Football NCAAF

2019 Pac 12 Football Preview

The knock on Leach is he can't get Washington St. past their rival Washington.

2018 Standings & Bowl Results

Pac 12 North

  1. Washington – 10-4 (7-2): Lost Rose Bowl 28-23 to Ohio State
  2. Washington St. – 11-2 (7-2): Won Alamo Bowl 28-26 over Iowa State
  3. Stanford – 9-4 (6-3): Won Sun Bowl 14-13 over Pittsburgh
  4. Oregon – 9-4 (6-3): Won Redbox Bowl 7-6 over Michigan St.
  5. California – 7-6 (4-5): Lost Cheez-It Bowl 10-7 to TCU
  6. Oregon St – 2-10 (1-8)

Pac 12 South

  1. Utah – 9-5 (6-3): Lost Holiday Bowl 31-20 to Northwestern
  2. Arizona St – 7-6 (5-4): Lost Las Vegas Bowl 31-20 to Fresno State
  3. USC – 5-7 (4-5)
  4. Arizona – 5-7 (4-5)
  5. UCLA – 3-9 (3-6)
  6. Colorado – 5-7 (2-7)

Pac 12 had a disappointing 2018. For the second year in a row they didn’t have a team make the CFP and didn’t even really have a team in contention for it at the end of the year. They also only had Washington make a NY6 game and they got beat pretty soundly by Ohio State even though the score shows they only lost by 5. Their wins in bowl games weren’t very impressive, looking at you Oregon and Stanford. The Pac 12 went 3-4 overall and during the regular season they were 6-7 against Power 5 conferences and BYU/Notre Dame. Among those things, the Pac 12 South was dreadful. USC and Arizona didn’t even make bowl games and UCLA’s first year under Chip Kelly didn’t go exactly as planned. Washington St. was a good story throughout the year but they have this block they can’t get past when they play Washington but did bounce back in a nice win over Iowa State.

Questions for the Pac 12

  1. Can the Pac 12 make it back to the CFP?
    • A lot of people like Washington but I see this as a two team race in the Pac 12 this year: Oregon and Utah. Oregon has a great shot to get off to a fast start with a Week 1 win over Auburn. Auburn won’t be the best team in the SEC but they are an SEC team which will undoubtedly look good on the resume BUT some would argue come the end of the year that Auburn is just an average team even though they play in the SEC. It all gets confusing with homers and some sports analysts who would probably rather see Georgia and Alabama in the CFP over a Pac 12 team. Oregon does have to play Stanford, Washington, USC, and ASU on the roach which isn’t the easiest schedule in the Pac 12 but the do get Washington St. at home. If it’s not Oregon then Utah also has a great shot. First of all they are going to arguably have the best DL in the country with all starters and reserves coming back, plus they are going to get their starting QB and RB back from injury. Utah also has to go to USC and Washington but other than that the schedule sets up very nice for them in the Pac 12 South. The team that could throw a wrench in all this is Washington who will still be very good but they lost their schools all time leading rusher and passer, and have lost a ton off of some very good defenses the past few years. Washington gets the two big boys at home so they could knock each off but still lose somewhere else on the schedule.
  2. Can Washington St. finally beat Washington?
    • Mike Leach has been with Washington St. since 2012 and since 2015 he has been very successful winning at least 8 games in each of those seasons and gone 2-2 in bowl games. The knock on Leach is he can’t get Washington St. past their rival Washington. Washington St. had a great chance last year going into the Apple Cup and got to play Washington at home. Washington St. threw out a dud and got manhandled, especially in the 4th quarter and lost 28-15. Washington St. hasn’t beaten the Huskies since 2012, Mike Leach’s first year as head coach and quite frankly most of these games haven’t even been close. Washington St. is bringing in QB Gage Gubrud from Eastern Washington to replace Gardner Minshew who had a hell of a year in 2018. Washington St. should have a very good team again this year and with Washington maybe not being as good as years past, could 2019 be the year they finally get over the hump?
  3. Does Clay Helton survive the season?
    • Clay Helton tried to fix his offense by bringing in Kliff Kingsbury but the Arizona Cardinals came knocking and Kingsbury left USC before he even stepped foot on campus. Helton decided to hire Graham Harrell as his new OC instead and we’ll get to that soon. Helton came in as an interim coach in 2015 and led USC to a 5-4 record and Pac 12 title game appearance and earned the HC gig after that. The next two years he would go 10-3 and win the Rose Bowl over Penn State, and then go 11-3 and lose the Cotton Bowl to Ohio State. Those teams had Sam Darnold however, and in 2019 without Darnold USC went 5-7 and looked miserable. Helton is on the hot seat here and if USC isn’t competing for a Pac 12 South titles with a good record, Helton could be one of the first coaches in college football relieved of his duties.

