POSTED: August 2, 2021

Preseason Magazines


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Preseason Magazines

August 2nd

CBS Sports posts Preseason 1-130: CU drops 24 spots from final 2020 ranking

… Final CBS Sports 1-130, end of 2020 season: No. 30 Colorado; No. 31 Oregon … Preseason, 2021: No. 9 Oregon; No. 54 Colorado … The lack of respect continues … 

From CBS Sports … Alabama will begin the 2021 season at the top spot in our college football rankings, landing cleanly at No. 1 ahead of Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia in the Preseason CBS Sports 130. The comprehensive ranking of every FBS team comes via extensive polling of experts across CBS Sports and 247Sports, and it is updated weekly throughout the season.

After winning the national championship for the sixth time in a dozen years under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have been consistently seen as the top team in the nation entering next season, including during our post-spring top 25 polling this May. Voters are so confident in quarterback Bryce Young and the depth of the Alabama program that not even the departure of a record-tying six first-round NFL Draft picks could shake the current order of power in college football.

In fact, the entire top six remained in identical positions from our pulse-testing rankings a few months ago. While Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State all have new starters replacing first-round quarterbacks, the unsettled and (more) unproven situation with the Buckeyes contributes to the gap, which is occupied by an Oklahoma team with a Heisman Trophy favorite under center in Spencer Rattler, giving the Sooners national championship aspirations.

There are some adjustments that have been made to the rankings over the last few months thanks to a combination of intel from media days, player movement and deeper analysis into the upcoming season. Texas A&M, LSU and Penn State all moved up two spots, while Texas moved down two. Utah, Ole Miss and Louisiana cracked the top 25, which they just missed in May.

The most dramatic adjustments since we last convened for the CBS Sports 130 (in the 2020 postseason) include Oregon soaring from No. 31 to No. 9, Wisconsin jumping from outside the top 30 to No. 13, and LSU making an even bigger leap from No. 52 to No. 14. Penn State, like LSU, came from outside the top 50 thanks to a five-loss season in 2020 and made its own impressive ascension, landing at No. 17.

From the Pac-12 (final 2020 ranking) … Based solely upon these rankings, CU would finish with a 4-8 record in 2021 … 

  • No. 7 … Texas A&M
  • No. 9 … Oregon (31)
  • No. 16 … USC (19)
  • No. 20 … Washington (32)
  • No. 22 … Utah (27)
  • No. 24 … Arizona State (42)
  • No. 36 … UCLA
  • No. 46 … Minnesota
  • No. 48 … Stanford
  • No. 51 … Nebraska 
  • No. 54 … Colorado (30) … The Buffaloes were one of the real surprises last season, and Karl Dorrell was one of the few winners in a year where the Pac-12 struggled to make as much of a splash with its much-delayed campaign. Jarek Broussard is a first-team all-conference running back, but our voters aren’t respecting the results of 2020 with this ranking.
  • No. 69 … California
  • No. 74 … Michigan State 
  • No. 76 … Washington State
  • No. 83 … Oregon State
  • No. 94 … Arizona
  • No. 102 … Colorado State 

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July 29th

Arizona State could be the Pac-12’s biggest disappointment

From College Football News … Forgetting about the offseason controversy with the program – and the allegations of recruiting during what was supposed to be a dead period due to COVID-19 – this is all assuming everything goes on as normal on the field.

For an Arizona State team loaded with experience, great lines, and possibly the best quarterback in the league in Jayden Daniels, the expectations of a preseason win total of 9 shouldn’t be a lot to ask for.

With USC coming to Tempe and with no Oregon to face from the North, anything less than a trip to the Pac-12 Championship for the first time since 2013 will be a huge downer.

The Sun Devils haven’t pushed past eight wins in any of the last six seasons, but this team is supposed to do it. However, under Herm Edwards, they’ve had a strange way of not quite coming through consistently enough.

Good enough to beat Oregon two years ago, Michigan State twice, and with the program still buzzing over the 70-7 win at Arizona last season, there have been a whole lot of bright spots.

However, five of the program’s last six wins came against teams that finished with a losing record, there have been five losses over the last three years to teams that ended up under .500, and this year’s schedule has a slew of landmines.

Watch out for the trip to BYU, going to Utah and Washington will be a problem, and dealing with UCLA in the Rose Bowl won’t be easy.

It’ll be a strong season, and some are going to like the idea that ASU could rise up and rock with all of its great parts, but anything less than a Pac-12 South title will hurt.

ESPN: Arizona State biggest threat to Oregon in the Pac-12 

From 247 Sports … The Oregon Ducks will look to make it three straight Pac-12 championships during the 2021 college football season. However, there are other hungry teams within the conference that are looking to knock off the Ducks.

During Tuesday’s edition of ESPN’s College Football Live, former Georgia linebacker David Pollack said that he believes Arizona State is in the best position to give Oregon a run for its money. Pollack also acknowledged that he is unsure of how the NCAA will penalize the Sun Devils as they are currently under investigation for potential recruiting violations.

“I’ll tell you what, if you could look into a crystal ball and tell me that Arizona State is not going to be in trouble by the NCAA because there’s obviously a lot going on, I would take Arizona State,” Pollack said. “Just because when you look at their skill, they’ve got it all over the place. When you look at the quarterback spot the most important spot on the field, Jayden Daniels is a superstar, with composure, with enough mobility, and just can sling it. Herm Edwards has done a good job and they’ve built a good thing but obviously the recruiting and the way they handled COVID and broke some rules, I don’t know how that will come down. But Arizona State’s in a better position than they’ve been in a long time.”

Back in June, the NCAA launched an investigation into Arizona State’s football program for recruiting violations that were allegedly committed during the recruiting dead period. An unnamed individual is said to have sent a dossier to the ASU athletic department containing dozens of pages of evidence related to potential violations, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

During the Pac 12’s media day on Tuesday, Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards refused to discuss anything about his football team, citing the NCAA’s investigation.

“We are under NCAA review,” Edwards said, via Joshua Newman of The Salt Lake Tribune. “That being said, we cannot comment on what’s taking place with our football team.”

Read full story here

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July 26th

CU linebackers Nate Landman and Carson Wells add preseason honors

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado standout linebackers Carson Wells and Nate Landman had more preseason honors added to their lists Monday.

Landman, a senior inside linebacker, was named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker.

Wells, a junior outside linebacker, was named to the 2021 College Football America Yearbook “Preseason Dream Team” as a second-team selection.

Together, the two give Colorado one of the most potent inside-outside linebacker combinations in the nation.

Landman is no stranger to the Butkus list. A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, Landman last season was a Butkus Award and Lott IMPACT Trophy semifinalist despite playing just five games (he was injured in CU’s regular-season finale against Utah). He earned three National Player of the Week awards in 2020 (Nagurski, Camp and Bednarik) while finishing with 61 tackles (12.3 per game), five sacks and 10 total tackles for loss.

Landman enters 2021 with 29 career starts in 40 games played and is ranked 10th on CU’s career tackles chart with 338 and 12th on the tackles for loss list with 34. He also already owns the school record for fourth-down stops with eight.

Landman is in position to become CU’s third Butkus Award winner, following in the footsteps of Alfred Williams (1990) and Matt Russell (1996).

Wells burst onto the national scene last year after turning heads around the Pac-12 in 2018 and 2019. He earned first-team all-conference honors in 2020 after leading the nation in tackles per loss, averaging 2.7 per game — the only player in America to average more than two per contest. He finished with 34 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, and also had eight third down stops, five pass breakups, five quarterback hurries and an interception. He also had six tackles, including three for loss with two sacks, in the Alamo Bowl.

Wells’ four straight games with at least three tackles for loss is the most by a Buff since Williams accomplished the feat in 1990.

While Wells was not included on the initial Butkus watch list, his name could be added as the season progresses.

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July 24th

A Compilation of CU Preseason Awards (to date)

From CUBuffs.com

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN
ILB NATE LANDMAN (second-team: Phil Steele’s College Football; third-team: Athlon)

PRESEASON ALL-PAC-12 CONFERENCE
CB MEKHI BLACKMON (first-team: Pro Football Focus)
TB JAREK BROUSSARD (first-team: Athlon, Lindy’s College Football, Phil Steele’s College Football)
OT FRANK FILLIP (fourth-team: Athlon)
ILB NATE LANDMAN (first-team: Athlon, Lindy’s College Football, Phil Steele’s College Football)
DE TERRANCE LANG (second-team: Phil Steele’s College Football; third-team: Athlon; third-team: Lindy’s College Football)
S ISAIAH LEWIS (first-team: Pro Football Focus; third-team: Lindy’s College Football; fourth-team: Athlon)
C COLBY PURSELL (fourth-team: Athlon)
TE BRADY RUSSELL (fourth-team: Athlon)
WR LA’VONTAE SHENAULT (fourth-team: Phil Steele’s College Football)
WR DIMITRI STANLEY (fourth-team: Athlon; second-team: Athlon at PR; third-team: Lindy’s College Football at AP; fourth-team: Phil Steele’s College Football at PR)
OLB CARSON WELLS (second-team: Athlon, Lindy’s College Football; Phil Steele’s College Football)

BUFFALOES ON NATIONAL AWARD LISTS (Watch Lists/Official Nominations)
Chuck Bednarik Award (top defensive player): ILB Nate Landman (one of 90 players on official watch list)
Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award (outstanding offensive player with ties to state of Texas): TB Jarek Broussard & Alex Fontenot (CU’s official nominations)
Lott IMPACT Trophy (for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity): ILB Nate Landman (one of 42 on official watch list)
Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year: TB Alex Fontenot (CU’s official nomination)
Rimington Award (nation’s top center): C Colby Pursell (CU’s official nomination)
Doak Walker Award (nation’s top running back): TB Jarek Broussard & Alex Fontenot (two of 83 players on official watch list)
Danny Wuerffel Award (community service): ILB Nate Landman (CU’s official nomination)

NATIONAL TOP 100 PLAYER RATINGS
Defensive Ends: Terrance Lang (No. 47, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Inside Linebackers: Nate Landman (No. 8, Phil Steele’s College Football; No. 9, Lindy’s College Football)
Offensive Guards: Casey Roddick (No. 49, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Offensive Tackles: Frank Fillip (No. 51, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Outside Linebackers: Carson Wells (No. 63, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Punt Returners: Dimitri Stanley (No. 23, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Running Backs: Jarek Broussard (No. 7, Lindy’s College Football; No. 8, Phil Steele’s College Football)
Strong Safeties: Isaiah Lewis (No. 32, Phil Steele’s College Football)

NATIONAL UNIT RATINGS
Linebackers: No. 7 (Phil Steele’s College Football)
Offensive Line: No. 44 (Phil Steele’s College Football)
Running Backs: No. 20 (Phil Steele’s College Football)

PRESEASON TEAM RANKINGS
Publication … National ranking … P-12 South ranking
Lindy’s Pac-12 Football … No. 43 … 4th
Collegefootballnews.com … No. 46 … 5th
Phil Steele’s College Football … *No. 58 … 5th
Athlon Sports … No. 62 … 5th
ESPN Power Index … *No. 62 … 5th
DRatings.com ……… 5th
McIllece Sports ……… 5th
Associated Press ……… …
USA Today/Coaches Poll ……… …
*—power ranking.

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July 19th

VegasInsider: CU’s over/under set at 4.5 wins (taking the over)

From VegasInsider.com … The Colorado Buffaloes had a surprising season in 2020, winning the first four games against UCLA, Stanford, San Diego State and Arizona before a regular-season finale setback to Utah in Boulder. The solid season culminated with a 55-23 blowout loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl, but overall the season was still considered a huge success for head coach Karl Dorrell in his first season at the helm.

RB Jarek Broussard was a huge star, gobbling up 895 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while QB Sam Noyer passed for 1,101 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions while running for 208 yards and five scores. The quarterback and tailback will be working behind an experienced line which returns four starters. WRs Brenden Rice, Dimitri Stanley and La’Vontae Shenault are studs at receiver, too. Noyer needs to cut down on his miscues, and Colorado could be a surprise contender yet again in 2021. If not, redshirt freshman Brendon Lewis and incoming transfer J.T. Shrout could push Noyer out.

Defensively, Colorado struggled a bit trying to stop the run. They need LB Nate Landman to get back to 100 percent after a torn Achilles torpedoed his 2020 season. The Buffaloes allowed 31.7 points per game, but a lot of that damage was in the bowl game, and looks a lot worse than things were with a limited amount of games. Still, they were eighth in the league against the run, and need to be better to hang with the likes of Arizona State and USC.

The Buffs will get off to a good start against FCS Northern Colorado, and they have a neutral-site battle with Texas A&M. That’s an Aggies side which is replacing QB Kellen Mond, so it’s a winnable game. A home date with Minnesota is no easy task, either, but winnable. They open on the schedule at Arizona State in a game which could set the tone early in the South Division. They also get USC on Oct. 2 in the second league game, so it could be make or break early on for the Buffs.

They have two weeks to prepare for conference doormat Arizona. The schedule maker wasn’t terribly kind, as winnable crossover games against Stanford and Washington State do not appear, but they do have trips to Cal, Oregon, UCLA and Utah which are rather difficult.

After last season’s success, there are high expectations in Boulder. The ceiling might be a 6-6 season and a bowl appearance. The low end might be four wins. Let’s meet in the middle, and call five wins for the Buffs, which would be an OVER for the season. It’s a value at plus-money, too. But it’s going to be close.

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July 18th

College Football News rates Pac-12 hot seats (Karl Dorrell in the middle of the pack?)

From College Football News … What’s the hot seat status of all the Power Five head coaches?

Being on a hot seat isn’t just about whether or not a head coach needs to win a football game or have a big season to keep the job. That’s obviously the biggest part of staying hired, but it’s about pressure, too.

Some of the biggest-name head coaches have no real shot of getting fired, but they have to deal with through-the-roof unfair expectations. Really, though, these rankings are about who needs to win … NOW.

The hot seat rankings go from who’s on the coolest of seats in each Power Five conference to who desperately needs a massive campaign.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • 12. Kyle Whittingham – Utah
  • 11. Jedd Fisch – Arizona
  • 10. David Shaw – Stanford
  • 9. Mario Cristobal – Oregon
  • 8. Justin Wilcox – California
  • 7. Jimmy Lake – Washington
  • 6. Karl Dorrell – Colorado … Dorrell had the pressure on to produce considering there weren’t too many fans jumping up and down over the hire – the dream was to get former Buff star Eric Bieniemy – and under the trying circumstances he went 4-1 in the Pac-12 before a bowl loss to Texas. The bar is set a little higher now, but he has some breathing room for a season of revamping.
    Record With Team
    : 4-2
    Pac-12 Preseason Hot Seat Rankings
    2020: 4, 2019: NA, 2018: NA
  • 5. Jonathan Smith – Oregon State
  • 4. Nick Rolovich – Washington State
  • 3. Herm Edwards – Arizona State
  • 2. Clay Helton – USC
  • 1. Chip Kelly – UCLA

Read full story here

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July 17th

Ranking FBS Coaches as athletes: Karl Dorrell in the Top 25

From ESPN … Five years ago, I set out to rank all the head coaches in the FBS based on their playing careers.

I didn’t do a very good job.

In reviewing the rankings from 2016, two things stood out: how many head coaches are no longer in their roles today, and how flawed my process seemed to be in evaluating coaches as players. I placed far too much emphasis on the level of college ball played rather than rewarding those who became stars in lower divisions of the sport. The annoying part is I acknowledged who should be rewarded and didn’t follow through.

Not this time.

In re-ranking the 130 current FBS coaches as players, I placed a greater premium on those who made meaningful contributions in college, regardless of level. Naturally, those who were multiyear starters, multiple letter winners or award recipients for FBS teams get more credit, as do those who played professionally, especially in the NFL. Quarterbacks who set records and started for multiple seasons receive significant credit on the list. But coaches who as players held clipboards or waved towels for elite-level programs aren’t ranked nearly as high this time.

The ranking doesn’t change as much at the top or the bottom, but features shake-ups elsewhere, as well as a number of interesting additions. There are more high-end players in this group than in the 2016 version, especially at quarterback, as Josh Heupel (Oklahoma), Steve Sarkisian (BYU), Scott Frost (Nebraska) and Jonathan Smith (Oregon State) join the mix. This list also includes several true superstars in the lower divisions, such as Will Hall (Northwest Mississippi, North Alabama) and Billy Napier (Furman).

No list is flawless and each is subjective, but my hope is this one better reflects college coaches in their playing days.

130. Jedd Fisch, Arizona Wildcats: A New Jersey native, Fisch did not play football at either the high school or college levels. He was an all-state tennis player in high school and began coaching high school ball as a student at Florida.

114. Chip Kelly, UCLA Bruins: An undersized high school quarterback in Manchester, New Hampshire, Kelly went to play for the University of New Hampshire. He started out at quarterback but switched to cornerback, rarely seeing the field. He had his only tackle during the 1983 season.

83. Clay Helton, USC Trojans: Helton began his career as a reserve quarterback at Auburn and ended it at Houston, lettering in 1993 and 1994 for a team coached by his father, Kim. He appeared in 16 games for the Cougars and passed for 420 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.

61. Mel Tucker, Michigan State Spartans: The Cleveland native was a high school standout in both football and basketball before going on to Wisconsin, where he earned three letters as a cornerback and safety under coach Barry Alvarez. Tucker played on Wisconsin’s 1993 Big Ten championship team and recorded 47 tackles and four pass breakups in his career.

55. David Shaw, Stanford Cardinal: The son of longtime coach Willie Shaw received four letters at Stanford as a wide receiver from 1991 to 1994. He appeared on two bowl teams, including a 10-win squad under coach Bill Walsh in 1992. Shaw finished his career with 57 catches for 664 yards and five touchdowns.

50. Jimmy Lake, Washington Huskies: Lake played strong safety at FCS Eastern Washington, earning honorable mention All-Big Sky honors and serving as a team captain. Lake had 88 tackles, five pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble as a junior in 1997.

40. Mario Cristobal, Oregon Ducks: Cristobal played offensive line during Miami’s heyday, helping the Hurricanes to national championships in 1989 and 1991. He earned four letters and was first-team All-Big East during his final season in 1992. Cristobal signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent and played two years in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals.

36. Justin Wilcox, California Golden Bears: Wilcox was a talented defensive back at Oregon, where he earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors as a senior in 1999. The Ducks reached bowl games in each of his final three seasons. Wilcox also quarterbacked his high school team to a state title in Oregon in 1993.

25. Karl Dorrell, Colorado Buffaloes: Part of UCLA’s golden age, Dorrell played wide receiver for Bruins teams that went 43-13-4 and won three Pac-10 titles. He recorded 108 career receptions for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns, finishing his career second on UCLA’s receptions list and fourth in receiving yards. Dorrell signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys and played part of the 1987 NFL season being placed on injured reserve.

14. Nick Rolovich, Washington State Cougars: Rolovich made significant contributions for two college programs at different levels. He twice earned junior college All-America honors at City College of San Francisco, leading the team to a national title. Rolovich then transferred to Hawaii, where he started most of the 2001 season and passed for 3,361 yards and 34 touchdowns. He set 19 team passing records and eight total offense records that fall. Rolovich had two short stints in the NFL and a longer stint in NFL Europe, and he played five years in the Arena Football League, with four teams.

10. Herm Edwards, Arizona State Sun Devils: Edwards played two seasons at cornerback for Cal (1972, 1974) before finishing his career at San Diego State. An undrafted free agent, Edwards started seven seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles and never missed a game from 1977 to 1985. His 38 career interceptions are one shy of the franchise record, and he earned all-NFC honors in 1980 as the Eagles reached Super Bowl XV.

9. Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes: Whittingham spent most of his early life on the other side of the Holy War. The Provo native and Provo High star became a tackling machine as a linebacker for BYU. He recorded 240 tackles in his final two seasons and won WAC defensive player of the year honors in 1981, when he had 7 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, 16 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 9 quarterback hurries. He played with two USFL teams and was a replacement player for the Los Angeles Rams during the NFL strike of 1987.

8. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State Beavers: A walk-on quarterback, Smith became one of the most significant players in Oregon State history. He started the final 39 games of his career, was a two-time captain and led the Beavers to an 11-1 season and a No. 4 final ranking in 2000. Smith left as Oregon State’s all-time leading passer (9,680 yards, now ranks third) and set team records for career touchdown passes (55) and single-season pass yards (3,053 yards in 1999).

