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 was Arizona
#8 was Utah
#7 was Arizona State
#6 was Washington State
#5 was Washington
#4 was UCLA
#3 was Oregon
#2 was USC
Prediction: 11-2 (8-1) first in North
Bowl: Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State
Wins: Kansas State, USC, at UCLA, at Washington, Washington State, Colorado, at Arizona, Oregon State, at Cal, Rice, USC (Pac-12 Championship Game)
Losses: at Notre Dame, at Oregon
The Cardinal just won’t go away. They have the strongest system in the conference, the best coach and a roster loaded with not just talent, but polished talent hand-picked for their system. I know it is boring to pick them to win the conference again, but I simply don’t see a convincing argument of why not to.
I think they miss the Playoffs again, but I see the Cardinal going back to the Rose Bowl in 2016.
Non-Conference: The Cardinal should get around a nice opening test at home against Kansas State and close out with a home win against Rice. The tricky one is at Notre Dame in October. The Irish are a Top 10 team, play Stanford tough in South Bend and will be hell-bent on revenge. I have to predict a loss there.
In-Conference: The Cardinal get a chance to make Pac-12 statement right out of the gate in the third week against USC and I think they will. Things stay very tough, as they follow that up with road tests at UCLA and Washington and home game against Washington State, but I think they pull out wins in those as well.
The rest of the way, outside of a test at Oregon in November, is pretty light for the Cardinal. Unfortunately for them, I think Oregon upsets them again in the perpetual upset series between the two and knocks them out of the Playoffs.
The Cardinal still win the North though and punch a ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game where they win a close one against USC and earn a ticket to the Rose Bowl.
How Will This Feel In December?
Business as usual. Another Pac-12 championship. Another trip to the Rose Bowl. Another year just outside of the Playoffs. While I think missing the Playoffs again will sting, I doubt anyone around Stanford can feel bad about another 11-win regular season and a Rose Bowl berth.