Off Season Moves

  1. USC hires Graham Harrell to run the offense
    • Clay Helton wanted Kliff Kingsbury but instead he got his second option in Graham Harrell. Harrell comes from the Air Raid system he played and coached under with Mike Leach. Harrell has been the OC at North Texas from 2016-2018 where in 2018 North Texas ranked 26th in scoring with 34.6 PPG, and 20th in yards with 460.5 yards per game. For comparison, USC scored over 34 points just four times all of last year, and two of those were against some pretty bad teams in UNLV and Oregon St. Harrell has SO QB JT Daniels, a loaded WR corps, and returns 11 guys who started a game last year. USC doesn’t get any favors with the schedule as they start with a good Fresno St. team, then get Stanford, at BYU, Utah, and end September at Washington before going to Notre Dame the following week. Harrell’s offense is going to need to click right away.
  2. Jacob Eason transfers from Georgia to Washington
    • Eason left his home state of Washington to play QB at Georgia but he lost his starting job after getting injured in Week 1 in the 2017 opener to Jake Fromm. Eason transferred to Washington and is now the starter for Chris Pederson after the schools leading passer Jake Browning left. Eason was the #4 overall recruit in his high school class and has all the tools to be a great college QB. He showed a bit of that in 2016 when he started as a true freshman for Georgia and threw for 2,430 YDS, 16 TDs, and 8 INTs. Eason can now build off that and create his own legacy at Washington. With the talent Washington has Eason could easily lead this team to a Pac 12 Championship.

Conference Notes & Tid Bits


  • Toughest in Pac 12 North: Stanford
    • Stanford hosts Northwestern in Week 1, then has back to back games at USC and at UCF. There’s a legit chance this team could start 0-3 and still be good. They get Oregon and Washington at home early on in the year, but have to go to Washington St on Nov. 16th, and the final game of the year they host Notre Dame.
    • Runner-Up: Oregon
  • Toughest in Pac 12 South: UCLA
    • Tough to choose between UCLA or USC but UCLA starts Week 1 at Cincinnati, a team that was 11-2 last year and beat UCLA in Week 1 in 2018. Then in Week 3 UCLA hosts Oklahoma and the following two weeks are at Washington St. and at Arizona. They also have games at Stanford, at Utah, and at USC.
    • Runner Up: USC

Offensive Player of the Year

  • QB Justin Herbert (Oregon), QB Khalil Tate (Arizona), WR Laviska Shenault Jr (Colorado), RB Eno Benjamin (Arizona St.)
    • Darkhorse: RB Jermar Jefferson (Oregon St.), WR Michael Pittman Jr. (USC), RB JJ Taylor (Arizona)

Defensive Player of the Year

  • DE Bradlee Anae (Utah), LB Evan Weaver (Cal), CB Jaylon Johnson (Utah),
  • Darkhorse: DL Leki Fotu (Utah), LB Troy Dye (Oregon), DB Myles Brant (Washington)

Best Offensive Units

  • QBs: Utah (Tyler Huntley, Jason Shelley)
    • Huntley broke his collar bone in November and missed the rest of the year for the Utes in 2018. Before that, he had thrown for 1,788 YDS, 12 TDs and 6 INTS and also ran for 204 YDS and 4 TDs. Jason Shelley came in and threw for 1,162 YDS and 5 TDs with 6 INTs. With Huntley back in the mix the Utes are looking to use his athletic ability more in 2019 to get the most out of him. Huntley might not be the best QB in the Pac 12, but the Utes have the deepest room with some experience.
    • Runner-Up: Oregon, Arizona
  • RBs: Utah (Zack Moss, Devin Brumfield, Devonta’e Henry-Cole, TJ Green, Jordan Wilmore)
    • Moss was the starting RB for Utah before he got injured in November and didn’t play the rest of the year. Even in just 9 games last year Moss ran for 1,096 YDs and 11 TDs. He can also catch the ball, in 2018 he caught 29 balls for 243 yards. Behind him the Utes have a ton of depth and freshman Jordan Wilmore apparently has been very impressive in camp. This is a very deep backfield.
    • Runner-Up: Oregon, Arizona St.
  • WRs: USC (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman Jr, Tyler Vaughns, Kyle Ford)
    • Ford is a top recruit coming into 2019 but the other three all return from last year and each guy had at least 670 yards receiving last season. With a new wide open offense you could see a lot of formations will all four of those guys on the field at the same time.
    • Runner-Up: Washington, Washington St.
  • TEs: Stanford (Colby Parkinson)
    • Parkinson is best returning TE in the Pac 12, no surprise that he comes from Stanford that produces a ton of NFL TEs. Parkinson caught 29 balls for 485 YDS and 7 TDs. With K.J. Costello at QB again those number should improve in 2019.
    • Runner-Up: Washington
  • OL: Oregon (Penei Sewell, Jake Hanson, Shane Lemieux, Dallas Warmack, Calvin Throckmorton, Brady Aiello, Alex Forsyth, George Moore)
    • This starting group as 153 total starts together which is easily the most overall in college football. The next closest team is 19 starts behind them. If Oregon makes a run to the CFP, it is going to be behind this phenomenal offensive line. Four of these guys are fifth year seniors as are some of the reserves. They only gave up 22 sacks last year and averaged 180 yards on the ground last year with two freshman RBs doing most of the work.
    • Runner-Up: Washington, Washington St.

