take a seat, gaze into the Cristobal as ATQ predicts your future... or at least the future of the PAC-12 South- the division of disappointment in a conference of disappointment.
Last year, USC broke the North’s stranglehold on the PAC-12 championship game by defeating Stanford, 31-28. Will the Trojans return to Levi’s Stadium in December? Will Utah finally win the South? Or will this be Kahlil Tates’ chance at a Rose Bowl appearance?
ATQ writers attempt to predict the South...
Adam Chimeo predicts...
1. USC (10-2, 8-1)
2. Utah (10-2, 7-2)
3. Arizona (7-5, 4-5)
4. Arizona State (6-6, 3-6)
5. Colorado (3-9, 1-8)
6. UCLA (2-10, 1-8)
I predict that much of the division will finish... predictably.
- USC will use its returning talent and deep roster to blow past much of the conference, except for Utah. Then the Trojans will suffer a soul-crushing loss to the Fighting Irish in week 12.
- Utah will once again fall just short of PAC-12 glory with losses to Washington and at Stanford.
- The Wildcats will have a let down season, the Sun Devils will have a surprisingly decent season, but will fail to win the Territorial Cup.
- I’m probably being too harsh on Colorado and UCLA, but the Cristobal never lies. Colorado’s only conference win will be against Wazzu, and UCLA’s only conference win will be against Colorado.
- In fact, UCLA will be REALLY bad, like Washington State and Oregon State bad. I predict Chip Kelly will have success in Los Angeles, just not this year.
1. USC (8-4, 7-2)
2. Utah (9-3, 6-3)
3. Arizona (7-5, 5-4)
4. UCLA (4-8, 3-6)
5. Colorado (5-7, 3-6)
6. ASU (3-9, 2-7)
I don’t have strong feelings about any of these teams, or at least any that strongly differ from the emerging consensus, so I was tempted to just go chalk. But since that’s never how it goes in this ridiculous conference, I went hunting for the most “of course that happened” upsets. My list:
- Colorado beats ASU and Wazzu
- UCLA loses to Fresno St but beats CU for the all-important #4/#5 tiebreaker
- ASU beats Utah to deny them the division
- Arizona loses to Houston and Wazzu
- Utah beats USC but loses the division anyway when they’re inexplicably upset by ASU, then take out their anger by beating Oregon the next week
- USC loses to Stanford and Texas to begin the year but beats Arizona the rest of a weak division, so the loss to Utah doesn’t matter
As you might infer, I think Colorado will be a bit better than people think (and has a friendly schedule), UCLA* and ASU** will be disasters, Arizona turns out to be a one-trick pony on offense and a paper-thin defense, and Utah doesn’t have the depth to survive its brutal conference schedule, leaving USC to luck out as usual with just a ton of talent and missing the North’s best teams.
* UCLA’s defense will be led by Jerry Azzinaro, who’s never been a competent DC and certainly hasn’t done it recently, and ... Don Pellum.
** I actually think Herm Edwards as a CEO-coach and recruiter can work, but the model of retaining the coordinators obviously failed as they got the hell out of town. Their replacements are DC Danny Gonzales from Rocky Long’s tree who might be good down the line but he doesn’t have the d-line talent to pull off his scheme change to a 3-3-5 this year, and OC Rob Likens from ... Kansas.
(This segment brought to you by a crystal ball on the beach, listening to synth.)
1. USC (10-2, 8-1)
2. Utah (9-3, 6-3)
3. UCLA (7-5, 5-4)
4. Colorado (6-6, 4-5)
5. Arizona (5-7, 3-6)
6. ASU (3-8, 1-8)
To get you the facts for this piece I traveled to the future and it’s a strange & scary place - hoverboards & whatnot, also Biff Tannen is president. These readings are 100% accurate, but only if you act as if you never saw them lest you unwittingly change the course of history.
- Unfortunately USC takes the division, although as Adam correctly predicted the Irish beat them in the regular season’s finale thus taking them out of playoff contention. Almost every good Trojans team also has one inexplicable Pac-12 loss, this one will come courtesy of…. Cal. You heard it here first.
- Huntley will lead Utah to a solid season, but aside from a loss to USC they also fall short against the Washington teams (including getting smoked in Pullman, where the popcorn will be flowing that night).
- Chip & UCLA are going bowling! They pull off an upset of the Ducks at Autzen and then secure a winning record with a victory over Stanford. Former Oregon commit Theo Howard has a breakout season, catching passes no matter which QB is on the field (there will be multiple).
- Colorado is mediocre, with Montez performing well at times but handicapped with a lack of experienced WRs and a running game that remains inconsistent despite the arrival of VT grad transfer Travon McMillian. Leavitt is still missed.
