The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.
I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.
#12 was Oregon State
#11 was Colorado
#10 was Cal
#9 is... Arizona
Prediction: 5-7 (2-7) fifth in South
Wins: BYU, Grambling State, Hawaii, Colorado, at Oregon State
Losses: Washington, at UCLA, at Utah, USC, Stanford, at Washington State, Arizona State
The Wildcats really struggled at the end of 2015, outside of a double-overtime win over Utah, and I think that will be carried into 2016. I still like their system and I think their defense will improve quite a bit, but I just don't see it translating into too many wins on their schedule. It's hard to say it, but I think the Wildcats miss a bowl game for the first time in five years.
Non-conference: The Wildcats slightly stepped up their pillow-soft recent non-conference schedules by taking on BYU in Phoenix and it will pay off as I think they get more respect and still enter conference play 3-0 with a tight win over BYU.
In-conference: The Pac-12 is tough and the Wildcats' system is no longer as far ahead of the rest of the conference, outside of Oregon, as it once was so finding wins on their schedule is difficult. I think the conference's weakest teams in Colorado and Oregon State are wins for the Wildcats, but outside of that, I won't go out on a limb and predict any wins. I am very tempted to pick them to beat Arizona State at home, but I think am still going with the Sun Devils. Outside of that, the only game on the schedule I think the Wildcats have a great chance of winning is their conference opener at home against Washington. The Huskies are not unbeatable and haven't won in the state of Arizona in 10 years, but I still think this is the season Washington turns the corner in the desert.
How Will This Feel In December?
Not good. The Wildcats were in a bad place with Rodriguez in November so a five-win season isn't good right now. It's not a disaster, but it sure will feel like this program has peaked under Rodriguez and they are falling behind the powers in the Pac-12.