Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
Is this the strongest Pac-12 football has ever been? Oregon, USC, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State provide a solid nucleus of competitive squads.
So far this season we've had five Pac-12 teams crack the BCS standings and seven teams get ranked at some point during the season. Would you say this is the strongest year for the conference in recent memory? If not, which year would you consider better?
Jack Follman, Pacific Takes - Tough question. From a depth perspective I would say yes and I can't remember a better year. I can't remember when teams 1-8/9 were this tough but I don't think there is another elite team that can challenge Oregon and I think that really hurts because nationally, I don't think people pay that much attention about teams outside of the Top 10 or so. I think 2011 was actually a stronger year because there were three legitimate Top 5 level teams in the conference at the end of the season.
Trevor Wong, Conquest Chronicles - I think a little bit of that is skewed considering Stanford jumped into the standings after beating USC, who has looked average at best all year long, and Washington, who ended up beating that same Stanford team. It clearly has one dominant team in Oregon, but after that, most of the rest of the teams in the conference are jumbled together in the middle of the pack in terms of their performance this season. Then, there's the three bottom feeders in Utah, Colorado and Washington State.
David Piper, Addicted to Quack - It would be difficult to make that claim, especially when you look at Oregon's BCS ranking. I actually think that the conference is quite down this season. Colorado and Washington State are abysmal. Its a fairly deep conference in the sense that there are a lot of teams in the middle, but I don't think that any of those teams are good enough to consistently compete with elite competition. And I include USC and Stanford in that mix, who have not gotten to the meat of their conference schedules yet but look thoroughly mediocre. I think both of those schools are due for a correction.
Andy Wooldridge, Building The Dam - It's one of the deepest years, but whether its all that strong is going to be impossible to judge until we see if the conference can get a second team into a BCS bowl, and how the conference does overall in their bowl games. If those things happen, it validates the conference's pretty solid out of conference play. If they don't, then maybe the conference isn't that much better than the ACC. Especially if the Big XII has a strong bowl season.
, Pacific Takes & Pac Hoops - Parity is fun for fans. It consistently gives you a fighter's chance and that's really all anyone ever wants, right? But that doesn't always mean it's a good thing. It is, however, hard to overlook the fact that this conference has been stellar in their out of conference play. That says a lot to me and it'll be further evidence of the conference's depth come bowl season. Ultimately, I like dominance and the three teams from last season were pretty savage between Oregon, USC, and Stanford.
Anthony Cassino, UW Dawg Pound - In reality, yes it's probably the strongest the conference has been in a while because the middle of the conference is so deep. Unfortunately, that's not what gets noticed as a strong conference nationally. If USC was the elite team they were supposed to be instead of just very good, and there was another team was up there as well, it'd be viewed as a stronger conference overall even though those teams would just beat up on everybody else to pad their record. That's the recipe the SEC has been using for a while now, and since they expanded the possibility for that to continue has grown because the odds of their elite teams playing each other has shrunk. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is still playing itself into a disadvantage with its 9 game schedule.
Jon Woods, Ralphie Report - It's certainly strong in the middle of the conference, but USC and Stanford have disappointed enough to not give the Pac-12 enough at the top. It's been interesting to watch perceptions change of the teams in the middle as the season has developed.