- Ohio State
- USC - No budge here. Losing Damien Mama hurt the Trojans, but as long as Viane Talamaivo and Toa Lobendahn are healthy and progress, their offensive line should be fine. The Trojans have a lot of work to do, but so do all of these teams and, like the other teams up top, the Trojans have young talent waiting in the wings. Oh, and the guy who could be the first player taken in the 2018 draft at quarterback.
- Florida State
- Washington - I dropped the Huskies a couple of spots because they don’t have the depth and overall talent of the other programs up here to quickly replace the talent they lost early to the draft. Plus, I am a little concerned with Jake Browning’s development and potential lingering injuries after a rough end to 2016 for him. With that said, the Huskies are still right on the edge of being a Playoff team and should be favored in every game on their schedule leading up the 2017 Pac-12 Championship Game.
- Penn State
- Oklahoma State
- Stanford - I’m moving Stanford up a little bit because they return a giant chunk of their defense and offense outside of their big stars and that’s a big deal in modern college football. Plus, Bryce Love showed the ability to fill in for Christian McCaffrey nicely in the Sun Bowl and I think one of their highly-touted freshmen quarterbacks - K.J. Costello (redshirt) or Davis Mills might be able to turn into their answer at quarterback.
- Kansas State
- South Florida
- Georgia Tech
- Western Michigan
On the edge
Utah - The Utes lose a lot of talent and experience, but Kyle Whittingham has a nice system going on. Getting Lowell Lotulelei and Kylie Fitts will really help them keep their defense near the top of the Pac-12 and they will really be helped on offense if one of their big running backs can get healthy and step in for Joe Williams.
Washington State - Luke Falk coming back gives the Cougars a huge leg up, but they still have a lot of questions to answer and finished 2016 on a terrible note.
UCLA - There’s is Josh Rosen and some really nice talent (though not as much as there used to be) but there is nothing proven and not many programs have underachieved more consistently than the Bruins in recent seasons. They have borderline Top 25 talent, but it has to prove it in 2017 to be ranked.
Oregon - The Ducks have a lot more potential than it might seem. They lose almost no one from 2016 and sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert has major star potential. The key for them becoming a Top 25 team again could be Royce Freeman, Darren Carrington and Tyrell Crosby turning down the NFL.
Colorado - The Buffs broke out in a big way under Mike MacIntyre last year, but they lose almost all of their starters. They still have a few really nice players coming back like Phillip Lindsay, Shay Fields and Addison Gillam along with a nice sophomore quarterback in Steven Montez, but they also have a lot to prove.