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July 16th

247 Sports writers pick the Pac-12 (Buffs where you’d expect them to be)

From 247 Sports … The 247Sports reporters on the ground along the West Coast provided some insight on how they see the conference race playing out and the responses were all over the place, particularly in the South Division. Four teams received at least one first-place vote among our panel of 17 reporters. The North Division appears to be a two-team race between Oregon and Washington. The Ducks are trying for their third straight conference championship, but keep in mind the Huskies should have been in the Pac-12 Conference Championship last season if not for COVID-19 restrictions.

Oregon and USC have built the most-talented rosters in the Pac-12, but all is not well for the Trojans. Coach Clay Helton is on the hot seat and it might be conference championship or bust in his sixth full season leading the program. The great news for him is he has quarterback Kedon Slovis, a load of weapons at receiver and a dynamic defensive front. Meanwhile, Oregon is stacked across the board but must open the season with a different starting quarterback for a third straight year. Anthony Brown stepped up in the postseason, leading to former starter Tyler Shough to transfer to Texas Tech, but how will the Ducks look with a new full-time starter?The South Division, where USC resides, is the tougher division. Arizona State is dealing with allegations of recruiting violations but the talent is there to win the conference. Utah, too, is picking up steam this offseason.What does the 2021 season have in store for us? Let’s turn to our 17 reporters covering the Pac-12 for a slew of preseason predictions.

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July 15th

College Football News 1-130 Rankings: CU No. 46 

From College Football News … The CFN preseason rankings are about how good the teams appear to be going into fall camp. It’s about the right now and NOT about the projected finish, but …

Each team’s preseason prediction is added. Remember, that’s about the schedule and timing as much as team talent and depth – records and rankings don’t always correspond thanks to the other factors.

Also listed is every team’s top player, past rankings, and key September game. The opponent might not be the toughest to deal with in the first month, but it’s the one must-win early game.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 93 … Colorado State
  • No. 72 … Arizona
  • No. 58 … Nebraska
  • No. 57 … Oregon State
  • No. 56 … Washington State
  • No. 54 … Michigan State
  • 46. Colorado Buffaloes
  • Player You Need to Know: LB Carson Wells, Jr.
    September Key Game: Sept. 25 at Arizona State
    2021 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
    2020 Record: 4-2
    2020 CFN Preseason Rank: 59
    2020 CFN Final Rank: 30
    2019 CFN Final Rank: 81
    Colorado Preview | Schedule
  • No. 39 … Minnesota
  • No. 36 … California
  • No. 35 … Stanford
  • No. 23 … UCLA
  • No. 20 … Utah
  • No. 19 … Arizona State
  • No. 16 … USC
  • No. 8 … Oregon
  • No. 5 … Texas A&M

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July 14th

Top Stadium Entrances: Who Else Could be No. 1?

From Big Game Boomer … The Top 50 Stadium Entrances in College Football …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 12th 

Buffs on All-Pac-12 teams from Lindy’s; Athlon; Phil Steele’s

Lindy’s All-Pac-12 teams …

  • First Team … RB Jarek Broussard … LB Nate Landman
  • Second Team … LB Carson Wells
  • Third Team … All-Purpose Dimitri Stanley … DL Terrance Lang … DB Isaiah Lewis

Athlon’s All-Pac-12 teams …

  • First Team … RB Jarek Broussard … LB Nate Landman
  • Second Team … LB Carson Wells … PR Dimitri Stanley
  • Third Team … DL Terrance Lang

Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12 teams

  • First Team … RB Jarek Broussard … LB Nate Landman
  • Second Team … DB Terrance Lang … LB Carson Wells
  • Third Team … None
  • Fourth Team … WR La’Vontae Shenault … PR Dimitri Stanley

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July 11th

Phil Steele Pac-12 Forecast, Power Poll, and list of Toughest Schedules (CU 9th in the nation)

From Phil Steele’s Preseason magazine …

Pac-12 North

  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Stanford
  4. Washington State
  5. California
  6. Oregon State

Pac-12 South 

  1. USC
  2. Utah
  3. Arizona State
  4. UCLA
  5. Colorado … The Buffs had a first year head coach, no spring practices, and were just #110 on my Experience Chart. They then had practices disrupted. Colorado was pegged last in the South, but opened 4-0 and got to No. 21 before blowing a lead against Utah and coming up short of the Title game. Coach Karl Dorrell won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. The Buffs did have -3.5 Net Close Losses, rate a -4.5 on my Stock Market indicator, and are in the Going Down box on my Toughest schedule (all signs pointing down). By picking the Buffs here (5th in the South), I am just trying to give coach Dorrell a shot at a second straight Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
  6. Arizona

The Power Poll rating takes into account all nine of his rankings. The Power Poll is concerned only with the strength of the team, and does not factor in who they will play for the upcoming season, or how many games they should win in 2021. This is based upon the overall talent of each team.

From the Pac-12 … Power Poll:

  • No. 11 … USC
  • No. 12 … Oregon
  • No. 15 … Utah
  • No. 16 … Washington
  • No. 20 … Arizona State
  • No. 27 … Stanford
  • No. 29 … UCLA
  • No. 57 … Washington State
  • No. 58 … Colorado 
  • No. 62 … California
  • No. 72 … Oregon State
  • No. 105 … Arizona

According to Phil Steele, Colorado has the ninth-most difficult schedule in the nation (giving CU an 85% chance of a weaker or same record than 2020).

From the Pac-12 … Most difficult schedules: 

  • No. 7 … Arizona
  • No. 8 … Stanford
  • No. 9 … Colorado 
  • No 13 … UCLA
  • No. 24 … USC
  • No. 30 … Oregon State
  • No. 37 … Utah
  • No. 38 … California
  • No. 45 … Washington State
  • No. 49 … Oregon
  • No. 58 … Washington
  • No. 63 … Arizona State

College Football News: CU will upset Washington (and still finish 4-8)

From College Football News

Pac-12 North Predicted Finish

T1. Oregon*
T1. Washington
T3. Cal
T3. Stanford
T5. Oregon State
T5. Washington State
*Oregon predicted to win the tie-breaker

Pac-12 South Predicted Finish

T1. USC*
T1. Utah
3. Arizona State
4. UCLA
5. Colorado
6. Arizona
*USC predicted to win tie-breaker

Colorado Buffaloes

2021 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2021 Pac 12 Prediction: 3-6
2020: 4-2, Prediction: 5-7
2019: 5-7, Prediction: 5-7

Sept. 3 Northern Colorado W
Sept. 11 Texas A&M (in Denver)  L
Sept. 18 Minnesota  L
Sept. 25 at Arizona State  L
Oct. 2 USC  L
Oct. 9 OPEN DATE
Oct. 16 Arizona W
Oct. 23 at Cal  L
Oct. 30 at Oregon  L
Nov. 6 Oregon State W
Nov. 13 at UCLA  L
Nov. 20 Washington W
Nov. 26 at Utah  L

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July 10th

CBS Sports ranks Pac-12 coaches: Karl Dorrell moves up three spots

From CBS Sports … There are a few ways to calculate the Pac-12’s potential drop in prestige as a result of the league’s shortened 2020 season, which resulted in the conference’s absence from a fourth straight College Football Playoff. One of them is to parse through CBS Sports’ annual rankings of all power conference football coaches (plus Notre Dame) and see what impact the abbreviated campaign had on the stock of Pac-12 coaches.

Of the league’s 11 returning coaches, seven of them dropped in the 2021 overall ranking, and a couple of the drops are hard to explain. USC’s Clay Helton fell seven spots after a 5-1 season, and Stanford’s David Shaw dropped five spots after a 4-2 campaign that ended with four straight road victories.

So who are the top coaches in the Pac-12 these days? There was just one coaching change in the conference with Jedd Fisch taking over for Kevin Sumlin at Arizona, but there was plenty of movement within the league ranking. Here’s how our panel of college football writers from CBS Sports and 247Sports saw it this offseason.

9. Colorado … Karl Dorrell (54 overall): Dorrell’s second stint as a Pac-12 head coach (he was at UCLA from 2003-07) began with a bang as he led the Buffaloes to a 4-2 record and earned the league’s Coach of the Year award. It was a well-deserved honor considering he didn’t take the job until late February following Mel Tucker’s abrupt departure. Breaking in a new quarterback with a tough schedule will challenge Dorrell in Year Two, but reaching a bowl game would keep his stock rising. Last year: 12 in Pac-12

Read full list here

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July 9th

Lindy’s: “CU poised to contend again for the division championship”

From Lindy’s preseason magazine …

Pac-12 Conference picks …

North Division

  • 1. Oregon … No. 10 nationally
  • 2. Washington … No. 17 nationally
  • 3. Stanford … No. 42 nationally
  • 4. California … No. 60 nationally
  • 5. Oregon State … No. 69 nationally
  • 6. Washington State … No. 73 nationally

South Division

  • 1. Arizona State … No. 19 nationally
  • 2. USC … No. 22 nationally
  • 3. Utah … No. 30 nationally
  • 4. Colorado … No. 43 nationally 
  • 5. UCLA … No. 45 nationally
  • 6. Arizona … No. 83 nationally

Colorado … 

  • Good News … Key returners on both side of the ball can continue momentum of breakout 2020
  • Bad News … CU must hit the road for marquee Pac-12 matchups with Oregon, Arizona State and Utah
  • Our Call … Colorado is a divisional dark-horse contender with great running backs and linebackers

  • Primary strengths … The Buffs will feature one of the most versatile and potent rushing attacks in the Pac-12, with running backs Broussard and Fontenot operating behind a veteran offensive line. On defense, linebacker Landman is an All-American-caliber performer
  • Potential problems … CU ranked eighth among Pac-12 defenses in points allowed, rushing yards and passing yards allowed, and they forced only eight turnovers. The Buffs need consistency and less strain as a result of their own turnovers, too, after finishing 2020 with minus-three.
  • Overview … One of the biggest surprises in the altogether unpredictable season, Colorado broke into the Top 25 and went into the regular season finale with a shot at the Pac-12 championship. The Buffs will not be sneaking up on anyone in 2021, but the bevy of experience returning from last season’s breakthrough and the first full offseason under Karl Dorrell has CU poised to contend again for the division championship.

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July 8th 

ESPN FPI not kind to Pac-12: SEC 4X more likely to have TWO CFP participants than the Pac-12 is to have one

From DuckTerritory.com … The Pac-12 hasn’t had a College Football Playoff semifinalist in nearly half a decade, and according to one predictive model, that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2021 either.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) does its best to predict wins and loses for each team in the country. It also efforts to gauge the likelihood of school’s earning one of four spots in the annual playoff.

On Thursday, the website posted updated data, and it suggest that the league is a long shot to send a team. Oregon is considered the best prepared to make a run, it states, but has less than a 10-percent chance of making this year’s semifinals.

“Our model is particularly skeptical of the Pac-12’s chances of putting a team in the playoff this season. It’s not impossible — Oregon has an 8% chance — but it’s a long shot,” ESPN analytics writer Seth Walder wrote.

The Ducks are pegged as the nation’s 12th best team, per the model. Two additional Pac-12 teams are within the top 25 teams, as USC (21) and Washington (25) barely made the cut.

“The Pac-12’s problems are twofold. First, the obvious: It lacks an elite team,” Walder continued. “And then second: its two best playoff hopefuls — Oregon and USC — both have a rough out of conference matchup in the form of games at Ohio State and at Notre Dame, respectively. The result is that the Ducks have just a 9% chance to end up with 0 or 1 losses (including a potential conference championship game) and USC has just a 3% shot.

“Ultimately, there’s a 91% chance that the conference’s playoff-less streak simply continues this season.”

The model is much more bullish on the other five major conferences. The SEC for example has four times better odds of sending two teams than the Pac-12 has of fielding a single contender. The SEC has a 94-percent chance of reaching the playoff and a 34-percent shot of two making the field, while the ACC and Big 12 have 82-percent and 81-percent respectively to send one school. The Big 10 is fourth with a 63-percent odds to have one representative.

Continue reading story here

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July 7th

ESPN: Is Oregon or Washington the better job? (Surprising answer)

From ESPN … The Oregon-Washington rivalry doesn’t garner as much national attention as Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn or Oklahoma-Texas, but the roots of hostility run just as deep.

The bordering schools don’t like one another, and their series has featured plenty of flashpoints, as well as success on both sides. Since 1990, Washington and Oregon have combined for 16 Pac-12 championships (outright or shared), including the past three and five of the past seven. They are the only Pac-12 schools to appear in the College Football Playoff: Oregon reached the inaugural title game in 2014, and Washington went to the semifinals two years later.

The third installment of ESPN’s coaching jobs showdown heads to the Pacific Northwest. After examining Oklahoma-Texas and Alabama-Ohio State, Washington and Oregon are up next.

Despite the schools’ proximity and history, each job has several distinctive features, including Washington’s leafy, lakeside location appropriately dubbed “The Greatest Setting,” and Oregon’s uniform combos and special connection to Nike.

Both schools have recruited at a high level under multiple coaches, and receive some of the best fan support on the West Coast. Both also aren’t immune to mediocrity.

Like the other pairings, these two coaching jobs will be evaluated in four areas: history (both recent and long-term); resources and administrative support; recruiting location and access to talent; and expectations and climate around the program. In addition to my own research, I spoke to coaches and other sources familiar with each program to gain a better understanding from the inside.

So, will it be #GoDucks or #BowDown?

Conclusion

Oregon has overcome limitations with location and even long-term history — the program was thoroughly mediocre in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and half of the 1990s — to become a formidable, flashy and noticeable program the past 20-plus years. Knight and the Nike connection have been a game-changer in branding, along with what Chip Kelly did on the field. But it’s clear Oregon needs a recruiting-centric coach like Cristobal to keep pace in personnel. The question is whether Oregon holds an edge long term or slips behind programs with greater access to talent.

Washington, meanwhile, is fitted with more natural advantages. Next to USC, no West Coast program has a better combination of long-term, high-level tradition, a favorable location, beautiful facilities and strong fan support. But things seem too quiet in Montlake right now. As one person told me, “There’s something off there. They aren’t finding ways to get it done.”

Oregon has found the formula to be an annual Pac-12 contender and, most likely, a more frequent future CFP participant. But there’s more untapped potential with the Washington job.

“Who should have a better opportunity? Washington,” a Power 5 coach said. “What couldn’t they do if they decided? Where would they be behind Oregon? Nowhere. You’ve got a better foundation.”

Better job: Washington

Read full story here (subscription required) …

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July 6th

ESPN: Don’t Forget About Washington and Arizona State in Pac-12 title chase

From ESPN … College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock has made it clear — repeatedly — that the playoff isn’t changing this season or next, which means it’s still an exclusive club reserved for four.

While the usual suspects remain at the top heading into this fall, the field of contenders runs deeper than Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Teams like Georgia and Oregon are looking to return to the CFP, while Iowa State and Texas A&M are seeking to make their debuts.

And they’re not alone.

Here’s a look at the favorites in each league — and the teams with a shot at challenging them:

Pac-12

Best chance: Oregon. The massive Sept. 11 game at Ohio State will reveal if Oregon can compete for something bigger than the conference title. The offensive line returns four starters and there’s depth returning at the skill positions. Mario Cristobal and his staff have recruited well, but might still be a year away from reaping the rewards.

Outside chance: USC. The Trojans have dominated their division, but since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011, USC has just one Pac-12 title in three championship game appearances. The talent is there. The pressure is on Clay Helton to make the most of it.

Don’t forget about: Arizona State, Washington. Washington could have one of the best offensive lines in the country, and with a manageable schedule, could also be one team nobody sees coming. The Nov. 6 game against Oregon is at home, but it’s followed by what should be another tricky home game against Arizona State. A promising season for the Sun Devils has been overshadowed by an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting violations, and it’s unclear at this point how and when that will impact the team and the coaching staff.

Conference Analysis: The Pac-12 hasn’t reached the playoff since 2016, and it’s likely that streak continues. Depth is not the issue — the league has plenty of good teams, just not a great one. Scheduling, exposure, public perception and exclusion from the playoff are problems, but only so much of that falls onto the coaches. If Oregon or USC — or ideally both — emerge as top-10 teams with one as a true playoff contender, everything else will quietly fix itself with a new commissioner and athletic directors who understand the challenges. Last year was an anomaly. The Pac-12 champion usually won’t finish No. 25, but it has to be in the top 10.

Read full story here

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July 3rd

CBS: CU faces the second-most difficult schedule in the Pac-12

From CBS Sports … If the Pac-12 remains on the sidelines of the College Football Playoff for a fifth consecutive year this upcoming season, it won’t be due to a lack of nonconference opportunities. With Oregon playing at Ohio State (Sept. 11), Washington playing at Michigan (Sept. 11) and USC playing a trio of non-league foes that finished 28-4 last season, the conference’s front-runners will have some chances to prove their mettle on the big stage.

But the league docket evens things out when it comes to ranking the strength of schedule for the league’s teams and actually does some favors for that trio. Each Pac-12 team plays four of the six schools from the opposite division during a nine-game league slate, and that uneven number of games leaves half the conference’s schools with five conference road games versus just four home games.

Those factors play a role in deducing whose schedule is toughest, as do particularly daunting stretches that feature consecutive games against difficult opponents. With kickoff just two months away, let’s break it down team-by-team to see who has the hardest and easiest schedules in the Pac-12 this season.

2. Colorado … Aside from a season-opening date with Northern Colorado, there really aren’t any sure victories for the Buffaloes. Texas A&M and Minnesota await on Sept. 11 and Sept. 18, respectively, before a challenging league slate begins. This squad showed its competitive mettle during a 4-2 debut campaign under Karl Dorrell, but playing Washington and Oregon out of the North will be a hefty test for a team breaking in a young quarterback.

Read full listing here (1. Stanford … 12. Washington) …

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June 29th

The Sporting News ranks the nation’s coaches (Karl Dorrell moves up 37 spots)

… Note … TSN released its list of Top 25 coaches – including four from the Pac-12 – on Monday (see story below) … 

From The Sporting News … SN had a six-person panel vote on the top 25 coaches, and we went from there. The Big Ten led the way with seven coaches ranked in our Top 25. The SEC had six, and the Big 12 and Pac-12 had four apiece.

Here are Sporting News’ top coach rankings ahead of 2021 (last year’s ranking is here):

  • 105. Steve Addazio, Colorado State (81)
  • 79. Jedd Fisch, Arizona (NR)
  • 78. Jonathan Smith, Oregon State (77)
  • 65. Nick Rolovich, Washington State (65)
  • 63. Mel Tucker, Michigan State (54)
  • 60. Jimmy Lake, Washington (64)
  • 59. Karl Dorrell, Colorado (96)
  • 50. Chip Kelly, UCLA (53)
  • 49. Scott Frost, Nebraska (35)
  • 47. Justin Wilcox, Cal (48)
  • 34. Herm Edwards, Arizona State (30)

Read full story here

Pro Football Focus doesn’t think much of CU’s offense

WestCoastCollegeFootball.com, citing Pro Football Focus

PFF’s PAC-12 Quarterback Unit Rankings for 2021:

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Washington
  • 3. Washington State
  • 4. Cal
  • 5. Utah
  • 6. Arizona State
  • 7. Oregon State
  • 8. Oregon
  • 9. UCLA
  • 10. Colorado
  • 11. Stanford
  • 12. Arizona

PFF’s PAC-12 Running Back Unit Rankings for 2021:

  • 1. Washington State
  • 2. Arizona State
  • 3. UCLA
  • 4. Oregon
  • 5. Oregon State 6
  • . Stanford
  • 7. Arizona
  • 8. USC
  • 9. Coloradowith the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and CU’s 2019 leading rusher
  • 10. Utah
  • 11. Washington
  • 12. Cal

PFF’s PAC-12 Receiving Unit Rankings for 2021:

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Utah
  • 3. UCLA
  • 4. Stanford
  • 5. Oregon
  • 6. Washington
  • 7. Washington State
  • 8. California
  • 9. Oregon State
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 11. Colorado
  • 12. Arizona

PFF’s PAC-12 Offensive Line Rankings for 2021:

  • 1. Washington
  • 2. Washington State
  • 3. Arizona State
  • 4. Oregon
  • 5. UCLA
  • 6. Oregon State
  • 7. Stanford
  • 8. Cal
  • 9. USC
  • 10. Utah
  • 11. Arizona
  • 12. Colorado Four returning starters, plus transfers from Iowa and Ohio State

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June 28th

The Sporting News ranks the Top 25 coaches (four from the Pac-12) 

From The Sporting News … When was the last time Nick Saban wasn’t the No. 1 coach?

Sporting News ranks the FBS coaches every season, and the last time Saban wasn’t the top coach was 2015. That was the year after Urban Meyer led Ohio State to the first CFP championship, and Saban had something to prove. He’s won three national championships since.

Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney remain at No. 1 and No. 2 for the fourth straight season, but the competition within the top-10 is heating up

A total of five active coaches have won national championships, and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and North Carolina’s Mack Brown also made the top 10. Where does that leave LSU’s Ed Orgeron? That was one of the hot debates on this year’s list.

SN had a six-person panel vote on the top 25 coaches, and we went from there. The Big Ten led the way with seven coaches ranked in our Top 25. The SEC had six, and the Big 12 and Pac-12 had four apiece.

Here is a look at our Top 25 coaches (full 1-130 list will be published Tuesday)

16. Mario Cristobal, Oregon

  • Votes: 56
  • Last year: 15 (-1)
  • Record: 52-57 (25-10 at Oregon)

Lowdown: Oregon is the two-time defending Pac-12 champions, though last year could be considered a disappointment given the Playoff expectations in Eugene. Cristobal has taken the lessons learned from Nick Saban in recruiting and applied that knowledge on the West Coast, and an early-season test against Ohio State will be a chance to prove the Ducks are playoff-ready again.

19. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

  • Votes: 42
  • Last year: 18 (-1)
  • Record: 134-66

Lowdown: The Utes were 3-2 last season, which ended a run of back-to-back Pac-12 South championships. Whittingham still owns a 17-6 record in conference play the last three years, and the Utes have proven they can work into the Playoff conversation.

24. David Shaw, Stanford

Votes: 19
Last year: 24 (-3)
Record: 90-36

Lowdown: Shaw’s reputation resonates, but the Cardinal are in a prove-it season after failing to finish better than third in the Pac-12 North each of the last three seasons. Shaw has led Stanford to three Pac-12 championships, but the last one was in 2015.

25. Clay Helton, USC

Votes: 14
Last year: 26 (+1)
Record: 45-23

Lowdown: Helton led the Trojans to a Pac-12 South championship in 2020, but he remains on a lukewarm seat given the expectations at USC. A top-10 recruiting class in 2021 calmed that front, and a CFP berth would keep Helton around long enough to see the 12-team Playoff.

Read full story here

Ranking Power-Five non-conference schedules: CU 7th-most difficult in the nation

From USA Today … Ranking the 64 Power 5 teams’ non-conference schedules in 2021:

1. Stanford: Kansas State, at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame. Wow. No mid-majors. That’s revolutionary in 2021.

7. Colorado: Northern Colorado, Texas A&M in Denver, Minnesota. Excellent schedule for the Buffaloes. Two Power 5 Conference opponents, including an old Big 12 matchup in A&M.

9. Southern Cal: San Jose State, at Notre Dame, Brigham Young. Super schedule. Most teams, San Jose State would be the second-toughest opponent of three. BYU would be first. But that’s not the Trojans’ way.

14. Oregon: Fresno State, at Ohio State, Stony Brook. Hard to find a knock against a schedule that includes a trip to the Horseshoe.

17. Nebraska: Fordham, Buffalo, at Oklahoma. The Cornhuskers had a schedule of Fordham, Buffalo and OU, and tried to get rid of OU?

23. Washington: Montana, at Michigan, Arkansas State. Hard to find a knock against a schedule that includes a trip to the Big House.

25. UCLA: Hawaii, Louisiana State, Fresno State. Like usual, the Bruins don’t play a Division I-AA opponent. LSU and two decent mid-majors.

28. Utah: Weber State, at Brigham Young, at San Diego State. Gutsy move by the Utes, making road trips to both Provo and San Diego. Come out unscathed, and that’s impressive.

29. Arizona: Brigham Young, San Diego State, Northern Arizona. Same general schedule as Utah, but ‘Zona gets BYU and San Diego State in Tucson.

35. California: Nevada, at Texas Christian, Sacramento State. TCU is a fun game; Berkeley goes to Cowtown. But a rather pedestrian schedule.

39. Washington State: Utah State, Portland State, Brigham Young. Not terrible. Not all that good.

42. Minnesota: Miami-Ohio, at Colorado, Bowling Green. You never know when one of these MAC teams will rise and pull the upset. So give the Gophers (and Michigan) credit for playing two MAC squads.

48. Arizona State: Southern Utah, Nevada-Las Vegas, at Brigham Young. Hard to forge a schedule using only Nevada and Utah teams, but ASU did it. The Sun Devils rarely are on the cutting edge of scheduling.

51. Oregon State: at Purdue, Hawaii, Idaho. The Beavers in West Lafayette is at least interesting.

60. Texas A&M: Kent State, Colorado in Denver, New Mexico, Prairie View. CU moved its home game from Boulder to the Broncos’ stadium at Mile High.

Read full list here

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June 25th

CBS Pac-12 Over/Under Projections: CU won’t win more than four games

From CBS Sports … The algorithm or administrator who created the Pac-12’s scheduling formula that produced the league’s 2021 slate deserves a pat on the back for trying to help the league snap its four-year College Football Playoff drought. USC, in particular, will have a red carpet laid at its feet this season as it misses both Washington and Oregon from the Pac-12 North while seeking to gain traction under coach Clay Helton and return to national relevance.

Likewise, the league’s most recent playoff participant, Washington, will play a relatively favorable conference slate. The Huskies don’t play USC or Utah out of the Pac-12 South, but they play rival Oregon at home and also meet quality foes UCLA and Arizona State inside Husky Stadium.

In fact, all three of the league’s presumed frontrunners — Oregon, USC and Washington — have five league home games this season versus just four on the road. Though the trio each faces quality opposition in nonconference action, it’s clear the conference’s top dogs are well-positioned to rack up some wins in league play.

So as the season draws closer, here is a game-by-game projection of how the Pac-12 will shake out in relation to season win total odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook unless otherwise noted.

Colorado

Over/under 4.5 wins

  • Wins: Northern Colorado, Minnesota, Arizona, Oregon State
  • Losses: vs. Texas A&M, at Arizona State, USC, at California, at Oregon, at UCLA, Washington, at Utah

Analysis: Karl Dorrell did an excellent job in his first season with Colorado, guiding the Buffaloes to a 4-0 start and earning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors while picking up the pieces left behind by Mel Tucker. Unfortunately, his second Buffs squad faces a brutal schedule that will make returning to a bowl game tough. Nonconference games against Texas A&M and Minnesota plus a league slate that sees Colorado play Washington and Oregon out of the Pac-12 North will be a challenging gauntlet with an inexperienced quarterback. Pick: Under (-120) 

Pac-12 projected records … 

  • Washington (10-2)
  • Oregon (10-2)
  • USC (10-2)
  • Utah (9-3)
  • UCLA (9-3)
  • California (7-5)
  • Arizona State (6-6)
  • Stanford (6-6)
  • Colorado (4-8)
  • Oregon State (4-8)
  • Washington State (3-9)
  • Arizona (1-11)

Read full conference projections here

—–

June 22nd

Bill Connelly’s Detailed Pac-12 North Preview 

From ESPN … The Pac-12 gets a bad rap sometimes. The conference is generally regarded as the worst of the power conferences thanks to the fact that it hasn’t produced a College Football Playoff participant since 2016, but evaluating a conference solely by how many losses its best team has is a pretty flawed approach.

On average, the Pac-12 can be trusted to at least exceed the average production of the ACC.

Average SP+ rating, 2018-20:

• 2018: Pac-12 +6.1, ACC +5.3
• 2019: Pac-12 +5.3, ACC +3.0
• 2020: Pac-12 +5.9, ACC +5.2

The only reason the ACC is generally held in higher regard is that it has Clemson. And in 2021, after last year’s abbreviated season, the Pac-12 will boast a higher average of returning production than any other power conference. Lots of teams have top-20 potential, but can one break through and threaten a CFP bid?

The two most likely candidates are in the North. Mario Cristobal’s Oregon has recruited like a playoff contender for a few years now, and Washington has top-10 potential and loads of experience. But they both have questions to answer on offense and tricky schedules to navigate. Let’s dive into the Pac-12 North.

Credit Stanford for this: With five down-to-the-wire finishes in six games, the 4-2 Cardinal packed a full season of drama into half a season.

Stanford … 

Credit Stanford for this: With five down-to-the-wire finishes in six games, the 4-2 Cardinal packed a full season of drama into half a season.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 68th

Average projected wins: 3.7 (2.2 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins*: at Vanderbilt (75%)
  • Relative tossups: vs. Kansas State (48%), California (48%), at Oregon State (38%)
  • Likely losses: at Washington State (31%), Notre Dame (27%), UCLA (25%), Utah (22%), Washington (16%), at Arizona State (14%), at USC (12%), Oregon (12%)

* Likely wins are games in which SP+ projects the scoring margin to be greater than seven points, or above about 65% win probability. Likely losses are the opposite, and relative tossups are all the games in between.

Oregon State …

During a 2-5 campaign in 2020, an exciting offense gave OSU a chance in quite a few games, and a spotty defense cost the Beavers dearly. Just like in 2019.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 60th

Average projected wins: 5.0 (2.8 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins: Idaho (97%), Hawaii (84%)
  • Relative tossups: Stanford (62%), at California (43%), at Colorado (41%), at Washington State (37%)
  • Likely losses: at Purdue (34%), Utah (27%), Arizona State (26%), Washington (21%), at USC (16%), at Oregon (10%)

With five projected top-20 opponents, the Beavers will have to figure out how to succeed in close games to reach bowl eligibility.

California …

Three combined wins over Washington and Oregon, five losses to UCLA and Oregon State. It’s really hard to figure out what kind of progress Justin Wilcox is making in Berkeley.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 54th

Average projected wins: 5.4 (3.5 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins: Sacramento State (88%), Nevada (69%), at Arizona (69%)
  • Relative tossups: Oregon State (57%), Colorado (54%), at Stanford (53%), Washington State (50%)
  • Likely losses: at TCU (30%), USC (25%), at Washington (14%), at Oregon (11%)

Three of the Golden Bears’ four games were decided by single digits during a 1-3 season in 2020. Looks like there will be quite a few more close games this fall.

Washington State … 

Two encouraging games, two weeks of cancellations, two bad performances, and that was that. Wazzu’s first season under Nick Rolovich didn’t get a chance to tell us much.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 46th

Average projected wins: 6.3 (3.7 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins: Portland State (99%), Utah State (95%), Arizona (82%), Stanford (69%)
  • Relative tossups: Oregon State (63%), BYU (61%), at Cal (50%)
  • Likely losses: USC (30%), at Utah (24%), at Arizona State (23%), at Washington (18%), at Oregon (14%)

Wazzu plays only five road games, but four are against projected top-20 teams. That reduces margin for error, but there are still plenty of winnable games.

Washington … 

Of all the incomplete seasons in the Pac-12, Washington’s felt the most unfulfilled. The Huskies won the North at 3-1 but couldn’t play in the title game because of COVID, and the season just … ended.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: 11th

Average projected wins: 9.3 (6.8 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins: Arkansas State (97%), Montana (97%), at Arizona (92%), California (86%), at Stanford (84%), Washington State (82%), at Oregon State (79%), at Colorado (77%), UCLA (68%)
  • Relative tossups: Arizona State (63%), at Michigan (58%), Oregon (49%)
  • Likely losses: none

Jimmy Lake’s first full season at Washington offers massive opportunity — the Huskies play only one road game against a team projected higher than 50th.

Oregon … 

After the strangest accomplishment in the strangest year — losing your division but winning your conference — Mario Cristobal’s Ducks will try to achieve bigger, more normal things in 2021.

2021 Projections

Projected SP+ rank: fifth

Average projected wins: 9.4 (7.1 in the Pac-12)

  • Likely wins: Stony Brook (100%), Arizona (97%), Fresno State (95%), Oregon State (90%), Cal (89%), at Stanford (88%), Washington State (86%), at Colorado (82%)
  • Relative tossups: at UCLA (64%), at Utah (59%), at Washington (51%), at Ohio State (42%)
  • Likely losses: none

The upside of this schedule: The Ducks are projected underdogs only once. The downside for a potential contender: Four rough road trips mean two losses is more likely than one.

Read full story here (subscription required) …

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June 21st 

Phil Steele’s projections: CU has No. 7 linebacker unit in the nation

From tweets from WestCoastCFB.com …

Phil Steele’s Top Running Back Units:

  • 1. Texas AM
  • 10. Arizona State
  • 13. Oregon
  • 20. Colorado
  • 34. Washington
  • 43. USC
  • 44. Utah
  • 45. Stanford

Phil Steele’s Top Linebacker Units:

  • 1. Alabama
  • 7. Colorado
  • 10. USC
  • 12. Oregon
  • 13. Utah
  • 16. UCLA
  • 22. Arizona State
  • 24. California
  • 26. Oregon State
  • 29. Washington
  • 46. Stanford

Phil Steele’s Top Offensive Lines:

  • 1. Oklahoma
  • 2. Ohio State
  • 3. Washington
  • 5. Utah
  • 8. Oregon
  • 20. Arizona State
  • 34. UCLA
  • 38. Oregon State
  • 44. Colorado
  • 45. Stanford
  • 51. USC

Phil Steele’s PAC-12 Projection:

North:

  • 1. Washington
  • 2. Oregon
  • 3. Stanford
  • 4 Washington State
  • 5. California
  • 6. Oregon State

South:

  • 1. USC
  • 2. Utah
  • 3. Arizona State
  • 4. UCLA
  • 5. Colorado
  • 6. Arizona

—–

June 20th

Daily Camera posts CU summer roster overview (24 new faces since last season)

From the Daily Camera … Summer workouts are underway for the Colorado football team and fall camp is around the corner.

With only about six weeks to go before preseason practices get started, the Buffaloes have their roster set, for the most part. Although there could still be some player movement between now and August, CU has a roster lined up for the fall, and it will feature quite a few new faces.

Of the 87 players on scholarship this season, 24 were not with the Buffs last season. There will also be nearly 20 new walk-ons.

Since last season, CU has added a lot of talent from the high school ranks, but also through the transfer portal. The Buffs have added potential starters at quarterback (JT Shrout), offensive line (Noah Fenske and Max Wray), linebacker (Robert Barnes and Jack Lamb) and defensive end (Blayne Toll) through the portal.

“I like the additions we’ve had in the transfer portal,” said offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, who has seen the roster evolve during his six years with the program. “I think you really have to look at it and see, ‘Does that player upgrade you in that specific room?’ I really believe we’ve done a good job of that.

“You have to have competition to make the room better, and you have to have competition throughout the roster to make your team better. I think we’re doing that.”

In the fall, the Buffs expect intense competition at all positions. At most spots, there will be several candidates competing. With preseason camp quickly approaching, here’s a look at the projected roster for next season:

Read full story here

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June 18th

CBS: Ranking the Power Five quarterbacks 

From CBS Sports … College football lost a lot of star power at the quarterback position upon the conclusion of the 2020 season. Superstars such as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Trey Lance — all gone to the NFL. While the 2021 QB class is considered one of the most top-heavy in recent memory, such turnover provides a chance for a clean slate and affords new players the opportunity to stake their claim as the best in the sport.

With that in mind, it’s time to return to my annual quarterback tiers ranking.

Over the past few years, I’ve eschewed traditional quarterback rankings in favor of tiers. Putting quarterbacks in similar groups makes more sense because they can be better compared to their counterparts; not everyone has to be in a position to win the Heisman to be classified as a good player. I tiered just under 50 FBS quarterbacks for the upcoming season based on their performances from last year, though career numbers were taken into consideration as well in the event of injuries, redshirts, etc. The results are below with some methodology explained first.

  • Not every quarterback is ranked. This was hard! That would be harder!
  • Established or projected starters get ranked. If a QB is in a heated offseason battle that will lead up to Week 1, it’s tough to rank him. Whoever wins the Ohio State quarterback battle, for example, could end up being be a star heading into 2022. But right now we don’t know that. There are a couple of exceptions in Tiers IV and V.
  • Experience matters more than potential. I’m going to rank players based more on what they’ve done vs. what they could do — one-year experience minimum. This seems obvious, but it’s worth pointing out for guys like Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, a Tier IV member last year. I also didn’t rank any player who has yet to take at least one snap in a college game.
  • Players could fit in more than one tier. There’s an order to the madness — you would take a Tier I quarterback over one from Tier III every time — but I ranked quarterbacks based on what felt like the best match. Keep in mind this is a snapshot of the moment. It can and will change from year to year.
  • Efficiency is the primary focus. Seasons varied in length across the sport last year due to COVID-19, which complicated the process a bit. A quarterback that played 10+ games instead of four might get a tiebreaker, but I put even more emphasis on efficiency rather than raw numbers for this very reason. Still, context is important. I considered rushing stats, where applicable, along with supporting cast, how they played in big games, etc.

From the Pac-12 … 

Tier I – All-American aspirations

From the Pac-12 … None

Tier II – Potential All-Conference

From the Pac-12 … Jaydon Daniels, Arizona State … Kedon Slovis, USC

Tier III – Established starters

From the Pac-12 … Charlie Brewer, Utah … Anthony Brown, Oregon … Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Tier IV … Keep an eye on

From the Pac-12 … None

Tier V … Questions need to be answered

From the Pac-12 … None

Pac-12 teams which CBS didn’t bother to rank … Colorado, Washington, Stanford, Cal, Washington State, Arizona, Oregon State …

Read full story here

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June 16th

Athlon on CU: “There is intriguing talent all over the defense”

From Athlon Sports …

… Athlon’s report on CU’s Offense posted below (June 12th) … 

Defense … Despite the Buffs showing some improvement in 2020, Dorrell cut ties with coordinator Tyson Summers and promoted defensive line coach Chris Wilson to the position. A longtime NFL and college coach, Wilson is in a coordinator for the first time since 2010-12 at Mississippi State. Under Wilson, the Buffs are aiming for a more player-friendly system than they had under Summers, and they plan to be versatile in their scheme.

“You have to be multiple in this day and age,” Wilson says. “We’re going to have that versatility”.

A healthy Nate Landman is important, too. The inside linebacker was an All-American candidate before rupturing an Achilles tendon in the regular-season finale. There is hope he’ll be ready to go by fall camp.

There is intriguing talent all over the defense. Outside linebacker Carson Wells racked up 16 tackles for loss in only six games; defensive end Terrance Lang has improved every year; safety Isaiah Lewis had a breakout season; and cornerbacks Mekhi Blackmon and Christian Gonzalez formed a solid duo. Defensive backs Chris Miller and Mark Perry are also talented when healthy.

CU also hit the transfer portal for reinforcements on defense, picking up linebackers Robert Barnes (Oklahoma) and Jack Lamb (Notre Dame) and defensive end Blayne Toll (Arkansas). All three are projected to play key roles.

Specialists … Walk-on Evan Price returns after going 6-for-8 on field goals a year ago. A part-timer early in his career, he’s 15-for-18 as a Buff, with two of the misses coming on blocks. He’ll still have to hold off scholarship freshman Cole Becker for the job. Punter Josh Watts, from Australia, played his first year of football in 2020, and got better as the season went along.

Final Analysis … Dorrell had a very good debut season, but he knows there’s still a lot of work to be done. There is a lot of talent, but a lot of question marks, including depth. CU has won more than five games just once in the last 13 seasons, and it’ll be a challenge to do it this year. The first month will reveal a lot about the Buffs, as they face Texas A&M and Minnesota before opening Pac-12 play against two of the best teams in the South: Arizona State and USC.

—–

June 15th 

Ranking Pac-12 transfers: Max Wray could start at left tackle for Buffs

From the San Jose Mercury News … Two weeks from the transfer deadline, the Hotline finally has mustered the courage to make sense of the player movement across Pac-12 rosters.

By our count, more than 50 transfers have joined the conference for the 2021 season. While the vast majority will function in limited roles, some to-be-determined number — maybe it’s five; perhaps it’s 12 or 15 — will have a significant impact.

Below is our ranking of 20 newcomers who could affect the season, a list culled from the names published in  247Sports.com’s publicly available transfer portal database.

Please note: The situation could change before July 1, when players must give notice of their intent to transfer and retain eligibility (at the new school) for the 2021 season.

3. Oregon State QB Sam Noyer (Colorado): Nobody better epitomizes the transfer portal era better than Noyer, who was an all-conference quarterback last season in Boulder but announced his new home just last week. The Beavers now have two quality options, if Tristan Gebbia is healthy.

9. Colorado OT Max Wray (Ohio State): The former four-star recruit couldn’t crack an OSU lineup filled with five stars but should have a major impact in Boulder. Wray, whose brother, Jake, plays for CU, is our frontrunner to take over the left tackle spot previously occupied by Will Sherman.

