Discussion

Projecting the Pac-12 standings

National title contenders UCLA and Oregon will duke it out for the conference

Updated: August 23, 2014, 10:29 AM ET
By Phil Steele | ESPN Insider

The Pac-12 has started to make a move up in my toughest conference standings as it placed a conference-record six teams in last year's final top 25. The only thing holding back the conference is winning a national title, which it hasn't done since USC won it all in 2004. However, this year the conference has two legit national title contenders in UCLA and Oregon, while two-time defending champ Stanford and a rising USC squad are right behind them.

Also notable this year for the Pac-12 is QB play, as the conference easily has the strongest group of quarterbacks of any conference in the country. The Pac-12's teams return eight of their top nine QBs in pass efficiency, including five that ranked in the NCAA's Top 30.

Here are my 2014 projected Pac-12 standings and overall records.


South Division

1. UCLA Bruins

Projected Record: 11-1
Toughest games: Oregon (minus-3), at Washington (minus-3)

UCLA's 17 returning starters are the most in the Pac-12 as the Bruins get back their top four rushers, five of their top six receivers and 10 of their top 14 tacklers -- including their entire secondary -- which I rank sixth best. Not to mention that Brett Hundley is one of the most experienced and talented QBs in the country. I have the Bruins favored in every game; they get Oregon, Stanford and USC at home. But I have them as a TD-or-less favorite in six games and only a field goal favorite against Texas (at AT&T Stadium), at Washington and against Oregon. It is likely they drop one of those games.

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