Note: This is the sequel to and review of Sean's article on August 21, 2014: "Duck the Odds: 2014 Pac-12 Prognostications." It's going to be hilarious.
The sub-headline from my preseason "Prognostications" article read: "The one where Sean acts like he knows exactly what is going to happen and you all laugh at him in December."
Yep, that's about right.
Wayyyyy back on August 21, I took a look at the season-long over/under win totals for each of the Pac-12 teams. (WARNING: there are some hot, hot, very wrong sports takes back there. Review at your own risk.) I took a stand on each and every Pac-12 team and how they would fare, and boy oh boy did I have some opinions. Let's take a look at how I did!
**SPOILER ALERT! I was bad.**
Season-Long Over/Unders: A Painful Look Back
Sean Said: Arizona Wildcats OVER 6.5 Wins (4-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: I don't know who's running the ball for 'Zona this year, and I don't know who's throwing it, but under Rich Rod, I think they'll find the guys...Bet on Rich Rod's third year in the system and bet the over.
4-Stache HIT! Arizona went 10-2 en route to a South Division title. Their only losses were to USC on a missed field goal at the buzzer and an inexplicable 17-7 loss to UCLA. Arizona benefited from a couple of miracle wins: a Hail Mary vs. Cal and a last-second field goal vs. Washington, but still out-performed the estimate by 3+ games. Really nice year for RichRod and the Wildcats. Big question: how soon before Rodriguez takes calls from headhunters around the country?
Sean Said: Arizona State Sun Devils - UNDER 7.5 Wins (3-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Great offensive skill returning in Kelly, Foster, and Strong, but they lose a ton (9 starters, I think) on defense...I think signs point down here. I think ASU could very well lose 5 of 6 games in a row during a brutal midseason stretch: UCLA, @USC, Stanford, @Washington, Utah, Notre Dame.
3-Stache MISS. With a 9-3 record, Arizona State outperformed projections. This is mostly due to a fantastic performance from an inexperienced defense, fantastic production from both quarterbacks (Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici), a 1000-yard rusher in D.J. Foster and a 1000-yard receiver in Jaelen Strong. And that brutal 6-game stretch I thought could spell doom for ASU? Sun Devils went 5-1.
Sean Said: California Golden Bears - UNDER 2.5 Wins (2-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Cal may have gotten a little better following a 1-11 campaign....but so did everyone else in the Pac-12.
2-Stache MISS. Cal played surprisingly well early, and sat at 4-1. But then, reality set in, and Cal finished 1-6 and missed bowl eligibility because they couldn't play any semblance of defense. Future is bright offensively in Berkeley with Jared Goff and some talented skill players, but without a defense, they're still in trouble going forward.
Sean Said: Colorado Buffaloes - OVER 4 Wins (5-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Buffs are goin' bowling - you heard it here first.
5-Stache MISS. Yeech. Colorado turned in a 2-10 campaign and an 0-9 Pac-12 effort. Check this out: 59-56 double overtime loss to Cal, 36-31 loss to Oregon State, 40-37 double overtime loss to UCLA, 38-34 loss to Utah. Losing close hurts no matter what, but these hurt especially bad, because it became the "season that could have been" in Boulder.
Sean Said: Oregon Ducks - OVER 10.5 wins ([terrified] 1-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: This is one that, as a Duck fan, I would put $1 on both sides of the bet and then crumple into an indecisive, teary heap on my kitchen floor listening to Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U"....I know what we're going to get on offense, but the reason I have faith is because the defensive news out of camp this year sounds stellar, and that's what UO has missed in the past when it really counted.
1-Stache HIT! I wrote in August: "This bet is all but determined once the clock hits :00 on the Ducks' September 6 clash with the Spartans of East Lansing. Win, this bet is in great shape. Lose, the Duckies have some 'splainin to do and an uphill battle to 11 wins." Turns out, I was wrong. This bet took a crazy left turn on Thursday, October 2 with in inexplicable 31-24 loss to Arizona. From there, Ducks fans wondered whether Oregon had any shot in matchups with UCLA and Stanford.
Turns, out the early-season offensive line injury and inexperience woes were a real factor, as UO stepped up and smacked down every remaining team on its schedule. Closest win was a 42-30 game over UCLA in Pasadena featuring a ton of garbage points.
Ducks went 11-1 in the regular season and sit at #2 with an all-but-certain Heisman-winning quarterback, a true-freshman superhuman 1000-yard rusher, and a defense that just gave up only 224 yards in the conference championship game against an explosive Arizona offense. I'd say that's about as good as we all could have hoped for.
Sean Said: Oregon State Beavers: UNDER 7 Wins (1-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Mannion, one of best passers in nation, is back, as is a good chunk of the Beaver defense. Middle-of-the-road running back corps returns, but losing Biletnikoff-winner Brandin Cooks is a huge blow to the OSU offensive attack....I can really only pencil in 4 wins for Oregon State.
