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The good, the bad & the unknown: 2017 Pac-12 preseason

Who is good, bad and unknown heading into the season?

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The season is get things started let’s look at which teams are Good, which are Bad and which I don’t really know about yet.


USC - The Trojans are ready under Clay Helton. There is too much talent and too much experience for them to not at least win the Pac-12 South this year. I know we have seen this before with the Trojans, but it just seems more legit this year, especially with Sam Darnold leading the way.

Washington - The Huskies lost three second round picks from their secondary, and John Ross, but almost every other piece from the Pac-12 Champion/Playoff team from last year is back. This Husky team might be even more-complete with more seasoning on Jake Browning and both lines.

Stanford - The Cardinal have some major questions, but there is no doubt that they will be a good team in 2017. Their defense could go back to being the best in the Pac-12, and their offense should be strong as long as Bryce Love looks like the budding star he was in the Sun Bowl and the offensive line fulfills its talent.

Colorado - The Buffs may struggle on defense after a mass graduation exodus and the loss of Jim Leavitt, but their offense should be enough to give them back-to-back good seasons for the first time in a long, long time. Steven Montez will pick up right away for Sefo Liufau and an experienced offensive line teamed with Phillip Lindsay and Shay Fields should be good enough for a nice amount of wins.

Washington State - The Cougars have settled into a nice thing with Mike Leach and Luke Falk. They have enough of the same tools they have had in the past two seasons to get back to a decent bowl game and challenge in the North again.

Utah - The Utes are like the Cougs in that they have a good coach, have a system and a good thing going. Their offense is a massive question mark, but the defense should be good enough to keep them rolling to another bowl game.

The Bad

Cal - The Bears should have a tough transition year under Justin Wilcox. Other than a new regime, there isn’t much to get excited about in Berkeley right now.

Arizona - 2016 was rough for the Wildcats. 2017 shouldn’t be much better. Rich Rodriguez is a good coach, but the conference is tough as nails, the Wildcats don’t have the talent of most of the rest of the conference, and their system no longer makes up for it in the way it used to.

Arizona State - The Sun Devils have more talent than Arizona and Cal and a good coach, but something just doesn’t feel right in Tempe. I wouldn’t be shocked if they rebound and make a bowl, but the conference is tough and the Sun Devils have a lot of question marks.

The Unknown

UCLA - It seems like judgment year for Jim Mora and I’m not sure how it is going to go. The Bruins have as much raw talent as any team in the conference other than USC and Josh Rosen, but they have a lot to prove. The big key will be the offensive line, which was woeful in 2016, improving and giving them some kind of running game.

Oregon - Willie Taggart has the Ducks flying in recruiting, but they have a lot to prove on the field in 2017. The offense returns stacked with Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman leading the way, but will the defense be so bad again that their offense needs to score 60 a game just to beat average teams?

Oregon State - The Beavers are on the cusp under Gary Andersen, the way Colorado was under Mike MacIntyre, but getting over that cusp isn’t a guarantee. The Beavers could get to six wins, but they might need some help.