Best Defensive Units

  • DL: Utah (Bradlee Anae, John Penisini, Leki Fotu, Mika Tafua, Fua Pututau, Maxs Tupai, Viane Moala, Hauati Pututau)
    • This might be the best DL in the country. Utah brings back all their starters AND all their reserves on the DL. This team held teams to just 2.9 yards per rush last year, and three guys return who were all-conference selections. Anae led this team with 8.0 sacks last year.
    • Runner-Up: Washington, Oregon
  • LBs: California (Evan Weaver, Colt Doughty, Cameron Goode, Tevin Paul, Kuony Deng, Hawk Schrider)
    • Evan Weaver might be the best ILB in the nation, he had 159 tackles last year and that led college football. Cal needs to replace Jordan Kunaszyk at ILB who left for the NFL but that’s shouldn’t be too hard with Weaver still on the squad. Cal has great depth at the position with transfers coming in, and getting Cameron Goode back from injury.
    • Runner-Up: Oregon, Arizona St.
  • DBs: California (Jaylinn Hawkins, Ashtyn Davis, Camryn Bynum, Traveon Beck, Josh Drayden, Trey Turner III, Elijah Hicks, Daniel Scott)
    • If Cal had an offense then they would probably be a very good team in the Pac 12. This defense is loaded especially in the secondary and this group is not only the best in the Pac 12 but arguably the best in the nation. Last year they held 10 of 13 teams to under 200 yards passing including TCU throwing for only 28 yards in the Cheez-It Bowl. They had 21 INTs and only allowed 13 TDs last year. Cal is bringing basically everyone back from last year, this secondary should be just as good in 2019.
    • Runner-Up: Utah, Washington

Best Special Teams

  • Kickers: Jet Toner (Stanford)
  • Punters: Oscar Draguicevich (Washington St.)
  • Returners: Travell Harris (Washington St.), Tyler Vaughns (USC)

Conference Game of The Year

  • Oregon at Washington (October 19th)
    • This game will most likely decide the Pac 12 North division winner. Last year Washington somehow gave this game away and their season went downhill from there. Even with a loss Week 1 against Auburn, Oregon can still salvage their season by winning the Pac 12 but to do it they have to get by the Huskies in Washington. By this time Washington should have their offense in tune under Jacob Eason and their young defense should be shaping into form. Justin Herbert hasn’t won any real big games at Oregon so far but he’ll get his chance here to prove his worth.
    • Runner-Up: Utah at Washington (November 2nd)

Non-Conference Game of the Year

  • Oregon vs Auburn (August 31st)
    • This is the biggest game of the year for the Pac 12. Washington failed to beat Auburn last year and now Oregon gets a shot to take down the SEC in Week 1. If Oregon can win this game it will vastly improve the Pac 12’s chances of earning a playoff bid and earn them some respect. A loss in this game and all you’ll hear is how the Pac 12 has an uphill battle to climb if one of their best teams can’t beat maybe the 5th or 6th best team in the SEC. This will be a fantastic match-up to watch when Oregon has the ball as they have the most experienced and one of the best OL’s in the country going up against one of the best DL’s in the country that Auburn has.
    • Runner-Up: USC at Notre Dame (October 12th)


Pac 12 North

  1. Oregon
  2. Washington
  3. Stanford
  4. Washington St.
  5. California
  6. Oregon St.

Pac 12 South

  1. Utah
  2. USC
  3. Arizona
  4. Arizona St.
  5. UCLA
  6. Colorado

CFP Contenders: Oregon, Utah, Washington

NY6 Contenders: Oregon, Utah, Washington

Bowl Participants: Oregon, Washington, Stanford, Washington St., California, Utah, USC, Arizona

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