18. USC WR KD Nixon (Colorado): The Trojans don’t need a No. 1 receiver — Drake London has that covered — but they could use a second or third option in the Air Raid scheme. Nixon caught more than 100 passes in Boulder and is, in our view, the most likely of several newcomers to have an instant impact on the USC passing game

Also considered Colorado LB Robert Barnes, Arizona LB Jason Harris, UCLA DB Cam Johnson and QB Ethan Garbers, UW QB Patrick O’Brien, Colorado QB J.T. Shrout, Washington State WR CJ Moore, Oregon State WR Makiya Tongue

Read full story here (subscription required) …

—–

June 14th

The Athletic: Carson Wells “could be up for All-American honors in 2021”

From Bruce Feldman at The Athletic … Many of my college football colleagues at The Athletic have done interesting pieces about players at the programs they cover and who they’re buying stock in this offseason. I decided to cast a wide net and made a bunch of calls and texts.

From Iowa and Oklahoma to Toledo and Texas Tech, here are 35 players I hear are ready for breakout seasons in 2021:

From the Pac-12 … 

4. Rachaad White, ASU, RB: The junior-college transfer has blossomed since arriving in Tempe. He’s 210 pounds (up 15 from last season) and 6-2. He averaged 11.4 yards per touch in 2020 and should become even more dangerous. His speed looks effortless; he’s hit 22 mph on the GPS, and the staff said the late bloomer is still growing and getting better every day.

6. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA, RB: A huge recruit who left Southern California to go to the Big Ten, Charbonnet returns home and really impressed folks this spring. He looks like an ideal fit as a big, quick back in Chip Kelly’s system. In 2019, as a freshman at Michigan, Charbonnet rushed for 726 yards and 11 touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if he puts up even bigger numbers in the Pac-12.

9. DJ James, Oregon, CB: There is a bunch of young talent in Eugene primed to break out in 2021, among them freaky WRs Troy Franklin and Dont’e Thornton, as well as linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe. But keep an eye on James, who probably is getting a little overshadowed by budding star corner Mykael Wright. James, a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore, is similarly dynamic to Wright but might have better footwork. He and Wright are more explosive athletes than former starting CBs Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham and are legitimate 4.3 40 guys.

10. Carson Wells, Colorado, LB: The Florida native was overshadowed by tackle machine Nate Landman, but Wells managed 13.5 TFLs in 2020 and has continued to polish his game. Wells, who is described as “ox strong” by coaches, grew up on a cattle ranch and is expected to shock people on his pro day. He’s hit over 20 mph on the GPS and could be up for All-America honors in 2021.

32. Cam Davis, Washington, RB: He’s had only 17 carries in his two season at Washington, but 2021 might be the season the 6-foot, 205-pound redshirt freshman makes a lot of noise. Davis has shown a lot of versatility; he can be an every-down back and can be the home run hitter who could spark an offense that really needs it. In 2020, the Huskies ranked second-to-last in the conference in plays of 20 yards or longer.

Read full story here

—–

June 13th

Sports Pac-12 Preview: Buffs can go bowling for second straight season

From Sports Pac-12 … Discounted and overlooked, the Buffs proved the doubters wrong in 2020.

Despite making the Alamo Bowl and finishing second in the South, most of the media continue to disrespect Colorado football heading into the 2021 campaign.

But the departure of Sam Noyer to the transfer portal was an unexpected development that arguably alters the trajectory of the Buffs’ upcoming season.

Though Jarek Broussard and Nate Landman return to Boulder for 2020 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Karl Dorrell’s second season in the Rocky Mountains, the leadership role under center shifts to Brendon Lewis or Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout.

Lewis played in just a single game last season, while Shrout has attempted fewer than 70 passes in his career. Barring rapid development, the lack of experience at quarterback could be exploited by opponents week in and week out.

Still, transfers on the defensive side of the ball should help boost CU’s chances for another winning season under promoted coordinator Chris Wilson, with linebacker Jack Lamb from Norte Dame, safety Robert Barnes from Oklahoma, and safety Atanza Vongor from TCU expected to contribute.

Limiting turnovers figures to be the key to improving last season’s 4-2 record, but the spotlight is on Dorrell to replace the senior quarterback that led the Buffs to the Alamo Bowl in his first season at the helm.

Best Case Scenario … Landman returns from his offseason surgery stronger than ever, guiding the Buffaloes to a third-place finish in the South.

Ohio State offensive tackle transfer Max Wray boosts a line that continues to open holes for Broussard to exploit, while giving Lewis or Shrout enough time to scramble and find open receivers.

Running backs Alex Fontenot and Ashaad Clayton spell Broussard when needed, and generate buzz for splitting carries with what may be the best running back in the Division.

The consistent run game eases the pressure of the quarterback, resulting in fewer turnovers and increased time of possession.

Though the leadership Noyer brought to the table is missed, Lewis performs well enough to secure the job over Shrout, and propels CU to several upsets resulting in a second-straight bowl appearance.

Worst Case Scenario … Last year’s injury to Landman lingers and is too much to overcome. Lewis or Shrout struggle against quality defenses, and Lamb isn’t able to fill the void in Landman’s production.

And while the defensive transfers meet expectations, the offense turns the ball over too often to win games.

Fontenot and Clayton deal with recurring setbacks all year, and Broussard is over-burdened with the work load.

After a 1-4 start to the season, the tide begins to turn with the matchup against Arizona in Boulder. But it’s not enough, and CU finishes the year with just four wins.

Schedule Analysis … Colorado’s nonconference slate includes a battle with Texas A&M and a showdown with Minnesota.

Defeating the Aggies might be too much to ask, but handling the Gophers is within reason. Splitting the two games might be what CU needs to wind up in another bowl game.

Conference play begins with tests against USC and ASU. Though anything can happen, each of those contests figures to end in a loss.

Winnable games against Arizona, California, Oregon State, and UCLA follow, with a tough matchup at Oregon sandwiched in between.

The season ends with games against Washington and Utah.

If everything goes to plan, the Buffs could end the year bowl eligible at 6-6 and accept an invitation to the New Mexico Bowl, LA Bowl, or the Redbox Bowl in the Bay Area.

Read full story here

—–

June 12th

Athlon: “Colorado should be able to run the ball”

From Athlon Sports …

Offense: Colorado should be able to run the ball. After two ACL tears, Jarek Broussard came out of nowhere in 2020 to finish third nationally in rushing yards per game (149.2) and win Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. Alex Fontenot – the Buffs’ leading rusher in 2019 – is back after missing last season with a hip injury to give Broussard some help, while Ashaad Clayton, a four-star in the 2020 class, hopes to get in that mix. That group will run behind a line that lost just one starter and is led by center Colby Pursell and tackle Frank Fillip.

At receiver, the Buffs have a load of talent, led by Dimitri Stanley and La’Vontae Shenault, who both had good seasons in 2020. Brenden Rice was explosive at times and could be a future star. Tight end Brady Russell, who missed most of the season with injury, will be a critical piece to the offense as well.

The real question for Colorado is at quarterback. Sam Noyer was a pleasant surprise last year, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors. He struggled in the second half of the season, however, and had offseason shoulder surgery. The favorite to win the job might be Brendon Lewis, a talented dual-threat who made his debut in the Alamo Bowl and led the Buffs to three touchdowns. Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout adds experience to the room, and he’ll compete for the starting job as well.

CU hasn’t finished in the top half of the Pac-12 in scoring since joining the conference in 2011, but strong quarterback play and some changes to the offense could help. “We were very vanilla offensively last year, in terms of movement and shifting, things like that”, Dorrell says. “We’ve made some tweaks, with adding more formations and motions and doing more adjustments and shifts … which we didn’t really do much of”.

—–

June 9th

Athlon Pac-12 Predictions (No surprise where CU is picked)

From Athlon Sports … The Pac-12 won’t lack for intrigue in the 2021 college football season. On paper, the conference may not have a dominant team or a playoff contender. However, as indicated by the 2021 Pac-12 predictions, the league has wide-open races in both divisions and a strong case could be made for a couple of teams as the overall favorite.

Oregon edged Washington in Athlon’s predictions for the Pac-12 North Division, with California at No. 3. It’s a close call between Stanford, Washington State and Oregon State in the order of finish for the final three spots in the North. Arizona State edged USC and Utah as the team to beat in the South in Athlon’s predictions. An improving UCLA team is predicted fourth, followed by Colorado and Arizona to round out the division.

5. Colorado

Colorado surprised in coach Karl Dorrell’s first season by finishing 4-2 and earning a trip to the Alamo Bowl against Texas. The Buffaloes have reason for optimism after exceeding expectations last year, but after giving up 31.5 points a game and scoring 28.5 a contest, big question marks remain going into 2021.

Previewing the Offense

Strength: The Buffaloes boast one of the Pac-12’s deepest backfields with Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot leading the way. The line is anchored by four returning starters, while Dimitri Stanley, La’Vontae Shenault and Brenden Rice form a solid trio at receiver.

Concern: Quarterback play. With Sam Noyer transferring, Brendon Lewis and Tennessee transfer J.T. Shrout will compete for the job.

Redshirt Freshman to Watch: QB Brendon Lewis

Incoming Transfers: QB J.T. Shrout; OL Max Wray; OL Noah Fenske; TE Blayne Toll

Breakout Player: WR Brenden Rice

Previewing the Defense

Strength: Assuming Nate Landman makes a full recovery from a torn Achilles, Colorado should have one of the better linebacker units in the Pac-12. New coordinator Chris Wilson inherits plenty of experience and in the secondary to improve a group that allowed 31.7 points a game in 2020.

Concern: The Buffaloes need overall improvement here. This group ranked eighth in the Pac-12 versus the run, surrendered over 30 points a game (31.7) and gave up too many big plays.

Recruit to Watch: S Trustin Oliver

Incoming Transfers: LB Jack Lamb; DB Robert Barnes

Breakout Player: CB Christian Gonzalez

Read full preview here

—–

June 7th

Pac-12 Quarterback Rankings: Despite losing Sam Noyer, CU moves up two spots

From the San Jose Mercury News … Two months from training camp and three from the start of a momentous season for the Pac-12, the state of play at the most important position remains extraordinarily muddled.

Muddled by the paucity of entrenched starters.

Muddled by the prevalence of new arrivals.

Muddled by the lingering impact of 2020 injuries.

Only six teams have a reasonable degree of quarterback clarity, while a handful should require name tags in the meeting room.

The most statistically accomplished quarterback in the conference, Utah’s Charlie Brewer, was in the Big 12 in 2020, while the most competitively accomplished, USC’s Kedon Slovis, has just a dozen career victories.

In the latest edition of the Quarterback Comfort Quotient (QBCQ) rankings, the Hotline attempts to make sense of it all.

As always, the QBCQ is based on the following premise: The backup quarterback is the least important player on the roster … until he’s the most important.

As a result, the rankings below consider the quality of the presumptive starter and the likely reliability of the backups.

Notes:

— Eligibility listed with returning players accounts for free year granted by the NCAA for the 2020 season: A junior last fall, for example, is a junior this fall.

— Rosters are taken from team websites, but the situation is highly fluid due to the transfer portal: A quarterback could be there today and gone tomorrow.

— I have included our January rankings for comparative purposes.

  • No. 1 – UCLA … up one spot from January
  • No. 2 – Washington  … up three spots
  • No. 3 – Utah … up three spots
  • No. 4 – USC … same as in January
  • No. 5 – Arizona State … down two spots
  • No. 6 – Oregon … down five spots
  • No. 7 – California … up one spot
  • No. 8 – Colorado … up two spots
    Who’s gone: Sam Noyer, Tyler Lytle, Dylan Jacob, Michael Chandler
    Who’s back: Brendon Lewis (freshman), Grant Ciccarone (freshman)
    Who’s new: J.T. Shrout (Tennessee), Drew Carter (freshman), Jordan Woolverton (freshman)
    Projected starter: Lewis
    Comment: Monday morning, minutes before deadline, CU announced that Noyer had entered the transfer portal — an indication he wasn’t likely to win the job. The departure whittles the competition to Lewis and Shrout, who spent two seasons in Knoxville. In our view, Lewis is the clear frontrunner. And if the Alamo Bowl was any indication, he could quickly develop into an impact player.
  • No. 9 – Washington State … down two spots
  • No. 10 – Arizona – up two spots
  • No. 11 – Oregon State … down two spots
  • No. 12 – Stanford … down one spot

Read full story here

—–

June 6th

Opposing Coaches size up CU: “Give them credit for what they did in Year One – I’m not sure it’s sustainable’

From Athlon Sports … Opposing Coaches Size up Colorado:

— “Give them credit for what they did in Year One. I’m not sure it’s sustainable, but it worked for them under some tough circumstances. They got wins against not great teams, but they were supposed to be that kind of game for everyone else”;

— “Karl (Dorrell) is going to take some steps to make it more of his program. I think that’s why he made the change at defensive coordinator. Statistically, they performed pretty well in a lot of categories, but he got rid of (Tyson) Summers because they got blown out against Texas after coming down a bit”

— “The schedule is a lot hard for them in conference, and they’re also playing Texas A&M and Minnesota, so expect some of that good luck to fade”

— “The running back (Jarek Broussard) is their guy right now. He’s incredibly talented, and they want to use him until the QB (Brendon Lewis) gets up to speed. I think it’s clear they want to bring him along slowly. Right now, that offense is built around spreading you out enough to work the run in. They want to create easy wins in the passing game and open up light boxes to run out of”

— “This is the real test coming up. (Mel) Tucker left because he didn’t think you could win consistently and he didn’t want to get stuck. If they do it again this year and find some kind of consistency recruiting, it would be huge for that program”

—–

June 5th

CBS: In “wide open” Pac-12, Utah is the best “value pick” 

From CBS Sports … The Pac-12 takes a beating nationally at times for its lack of recent football success, but the conference is at the top of the heap among its Power Five peers in at least one category entering the 2021 season: parity. No other league has more competition at the top in its preseason title odds than the Pac-12.

With seven teams enjoying +1500 odds or better to win the league title, the Pac-12 feels wide open compared to other leagues. In fact, the Pac-12 is the only power conference without a preseason favorite who has negative odds. While Clemson (-800), Ohio State (-200), Oklahoma (-140) and Alabama (-140) are clear-cut favorites to win the nation’s other premier conferences, the Pac-12’s top teams (USC and Oregon at +275) offer more bang for your buck.

So as college football season draws closer, what are the best wagers to make in the Pac-12? Here’s a look at the odds from William Hill Sportsbook along with a few recommendations to contemplate.

TEAMODDS
USC+275
Oregon+275
Washington+325
Arizona State+450
UCLA+1200
Utah+1400
Stanford+1500
Colorado+2500
Washington State+2500
California+4000
Oregon State+6000
Arizona+10000

Best bet — USC (+275): Roll your eyes if you want, but USC draws Stanford, Washington State, Oregon State and California out of the North this season. In other words, the Trojans have the good fortune of missing both Oregon and Washington. Every other team in the Pac-12 South must play one or both of Oregon and Washington. That’s a built-in advantage for a Trojans team that is already the most talented in the division. The favorable conference schedule positions USC for a repeat trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game and makes it a quality investment at +275.

Worst wager — Arizona State (+450): Arizona State should be a good team and is rightfully receiving a fair amount of hype entering Herm Edwards’ fourth season as coach. But the Sun Devils are still just 6-7 in league games over the last two seasons, which makes it a reach to pencil them in as league champions at +450. Back-to-back games against USC and at Washington in November will be particularly challenging for a program looking to break through. Has Arizona State really shown us enough to be grouped with the likes of Oregon, Washington and USC in the Pac-12’s upper echelon?

Value pick — Utah (+1400): Utah represented the Pac-12 South in the 2018 and 2019 league title games, and although the Utes lost both times, the third time could be the charm. With former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer under center and 17th-year coach Kyle Whittingham on the sidelines, this team has a high floor. The ceiling may be determined in an Oct. 9 game at USC, but if the Utes can somehow win that one, they will be positioned to make the Pac-12 Championship Game for the third time in four seasons. If you’re looking for a Pac-12 South team to bet on aside from USC, Utah brings significantly better value than Arizona State without much of a difference in actual title potential.

Long shot — California (+4000): Either there is a concerning amount of delusion within Cal’s program or the odds here are a miscalculation by Las Vegas, because the Bears believe they have a serious opportunity to make the Rose Bowl. Don’t believe me? Go watch their spring game and listen to the interviews and the broadcast, and you’ll quickly realize what the standard is this season. This squad bore the brunt of COVID-19 regulations last season during an abbreviated 1-3 campaign that fell well short of lofty expectations, and it feels like those expectations have simply rolled over to this season for those within the program. The defense has been solid under Justin Wilcox and returns some proven veterans in key positions. If the offense can click under second-year coordinator Bill Musgrave, watch out.

—–

June 3rd

Wilner’s Take On Pac-12 Win Totals (Taking the Over on CU) 

From the San Jose Mercury News … The release of the Pac-12’s early-season kickoff times consumed all the oxygen across the Pac-12 footprint late last week, but it was hardly the only significant news to surface ahead of the holiday weekend.

In California, an initiative to legalize sports betting qualified for the November 2022 ballot.

As written, the initiative would limit gambling in the nation’s most populous state to horse racing venues and tribal casinos, but the development is yet another sign of the tectonic shift unfolding in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allow legalized sports wagering.

Within the Pac-12 borders, Utah will remain a holdout — gambling is against the state’s constitution. But sports wagering is legal in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, with restrictions. And it’s expected to become legal in Arizona this fall.

Now California has taken a significant step.

According to the Los Angeles Times, sports gambling in California could generate “some $1 billion in gross annual revenue without online betting — as the tribal initiative proposes — and $3 billion if the state expanded it to include online wagering.”

With that news as the backdrop, and with an eye on the fall, the Hotline presents the 2021 regular-season win totals for each Pac-12 team (as published recently by DraftKings).

Please note: To make this exercise more interesting, we are selecting only the Over or Under for each team. This space is no place for a Push.

Colorado
Over/Under: 4.5 wins
Our pick: Over
Comment: We gave strong consideration to the Under, largely because of the schedule: The Buffaloes play two Power Five non-conference opponents (Texas A&M and Minnesota) and draw both Oregon and Washington from the North. But there are three highly winnable games (Northern Colorado, OSU and Arizona in Boulder), which makes Minnesota the key. And we think that Week Three duel is a win.

Continue reading story here

—–

June 2nd

A look back at 2020 Pac-12 predictions (CU not well thought of)

As 2021 predictions are coming out, it’s good to look back at what these pundits had to say about Colorado last summer. The Buffs were coming off of their third straight 5-7 season, with a new head coach who had yet to meet his players. The consensus was that the Buffs would finish 5th, just barely ahead of Arizona. None of the major publications picked CU to finish any higher than fourth.

Of course, the Buffs went on to a 4-1 Pac-12 record, finishing second in the Pac-12 South …

RankTeamTotal
Points
Street
and
Smith
AthlonLindyPhil
Steele
CFB
Prof
McIllece
Sports
Versus
Sports
Simulator
Sports
Formu-
lator
Coll.
F’ball
Poll
Pick
Six
North
1Oregon111111111121
2Washington233232222232
3California312324544313
4Stanford364443333444
5Oregon State545655656556
6Washington State556566465665
South
1Southern Cal101111111111
2Utah243332222322
3Arizona State262223333233
4UCLA454544544465
5Colorado526466465654
6Arizona535655656546

—–

June 1st

Sporting News Preseason Top 25 contains three CU opponents 

From The Sporting News … Talkin’ season is here.

The 2021 college football season is coming, and Sporting News loves to embrace the period between Memorial Day through July 4 where all we want to do is talk about football.

SN released our Way Too Early Top 25 in January, and we’ve made some adjustments to account for the NFL Draft and transfer portal. Our top four did not change. Most preseason publications will have some combination of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma at the top.

SN will update our list one more time when talkin’ season is over, and we’ll have more preseason content on the way, including top players, preseason All-Americans and bowl projections.

In the meantime, let’s talk about our top 25 for the 2021 college football season:

CU 2021 opponents …

7. Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher put the program in the Playoff conversation for the first time in 2020. Now, the challenge is to keep it there. The Aggies lose a loaded senior class, and either Zach Calzada or Haynes King taking over for veteran quarterback Kellen Mond. The good news is leading rusher Isaiah Spiller, top receiver Ainias Smith and All-American guard Kenyon Green return. The defense allowed just 21.7 points per game in 2019. The crossover schedule is friendly with Missouri and South Carolina, and Auburn and Alabama have to visit College Station. Can the Aggies take that next step?

