8. This Sacramento State team beat Oregon State last year, at OSU, before every Beaver player tore their ACL. I don’t think Colorado will win this game, but it does remind me that Indiana is seriously playing a game AT Massachusetts this year. And Indiana is STILL better than Colorado.

The exact standings will be as follows:

USC: 12-0, 9-0 Conference
I'm a big enough man to admit when I was wrong. Oh how I LOL'd at USC. They were hammered by the NCAA. They had hired and overpaid a young, brash head coach who had never accomplished anything other than a long line of broken hearts. Their recruits were all going to abandon them, leaving them talent deprived for the first time...ever.

And then...they didn't. Because, of all things, Lane F*&king Kiffin can coach. Damnation. The important thing is that this USC team is stacked. Stacked in a way that even the last few stacked Pete Carroll teams weren't. This isn't a John David Booty or even Rico Mirerez 10 wins and a nice Rose Bowl trip kind of team. They could very easily be national champions with the nation's best QB (a guy that, even as early as two years ago, forced me to ask if he Might be better than Andrew Luck. I think he is) and terrifying depth charts on both sides of the ball. I don't see anyone in their conference who even comes close to contending with them.

Utah: 9-3, 6-3 Conference
I will not quibble with Iggins! On this one. Utah has the defense to contend in their division, but that offense, even with a full year of health from Jordan Wynn, is far from explosive. Nine wins and a shot at double digits with a bowl win in their second year in the Pac 12 should be considered a good thing.

UCLA 8-4, 6-3 Conference
I don't think Jim Mora Jr. is going to be that much of a disaster, frankly. As an NFL head coach he's certainly overmatched, but his personality and mentality is much more suited to the college game. He strikes me as a poor man's Jim Harbaugh, meaning he should be able to guide UCLA through a bounceback season, considering they have to, at some point, get a healthy season out of Kevin Prince. They have 16 returning starters, 9 on defense, and 5 conference home games. They'll get to 8 wins this year and then begin their slide back when it's obvious that Mora suffers from Former NFL Coach Disease and can't recruit.

Arizona 5-7, 4-5 Conference
RichRod won't have the same growing pains at Arizona that he had at Michigan, since they have the personnel necessary to run the spread, even if the quarterback isn't quite as much of a speed demon as Denard Robinson or Pat White. That said, Arizona's defense is still shitty and their schedule is pretty rough. I think they're a year away from bowl contention.

Arizona State 2-10, 1-8 Conference
The cupboard is bare and I don't really think much of Todd Graham.

Colorado 2-10, 0-9 Conference
Brutal schedule and zero talent.

TO SUMMARIZE: We disagree on Jim Mora Jr. being a disaster, and I have copy-pasted the comment about Jim Mora Jr. being a poor man’s Jim Harbaugh so I can always remind Red that he actually said that. Pac-12 part deux soon (Including a chance for both of us to slurp Mike Leach and AIR COUGAR).

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