Defending conference champion Washington isn’t atop the league, as we take a way too early look at how the Pac-12 stacks up heading into the 2017 season.
There were a lot of highlights produced from the members of the Pac-12 during the 2016 college football season. One of its more notable accomplishments was being represented by the Washington Huskies in the College Football Playoff. It was the second time in three years the league had a team compete for a national title.
However, despite its success in 2016, the defending Pac-12 champion is not starting out atop the league’s power rankings. Instead, the Huskies are sitting at No. 2, right above Mike MacIntyre’s Colorado Buffaloes, whom Washington defeated in the conference title game.
Here are the complete 2017 Pac-12 football power rankings.
Early Pac-12 Football Rankings For 2017
12. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats were riddled with injuries last season. Anu Solomon is transferring to Baylor. So, that leaves Brandon Dawkins as the guy left to run Rich Rodriguez’s offense. If Arizona can’t figure it out and stay healthy, Rodriguez might be looking for a new job after next season.
11. Cal Golden Bears
After four seasons in Berkley, Sonny Dykes has been fired. Whoever takes the job at Cal will get an explosive wide receiver in Demetris Robertson but will also inherit one of the country’s worst defenses.
10. Arizona State Sun Devils
Manny Wilkins needs to stay healthy, but more importantly, the Sun Devils need to continue to give the ball to Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage. Keep an eye on incoming freshman Eno Benjamin as well. He’s a talented, young tailback.
9. Oregon State Beavers
Gary Andersen needs to straighten out his quarterback situation, but he at least has Ryan Nall to fall back on when the offense stalls.
8. Utah Utes
Kyle Whittingham is one of the more under-appreciated head coaches in college football, but Troy Williams is not a go-to star for the Utah offense. With Joe Williams gone, the Utes will have to get their running game figured out.
7. Oregon Ducks
Justin Herbert was a pleasant surprise for the Ducks as a true freshman last season. With Willie Taggart rejuvenating the program in Eugene and Royce Freeman back for one more go, Oregon is looking to get back to its winning ways.
6.Washington State Cougars
Luke Falk decided to skip a shot at the pros and return for his last year in Pullman. Without Gabe Marks and River Cracraft, though, it’ll be a difficult road ahead for the Cougars.
5. Stanford Cardinal
Christian McCaffrey is gone. Solomon Thomas won’t be back either. Stanford’s two biggest stars are headed to the NFL. And with Keller Chryst injured and Ryan Burns transferring, the focal point of the offense will soon become freshman quarterback K.J. Costello.
4. UCLA Bruins
Jedd Fisch has been brought in from Michigan to take control of the offense. He should have a blast working with Josh Rosen, who’s recovering from a shoulder injury, but trying to improve one of the nation’s worst rushing attacks is no small challenge.
3. Colorado Buffaloes
Mike MacIntyre has certainly changed the culture at Colorado, but without Sefo Liufau, the weight of the offense will fall on the shoulders of Steven Montez. We’ll see if the Buffaloes can replicate their 2016 success.
2. Washington Huskies
The Huskies are losing a lot of pieces from their 2016 team, but they’re returning Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria to the defense. More importantly, Jake Browning is back for his junior season and looking to elevate his draft stock.
1. USC Trojans
With an experienced Sam Darnold returning for his redshirt sophomore season and Ronald Jones in the backfield, USC is not only the top team in the conference but a College Football Playoff contender.