In trying to figure out how the west will be won in 2014 (mind you, this is still way too early) we here at GJB have broken down the Pac-12 schedules and have a predicted finish. We did this via “helmet schedule”. What is that, you may ask? Really cool, for one thing. It is a schedule of helmets that gives you a visual representation of the scheduled season. Check out FBSSchedules.com for your own Pac-12 2014 helmet schedule.
So after looking into our crystal ball (helmet schedule) here is the predicted final standings for the 2014 season.
Stanford 11-1, 8-1
Oregon 8-4, 6-3
Washington 9-4, 5-4
Oregon State 8-4, 5-4
Washington State 4-8, 2-7
Cal 1-11, 0-9
UCLA 12-0, 9-0
Arizona State 10-2, 7-2
Arizona 7-5, 5-4
USC 8-4, 5-4
Colorado 5-7, 2-7
Utah 1-11, 0-9
As you can see, it does not change much from this past season, but several new factors come into play. Let us start in the North Division.
Stanford will continue to have success. Even though they are losing a good portion of their team to graduation, they are the most consistent squad in the North. Oregon losing defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti is huge and will have them take a step or two backwards.
It is hard to gauge Washington because their new head coach Chris Petersen did not do so well last year at Boise St. Still, he now has Pac-12 level players, so that could be dangerous. Oregon State will continue to do well, but their lack of defense will once again keep them in the middle of the road, and it is doubtful that things will be corrected in time to compete for the Pac-12 next season.
Washington State showed they can make defensive improvements, as they did toward the end of the season, now they just need to make their air raid system work in every single game, which does not look possible. As for Cal, I am so sorry, I have no improvements here for you.
In the South it will be all UCLA. Them going 12-0 is a hard, but not impossible. They play a lot of the better Pac-12 teams at home this season and generally, they are just getting better.
Arizona State did not look like the team they need to be last season, despite winning the South. That will be fixed by soon-to-be third year head coach Todd Graham who will have an experienced team to go with his style of football. Arizona looks to be improved, but they will be hampered by the loss of Kadeem Carey to the NFL draft.
USC is in transition and is losing a lot of experienced guys to the draft. It is no doubt that the spirit of Troy is back with the hire of Steve Sarkisian, but even a burnt down village needs time to rebuild, no matter how many five-star villagers you have.
Colorado will continue their trend of playing not-totally-sucky football. They quadrupled their win total from the previous season and should look to continue making a name for themselves. Unfortunately, the Buffalo still play in the Pac-12 and may get beat up along the way. As for Utah, oh my. They will probably be a very similar team, but when you cannot win a game outside of your state, that is when it is bad to be in a power conference.
There it is folks! Way too early!