12. USC

The Trojans won the Pac-12 South last season, and that took some heat off coach Clay Helton. Kedon Slovis, who has totaled 47 touchdowns to 16 interceptions the last two seasons, returns at quarterback. Drake London and Bru McCoy will be reliable targets in the passing game. Defensive end Korey Foreman, the top recruit in the class of 2021, should make an early impact, too. The standard remains a Pac-12 championship, which has eluded the program since 2017.

16. Oregon 

Oregon has won back-to-back Pac-12 championships under Mario Cristobal, but last season was a missed opportunity after a pair of conference losses to Oregon State and Cal. Anthony Brown is up at quarterback after Tyler Shough opted to transfer to Texas Tech. CJ Verdell and Travis Dye are back at tailback, and the offense should be more fluid under second-year coordinator Joe Moorhead. Kayvon Thibodeaux, a potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, leads a defense that also features Noah Sewell and Isaac Slade-Matautia. The Ducks will get a chance to show what they’re made of on Sept. 11 at Ohio State.

Continue reading story here

The Athletic: Is Clay Helton capable of delivering a championship to USC?

From The Athletic … Moments after USC suffered a frustrating loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game last December, head coach Clay Helton was asked what next steps his program needed to take to reassert itself atop the conference.

“Winning a championship,” he said. “… We’re judged on championships here. That’s the beauty of this place. That’s the expectation. That’s the standard. That’s what we fight for.”

Championships are the standard at USC, it’s true. Winning the Pac-12 is indeed the next step the Trojans have to take if they want to “take back the West.” And although there have been signs in the past year that the program is gaining ground on those goals, Helton hasn’t delivered a championship in three seasons.

The next step is obvious. Whether Helton is capable of getting USC there isn’t so clear. The Trojans were better positioned than anyone to win the Pac-12 under last year’s strange circumstances. They were experienced and talented while the rest of the league’s contenders were in various states of transition. But they played underwhelming football throughout the shortened season, then fell flattest in the game that mattered most.

Key players from the 2020 team left early for the NFL, including first-round pick left tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, standout wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Talanoa Hufanga. But the Trojans return 16 starters, including All-Pac-12 performers like quarterback Kedon Slovis, receiver Drake London and defensive end Drake Jackson, and unlike last year, everyone else around those talented centerpieces will be experienced, too.

In the Pac-12 South, Arizona State returns almost its entire team and is entering its third year with talented quarterback Jayden Daniels at the helm. Utah brings back a solid nucleus and added former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer. UCLA showed plenty of promise last year and could be on the brink of a breakthrough under Chip Kelly. Meanwhile in the North, Oregon has won back-to-back conference championships and should be much better than last year, when the Ducks were one of the youngest teams in the country even as they knocked off USC. And Washington will contend as well.

USC’s championship blueprint starts with building on the progress a new-look defensive staff managed in 2020 and doubling down on an Air-Raid offense that didn’t make the progress most expected last fall. The route to the Rose Bowl and beyond will be more crowded than it has been in recent memory, and there’s a chance Helton’s always-hazy future may be determined by whether or not he can get USC to its desired destination this time around.

Final assessment … USC has some obvious holes at offensive line and linebacker, but there is enough talent and the schedule is manageable enough for the Trojans to potentially repeat as division champs and contend for a conference title. That said, USC has a troubling knack of making things much more difficult than it needs to be, particularly in the Helton era. If USC is going to take the next step and get back atop the league, Helton has to do something he hasn’t really done the past few years: maximize the talent on hand. If that doesn’t happen, Helton’s future is likely to come into question once again.

Read full story here (subscription required) …

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May 30th

Sports Pac-12: CU 4th in Pac-12 South; 7th overall

From Dane Miller at SportsPac-12.com … Spring football is over and less than 100 days remain until the start of the 2021 Pac-12 football season.

That’s music to the ears of most fans, who haven’t been able to attend any home games since 2019. And with fall camp nearly around the corner, the time is ripe for my first Power Ranking of the new season.

Now, I know Monday Morning Quarterbacks love to screenshot my rankings and jump in my mentions several months later.

But let’s all remember what the great Bill Walton loves to say, “The only thing more meaningless than the score at halftime is the final score of an exhibition game.”

These post-spring guesses may prove worthless come August, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Between now and then, I’ll preview each Conference team, and then revisit my rankings before the season begins.

So, without further ado, here are my initial Power Rankings of 2021. 

  1. Oregon
  2. USC
  3. Arizona State
  4. Stanford
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7.  Colorado … There’s no denying the culture Karl Dorrell built in his first season in the Rocky Mountains. Jarek Broussard, Sam Noyer, and Nate Landman formed the core of the reborn Buffs, and each return in 2021.

    The doubt and lack of respect Colorado received throughout its run to the Alamo Bowl is likely to carry over into this season, providing a motivational tool that is arguably unmatched in the Pac-12.

    Opponents and certain members of the media likely continue to overlook CU, ignoring what Dorrell accomplished, and instead chalking it up to COVID. For the three leaders of the Buffs, that’s like throwing gasoline on the fire.

  8. Washington State
  9. UCLA
  10. California
  11. Oregon State
  12. Arizona

Read full preview here

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May 29th

Athlon on CU’s 4.5 over/under win projection: Take the Over

From Athlon Sports … College football’s 2021 season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to start placing wagers and bets on the DraftKings over/under totals for the Pac-12. While the conference may not have a CFB Playoff contender in most preseason projections, this league has good depth and could have five teams push to finish in the top 25 at the end of the year.

Earlier this week, DraftKings Sportsbook released over/under win totals for all 12 teams in the Pac-12. While some of these predictions will evolve, below are Athlon’s early calls on whether to take the over, under or hold on a wager on the DraftKings odds.

Colorado

DraftKings O/U: 4.5

The Buffaloes surprised last season with a 4-2 mark in coach Karl Dorrell’s debut. However, a deeper look at the numbers shows this team has work to do in order to reach a bowl in 2021. The offense averaged 28.5 points a game, while the defense surrendered 31.7. Colorado has a strong backfield and talented pieces returning on both sides of the ball. The quarterback battle between Brendon Lewis and Sam Noyer will extend into the fall.

Early Call: Over

This is tough. On paper, Colorado has three games it will be favored to win – Northern Colorado, Arizona and Oregon State. But the guess here is Dorrell can get enough out of the quarterback position and improve on both sides of the ball to find five victories. A slight lean to the over – provided you trust the Buffaloes to pull off an upset.

Continue reading story here

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May 27th

Utah expecting full capacity for home games

From KSLSports.com … The Utah Athletic Department announced plans for full capacity football games at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 2021 season.

Utah Athletics made the announcement on Thursday, May 27.

The Utes open the 2021 schedule against Weber State on September 2.

“We are incredibly excited to be planning for a sold-out, full-capacity environment at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 2021 football season,” said Mark Harlan, Director of Athletics. “We are so grateful for our passionate, loyal fans, who have stood by us and supported our department through a very challenging time. I’m also thrilled for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, who have worked so hard and maintained a high standard throughout everything, and will again be able to experience the roar of the home crowd. We can’t wait for Sept. 2 when we open the expanded Rice-Eccles Stadium and unveil the Ken Garff Performance Zone with 51,444 in the building.”

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May 26th 

Pro Football Focus Rankings: CU in at No. 59 (7th in the Pac-12)

From Pro Football Focus … The first run of PFF’s college football metrics and simulation happened last week. We have not only our initial rankings in place but also results from our simulation for conference and national championship odds. Let’s take a closer look at our current top 25, with later pieces focusing on the best bets to make for conference and national championship winners.

13. OREGON DUCKS

National Championship Win Probability: 1.0%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 23.0%
Highest-Graded Returning Player: RB Travis Dye (79.2)

Oregon sits as the co-favorite to win the wide-open Pac-12 title race. The team will feature a new starting quarterback for the second straight year after Tyler Shough transferred to Texas Tech. Anthony Brown will get the first crack at the starting job after playing 38 snaps over the Ducks’ final two regular-season games. He produced an 83.7 PFF passing grade on that very limited sample size, which is a drastic improvement from the passing grades he put up at Boston College. How well he performs to start the season will dictate whether the Ducks stay in contention for the Pac-12 title.

16. USC TROJANS

National Championship Win Probability: 2.0%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 26.0%
Highest-Graded Returning Player: QB Kedon Slovis (79.5)

Kedon Slovis has flashed at points in USC’s high-volume passing offense, but he still has more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws in his college career. Most of the talent at the wide receiver position has left for the NFL, with Drake London being the one remaining option who played at least 100 snaps last year. At +400 odds, our simulation finds value on the Trojans to win the Pac-12.

The Pac-12 …

  • 1. Alabama
  • 2. Clemson
  • 6. Texas A&M
  • 13. Oregon
  • 16. USC
  • 26. Utah
  • 29. Washington
  • 33. Arizona State
  • 38. Minnesota
  • 44. Stanford
  • 59. Colorado
  • 66. Washington State
  • 68. California
  • 70. Michigan State
  • 71. UCLA
  • 84. Oregon State
  • 98. Colorado State
  • 100. Arizona

—–

May 25th

DraftKings Pac-12 Over/Under (Taking the Buffs?)

From DraftKings.com … Over/Under for CU’s win total: 4.5

The rest of the Pac-12 … 

Arizona … O/U 2.5
Arizona State … O/U 9.0
California … O/U 5.5
Oregon … O/U 9.0
Oregon State … O/U 4.5
Stanford … O/U 3.5
UCLA … O/U 7.0
USC … O/U 9.0
Utah … O/U 8.5
Washington …  O/U 9.0
Washington State … O/U 6.0

—–

May 24th 

Athlon Preseason All Pac-12 teams includes ten Buffs

From Athlon Sports … The 2021 All-Pac-12 team is led by 14 selections from Oregon, with Washington (13), USC (13), UCLA (12), Arizona State (12) also hitting double-digit picks. Utah headlines the next tier of programs with 11 picks, while Colorado checks in with 10 selections on the Pac-12 All-Conference Team for ’21.

Athlon Sports has released its top 25 for 2021. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2021.

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2021. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2021 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year. Also, team strength does not play a role in selections. These are the best individual players at each position in the league for ’21.

Pac-12 Football 2021 All-Conference Team

First-Team Offense

QB       Kedon Slovis, USC

RB       Jarek Broussard, Colorado

RB       Rachaad White, Arizona State

AP       Max Borghi, Washington State

WR      Drake London, USC

WR      Johnny Johnson, Oregon

TE       Cade Otton, Washington

C          Nathan Eldridge, Oregon State

OL       Nick Ford, Utah

OL       Jaxson Kirkland, Washington

OL       Abraham Lucas, Washington State

OL       Dohnovan West, Arizona State

First-Team Defense

DL       Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

DL       Tyler Johnson, Arizona State

DL       Mika Tafua, Utah

LB        Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington (suffered torn Achilles in spring)

LB        Drake Jackson, USC

LB        Devin Lloyd, Utah

LB        Avery Roberts, Oregon State

LB        Nate Landman, Colorado

DB       Trent McDuffie, Washington

DB       Chase Lucas, Arizona State

DB       Chris Steele, USC

DB       Mykael Wright, Oregon

First-Team Specialists   

K         Jadon Redding, Utah

P          Michael Turk, Arizona State

KR       D.J. Taylor, Arizona State

PR       Britain Covey, Utah

Second-Team Offense    

QB       Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

RB       Austin Jones, Stanford

RB       CJ Verdell, Oregon

AP       Britain Covey, Utah

WR      Bru McCoy, USC

WR      Kyle Philips, UCLA

TE       Brant Kuithe, Utah

C          Alex Forsyth, Oregon

OL       Luke Wattenberg, Washington

OL       Kellen Diesch, Arizona State

OL       Joshua Gray, Oregon State

OL       Sean Rhyan, UCLA

Second-Team Defense  

DL       Thomas Booker, Stanford

DL       Jermayne Lole, Arizona State

DL       Nick Figueroa, USC

LB        Omar Speights, Oregon State

LB        Cameron Goode, California

LB        Carson Wells, Colorado

LB        Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington

CB       Christian Roland-Wallace, Arizona

CB       Clark Phillips, Utah

S          Isaiah Pola-Mao, USC

S          Evan Fields, Arizona State

Second-Team Specialists    

K         Lucas Havrisik, Arizona

P          Ben Griffiths, USC

KR       Nathaniel Peat, Stanford

PR       Dimitri Stanley, Colorado

Third-Team Offense

QB       Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

RB       Christopher Brown, California

RB       Brittain Brown, UCLA

AP/WR Travell Harris, Washington State

WR      Michael Wilson, Stanford

WR      Renard Bell, Washington State

WR      Jaylon Redd, Oregon

TE       Greg Dulcich, UCLA

C          Sam Marrazzo, UCLA

OL       Walter Rouse, Stanford

OL       Michael Saffell, California

OL       Sataoa Laumea, Utah

OL       Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Oregon

OL       Andrew Vorhees, USC

Third-Team Defense           

DL       Terrance Lang, Colorado

DL       Tuli Tuipulotu, USC

DL       Tuli Letuligasenoa Washington

DL       Isaac Hodgins, Oregon State

LB        Caleb Johnson, UCLA

LB        Jahad Woods, Washington State

LB        Kuony Deng, California

LB        Noah Sewell, Oregon

LB        Merlin Robertson, Arizona State

CB       Jaylen Watson, Washington State

CB       Josh Drayden, California

S          Elijah Hicks, California

S          Verone McKinley III, Oregon

Third-Team Specialists        

K         Parker Lewis, USC

P          Ryan Sanborn, Stanford

KR       Travell Harris, Washington State

PR       Kyle Philips, UCLA

Fourth-Team Offense

QB       Charlie Brewer, Utah

RB       Chip Trayanum, Arizona State

RB       Keaontay Ingram, USC

RB       Travis Dye, Oregon

AP/RB Sean McGrew, Washington

WR      Terrell Bynum, Washington

WR      Trevon Bradford, Oregon State

WR      Dimitri Stanley, Colorado

TE       Brady Russell, Colorado

C          Colby Pursell, Colorado
OL        Valentino Daltoso, California

OL       Nous Keobounnam, Oregon State

OL       Frank Filip, Colorado

OL       Victor Curne, Washington

OL       Donovan Laie, Arizona

OL       Alec Anderson, UCLA

Fourth-Team Defense         

DL       Brandon Dorlus, Oregon

DL       Brennan Jackson, Washington State

DL       Jalen Harris, Arizona

DL       Mitchell Agude, UCLA

LB        Isaac Slade-Matautia, Oregon

LB        Ryan Bowman, Washington

DB       Jamal Hill, Oregon

DB       JaTravis Broughton, Utah

DB       Kyler Gordon, Washington

DB       Quentin Lake, UCLA

DB       Qwuantrezz Knight, UCLA

DB       Isaiah Lewis, Colorado

Fourth-Team Specialists      

K         Peyton Henry, Washington

P          Tom Snee, Oregon

KR       Gary Bryant, USC

PR       Trevon Bradford, Oregon State

Total Selections on Athlon’s 2021 All-Pac-12 Team

TeamNumber of Selections
Arizona4
Arizona State12
California7
Colorado10
Oregon14
Oregon State8
Stanford6
UCLA12
USC13
Utah11
Washington13
Washington State8

—–

May 23rd

Rivals: Where Pac-12 Coaches were 20 years ago

From Rivals.com … Everyone started somewhere – even Power Five college football coaches. In our ongoing lookback at 20 years of Rivals.com, here is a breakdown of where each Power Five coach was in 2001 when the company started.

From the Pac-12 … 

MARIO CRISTOBAL, Oregon

After a stint as a graduate assistant at Miami following a playing career playing for the Hurricanes, Cristobal became the offensive tackles and tight ends coach at Rutgers from 2001-02. He would become a head coach first in 2007.

KARL DORRELL, Colorado

Dorrell was the wide receivers coach for the Denver Broncos from 2000-02 and the following year he would land his first head coaching job at UCLA in 2003. After his time with the Bruins, he was an assistant in the NFL and in college before being hired to be Colorado’s coach in 2020.

HERM EDWARDS, Arizona State

It was a special year for Edwards since 2001 was his first season as the New York Jets coach, a job that would last through the 2005 campaign. He then coached Kansas City for three seasons before leaving coaching for a decade before coming back to take the Arizona State job.

JEDD FISCH, Arizona

In the late 1990s and leading into 2000, Fisch was a graduate assistant for Steve Spurrier at Florida and then became a quality control coach for the Houston Texans in 2002. Fisch moved around an extraordinary amount even for a college football coach and landed his first head coaching job at Arizona in December.

CLAY HELTON, USC

From 2000-02, Helton was the running backs coach at Memphis and he would stay with that program until 2010 when he became the quarterbacks coach at USC. He has stayed with the Trojans since that time.

CHIP KELLY, UCLA

From 1999-06, Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. The following year he would take the same position at Oregon before becoming head coach for the 2009 season.

JIMMY LAKE, Washington

Lake was the defensive backs coach at Eastern Washington from 2000-03 before taking the same position at Washington in 2004. He would bounce around to a few other places including the NFL and then returned to the Huskies in 2014 and was named head coach for the 2020 season.

NICK ROLOVICH, Washington State

Rolovich started his college career in the late 1990s at City College of San Francisco and then transferred to Hawaii and then in 2000-01 he replaced Timmy Chang there and led the team to an 8-1 record. In 2002, he became an assistant at San Marin, Calif.

DAVID SHAW, Stanford

In 2001, Shaw was the quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders. He would not rejoin the college coaching ranks until 2006 when he went to San Diego for one season before finally settling down at Stanford, first as an assistant and then the head coach.

JONATHAN SMITH, Oregon State

Smith was in his senior season playing quarterback for Oregon State in 2001, a spot he took over as a redshirt freshman and never looked back. He would become a GA for the Beavers before becoming the quarterbacks coach at Idaho in 2004.

KYLE WHITTINGHAM, Utah 

Whittingham started his coaching career in the mid-1980s and got to Utah in 1994. By 2001, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the Utes and landed the head coaching position for the 2005 season after Urban Meyer left for Florida.

JUSTIN WILCOX, Cal

After finishing his playing career as a defensive back at Oregon, Wilcox became a graduate assistant at Boise State in 2001-2002. He became the Cal linebackers coach from 2003-05.

Read full list here

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May 22nd

DraftKings: CU at 20:1 odds to win the Pac-12 championship

From DraftKings.com

  • 2¾/1—Oregon
  • 2¾/1—Washington
  • 4/1—USC
  • 4½/1—Arizona State
  • 12/1—UCLA
  • 14/1—Stanford
  • 16/1—Utah
  • 20/1—Colorado
  • 20/1—Washington State
  • 25/1—California
  • 40/1—Oregon State
  • 66/1—Arizona

Thoughts … While CU fans may be upset to be ranked eighth in the conference in odds to win the Pac-12 title, that’s actually more respect that the Buffs have been given in most seasons over the past 15 years … Not surprised to see Arizona State so high, as the pundits have been in love with Herm Edwards since his first season, but I am surprised to see Utah so low. Kyle Whittingham is good for 8-9 wins a season, and if one of their transfer quarterbacks works out, the Utes will be in the hunt in the wide open Pac-12 South … Stanford, meanwhile, may be rated too high. The Cardinal did the opposite of what CU did last season (i.e., Stanford lost early, then won late), but I’m not convinced that Stanford will be a serious challenger to the Oregon/Washington duo atop the division.

Other odds … CU’s 20:1 odds are better than 10 of the 14 teams in the ACC – such is the life of living in a conference with Clemson … Ditto the SEC, where eight of the 14 teams are rated lower than the Buffs … The longest odds? Vanderbilt, coming in at 500:1 … You can get Michigan State at 50:1 to win the Big Ten, while Nebraska, coming off of three straight losing seasons under the immortal Scott Frost, is at 16:1 … The Pac-12 is the only conference which doesn’t have a school which is a 100:1 shot or worse to win the conference …

—–

May 21st

College Football News: CU “going to be a tough out every week, and be even more fun”

From College Football News … What Will Happen; Schedule Analysis

The team will be better, and it might not matter.

Head coach Karl Dorrell did wonders in his first season to get Colorado in the mix for the Pac-12 title despite dealing through Covid issues that helped derail those hopes, and he got Colorado to a big bowl game.

But for all of the good things the team did in the 4-0 start, it all broke down in the final two games against Utah and Texas.

It was his first year – Dorrell was supposed to get time to get things in place. He did that, got through 2020, and now a slew of injured and opt-out players return, the transfer portal is a help, and the young team of last season returns experienced and a whole lot deeper.

However …

SET THE COLORADO BUFFALOES REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTAL AT … 5.5

It’s not that Colorado can’t compete or beat just about anyone on the schedule, but it’s a killer.