- Despite early success Arizona loses a number of shootouts, with Tate & JJ Taylor not able to overcome the serious limitations of their defense. The back half of their schedule is a struggle, although they do salvage a Territorial Cup victory.
- ASU is the South whipping boy and closes the season on a brutal 7 game losing streak. Several Herm Edwards press conference clips go viral. Buyer’s remorse in Tempe.
1. ASU (9-3, 7-2)
2. Arizona (9-3, 6-3)
3. Utah (7-5, 5-4)
4. Colorado (6-6, 4-5)
5. UCLA (5-7, 3-6)
6. USC (4-8, 3-6)
- HERM EDWARDS IS CRAZY LIKE A FOX. He has been playing the long con since last winter and knows exactly what he’s doing - I mean the guy went to Cal for crying out loud, he’s no dummy. ASU is going to explode like Vesuvias and the Pac-12 South is Pompeii. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST FOLKS (unless USC wins the south, then THIS NEVER HAPPENED).
- Khalil Tate is a bad, bad man, and he’s going to do Khalil Tate things all season long. Fun Fact: The other day, AcadianTraverse pointed out to me that Oregon plays Arizona on Tate’s 20th birthday this year. No, that’s probably not a bad sign at all.... Okay look, at least it’s not a Thursday night.
- Utah will be boring and go to a boring bowl game. Bored Utah fans will kvetch about the need to get rid of boring Kyle Wittingham and get someone not boring to take them to new unboring heights. This chatter will die down by late December when Utes will settle in for nice boring winter and look forward to the same boring cycle in 2019.
- Colorado will quietly, secretly be better than expected and surprise everyone because no one watches college football in Colorado, and the rest of the Pac and the media usually completely forget about the existence of Boulder. Or maybe the city simply gets lost in the shadow of the Flatirons and the haze of ubiquitous smouldering weed, you be the judge.
- Chip will win 5 games in his first season, go bowling anyway, snark all over LA, invent a completely new way to play football, say outrageous things to ESPN that will have the nation rolling in the aisles and keep them hanging on his every word all season. Duck fans will very carefully NOT cast our covetous eyes toward Westwood and will tell each other every day how lucky we are to have Mario Cristobal.
- USC will be OVER-RATED as usual and we will take great enjoyment in laughing at everyone who put them first in the Pac-12 South. Not that any ATQers would do such a thing of course.
- USC (8-4, 7-2)
- UCLA (6-6, 5-4)
- Utah (7-5, 4-5)
- Arizona (7-5, 4-5)
- ASU (5-7, 3-6)
- Colorado (3-9, 1-8)
The South could just as easily be called the ‘Meh’ Division in 2018. A loss of star quarterbacks (welcome to the NFL, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold) and lackluster coaching hires (yes, that includes one Charles Kelly) leaves me singing that great old Peggy Lee song:
- A year after returning to form with eleven wins and a PAC-12 Conference Championship, USC will come crashing back down to earth in 2018. Not only do the Trojans lose First-Team All PAC-12 quarterback Sam Darnold to the No Fun League, but leading rusher and fellow First-Team All PAC-12 running back Ronald Jones as well, a stinging loss as no returning Trojan had more than 363 yards of rushing for Tailback U. last season. After early losses to both Stanford and Texas, coach Clay Helton will be feeling his seat warming a smidgen come October.
- Chip Kelly is back coaching in the PAC-12 you say? Color me apathetic. Sorry gang, I will forever hold Charles in high regard for what he did during his tenure at our beloved Oregon, but safe to say, after several mediocre seasons in both Philadelphia and San Francisco in the NFL, the bloom is off this rose. EVERY team, even staid old Alabama, runs some form of the hurry-up spread offense now, so unless Josh Rosen sneaks back on campus in disguise, or Mr. Kelly can reinvent the wheel a second time, the Bruins will be staring at a .500 season in 2018.
- After three straight nine-plus win seasons, the YOOOTS of Utah will continue their slow slide back to mediocrity with a second straight season of seven wins in ‘18. The loss of former Duck Darren Carrington will hurt more than they realize.
- I want to believe that new coach Kevin Sumlin can turn perennially-under achieving Arizona into a force to be reckoned with, but I’m not sold yet. Do-everything Khalil Tate is back, but even his herculean efforts in 2017 couldn’t get the ‘Cats past seven wins. Expect more of the same in ‘18.
- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, Arizona State hired Herm Edwards, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, who hasn’t even sniffed a college campus in almost thirty years, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
- Poor Colorado. Much like Utah, the Buffs will continue their own return to non-relevance in 2018. And Mike MacIntyre will be the first PAC-12 coach fired this season. BOOK IT.
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What are your predictions for the PAC-12 South? Tell us in the comment section!
Who will win the PAC-12 South?
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