College Football 2014: Pac-12 Preseason Power Rankings
Pac-12 Power Rankings
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Here are how the Pac-12 college football power rankings shape up as we get ready for the 2014 season.
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1. Oregon Ducks - The Oregon Ducks have been one of the more consistent programs in college football over the last decade, winning 10 or more games in six straight seasons. With Marcus Mariota at quarterback, Oregon’s offense is sure to remain one of the best in the country. Oregon also returns six starters from a defense that has improved quite a bit from year-to-year. The Oregon Ducks have to be a favorite to reach the playoffs, which easily makes them the best team in the Pac-12.
2. UCLA Bruins - The UCLA Bruins have been recruiting extremely well on both sides of the ball and are finally to make that deep run. Brett Hundley is one of the best quarterbacks in the land and doesn’t get enough credit, while Myles Jack is a two-way player who excels at both running back and linebacker. The UCLA Bruins are fast, tough and know they’re capable of beating any team you put in front of them. UCLA is a scary team in 2014.
3. USC Trojans - The USC Trojans return seven starters on both sides of the ball and could make this the season they make up for lost time. USC is led by an experienced quarterback in Cody Kessler, and has running back depth in Javorius Allen and Tre Madden. What makes the Trojans a really dangerous team is their defensive front led by Leonard Williams and Antwaun Woods. As usual, the USC Trojans have great potential to do something special this season.
4. Stanford Cardinal - If the Stanford Cardinal weren’t losing so much talent and experience from last season, they would likely be the team to beat. Still, even with 10 former starters now preparing for life at the next level, Stanford is a team that nobody can simply wipe off the board. Quarterback Kevin Hogan has great upside and the Cardinal are still one of the tougher defensive teams in the country with A.J. Tarpley still on the inside. It’s tough to bet against head coach David Shaw.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils - If you aren’t familiar with quarterback Taylor Kelly, you’re missing out. Kelly leads an Arizona State offense that is capable of dropping 40 points at the drop of a hat, even without running back Marion Grice. The Sun Devils have a lot of work to do with only three defensive starters returning, but this is still a fun team to watch that will win a lot of games.
6. Washington Huskies - The Washington Huskies do have a new head coach in Chris Petersen and does have question marks at crucial positions. However, the former Boise State head coach has more talent than he’s ever had in his life, especially on the defensive side of the ball with Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha. Washington may not be there yet as far as competing for a Pac-12 title, but the Huskies will win some big games this season and take another step in the right direction.
7. Oregon State Beavers - The Oregon State Beavers still have their quarterback in Sean Mannion, which is always a big deal considering the Pac-12 is a passing conference. The Beavers return eight starters from an offense that had the third-best passing offense in the country. Defensively is the side of the ball where Oregon State really stinks it up. Still, head coach Mike Riley continues to surprise by doing the most with least and this season should be no different.
8. Washington State Cougars - Don’t ask me how the Washington State Cougars are going to get stops defensively or if they have a running game. The answer to those two questions are probably no. However, Washington State does have a recipe for great offensive production with Connor Halliday at quarterback and Gabe Marks and Dom Williams at wide receiver. Remember, the Cougars were just minutes away from winning their first bowl game since 2003 with this unit.
9. Colorado Buffaloes - The Colorado Buffaloes won four games under head coach Mike MacIntyre in his first season. Keep in mind that’s the same number of wins that former head coach Jon Embree had in three seasons. MacIntyre is no stranger to turning programs around in a hurry, as he also pulled off similar magic with the San Jose Spartans. The Colorado Buffaloes return 15 starters this season, which is tied with the Oregon Ducks. Don’t sleep on Colorado as a team that can pull off a couple of upsets.
10. Arizona Wildcats - Head coach Rich Rodriguez has proven in the past that he can replace big time players and keep his program restcable. However, the Arizona Wildcats are without their workhorse in Ka'Deem Carey, who did just about everything for them last season. There’s still talent in Arizona, especially at linebacker with Scooby Wright leading the way, but way too many questions to have the Wildcats as a top team in a loaded Pac-12.
11. California Golden Bears - It’s going to be a while before head coach Sonny Dykes gets the Golden Bears off the ground. However, he has an extremely underrated quarterback in Jared Goff and a solid group of wide receivers including Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. Cal has enough talent to turn some heads, but even then, this is a program that’s going to need some time.
12. Utah Utes - The Utah Utes have their quarterback back in Travis Wilson and return six offensive starters altogether. However, the Utes were just too bad last season and had a defense that ranked 73rd in the country in points allowed. Utah is still working out the kinks with the switch to the Pac-12 and it may take a little longer than initially thought.