There shouldn’t be an issue against Northern Colorado to open things up, and taking care of Arizona and Oregon State at home is a must, and then it’s going to take a whole lot of upsets to make this a big year.

There aren’t many breaks.

There’s a neutral site game in Denver … against Texas A&M.

Minnesota is hardly a layup in Boulder, and neither are USC and Washington.

The Buffs get five Pac-12 road games, and they’re almost certainly going to be underdogs in all of them.

But Colorado has been underestimated before – like last year – and again, this year’s team is stronger and good enough to win some of those battles against the tough squads.

It’s still going to be a process under Dorrell, and there’s still building to do, but it’s going to be a tough out every week and it’ll be even more fun.

Read full story here

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May 20th

North Dakota State trying to reschedule game against Oregon

Note … North Dakota State will play at Arizona in 2022 and at Colorado in 2024 …

From The Oregonian … Oregon’s efforts to reschedule the canceled nonconference game against North Dakota State that was supposed to be its 2020 season opener continue.

NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen said “both programs want to reschedule” the game, but with schedules set well into the future it could be at least six years before the Bison appear at Autzen Stadium.

“Our fan base, this was the single most important game to them since six years ago when we signed it and something they had circled on the calendar,” Larsen said on The James Crepea Show on Fox Sports Eugene. “I have a ton of respect for Oregon’s football program out there and the success they’ve had our fan base was ready to come out. The good thing is we’ve continued those conversations … there’s mutual interest. Now it’s trying to find the right date that works. Scheduling is so far out now, trying to find gaps in their schedule that work and gaps in our schedule that work. I think the commitment is there and we’re excited to try to get that moving forward.”

Last summer the Pac-12 moved to a 10-game conference-only schedule, then canceled the fall sports season only to reinstate a 6-game conference-only regular season. Those changes wiped out the Sept. 5 game between UO and NDSU, which was to receive a $650,000 payout, as well as Oregon’s home games with Ohio State and Hawaii.

—–

May 19th

CBS Ranks Power Five Coaches (Karl Dorrell moves up ten spots)

From CBS Sports … College football is a sport that has changed a lot over time. The game is continually evolving not only on the field but off it as well. Rule changes and dynasties can come and go, and programs can even change conferences. But while all this change rages on unabated, there’s one thing that’s held true throughout nearly all of it: We rank everything, including college football coaches.

This has been the case here at CBS Sports for the better part of the last decade, and that time of the offseason has come around once again with our Power Five college football coach rankings sitting front and center. Our rankings include every coach in a Power Five conference as well as Notre Dame.

As for how the rankings are decided, a panel of college football writers from CBS Sports and 247Sports submit ballots and vote. The ballots are compiled, and the rankings are final and irrefutable.

OK, so they aren’t irrefutable, that’s impossible. Every single voter has their own criteria for ranking coaches. Some value accomplishments on the field above all else, while others may give greater weight to recruiting prowess or the possibility of future success.

There is no right or wrong way to do the rankings, and that’s largely what makes the final results so fun. It’s also why I spend weeks getting yelled at by fans who believe I’m the only voter in these rankings because my name is in the byline.

While we rank all 65 coaches in the Power Five, we separate the top 25 from the rest. You will see those in this space on Wednesday. So before we unveil the top 25 coaches in the country, let’s take a look at those ranked from 65-26.

From the Pac-12 … 

No. 64 … Jedd Fisch, Arizona: Fisch has never been the head coach at any previous stops, but he does have experience as an offensive coordinator at both the college and NFL levels. This gives him a bit of a bump against Beamer (No. 65 and last). 2020 rank: n/a

No. 58 … Nick Rolovich, Washington State: Honestly, what was there to evaluate? Rolovich’s first season at Washington State consisted of only four games, and he went 1-3. Rolovich probably dropped eight spots in the rankings due to being “forgotten” more than anything else. 2020 rank: 50 (-8)

No. 57 … Mel Tucker, Michigan State: I was very surprised to see Tucker drop a couple of spots, but it’s probably because I have him ranked too high. Tucker checks in at No. 39 on my rankings, but that’s largely because he exceeded my expectations for 2020. When you consider the timing of Tucker’s hire at Michigan State and how it narrowly preceded the pandemic changing everything, the 2020 season was promising! Obviously, my fellow voters are not as enthusiastic as myself. 2020 rank: 55 (-2)

No. 56 … Jonathan Smith, Oregon: I’m going to pin Smith’s drop on the absence of Barton Simmons as a voter. Simmons was always a Smith booster. Like Rolovich and the rest of the Pac-12, Smith didn’t give us much of anything to work with last season. The Beavers followed up a promising 5-7 season in 2019 with a 2-5 campaign last year. The 2021 season should give us all a better idea of what to expect going forward. 2020 rank: 52 (-4)

No. 54 … Karl Dorrell, Colorado: It feels like the voters wanted to reward Dorrell for an excellent first season in Boulder, but they didn’t want to get carried away. As a result, Dorrell climbs 10 spots after shocking the world with a 4-2 year, but he’s still solidly in the mid-50s. Dorrell’s career seems to be one of coaching teams with a high floor but limited ceiling. Should he continue that at Colorado, he’ll likely have a similar performance in these rankings. 2020 rank: 64 (+10)

No. 51 … Jimmy Lake, Washington: I think Lake’s first season at Washington showed promise, as the Huskies went 3-1 and won the Pac-12 North despite not being able to play for the Pac-12 championship. It didn’t take long for Lake to establish his personality and identity on the program. 2020 rank: 56 (+5)

No. 48 … Clay Helton, USC: Helton’s stock is fascinating to chart when it comes to our rankings. USC went 5-1 last season, reached the Pac-12 title game … and he falls seven spots in the rankings. If you look at his overall record at USC (45-23 with a conference title), there’s no way he should be ranked this low, but that’s not how it’s viewed. Helton’s performance is compared to what a coach’s record at USC should be. He hasn’t done enough in the minds of our voters. 2020 rank: 41 (-7)

No. 47 … Scott Frost, Nebraska: Only two coaches fell further in this year’s rankings than Frost, and the 13 spots he drops this season are tacked onto the nine he fell last year. That’s 22 spots in two years for a coach widely viewed as a “no-doubt, home-run hire” at Nebraska. Well, he’s 12-20 in three seasons with the Cornhuskers, and that 13-0 season at UCF just seems further away with every loss. 2020 rank: 34 (-13)

No. 39 … Chip Kelly, UCLA: I think it’s safe to say the shine has come off Kelly at the college level in the minds of our voters. While nobody can deny the success he had at Oregon and how he helped change the offensive landscape, he’s only gone 10-21 at UCLA and is 10-15 in the conference. 2020 rank: 36 (-3)

No. 38 … Justin Wilcox, California: I’m assuming Wilcox fell five spots this season because while he remained static on everybody else’s ballot, our David Cobb punished him for not living up to the 10-win season that Cobb had promised Cal fans. That’s not fair for David to do that, but this is America, and he’s allowed to feel however he wants. Seriously, though, I’m not surprised to see Wilcox slip a little after a 1-3 season, but I’m not sure it’s deserved. While every coach had new things to deal with in 2020, I’ve shown Pac-12 coaches a bit more leniency than others. 2020 rank: 33 (-5)

No. 24 … David Shaw, Stanford: He has experienced a steady decline in our rankings in the last few years. Shaw was still a top-10 coach in 2019, hanging on at No. 9 after a 9-4 season. Since then, though, Stanford has gone 8-10 overall and 7-8 in the Pac-12. The program hasn’t performed up to the standard that Shaw helped put in place, and he’s now barely managing to hang on to top-25 status. 2020 rank: 19 (-5)

No. 21 … Herm Edwards, Arizona State: Here’s a fun exercise. Compare the reaction to Harbaugh’s hire at Michigan when it happened to the reaction to Arizona State hiring Herm. Harbaugh was a grand slam hire, while Edwards was met with bewilderment. Yet here we are with Edwards ranked higher than Harbaugh a few years later. It’s an excellent example of how expectations can skew your view of a coach because Edwards is only 17-13 at Arizona State and 11-11 in conference play. His best season of 8-5 in 2019 matches Harbaugh’s worst record at Michigan. And yet … 2020 rank: 30 (+9)

No. 16 … Mario Cristobal, Oregon: I mean, Cristobal won the Pac-12 despite not even winning his division. How many other coaches can say that? Of course he’s going to climb! Seriously, Cristobal’s won two Pac-12 titles now, and he’s shaken up the recruiting game in the conference. While a College Football Playoff berth still eludes him, the way things are going, nobody would be shocked to see Oregon get back to the CFP in the next few years. 2020 rank: 24 (+8)

No. 14 … Kyle Whittingham, Utah: The names of his players change, and even the conference in which they play changed that one time, but Whittingham’s results at Utah have been remarkably consistent. He’s won three Pac-12 South titles in the last six years, and the Utes were considered playoff contenders for a large portion of the 2019 season. There isn’t a program in the Pac-12 South that’s done a better job taking advantage of USC’s lack of success than Whittingham’s. 2020 rank: 11 (-3)

Read full breakdown of the rankings here

—–

May 18th

Top Ten Pac-12 Games of 2021 (A CU game actually makes the list)

From the San Jose Mercury News … The framing for 2021 has been in place for months, if not years.

Combine the Pac-12’s prolonged absence from the playoff stage with the fast-approaching media rights negotiations, and this season stands as perhaps the most significant in conference history.

Within this fateful fall, Sept. 11 looms as the most important day, with three crucial non-conference affairs that will make or break the Pac-12’s reputation for the ensuing months.

All three matchups are included below in our look at the top-10 games of 2021.

No offense to the other 71, but these matter most …

1. Oregon at Ohio State (Sept. 11): The most important game of the Pac-12 season will have zero impact on the Pac-12 title race, but there’s no denying the ramifications of this ‘Big Noon Kickoff’ for the conference’s collective reputation — and therefore its playoff chances. Of the early showdowns, this stands alone because of Ohio State’s current place on the sport’s pantheon. An Oregon win in Columbus would widen the playoff path for the eventual conference champion and instantly alter the fan and media perception of the conference.

2. Arizona State at Utah (Oct. 16): Our high regard for this duel is based on one assumption and two possibilities. The assumption: That the Utes and Sun Devils are the two best teams in the South, making this critical to the division race. The possibilities: That both teams are undefeated, and ranked in the top-10/12, at the time of kickoff. (More likely for ASU than Utah based on the schedules.)

3. Oregon at Washington (Nov. 6): One of the top games in the conference in any season, the heated rivalry could carry outsized significance in 2021. Not only are the Ducks and Huskies our clear favorites in the North, placing a berth in the title game on the line, but their momentous early dates with Big Ten opponents could lend rocket fuel for the winner to make a serious playoff push.

… 9. Texas A&M vs. Colorado (Sept. 11): Tough to assign the same weight to this duel as the other Sept. 11 showdowns, largely because facing Texas A&M on a semi-neutral field in Denver doesn’t pack as much narrative-shaping power as meeting a Big Ten blue blood on its home turf. (Also, our expectations for CU aren’t as high as they are for the Ducks and Huskies.) But there’s no denying the outcome — either way — will impact the national view of the Pac-12.

Read full list here (subscription required) …

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May 14th

Sportsline: Five Pac-12 teams in Top 25 Projected win percentages

From Sportsline.com … The SportsLine Projection Model’s first simulations for the 2021 college football season are out, and while obviously plenty can change between now and late August/early September, it forecasts Arizona State as the team to beat in what appears to be a wide-open Pac-12. Coach Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils are given a conference-best power ranking of 74.9 (see below), which is ASU’s projected win percentage against every other FBS team in the nation. That number ranks No. 12 in the country with Alabama first at 90.5 percent.

Arizona State has yet to win the Pac-12 title in the conference championship game era and is +400 on the moneyline to do so this year. The Pac-12 title game debuted in 2011. The lone time the Sun Devils made it was in 2013 when it lost to North Division champion Stanford 38-14. The Devils haven’t played in the Rose Bowl since 1997, when Jake Plummer was the quarterback.

When Edwards was hired from ESPN before the 2018 season, it was widely panned but it has worked out well. ASU was 7-6 his first season and 8-5 the next before playing just four games a year ago in the pandemic and finishing 2-2.

There are expected to be 19 starters back (nine offense, 10 defense), led by quarterback Jayden Daniels, who is +3000 at William Hill Sportsbook to win the Heisman Trophy. Arizona State has never had a winner.

The former touted recruit Daniels is on just about every preseason player watch award list possible. He was a freshman All-American in 2019, throwing for 2,943 yards (11th most in school history) and 17 touchdowns with just two picks – the fewest in school history by a quarterback throwing 300 or more passes in a season. Hard to read too much into last year’s four-game sample when Daniels threw for 701 yards, five TDs and a pick. He also rushed for 223 yards and four scores.

Also back are running backs Rachaad White and Chip Trayanum, who averaged a combined 177.5 yards in four games last year, and four starting offensive linemen. Just about every key defender returns.

A 3-0 non-conference record seems likely with an easy schedule; a trip to BYU is never a sure win, but the Cougars have to replace star quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick by the Jets. The Sun Devils avoid Oregon, which has opened as the +225 Pac-12 favorite, and get USC (+400) at home but have tough trips to Utah (+1600) and Washington (+450). The No. 2 team via the model in the Pac-12 is Washington with a power ranking of 74.7 percent.

NCAA win totals aren’t out yet but should be soon – SportsLine oddsmakers project an Over/Under of 9.0 regular-season wins for the Sun Devils assuming all 12 games are played. When the preseason Top 25 polls come out in August, I’d still expect Arizona State to be no better than fourth among Pac-12 schools behind Oregon, USC and Washington. That’s how CBS Sports has its rankings right now as well. 

RANK      TEAMPOWER SIM%
1Alabama Crimson Tide90.50%
2Ohio State Buckeyes90.30%
3Clemson Tigers88.00%
4Oklahoma Sooners82.10%
5Georgia Bulldogs80.30%
6Wisconsin Badgers79.40%
7Notre Dame Fighting Irish78.80%
8Cincinnati Bearcats78.30%
9Iowa Hawkeyes77.80%
10Iowa State Cyclones77.40%
11Florida Gators75.60%
12Arizona State Sun Devils74.90%
13Texas A&M Aggies74.80%
14Washington Huskies74.70%
15Coastal Carolina Chanticleers74.20%
16LSU Tigers73.90%
17Oregon Ducks73.80%
18Southern Methodist Mustangs73.50%
19Brigham Young Cougars73.30%
20Southern California Trojans73.30%
21UCF Knights73.30%
22Utah Utes73.10%
23Indiana Hoosiers72.60%
24UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns72.10%
25North Carolina Tar Heels71.30%

Athlon picks the Pac-12 South

From Athlon Sports … The Pac-12 doesn’t have a clear favorite going into 2021, so it’s no surprise this is one of the toughest conferences to project for the upcoming year. Oregon and Washington are a toss-up battle in the North Division, while the South is shaping up to be a wide-open affair between USC, Utah, Arizona State, UCLA and Colorado. The Trojans claimed the division crown last year, but the Utes won it in back-to-back seasons (2018-19). Arizona State returns nearly every key player from last season, and its ’21 squad should be the best of coach Herm Edwards’ tenure. After a surprise 4-2 stint under new coach Karl Dorrell last fall, can the Buffaloes pull another shocker next season?

Who will win the Pac-12 South in 2021? That was the question posed to Athlon editors and college football contributors.

Pac-12 Football: Which Team Wins the Pac-12 South in 2021?

Steven Lassan

This is a tough call, but I’m taking Arizona State to win the South this season. The Sun Devils return nearly every major contributor from the 2020 season, including a rising star quarterback in Jayden Daniels and one of the deepest running back rooms in college football. Also, the offensive line is poised to take a step forward, and while there’s no clear No. 1 target in the receiving corps, there’s no lack of talent. The Sun Devils led the Pac-12 in scoring defense last year (23.3 points a game) and the defensive line, linebacker and secondary units all rank among the best in the conference. The schedule does feature tough treks to Utah and Washington. However, USC visits Tempe and Oregon is not on the regular-season slate. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Arizona State, USC or Utah win the South, but I think the Sun Devils return to the Pac-12 title game for the first time since ’13.

Mark Ross

Who NEEDS to win the Pac-12 South? That’s easy, USC. The pressure is on Clay Helton to do more than just lead the Trojans to the conference championship game, which they lost last season to an Oregon team that wasn’t even supposed to be in the game. Talent is not an issue for USC, on either side of the ball. But as Helton’s tenuous job security shows, his Trojan teams haven’t been able to maximize that talent. And if Helton’s job depends on (at least) winning the division again in 2021, well I hope he’s updated his resume. I like Arizona State to be on the top of the South by season’s end. Jayden Daniels is poised to emerge as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and the defense brings back plenty of experience throughout all three levels. Herm Edwards has clearly put his stamp on this program, and it shows in how hard the Sun Devils play every game. The schedule isn’t easy, but ASU does get USC in Tempe. So at least Helton won’t have to hear it from the home crowd when his Trojans come up short, again.

Read full story here

—–

May 13th 

Another Preseason Top 25 (with only two Pac-12 teams)

From YardBarker.com … This unprecedented, discombobulated 2020 college football season just ended with Alabama rolling to another national championship. So, we decided to look ahead to the 2021 campaign, when we hope there is a little more normalcy to the game.

Here’s a look at our top 25 teams to watch heading into the 2021 college football season.

16. Oregon

Oregon went 4-3 and still managed to win the Pac-12 title in 2020. It would seem the Ducks and USC will again battle it out for the league title in 2021. The progression of quarterback Tyler Shough (1,559 yards, 13 touchdowns, six interceptions; 271 rushing yards), meanwhile, will be interesting to follow, especially since he has a year of service under his belt. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (12 career sacks, 23 1/2 tackles for loss in two seasons) is also slated to return.

12. USC 

Landing prized defensive end recruit Korey Foreman should help the Trojans’ defense almost immediately. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Kedon Slovis (5,423 career passing yards, 47 touchdowns, 16 interceptions) and receiver Drake London (33 receptions, 502 yards, three TDs) return to make USC the favorite to win the Pac-12 South Division, and perhaps the entire league.

Read full story here (Top 25 includes six Big Ten teams and six from the SEC) …

—–

May 12th

Eight teams in the Pac-12 still lacking in starting quarterback clarity

From the San Jose Mercury News … Spring practice has come and gone for 10 teams — Stanford and UCLA finish this month — and the Hotline is researching a deep dive into quarterback depth across the conference.

But for now, we’ll make quick note of one aspect. Eight teams will enter training camp with some degree of uncertainty: Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.

Put another way: Only Cal (Chase Garbers), USC (Kedon Slovis), UCLA (Dorian Thompson-Robinson) and Arizona State (Jayden Daniels) are certain of their starter for the season opener.

Of course, not all of the competitions set to continue in August are created equally:

— Anthony Brown is the clear frontrunner in Eugene; same with Charlie Brewer in Salt Lake City.

— If he’s healthy, Tristan Gebbia is the QB to beat in Corvallis.

— If he’s steady, Dylan Morris should retain the job in Seattle.

But so much flows from the position … from clarity at the position … that the Hotline will carry into the summer a morsel of skepticism about the collective state of play.

—–

May 11th

Athlon: Oregon or Washington in the Pac-12 North?

From Athlon Sports … The Pac-12 might have the most wide-open battle of any Power 5 conference in the 2021 college football season, as a handful of teams could make a claim to front-runner status. Washington and Oregon have combined to win the last three North Division titles and these two programs will enter ’21 as the favorites to claim the crown once again.

A strong case could be made for either team here. The Huskies should have a standout defense despite the loss of linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui to a season-ending injury. However, question marks remain about the offense and how far the passing attack will develop under quarterback Dylan Morris this fall. The Ducks aren’t hurting for talent on either side of the ball, but the defense needs to get back on track after regressing from the ’19 season last fall. Also, while Anthony Brown is the front-runner under center and has starting experience from Boston College, his development in Oregon’s offense is crucial to its hopes of a Pac-12 title.

Oregon or Washington: Which Team Will Win the Pac-12 North in 2021?

Steven Lassan … Due to the abbreviated schedule and players in and out of the lineup last season, the Pac-12 is the toughest Power 5 conference to get a read on in 2021. Additionally, within this debate of Oregon versus Washington, these two teams didn’t play in ’20, and both teams had question marks going into last season that weren’t really addressed or answered in the limited sample size. With those factors in mind, I would give a slight edge to Oregon. The Ducks have won the Pac-12 title two years in a row and have the No. 1 roster in the conference thanks to stellar recruiting classes assembled by coach Mario Cristobal.

