1. Ohio State
Like Alabama, the Ducks have earned the right to be a preseason Top 5 team no matter how much talent and experience they lose because they have proven time and time again to reload on the fly and keep dominating. This will have to be the Ducks' biggest revamp in a long time with Marcus Mariota and Co. gone, but there is still a lot there in Eugene including two big time running backs, a deep fleet of top flight receivers and a lot of experience in their defensive front seven. Also, if FCS transfer Vernon Adams can transition to the Pac-12, the Ducks might not have a very tough time replacing Mariota.
6. Michigan State
9. Notre Dame
Oh man, if only Brett Hundley had come back for his senior year, the Bruins would probably be my preseason number two. Even without Hundley, the Bruins are ultra stacked across the board. Their young offensive line has some seasoning and could be the best in the Pac-12 as they block for maybe the Pac-12's best running back in Paul Perkins. The defense is loaded across the board as well with Myles Jack looking like a first-team All-American, linemen Kenny Clark and Eddie Vanderdoes on the verge of star turns and a defensive backfield that could have three first-team All-Pac-12 players.
A lot of people are pumping this up as a big year for the Trojans, but I am not entirely sold yet. Sure, having Cody Kessler back as a senior with some really nice pieces like Juju Smith, Max Tuerk and Su'a Cravens also returning, but they have a lot of questions all across their depth chart. However, if they can get some offensive playmakers to emerge around Kessler and Smith, their offensive line matures as they should and their returning defensive players step up and stay healthy, they are probably a Top 5 team.
13. Florida State
14. Arizona State
The Sun Devils lost a big three on offense in QB Taylor Kelly, WR Jaelen Strong and T Jamil Douglas along with excellent safety Damarious Randle, but the rest of the team is back, including QB Mike Bercovici, who actually looked better than Kelly at times in 2014. The defense that Todd Graham rebuilt on the fly last year returns a ton of talent, especially at linebacker and I their offensive line could easily be the best in the conference even without Douglas. I wouldn't be surprised if this team sneaks up and beats out the LA schools for the South title.
The big names return for the Wildcats - QB Anu Soloman and RB Nick Wilson will be two of the best sophomores in the nation and WR Cayleb Jones comes back as a preseason first-team All-Pac-12er. On defense, the case could be made that linebacker Scooby Wright III is the best player returning in the nation. What will make or break the Wildcats is how they replace their nuts and bolts as their three best offensive linemen are gone and pretty much all of their standout defensive players other than Wright.
The Cardinal took a step back in 2014 and then lost a ton of talent to graduation and the NFL after the season. They have a lot of talent coming back, but a lot of it is young and a big underachieving (running backs and offensive line) and will need to take a step forward to keep the Cardinal as a Top 25 program. One of the keys here is senior QB Kevin Hogan. The Cardinal could be a much better team if Hogan can finally fulfill some of that potential in his senior season.
21. Mississippi State
The Utes made major progress in 2014 winning nine games and finishing in the Top 25 and I think they have enough talent and experience coming back to maintain that level. The defense still has a lot of really nice pieces up front including DE Hunter Dimick and DT Lowell Lotulelei and getting RB Devontae Booker to return for his senior year gave the team a huge boost on offense. Senior QB Travis Wilson is the X factor here as the Utes could become maybe even a Top 15 team if he develops into an upper-level Pac-12 QB.
25. Boise State
On the edge
Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Florida