- Oregon - The Ducks have some major losses, including four-year QB starter Justin Herbert and 5/6 top offensive linemen, and some key veterans on defense. What they have coming back is T Penei Sewell, three good running backs, an underrated gamer in Johnny Johnson at receiver and a ton of defensive talent and experience, especially in the secondary. They also get all of their most-challenging games in Eugene (Ohio State, Arizona State, USC, Washington).
- USC - The Trojans should be the easy favorite, but you know, Clay Helton is going to Clay Helton. We’re still waiting on some NFL decisions and if things go there way they could have absolute studs like T Austin Jackson, WR Tyler Vaughns, DT Jay Tufele, S Talanoa Hufanga, LB Palaie Gaoteote, and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown coming back with a proven quarterback in either Kedon Slovis of JT Daniels. They would be a dark horse CFP candidate with the right coach.
- Washington - The Huskies may have jumped Oregon had QB Jacob Eason come back and could have gotten even more buzz with RB Salvon Ahmed and TE Hunter Bryant returning. Now, they’ll have to rebuild on offense and rely again on a defense that should grow up into being lights out, led by S Elijah Molden and DT Levi Onwuzurike who both considering leaving early for the NFL.
- Utah - I’m giving Kyle Whittingham and company a ton of credit here because the Utes lose a ton. What they have coming back is a proven system, some offensive line and WR experience/talent, and some talented players on defense who should be able to step up.
- Arizona State - I love ASU’s direction with Jayden Daniels at QB. They have to reload at almost every other position on offense, but the defense looks solid enough to help them test the edge of the Top 25 early in the season.
- Cal - The Bears have huge pieces to replace like Evan Weaver and Ashtyn Davis on defense, outside of that they return almost everything, including a healthy Chase Garbers at QB.
- UCLA - I never quite know what to expect with these Chip Kelly Bruins. It always seems that just when you think they’re turning the corner they fall apart and just when you give up on them they come alive. They have some nice talent and experience coming back in 2020.
- Stanford - The Cardinal should have been better in 2019 and they should be at least solid in 2020 since they threw a lot of young players into the first this year, especially on the offensive line. Also, getting T Walker Little back is a big score and QB Davis Mills could quietly compete for first team All-Pac-12 QB.
- Oregon State - The Beavers took another step forward under Jonathan Smith last year. This year the goal is a bowl game and they should be able to get there.
- Washington State - The Cougars had their first losing season since 2014 and will have to reload at quarterback for the third-straight season. Is this the start of a regression under Mike Leach?
- Colorado - The Buffs have some nice pieces on both sides of the ball and Mel Tucker looked solid in his first season in Boulder. The competition to get out of the cellar of the Pac-12 is fierce though.
- Arizona - Things don’t look great for Kevin Sumlin going into year three. The Wildcats don’t have a ton to get excited about right now.
USC and Washington look to be biggest challengers to the Ducks.
By Jack Follman