Pac-12 morning links


And I have one of those very loud, stupid laughs. I mean if I ever sat behind myself in a movie or something, I'd probably lean over and tell myself to please shut up.

Leading off

Previews, previews, previews. Lots of them hit the web yesterday. Fox, SI and Athlon all had major Pac-12 pieces.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel, who picked the Washington Huskies to win the North Division and Oregon to finish third.

Here’s Mandel’s take on the Ducks:

The string of 11- and 12-win seasons can’t go on forever, and despite the return of star quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ducks’ once-unstoppable offense showed cracks last year following Chip Kelly’s departure. Oregon’s defense may miss retired coordinator Nick Aliotti.

There’s a couple of ways to interpret this. First, Mandel -- a good friend who knows college football as well as anyone in the country -- is brilliant. And when the Huskies are walking away with the North title, he’s going to have a satisfied grin on his face for the entire offseason. Or, he could be wrong. Nothing wrong with putting yourself out there.

The country seems high on the No. 25 Huskies. For the national voters to place them in the Top 25 after losing their starting quarterback, a Doak Walker finalist running back and a Mackey Award winning tight end speaks to how highly Chris Petersen is regarded as a head coach. And maybe, just maybe those East of the Rockies are starting to pay the Pac-12 a little more national respect.

But as the Pac-12 blog is fond of saying (and so is every single coach in America), the final rankings are the only ones that matter. So a tip of the cap to Mandel for by far the boldest prediction of this preseason.

Some other previews:

SI’s Lindsey Schnell has Oregon and UCLA playing in the Pac-12 title game -- a common pick among most media, including the Pac-12 blog -- UCLA’s Myles Jack as the league’s defensive MVP. That’s another fairly bold prediction considering the quality of players like Leonard Williams, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Shaq Thompson, Hau'oli Kikaha and Jack’s teammate, Eric Kendricks. That’s going to be a fun award to keep an eye on throughout the season.

NFL.com’s college football blog pays homage to the quarterback depth in the Pac-12, and Bryan Fischer taps Kevin Hogan as the league’s breakout player in 2014.

Schedule accordingly

A couple different posts have come out over the last two days about must-see games. Let’s put it this way – if you plan on watching Oregon, Stanford or UCLA, you’re covered.

First up, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports has his annual list of the 25 most intriguing games of the 2014 season and five of the 25 involve Pac-12 teams. From his list:

  • No. 2 Michigan State at Oregon (Sept. 6)

  • No. 4 UCLA at Texas (Sept. 13)

  • No. 7 Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 1)

  • No. 14 Oregon at UCLA (Oct. 11)

  • No. 17 USC at Stanford (Sept. 6)

Next up is Athlon Sports, which posted 25 must-see games specific to the Pac-12. Here’s their top 5:

  • No. 1 Stanford at Oregon

  • No. 2 Oregon at UCLA

  • No. 3 Michigan State at Oregon

  • No. 4 USC at UCLA

  • No. 5. Stanford at UCLA

You can see some interesting opinions in terms of placement. But for the most part all of the major games are covered.


Athlon also came out with its rankings of the top 37 players in the Pac-12.

Here’s what their top 10 looks like:

  1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

  2. Leonard Williams, DE, USC

  3. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

  4. Ifo-Ekpre Olomu, CB, Oregon

  5. Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

  6. Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

  7. Taylor Kelly, QB, ASU

  8. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State

  9. Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon

  10. Jaelen Strong, WR, ASU

The top four are identical to what the Pac-12 blog had for its Top 25 players. Though we lumped a trio of receivers in our 5-10 and gave the nod to Agholor over Strong for his special teams contributions.

Also, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News released his all-conference projections for 2014. Not a lot of surprises, though it’s interesting to see UCLA’s Jordon James get the nod over Oregon’s Byron Marshall.

News/notes/practice reports

Just for fun

One member of the Stanford coaching staff told me he believes center Graham Shuler could be better than both of the guys who preceded him.

And speaking of reunions, these guys are back together. This could get interesting.