Ifo Bomaye and I return for the second division in the PAC-12 conference, the south. The story of this division is that USC is the king of the hill and the rest of the teams are toss-ups. Each school has a big question mark that will be the deciding factor for their season.
USC is a clear “over” pick on the 9.5 over/under total. They have back Sam Darnold and have surrounded him on offense with extremely talented players and on defense they are just as talented. Their lines will be the biggest factors this year along with just how well Darnold can play. We could have a Chizik scenario where Darnold can make up for below-average coaching but regardless, they will be solid this year. We believe they will win the conference.
UCLA has been the next big thing in the conference for more than 5 years now. They have all the tools in place but for some reason just can’t put it together. Josh Rosen is back after suffering a season-ending surgery in 2016. Now it’s time to see if the offense can come together and take advantage of his talent.
Utah is famous for both lines, but especially the defensive, which has earned them the title “Sack Lake City.” The defense will take a step back statistically in the antiquated numbers like points and yards per game, but that will be a result of the new offense. The Utes are moving to more of a wide-open spread, which could have mixed results given the performance of their quarterback.
Colorado is a classic regression team this year. They had a senior-heavy team last year, many of whom went on to the NFL, and their defensive coordinator departed to our favorite team. Last year their quarterback played well when forced into action and this program could have really turned the corner but there are a lot of question marks.
Head coach Todd Graham is on the last year of his contract. He did not receive a one-year extension from the school as he has every year since he was hired. Their defense thrived off of being the most aggressive and blitz-heavy rush in the conference and the last few seasons they’ve busted more times than they have boomed. This is probably a make-or-break season and it could all come down to the defense and a few game-swinging plays throughout the season.
Rich Rodriguez seems to have quit. He lost recruits near signing day and hasn’t been able to find a quarterback on the roster, despite the talent he has brought in. The Wildcats could be the worst team in the division and there aren’t many signs that they could turn it around right now. If Rodriguez wants to keep his job the team will have to show some promise that they can be close to what the Mountaineers were when RichRod left for Michigan.