It’s time to head West and pick the winner of the Pac-12 North Division so let’s go!
Cal 50/1 – Things didn’t go real well for Sonny Dykes in his first year in Berkeley as the Bears went 1-11. Their lone victory came against Portland State and only one of their 11 losses was by less then 10 points. In other words, there’s a lot of work to do. Cal returns nine starters on offense and six on defense so there is hope. The schedule won’t do them any favors with road trips to Northwestern, Oregon State and USC but they do get Stanford and UCLA at home and Oregon in the 49ers new stadium. Three wins would be significant for Cal.
Oregon 1/2 – The Ducks will get challenged right out of the gate when defending Big Ten Champ Michigan State comes to town in week two. The offense returns eight starters including QB Marcus Mariota but the defense does have some work to do but has plenty in the cupboard. I see only two difficult road trips for the Ducks and those would be at UCLA and at Oregon State in the finale. They’ll be looking for revenge when Arizona comes to town and they also get Washington and Stanford in Autzen Stadium as well. If they get past Michigan State, look out.
Oregon State 14/1 – The Beavers have a whopping 53 lettermen returning in 2014 headed by one of the top QB prospects in the land in Sean Mannion who NFL scouts love. The travel plans for OSU are daunting with trips to Washington, USC and Stanford but every other game on the schedule with the exception of Oregon perhaps is winnable. Don’t be shocked to see this team record nine wins.
Stanford 13/4 – The defending Pac-12 Champions return from a tough Rose Bowl loss to Michigan State. Head Coach David Shaw has a terrific 34-7 record but it will be put to the test in 2014 especially on the road. The Cardinal play an usual six games on the road and all are going to be challenging. Besides Washington, the Cardinal also go to Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. With only five starters back on offense I have concerns about the Cardinal.
Washington 6/1 – Chris Peterson brings his 92-12 record to Seattle from an amazing run at Boise State. The question will be whether or not he can transfer that success from the Broncos to a more high-profile situation. The Huskies return seven starters on both sides of the ball which will help with the transition in coaching staffs. Washington should be 4-0 when they host Stanford in the fifth game of the season. The problem after that is the road where they play five times in their last eight games. Besides the Cardinal, they also get UCLA and Oregon State at home. An 8-5 season here would be a grand success.
Washington State 12/1 – Year two of the Mike Leach regime produced a 6-6 season and a bowl game. Year three will need to produce even further. The road schedule will not be easy however with trips to Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State. That said, they get Oregon, USC and rival Washington at home in the Apple Cup to finish the season.
The Pick: I believe this is Oregon’s division to lose. Stanford will challenge but I worry about the road schedule. The one team to look out for is Oregon State because of the quarterback and solid coaching.