New coordinator Tim DeRuyter should be a great fit on a defense that returns eight starters, including standout end Kayvon Thibodeaux and rising star linebacker Noah Sewell. A full offseason to work under coordinator Joe Moorhead should be a plus for an offense that averaged 6.8 yards per play last season. Anthony Brown is unproven as Oregon’s No. 1 quarterback after transferring in from Boston College, but the rest of the supporting cast is strong. The Ducks will find out just how good they are with a trip to Ohio State on Sept. 11 and later treks to Washington (Nov. 6) and Utah (Nov. 20). Expect the North Division to be a tight battle, but I give a small edge to Cristobal’s team once again.

Read full story here

Jon Wilner’s post-spring Pac-12 picks (“Many CU fans will undoubtedly take umbrage at this projection …”)

From the San Jose Mercury News … In the decade since the Pac-12 added two teams and split into two divisions, the strength of the football product has pointed in just one direction: To the North.

The North division has won nine of the 10 conference championship games and produced more quality depth from 2011-20, if we use the end-of-season Associated Press top-25 rankings as the benchmark for success.

The South was the stronger division only once, in 2014, when Oregon won the conference title (and played for the national championship) but the South generated five of the conference’s six teams in the final AP rankings.

Remove that outlier from the tally, and the North has accounted for 17 of the league’s 28 ranked teams (61 percent) at the end of the other nine seasons.

It has been better at the top and better near the top, which makes it … better.

But a shift in the balance of power looms.

The South looks like the tougher overall division as the 2021 season approaches, with more good teams, fewer depth chart holes, stronger lines of scrimmage and the potential to deliver vastly superior quarterback play.

All in all, five teams from the South look capable of successful seasons: Arizona State, Utah, USC, UCLA and Colorado.

In the North, the quality starts to erode midway down, after Oregon and Washington and perhaps Cal, as well.

Welcome to our look at the division races — the first installment in the Hotline’s series assessing the state of Pac-12 football in the aftermath of spring practice.

Previous projections, from our January breakdown, are noted.

North Division … 

  • 1. Oregon (previous: 2)
  • 2. Washington (previous: 1)
  • 3. Cal (previous: 3)
  • 4. Stanford (previous: 5)
  • 5. Oregon State (previous: 6)
  • 6. Washington State (previous: 4)

South Division … 

  • 1. Arizona State (previous: 1)
  • 2. Utah (previous: 3)
  • 3. USC (previous: 2)
  • 4. UCLA (previous: 4)
  • 5. Colorado (previous: 5). Many CU fans will undoubtedly take umbrage at this projection, but consider the intra-division results from 2020: The Buffaloes edged UCLA in the opener; they were run off the field in the second half by Utah; and they didn’t play either Arizona State or USC. So there’s nothing in the head-to-head outcomes to support a higher placement in what should be a normal, nine-game conference season. Clearly, there is momentum under Karl Dorrell, but we need to see more on the scoreboard.
  • 6. Arizona (previous: 6)

Read full story here (subscription required) …

—–

May 8th

Athlon Pac-12 Draft Prospects includes Nate Landman

From Athlon Sports … The Pac-12’s 2021 NFL Draft class features a variety of potential standouts, from Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown in Detroit, to Elijah Molden with the Titans and more. As the ’21 class prepares to take their first steps, the next crop of Pac-12 prospects heads into next season ready to wreak havoc on Saturdays before doing their thing on Sundays.

Nate Landman, LB, Colorado (Sr., 6-3, 235)

Landman has consistently been one of the best defensive players in the Pac-12. In 2020, his third year anchoring the Colorado defense and fourth season on the squad, Landman made 53 tackles with nine for a loss and four sacks. The latter two outputs were career-highs, in a shortened season to boot.

Landman’s nose for the ball will continue to produce numbers, and his NFL draft stock should rise over the course of 2021.

Read full list here

—–

May 5th

CBS Post-spring Top 25 (Surprise! Usual suspects make substantial leaps)

From CBS Sports … Even after a record-tying showing in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft (six picks) and breaking the record for number of players selected in the first two rounds (eight), Alabama has enough young talent ready to step in that the Crimson Tide have ended the spring practice season on top of CBS Sports’ post-spring college football rankings.

Now, technically, spring practice hasn’t wrapped up everywhere; however, last Saturday saw the final big wave of spring games and the last month has brought the conclusion of on-field work for most FBS programs. Now is a good time to reset the discussion of the best teams in the country.

The Crimson Tide ended 2020 at No. 1 in the CBS Sports 127, the comprehensive ranking of every FBS team by the experts here at CBS Sports and 247Sports, and are likely to retain that spot when the CBS Sports 130 is released ahead of 2021 kickoff.

As far as these post-spring rankings are concerned, Bama is joined in the top five by other familiar names. Clemson checks in at No. 2 followed by Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia in order. Of the top 10 teams in the post-spring top 25, eight finished last year also in the top 10. Only North Carolina and Oregon are new to the top 10, each seeing the benefits of New Year’s Six appearances and a spring practice sharpening the focus on College Football Playoff contention.

It seems like a big bounce back is expected from Big Ten teams like Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. Of the trio, only Wisconsin (4-3) finished the season with a winning record, though all three faced unique challenges due to the circumstances of the season. The additions of Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana — all teams that did fare well last season — give the Big Ten six teams in our post-spring top 25, the most of any conference.

The SEC has the second-most teams ranked with five (all in the top 16), followed by the Big 12 and Pac-12 with four each. The ACC is fifth among the Power Five with three teams ranked in the post-spring top 25, while the AAC and Sun Belt have one selection each.

We will return again in a couple months for an official 2021 preseason edition of the CBS Sports 130. This is just a taste-test of the landscape, asking those same voters for ballots with all the news and notes from spring practice in mind.

1Alabama13-01
2Clemson10-23
3Oklahoma9-25
4Ohio State7-12
5Georgia8-27
6Iowa State9-39
7North Carolina8-417
8Oregon4-331 – nice jump!?! 
9Texas A&M9-16 … Buffs will face a Top Ten team in Denver
10Cincinnati9-18
11Notre Dame10-24
12Wisconsin4-334
13Florida8-411
14USC5-119
15Miami (FL)8-322
16LSU5-552
17Texas7-320
18Iowa6-214
19Penn State4-554 … I guess the 0-5 start to 2020 never happened …
20Washington3-132
21Indiana6-216
22Arizona State2-242 – CBS: In Herm we trust (again) – (but still winless v. CU) 
23Michigan2-492 … based on? …
24Coastal Carolina11-113
25Oklahoma State8-321

—–

April 27th 

Top 25 appearances by Pac-12 schools 

… Lest we forget how good CU has been … and can be again … 

From WestCoastCollegeFootball …

AP Top 25 Appearances Over the Past 40 Seasons (1981-2020):

  • 1. USC – 419
  • 2. Washington – 331
  • 3. Oregon – 290
  • 4. UCLA – 277
  • 5. Colorado – 198
  • 6. ASU – 183
  • 7. Stanford – 182
  • 8. Arizona – 141
  • 9. Utah – 138
  • 10. WSU – 134
  • 11. Cal – 97
  • 12. OSU – 49
  • BYU – 226
  • Boise State – 165

 

—–

April 23rd

List of Nation’s Top 10 Juniors includes four players from the Pac-12 (No. 7 Jarek Broussard)

From BleacherReport.com … College football’s 2021 junior class is straight-up loaded.

How else can you explain why some legitimate conference Player of the Year candidates didn’t make our list of best juniors?

You may argue defensive stars such as Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV, Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton and Purdue’s George Karlaftis belong, and your beef would be legit.

Offensive playmakers such as Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Jerrion Ealy, Oklahoma’s Eric Gray, Clemson’s Justyn Ross, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., USC receiver Drake London, Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydermyer and Isaiah Spiller just missed the list. Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal easily could fit here too.

There are too many elite talents to list who didn’t make the cut.

Still, we whittled down the group using production, projection and potential to be a megastar.

8. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State Quarterback

7. Jarek Broussard, Colorado Running Back

A year ago, nobody could have predicted running back Jarek Broussard would have made a list like this. He wasn’t even a household name in his own program, much less in the Pac-12 or the nation.

Then came the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, and the third-year sophomore surged. He redshirted in 2018 and missed all of 2019 after a season-ending knee injury. Once he got the opportunity to run the ball while healthy, he was the best player in the Pac-12.

Last year, he won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year after running for 895 yards and five touchdowns in six games, leading the surprising Buffaloes to the cusp of the Pac-12 South title.

That didn’t take anything away from Broussard’s performance. He finished third nationally in rushing yards per game, and that was with restrictions, as he had to wear a knee brace.

“Personally, looking at film from last year I’ve noticed that the brace kind of restricted me to a lot of things,” Broussard said, according to Stay Alive in Power Five’s Lynn Harrington. “So this spring I’m going without the brace, and honestly I’m feeling a lot better and a lot faster.”

That’s huge news for a Buffs team that needs the Dallas native to be a superstar once again to continue to make noise in an improving conference.

6. Kedon Slovis, USC Quarterback

3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon Edge-Rusher

Read full list here

—–

April 22nd 

ESPN Football Power Index: CU’s chances at bowl eligibility sitting at 41%

From ESPN

  • 99.7%—Oregon
  • 98.9%—USC
  • 98.9%—Arizona State
  • 84.9%—Washington
  • 81.6%—Utah
  • 61.4%—UCLA
  • 61.1%—Stanford
  • 41.5%—Cal
  • 41.0%—Colorado
  • 32.7%—Washington State
  • 24.9%—Oregon State
  • 13.0%—Arizona

From ESPN’s FPI – Pac-12 chances at winning the Pac-12 conference … 

  • 46.2%—Oregon
  • 26.9%—USC
  • 14.9%—ASU
  • 4.3%—Washington
  • 3.0%—Stanford
  • 2.8%—Utah
  • 1.1%—UCLA
  • 0.4%—Cal
  • 0.3%—Colorado
  • 0.1%—OSU
  • 0.1%—WSU
  • 0.0%—Arizona

Pac-12 Combined coaches tenure (football and basketball):

  • 17—Utah (17 & 0)
  • 15—Oregon (4 & 11)
  • 15—Stanford (10 & 5)
  • 14—USC (6 & 8)
  • 12—Colorado (1 & 11)
  • 10—OSU (3 & 7)
  • 9—ASU (3 & 6)
  • 6—Cal (4 & 2)
  • 5—UCLA (3 & 2)
  • 5—Washington (1 & 4)
  • 3—WSU (1 & 2)
  • 0—Arizona (0 & 0)

—–

April 19th

Folsom Field: 19th “quietest” stadium in the country

From Big Game Boomer (couldn’t help but notice that six of the 25 quietest stadiums in the country were in the Pac-12, which lends one to believe that the author of the rankings hasn’t spent much time out west) …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But … they got this part right … 

 

 

 

—–

April 13th 

ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) – CU 8th in the Pac-12; Buffs have toughest schedule

From ESPN … No DeVonta Smith, no Mac Jones … no problem.

Alabama lost plenty of talent to the NFL, but it’s still the best team in college football and the national championship favorite, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) and the Allstate Playoff Predictor.

The Crimson Tide have a 31% chance to defend their title as national champions, substantially up from the 17% our model gave them at this time last season. Alabama also has a 76% chance to reach the College Football Playoff — again, best of all teams — and is a slight odds-on favorite to win the SEC at 51%.

So without Jones or Smith … or Jaylen Waddle … or Christian Barmore … or Patrick Surtain II, what’s driving Alabama’s No. 1 ranking and stellar projections?

Roster talent. Remember, this is a statistical model: It’s not giving bonus points for Bear Bryant or Joe Namath. But it does know Alabama is probably the best positioned team to replace top departing players given its steadily elite recruiting and Nick Saban entrenched as head coach. The Tide have signed 77 ESPN 300 players in their past four recruiting classes, which is 11 more than any other team.

At the same time, there’s still a 69% chance that the national champion isn’t Alabama. There are some significant challengers, which we’ll get to in a moment.

If you’ve gotten to this point and are wondering: What’s FPI? The short answer is that it’s our statistical rating and projection system for every FBS team in college football. It powers the Allstate Playoff Predictor, which models the College Football Playoff selection committee based on its past behavior to determine the likelihood of teams reaching the CFP. You can read more about how FPI works here. And if you want the full list of FPI’s rankings and projections — today or any day — you can find those at espn.com/fpi.

The Pac-12 is in trouble already

Even worse than usual, actually. I’m used to writing a gloom and doom paragraph about the Pac-12 in our annual preseason reveal, but not like this.

Last season, our model gave the Pac-12 a 28% chance to put a team in the playoff. This year: The entire conference has a cumulative 6% chance to reach the playoff, with Oregon making up five of those percentage points.

The Pac-12 has exactly one team (Oregon) in FPI’s top 25 — which is completely fine if that’s a dominant team. Instead, it is FPI’s No. 17-ranked squad. Don’t forget, the Ducks have a brutal nonconference game at Ohio State. USC, which sits at No. 26 and is the conference’s next-best hope, also has a tough nonconference game at Notre Dame. The lack of dominance and tough out-of-conference games hurt the chances of the Pac-12 champion having zero losses or one loss.

The Pac-12 FPI Rankings … 

  • No. 17 … Oregon
  • No. 26 … USC
  • No. 31 … Arizona State
  • No. 57 … Utah
  • No. 59 … Washington
  • No. 60 … Stanford
  • No. 62 … UCLA
  • No. 71 … Colorado 
  • No. 76 … California
  • No. 85 … Oregon State
  • No. 90 … Washington State
  • No. 102 … Arizona

Pac-12 Strength of Schedule ...

  • No. 49 … Colorado 
  • No. 56 … Oregon
  • No. 59 … Stanford
  • No. 60 … California
  • No. 63 … UCLA
  • No. 64 … Oregon State
  • No. 65 … Arizona
  • No. 66 … USC
  • No. 70 … Washington State
  • No. 76 … Utah
  • No. 78 … Washington
  • No. 83 … Arizona State

—–

April 4th

College Football News: CU is Oregon’s Trap Game

From College Football News … Fans assume a win, the players see it as just another game, and coaches lose sleep over everyone not taking it seriously.

They’re overlooked by the general public, and then they lead SportsCenter when the upset happens.

They’re the letdown games, or maybe they’re the sandwiches – the games in between the two supposedly more important, bigger battles.

On each Power Five team’s slate, there’s at least one game that should be a mail-it-in moment, but a bad day could screw up the entire season.

These all should be easy wins, but …

You’ve been warned.

Oregon Ducks

Letdown/Sandwich Game: Colorado, Oct. 30
Game Before: at UCLA
Game After
: at Washington

If Oregon plays up to its talent level – not necessarily a given – it should be at worst 6-1 before hosting the Buffs. No matter what, the trip to Washington will have something to do with the Pac-12 North race. Going to UCLA before getting Colorado doesn’t help.

Colorado Buffaloes

Letdown/Sandwich Game: Oregon State, Nov. 6
Game Before: at Oregon
Game After
: at UCLA

The Buffs have a relatively tough first half of the season without a ton of sure-thing wins, and they close out at UCLA, Washington, at Utah. There can’t be a misfire against Oregon State, but they’re coming off road games at Cal and Oregon.

Continue reading story here

Composite of preseason Top 25’s has five Pac-12 teams ranked

From SportsPac-12.com … Our SportsPac12 Preseason Composite Football Rankings aggregate 15 different media rankings (shown below) by assigning a No. 1 ranking the value of 25 points, a No. 2 ranking 24 points, and so on.

The rounded result is divided by 15 and subtracted from 25, yielding the composite rank. Scores of less than 25 points result in a composite non-ranking.

SportsPac12 Composite … 

  • No. 14 … Oregon … highest: No. 9 (College Football News) … lowest: No. 20 (Jon Wilner; The Sporting News)
  • No. 17 … USC … highest: No. 9 (ESPN) … lowest: No. 24 (NCAA.com)
  • No. 19 … Washington … highest: No. 12 (NCAA.com) … lowest: unranked (CBS Sports; The Sporting News; USA Today; Yardbarker)
  • No. 20 … Arizona State … highest: No. 17 (Jon Wilner) … lowest: unranked (by six of the 15 rankings)
  • No. 24 … Utah … highest: No. 11 (Stadium) … lowest: unranked (by 13 of the 15 rankings)

—–

April 2nd

College Football News – Best case scenario for CU: 7-5

From College Football News2021 College Football Predictions For All 130 Teams: Spring

Colorado Buffaloes

There’s hope after a strong first season under Karl Dorrell, but 2021 has one big issue – the schedule is a bear. The team should be fine – it’s a young group with a whole lot of promise – but the Buffs don’t catch too much of a break in conference play, and playing Minnesota and Texas A&M doesn’t help.

2018: 5-7 2019: 5-7 2020: 4-2
Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Realistic Worst Case Record: 3-9
2021 Prediction, Spring Football Version: 4-8

Sept. 3 Northern Colorado
Sept. 11 Texas A&M (in Denver)
Sept. 18 Minnesota
Sept. 25 at Arizona State
Oct. 2 USC
Oct. 9 OPEN DATE
Oct. 16 Arizona
Oct. 23 at Cal
Oct. 30 at Oregon
Nov. 6 Oregon State
Nov. 13 at UCLA
Nov. 20 Washington
Nov. 26 at Utah
– Full Schedule Analysis (shows you how much College Football News cares about CU … this link leads you to an analysis … of CSU’s schedule) …

April 1st 

Pac-12 odds of winning the national championship (CU in at 200:1)

From VegasInsider.com

  • 50/1—Oregon
  • 50/1—USC
  • 66/1—Arizona State
  • 66/1—Washington
  • 100/1—Stanford
  • 150/1—California
  • 150/1—UCLA
  • 200/1—Oregon State
  • 200/1—Washington State
  • 200/1—Colorado
  • 200/1—Utah
  • 250/1—Arizona

Athlon: CU 2021 Spring Preview

When Karl Dorrell was selected as the head coach at Colorado following the 2019 season, it was not met with loads of excitement. But after one year of the Dorrell era in Boulder, everyone has to be pretty happy.

Colorado won its first four games of 2020 and was in the New Year’s Six chase before losing to Utah in their final regular-season game. Even with a decisive loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl, Dorrell’s first year had to be considered a huge success.

Now comes year two and a chance to build the program even further. Here are some things to watch as Colorado opens spring camp.

5 Storylines to Watch During Colorado’s Spring Practices

1. Plenty of reps for young quarterbacks

Starting quarterback Sam Noyer will miss all of the spring sessions following recent shoulder surgery. This will give some of the younger signal-callers a chance to show off their skills. Brandon Lewis subbed in for Noyer in the Alamo Bowl and performed pretty well, going 6-for-10 passing for 95 yards. With Noyer coming off that injury and playing his final season for Colorado, Lewis will be looking to prepare himself for 2021 while also making a case to be the quarterback of the future. He will be pushed by J.T. Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee with three years of eligibility remaining.

2. Finding help for Jarek Broussard

Perhaps because the Pac-12 played a shortened schedule or because of an east coast bias, Broussard was one of the most under-appreciated running backs of 2020. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder from Dallas finished third nationally with 149 rushing yards per game. He also was second with 26 carries per game. That worked fine over a short season, but with a full 12-game slate on the way, Broussard will need a break now and again. Someone has to step up in a reserve role and Ashaad Clayton could be that guy. Colorado’s top recruit from its 2020 class, Clayton had just seven carries last fall.

3. Ball security

The Buffaloes turned the ball over 11 times in six games with six of those coming in the final two games. Seven of the giveaways were Noyer interceptions and though he will not be in action in the coming weeks, protecting the football and making the right decisions have to be drilled into the younger quarterbacks. Colorado returns much of their offensive firepower, with a deep receiving corps ready to complement Broussard. The Buffs cannot continue to take away scoring opportunities by turning the ball over.

4. Adapting to the defensive coaching changes

Dorrell shook up the defensive staff, though many of the faces are familiar. The unit will now be run by Chris Wilson, who was the defensive line coach in 2020. Mark Smith will instruct the inside linebackers and comes to Boulder from Long Island University though he also spent time at Oklahoma, SMU, and Arkansas. And safeties coach Brett Maxie has added the title of passing game coordinator. The Buffaloes have much of their defense returning in 2021 and this spring will be a time for these coaches to figure out the best way to utilize their personnel.