1-Stache HIT! Oregon State turned in an uninspiring 5-7 campaign. They went 3-0 against their non-conference schedule but then could muster only two Pac-12 wins: a 36-31 win over Colorado in Boulder and an out-of-nowhere win over then-#6 Arizona State. Mannion's swan song was uninspiring and likely hurt his once-high draft stock and Mike Riley is now on his way to Lincoln, Nebraska. Future is not looking bright in Corvallis.
Sean Said: Stanford Cardinal: OVER 8.5 wins (2-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Want to hear a brutal road schedule? Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon, Cal, UCLA. 4 of the 6 should be in the top 20 all year, 5 if ASU keeps its head up....If they get by USC in Week 2, 9 wins is pretty locked up. If they don't, they're going to have to spin some magic like that spider did in Charlotte's Web.
2-Stache MISS. Stanford went 7-5 against a tough, tough schedule. As it turns out, Stanford had a close, ugly loss to USC early. Stanford went 3-3 against that road schedule I discussed, and had an unfortunate OT loss to Utah at home. Stanford lost a ton from last year's team, and the losses were especially apparent at the skill positions. Tough year for David Shaw and the Cardinal, but based on previous history, I expect Stanford to be a 9-win team again in no time.
Sean Said: UCLA Bruins: UNDER 9.5 Wins (2-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: UCLA had a 9-3 regular season in 2012. UCLA had a 9-3 regular season in 2013. How much better are they in 2014?...I just don't think they've got enough big-game credentials to withstand the heat of Top-10 pressure the entire season.
2-Stache HIT! UCLA again went 9-3 in the regular season. The only way I was wrong: I thought that this win total hung on the Battle of LA. Wrong. UCLA beat the pants off of USC on November 22. Where UCLA went off the rails: a weird home loss to Utah and a de-pantsing loss at the hands of Stanford that caused the South title to be wrested from the Bruins' grip and handed over to the Wildcats. UCLA has a big, big matchup against Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl on January 2. The future of UCLA football will be heavily charted by their performance there, especially in light of the coming departure of Brett Hundley.
Sean Said: USC Trojans: OVER 9 Wins (3-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: [the lack of a quote about Boston College]
3-Stache MISS. USC went 8-4, and Trojan QB Cody Kessler threw for 3505 yards, 36 TD and only 4 INT. Sparkling numbers, and an indication that USC is only going to be better next year with gradually-improving depth.
But damn, nobody saw that road loss to BC coming. And that loss screwed everything up. If they don't lay an egg on the road in Boston, if they don't lose in the last minute to Utah in Salt Lake City, and if they don't give up a Hail Mary to Arizona State, they sit at 11-1 and win the South title.
If they can improve their late-game spine under Sark, and be a little better with second half defensive depth, then the Men of Troy are back next year.
Sean Said: Utah Utes - UNDER 4.5 Wins (2-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: The Utes have a brutal OOC schedule, hosting Fresno State and going to Ann Arbor to play Michigan, and have road games with UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State, and Stanford....I just don't see 5 wins on the schedule.
2-Stache MISS. These guys game out of nowhere and went 8-4. What a year for the Utes, who rode a suffocating defense to some really nice road wins: at Michigan, at UCLA, at Oregon State, and at Stanford. #SackLakeCity put the Utes on the map, and with Kyle Whittingham at the helm, this team is ready to be an annual contender in the Pac-12.
Sean Said: washington huskies: OVER 9 Wins (2-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Although they are very strong across both lines, there are big questions about the QB and RB units after losing Price and Sankey.
2-Stache MISS. Couldn't glean much from the Huskies' 8-5 season. They won the games they were supposed to, and lost to all five quality opponents: Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona. I thought that Coach Pete would be able to inspire UW to beat a couple teams they shouldn't and push the team to the 10-3 mark. Buy the mediocrity of the Pac-12 North Division was well-represented by this Washington team's effort: good, not great, and on the whole uninspired.
Sean Said: Washington State Cougars - OVER 5.5 Wins (4-Stache Pick)
Telling Quote from Preview: Pretty high on the Cougs this year.
4-Stache MISS. WELP. Cougs got roughed up in a 3-9 campaign. After starting off the year 1-3 with bad losses to Rutgers and Nevada, Wazzu showed some life with a really nice, comeback road win at Utah on September 27. I thought to myself, "Huh, the Cougs might have something in them after all!"
Then October hit. WSU lost to Cal, Utah, and Arizona.
Then November hit. WSU lost Connor Halliday for the season and got drubbed by USC, and got beat up by both Arizona State and Washington. The only bright spot after October was a road win at Oregon State. Other than that, it was all ugly for Wazzu.
Want to hear a crazy stat? WSU is first in the country in passing yards per game. They are DEAD LAST, 128th out of 128 FBS teams, in rushing yards per game (just under 40 yards). The Cougs also gave up 32 points per game. I know the Air Raid doesn't care about rushing stats, but you have to care at least a LITTLE if you're giving up that many points per game. WSU is in trouble over the next few years if it can't get at least 75 yards on the ground per game to control the clock and get some first downs.
I might as well have just thrown darts at the over/under, as I was aggressively wrong and lost 15 Staches because of it. Precious, precious Staches.
What was the most surprising thing to you? Least surprising? Who's trending up next year, and who's trending down? Let me know, below.