There's a reason why only one Division I team in college football went undefeated in 2012 -- it's really, really hard. Since 2002, only seven teams from BCS conferences have run the table and only one of them was from the Pac-10/12 (USC, 2004).
Yet a few folks seem to think there are at least a couple of teams in the Pac-12 that could do it in 2013. This was a point of contention in Wednesday's chat. Not surprising, those two teams are Stanford and Oregon -- the top two teams in our early 2013 power ranking. Of course, it will be impossible for both teams to do it since the Cardinal host the Ducks on Nov. 7 in what could very well be a battle of top 5 teams with the North Division and national championship implications on the line. Ted and I aren't always perfect with our predictions, but I'm fairly confident one team will have a loss after that game.
I will be voting "no" in this poll, because I think the odds are stacked against Pac-12 teams running the table for a number of reasons. For starters, the Pac-12 plays nine conference games. And as we saw the past couple of years, negotiating a nine-game schedule is very difficult (Oregon at Stanford 2011, Stanford at Oregon 2012, USC at Oregon 2011, USC at Stanford 2012 etc, etc.).
Second, Stanford has a brutal schedule negotiating the Pac-12 North plus a yearly date with USC and Notre Dame. Oregon's road isn't as tough. But the Ducks still have to go through Palo Alto and while we think we know what we're getting with Mark Helfrich as a head coach, we won't know for sure until we're five or six games into the season.
Going undefeated takes a little bit of luck and it takes a fairly injury-free season. Those are two things that no one is able to predict.
But hey, don't let me be a Debbie Downer. After all, Stanford has one of the best defenses in the country and an offensive line that was good in 2012. The Cardinal should be outstanding in 2013 if they can find the right fit at center. Oregon returns a ton of dynamic playmakers and though there are holes at linebacker, the young defensive line got a ton of experience this past year.
What about in the South? My guess is that USC, Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State will all take a chunk out of each other at some point during the season. But is it possible that an undefeated dark horse emerges from the South?
I'm not saying it's impossible. I just think the dice are loaded against Pac-12 teams having a perfect season because every team with the potential to do it has some very big question marks. Then again, maybe I'll change my tune after Nov. 7.
So for your Thursday poll question: Will a Pac-12 team go undefeated in 2013?