5. Linebacker holes

Akil Jones entered the transfer portal and will not be returning in 2021. Also, leading tackler Nate Landman is recovering from an Achilles tear suffered in the Utah game and will obviously be unavailable this spring. While he is expected back in the fall, someone will need to be ready to go in case there is a setback. Landman’s injury along with Jones’ departure makes linebacker a position to watch for the Buffs this spring. While there is still some experience at the position, youngsters like Joshka Gustav and Mister Williams will see plenty of reps.

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

—–

65 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. How long was it after allegations before AU finally dismissed Sweaty? at least 2 yrs…no?
    The charges against ASU are well documented right from the get go. Why they are allowed to play at all this year isnt FAIR. I think it was 83 who paraphrased that great line from “The Unforgiven” when Eastwood said “Fair has nuttin to do with it.” …especially when millions of dollars are involved.
    Fair didnt have much to do with either even before the NCAA was a toothless old chihuahua. Once in a great while some pundits viewpoint is appreciated like CFN’s caveat on ASU. The “writers” (and I use that term loosely) have piled on a lot of love on ASU but as Marcus said they are wrong half the time. So I guess its 50/50 fair might have a flicker of life yet if the cheaters dont win.

  2. Vegas insider?
    Can the real betting parlors in Vegas sue them for using the Vegas name?
    or is it worse than I thought and they really are a Vegas betting parlor?
    I wonder if they think dinner bell Mel is still here too?

    1. Dinner bell mel too… as in “Noyer needs to cut down on his miscues, and Colorado could be a surprise contender yet again in 2021. If not, redshirt freshman Brendon Lewis and incoming transfer J.T. Shrout could push Noyer out.” That too?

      Hello Vegas insider, is anybody there?

      Based on that alone, we should be making bets against them or what they say since they don’t even know who’s who.

      1. Wondering if such egregious misinformation is spewed out about other schools in their reports?

        Why can’t the Buff fans have nice things?

        Bowl Bound Buffs

  3. Had to drag my jaw across the floor to the breakfast table this morning. Thunderstruck when I saw a ranking I actually liked.
    Anyone putting money down on the tennis champion? Brings back lousy memories of the Buff tennis dingus who was always going after football players and whining about the tennis facilities when the Buffzone was taking comments. anyone remember his screen name? On second thought dont bother.
    From the bottom to the top we have Smith who has exposed my ignorance of all things PAC 12. I didn’t realize he had all those lofty stats. Anyone who gives lingering all the credit for their recent offensive success amuses me.
    What puzzles me is some of these coaches who at one time were athletes let themselves slide over to the fat side. Kelly looks more like an intervention candidate than a DB, then again he wasnt much of a DB to begin with.

  4. Those dingleberries at 24/7 didnt even give Jarek any love.
    No doubt in my mind all these preseason butt munchers are participating in what seems to be a practice trending on the national level here on what I call a Buff Wash. They are trying to pretend last year didn’t happen and they werent exposed as the biased and lazy slugs they are.

    1. The dingleberries as pointed out by EP.

      Yup the ol Mighty Buffs get disrespected again wouldn’t ya know.
      Last year was fluke, I mean look at the last two games. Destroyed.

      You have to assume a smashing of UNC don’t ya? (no more wackymacky nice guy HCKD?

      So A&M will totally set the arrow for the season. Followed by Minnesota. But it’s A&M. Neutral site. (Probably pro A&M crowd………..bet?)

      Well see what the coaches got or don’t got in this game. And the season goes on.

      Bowl Bound Buffs.

      Note: I have no idea what pissed off all the press against the Buffs. But it is there

      Note 2: I hope they are bringing their band. If they do, I may go.

  5. This isn’t FB, BB, Soccer, VB, Lacrosse or Golf……. or anything other than CYCLING !

    How about SEPP KUSS ??????????????????????????????????????????

  6. Sept. 3rd – Northern Colorado…………..win 63 to 14
    Sept. 11th – Texas A&M (in Denver) win 42 to 35
    Sept. 18th – Minnesota….win 36 to 27
    Sept. 25th – at Arizona State*…..win 42 to 35
    Oct. 2nd – USC*…..win 31 to 24
    Oct. 16th – Arizona*….win 42 to 24
    Oct. 23rd – at California*….win 36 to 20
    Oct. 30th – at Oregon*…..win 37 to 31
    Nov. 6th – Oregon State*….win 63 to 14
    Nov. 13th – at UCLA* ….win 31 to 28
    Nov. 20th – Washington*…win 42 to 27
    Nov. 26th – at Utah* win 24 to 21

    The Shrooms vote.

    Go Bu ffs

    1. I have been reading about shrooms being a positive tool in some psyche therapies. Maybe that’s why yon are such a well adjusted boy
      btw
      I would lower that 63 against UNC by maybe 20 or 25 hoping KD…or is it Chev?…will expose just enough of the play book for a win due the next game up.
      Otherwise it all looks fine. Praise the lord and pass the fungi

  7. In hat article they also mention top defensive coordinators
    No top 5 our honorable mention for the Buffs DC

    In the offensive coordinator category, Chev is ranked 5th. Right in the middle.

    Go Buffs.

    Note: Time to go big Buff coordinators

  8. My prediction for CU’s offense in the PAC12:
    QB top 5 – Lewis is going to be THE surprise of the conference.
    RBs top 4 – Stuart already hit this one, a two headed monster with good backups to them.
    WRs top 5 – maybe higher if the TEs are used well too.
    Offensive line top 6 – or better if no injuries. We’re watching you Turley we hope your as good as reported.

    That would all end up with the Buffs no worse than 3rd in the South and bowling, and if that happens KC and staff will be moving the Buffs up the food chain.

    1. With Broussard healthy you can put the RBs into the top 3…or maybe even better.
      WRs better too if Lewis is the surprise.

      1. I agree, but I was trying not to be too much of a homer;)

        CU could be a top three in a few of those categories or 8th or 9th for all we know at this time, that’s why they play the games… Let the games begin… in about 50 some days!

      1. That’s hilarious. Sadly for you, no such trauma in my life. Was fortunate to have ok coaches, and to have been a pretty damn good athlete. Not D1 good (although, possibly in wrestling) but I was over it by that point in my life. I’d moved well into other avocations.

        Go Buffs

  9. I am not going to try and count the number of these prognosticating pin heads that basically repeat the same things. God forbid they go out on a limb and embarrass their mommas.
    However I still think there is room for at least one more and desperately for one that can put a little sauce into it. I’m speaking of VK. Why stop with moving in with Stu, VK, when you can go nationwide with your herky jerky yet amusing style?
    Maybe there is a brave and verbose soul out there already that I am missing?

  10. wow
    Phil Steele had to try and outrank all the other rank rankers. Amazing how he was able to analyze in detail every single position in every single team in the country. Why do we even play the game?
    (thats a rhetorical sarcastic question, earache)

    1. Hey, at least homey recognized that Landman’s a stud, as is Carson Wells, and they may have a couple other dudes in the wings. I also thought ranking CU’s tailbacks at 20 “might” be a little low. It’ll be interesting to see how Broussard, Fontenot, and probably Clayton do this year.

      Go Buffs

  11. Wow,
    24 new faces on the Buffs

    Oh wait what is the big deal

    110 players
    4 classes
    hmmm makes sense

    But what is amazing
    is how young they are.
    They are always so young.

    Why is that?

    Go Buffs

    1. What stuck me was how JR heavy we are…and to your point light on SRs….I know this year is coming up, but the following year looks to be bright.

  12. Out of all the spin joints in the world the one at CBS sports has to be the worst.
    “keep your eye on none” (PAC)??
    needless to say I didn’t click on the link for the rest of the story…waste of time

  13. So, a RB from UW with only 17 carries… in TWO seasons is on a list of breakout stars, but two Buff RBs that have great production, one coming off a lost season due to injury and one coming in after a stellar, but shorten season don’t make the list?

    I mean Broussard played with a brace and an abbreviated season and as a top RB last season, is back and fully healed. And Fontenot was a very productive starter the previous season before an injury held him out last season. So how are these guys left out of a list of potential stars, while a player with only 17 carries, over 2 seasons is?

    I understand it’s potential, but these two have proven themselves as starters that could improve even more.

      1. I understand that and struggled a little with that post, but the #4,6 and even #10 our own Wells have somewhat impressive stats before this “break out season” while there are a ton of players on every team that have stats like the UW RB that could break out, that was really my point.

        Meanwhile, knowing the details about individuals on many teams would change those ranked, so it’s really compares to your complaint about those that get paid to know and write and what they actually know.

        It would be very difficult to write about all of the potential in one conference alone let alone all of the conferences, it just too many “potentials”.

  14. Carson Wells
    signed class of 2017
    3 star .8181
    Position rank 111
    State rank (fl)234

    Ht> 6’3″
    Wt. 220 lbs.

    Today
    6’4″
    250

    Like it eh

    Go big Wells Buff

    1. Not bad, eh? It’s funny. Whoever the coach and staff was from 2012 to 2018 actually did a decent job finding, evaluating and developing talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They got more guys into the NFL for CU than anyone had in a lllloooooong time. And, for the most part, those guys – whether in the NFL or not – seemed to be pretty high character guys too. Not “that” much trouble around town, that we know of.

      Midnight Mel’s guys seemed ok, but in hindsight, maybe that was more smoke and mirrors? Didn’t I just read that roughly half his class is gone already?

      Karl? So far, so good. He may be taking it up yet another notch, which is absolutely needed.

      He seems to like tapping his relationships from a lifetime in football, seeing if his playing and coaching friends’ kids wouldn’t mind playing for him. I like his approach to the free agency portal, too. My sense is that he recruited decently at UCLA too (with the help of Jon and Eric). But, that may just be because of Maurice Jones Drew, more than anything broader on the recruiting front.

      If they can stack some wins together this year, that recruiting should ramp up even further.

      Go Buffs

      1. If whoever was coaching from 2012 to 2018 spent more time coaching than crying, player developing than self-promoting, Maybe whoever that is would still be here. Maybe but probably not.

        1. Osu was his doom. But I think the well turned sour after the Tompkins deal. We will never know the story there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the beginning of the end of the relationship between Lance and mike.

          Go Buffs

          1. And all that is beside the point I was making. That guy elevated the talent of the roster. For that, I appreciate his time in Boulder. The program was better when he left than when he arrived.

            Go Buffs

          2. MickeyMac left CU the same as it was when he got here Middle of the road.

            Rick George built the deal. Mickey and his deranged babble almost destroyed it.
            He was fired way to late.
            Buffs

          3. His doom was pretending he was coach of the year.
            phony dude.

            That bull crap tour he went on put the sour taste in his mouth. Without the DC it would have been now bowl again.

        1. Not enough kids in the nfl to win more. More nfl caliber kids = more wins. 2016.

          Here’s to hoping kd gets more of em.

          Go Buffs

          1. Not enough success in the coaching staff to get more potential NFL guys let alone to coach em to be em. All those “supposed pro’s in 2016 were coached by the DC.

            Hopefully HCKD during his tenure does get more guys into the NFL but regardless the coaching is already better than “mickeymud ) years and he is just getting started.

            Buffs

          2. And I forgot to add.

            WacMac won how many conference games in his first 3 years?

            HCKD has won twice as many in his first.

            Okay that’s it. Go lend somebody something and no gouging
            (Smiling)
            Combined note:
            Dog faced pony soldier.
            Always liked that phrase
            Smoke em if you got em.

            and

            Don’t forget when you set up in company size perimeter defensive position in the Rubber, with no wire
            you have some of the claymores pointed inward.

            Don’t get confused after the action starts.
            Buffs

      2. Very bad eh. Mickey was the laughing stock pretending he was COY.

        Mickey didn’t even know his name.

        Gawd That guy almost set the Buffs back another 10 years. Lucky Rick got rid of him and let him go whining off into the sunset. It’s sad you still kiss that gardners arse, not seeing what he did. You must be his borther. or his lover.

        Go Buffs.

  15. I’m OK with CU being ranked 7th before the season, at least they are back above teams they should have never fallen below. UCLA & WSU have had their good years too, I think going back, UCLA a little more than WSU, but CU had their 20 years of winning too.

    Had CU not faltered, they would have came into the PAC12 more like Utah did, and the biggest difference in those two programs was their HC has been there for 12+ years (plus being assistant coach). Had McCartney stayed just 2 more years, how would CU’s future would have changed? Or if CU had hired Simmons instead of Slick Rick?

    Had CU came into the PAC12 winning 10 games a year, like they were prior to the fall, how would recruiting after joining the PAC12 improved? On a team that was already winning 10 games a year!??

    During the 5 wins seasons CU only won 2 or 3 conference games, if Dorrell can get them winning consistently against those five teams, bowl games will follow. Start winning just half of the games against the rest of the conference and assuming non-conference wins and CU would be back to 10 wins seasons.

    The Buffs have beaten 5 of the 6 teams ranked ahead of them, so really, I’m hoping Dorrell will get us back to there, first.

    Then we can start thinking about CU getting back on top.

  16. This probably isn’t the right thread, but has anyone heard anything about Texas AM guys buying tickets for the Mile High game? I got my tickets yesterday. I was wondering how many Aggies might be coming up for the game.

    1. Tickets aren’t available to the general public yet. Only CU season ticket holders are being offered tickets right now.
      If you look at the map which came with the email, the only sections being set aside for A&M are Sections 117-120 (where CSU students and band were during the RMS), along with Sections 523-526. In theory, if Buff fans are up to it, it will be 60,000-10,000 CU. Not going to happen, but there should be at least plenty of black and gold for the camera to see on the east side of the stadium.

    2. Even more so than Nebraska, Colorado is a favorite immigration destination for Texans. How many are A&M grads is unknown but A&M is notable for its petroleum engineers many of which work in the Colorado oil and gas industry. Add to that the emphasis on Army ROTC at A&M. Many of those grads are probably stationed at Fort Carson. Every one of these guys I have met are hard core fans and alumni. Actually hard core does isn’t adequate to describe it. Very few that live in Colorado will miss the game and there will be a host of others traveling up from whatever dismal spot in Texas they live in. These people identify themselves as Texans before they do as Americans and you can bet they will be cajoling every friend and acquaintance they have to join them at the game and even offer to pay for the tickets.
      In light of all these lone star zombies (and the brain dead pundits), this all boils down to what would be one of the most delicious upsets in decades for the Buffs…..almost as good as beating USC.
      Why not both? yeeee haw.

  17. The incessant over estimation of Frostie and the Cornholers by the media is puzzling to me. They have been a crap program for years now and Frostie has shown no signs of reviving it. I understand the sportsbooks. They are just trying to even out the odds and there are a lot of dumb a$$ Cornholers out there thinking this is the year willing to spend some of their unemployment checks betting on the Cornholers

  18. Sorry Jaaahn, I’m not going to use the word “umbrage” but I will say my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw the “husked” Frost ranked ahead of 3 PAC 12 coaches with winning records….only momentarily I might add once I realized again that this was CBS. As sports writers go, who mostly yank stuff out of their lower intestine, CBS seems to be one of those that find the most brown liquid to splatter on the screen.
    The South has never let go of the civil war so its probably a given sports writers will never let go of the cobbs no matter how long or far they fall.
    I am going to use a Doug Moe label when talking about Frost. The guy is a total “stiff” I have only seen him on the tube but his body language and facial expressions always make one think he has too much concrete brown matter firmly lodged in his lower intestine. I wonder if football is any fun for his players……whoops…but I digress way too far. Who cares?

    1. Regarding Frost’s fanking… err ranking (that was an honest typo, I just decided to keep it ; ) )

      Was it too high of a ranking being based pretty much only on the 13-0 season at his prior stop and the talent he had and should have had at corncob U; he should have won more. But he has fallen 22 spots in 2 years, maybe should have fallen more the first year, but they are always going to give the new “hotshot” coach that THEY see as a winner at a school that SHOULD win (their opinion, not mine) and they will always give them a pass for year one or two; i.e. Chip Kelly.

      But NEXT year I bet he’s below KD in his fanking… err ranking.

      Meanwhile KD, after being hired really late, after signing day no less, imagine the task that he accomplished just holding that class together, surprised everyone who thought the Buffs may win one game by winning four. He did that with no spring training or anything resembling normal, but through zoom, with limited fall prep, all while working with coaches he inherited or who were very late, last minute hires; one coach an O-line coach that none of us had heard of, turns out he seems to be a great hire. Now he’s made some seemingly good changes to the staff, I really like the S&C coach & the DC too and think both were not only an upgrade, but maybe the S&C coach will be one of the best hires.

      So, if KD can even muster a bowl game out of this year’s schedule (hoping/looking for more) and Frost crashes again this year, I bet you we’ll see Frost drop another 12 or more spots if fired.

      Question is all you Buff fans out there, where will KD end up ranked next year?

      Will 6 wins and a good bowl showing/win get him to 38? or 42? How many wins will it take to surpass Wilcox & Kelly? What record & ranking will Frost end up with?

      Give us your predictions. What about the other coaches in the PAC12?

      100 days until games, we might as well talk about something and we can’t be worst than some of those you guys that you guys loath so much.

      1. The fact that KD did what should have been done to get what he could out of the limited amount of time and acquaintance with his players for the success he had leads me to anticipate even better things for the coming season.
        Add to that:
        Wilson getting the D looking good early…along with the Barnes transfer
        Turley working his reputed body magic
        The depth at RB and WR
        Caveats include:
        Above average QB play first of all
        Landman playing like his old self
        KD helping DC through his brain freeze in the red zone and other critical situations including late game adjustments.
        The koolaid buzz has me skeered only for 3 games on the schedule. A&M, OR and USC due to all of their 4 and 5 star rosters. Make that 4. We always are looking for the first win over the arrogant trojans but with an extra shot of Buff koolaid con vodka I will be just as happy if we take out Utah at the end of the season.
        As much as I hate giving CBS any credit at all I will say that appears Kelly may finally be getting enough of his brand of talent as well to hold or improve his position.
        Shaw seems to be riding a little high based on performances in what is starting to become a distant past He really needs his brand of talent to succeed…..the hogs and a QB and I’m not sure who that QB will be….so maybe some more slide for him.
        After last year its hard to say how anyone of other first year coaches will do. I’m a Rolovich fan because of his offense so its only a guess if he comes up in the sacred CBS poll.
        Kinda hard on betting Helton to falter. I was really disappointed the Broncos didn’t take Fields in the draft. Sooooo in a perfect world Slovis will destroy everyone else this year, Buffs excepted because he will have eaten a bad burrito before the game, and the Broncos will be able to snag him in next year’s draft.

  19. Umbrage? how about couldnt care less about Wilner. Since he missed on predictions for every single PAC game one weekend a couple of years ago I quit listening to Wilner’s predictions. He gives KD gets no credit at all for his success in a covid crapped out year with extremely little time to prepare.
    Does anyone know if they have comment boards on Wilner’s articles in the silicon city rag? If they do I might subscribe just to troll Jaaaahn mercilessly. What a dweeb

    1. But then after you pay for your subscription and start the trolling, they would probably remove the posting feature like so many sites have.

      We get to post here because Stuart takes the time to manage this section.

      Thanks Stu.

  20. In order to take umbrage with Wilner’s take one would first have to respect his opinion. I do not this no umbrage taken

  21. So… Re: Landman, does the writer above know about Nate’s injury & surgery?

    OR

    Did he just look up PAC12 stats and write up what would be a “captain obvious” piece, if everything else was the norm? But, since there is no mention of coming back from the injury & surgery, along with the type of injury and the normal time frame for recovery and etc.; and how timing could effect Nate’s chances and one may think that the article may have been written by skimming info about the PAC12 and not actual research or knowledge of.

  22. Wow 40%

    Must be because of the Mighty Buffs tough schedule

    How many bowl affiliations does the pac12 have? Hopefully 9??

    Does that mean a 6-6 may get one.

    Sheesh I hate those bullshit projections.

    8-4

    Thats the post

  23. Love the article about nosiest and quietest stadiums. However, I was in Camp Randall, Autzen Stadium, and Husky Stadium as the Buffs were beating them soundly. You could only hear the Buff faithful. I was also at Folsom for 20-10 over the Bug Eaters. The folks in Red Polyester were silent, but Folsom was rocking. Love the Boulder was the #1 college town, and that USC was #64. How did Corvallis get to be #9? It rains for most games, and the best thing to do there is sit around and listen to the town rust.

  24. Yep, not too thorough. No mention of our two transfers (from Oklahoma and Norte Dame) to add some depth at linebacker

    1. That’s why I include the author’s info … “covering the ACC and Notre Dame” … CU not exactly on his radar …

      1. so they get this guy to write the CU review. Thats even more insulting. He reads maybe half of Howell….puts it in a slightly different sentence structure and then backs in to get his check. I wish these bird brains would ignore us altogether and then have to act real real surprised when the Buffs do make some noise.

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