Published August 7, 2019

By William Whisler

Over the last two weeks, the Whiteboard has gone in depth in two of the Power 5 Conferences in College Football, the ACC and the Big 12.

A year ago, the PAC 12 had a ton of talent with seven teams competed in bowls, including Washington, who battled Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

The Pac-12 has often been a division rooted in stellar defense, the spread offense and with Mike Leach at the helm of the Washington State program, the Air Raid offense.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert decided to return to Eugene for his senior season and is clearly one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Can Oregon return to the national stage? Can Utah shock the country and claim the Pac-12 title?

Here’s a look at the Pac-12.

2018 Order of Finish (Conference, Overall)

North Division

Washington 7-2, 10-4 *

Washington State 7-2, 11-2

Stanford 6-3, 9-4

Oregon 5-4, 9-4

California 4-5, 7-6

Oregon State 1-8, 2-10

South Division

Utah 6-3, 9-5

Arizona State 5-4, 7-6

USC 4-5, 5-7

Arizona 4-5, 5-7

UCLA 3-6, 3-9

Colorado 2-7, 5-7

2018 Championship Game: Washington 10, Utah 3

*Conference champion 

2018 Bowl Results

2018 PAC 12 Bowl Record:3-4

Cheez-It Bowl: TCU 10, California 7 (OT)

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State 31, Arizona State 20

Sun Bowl: Stanford 14, Pittsburgh 13

Redbox Bowl: Oregon 7, Michigan State 6

Alamo Bowl: Washington State 28, Iowa State 26

Holiday Bowl: Northwestern 31, Utah 20

Rose Bowl: Ohio State 28, Washington 23

North Division:

Washington 

2018 Record: 7-2, 10-4 overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 26.4 PPG (8th in the PAC 12), 176.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (5th in the PAC 12), 238.4 Passing Yards Per Game (8th in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 16.4 PPG allowed (1st in the PAC 12), 116.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (2nd in the PAC 12), 190.1 Passing Yards Per Game (2nd in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: C Nick Harris, RB Salvon Ahmed, QB Jacob Eason (Transfer from UGA)

Defensive Key Returners: FS Myles Bryant, DE Benning Potoa’e

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 vs USC, Oct. 13 vs Oregon, Nov. 2 vs Utah

 Washington is a team coming off another 10-win season last year, but the heavy skepticism under former quarterback Jake Browning was that he wasn’t able to win any of the big games on a national stage other than the team’s two PAC 12 titles.

Jacob Eason enters as a transfer QB from Georgia with a big arm and a year of SEC experience. Eason, who grew up within 40 miles of campus, should excite the local fan base as they rally around what could be another stout Washington Husky football team. The Huskies lost a lot on a defense that was the best in the conference in points allowed, but always seems to develop strong talent in the secondary and up-front. The offensive line is huge as well and has a wealth of experience.

Expect big things for the Huskies in 2019.

Prediction: 11-1 (Loss to Oregon)

 Washington State

2018 Record: 7-2, 11-2 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 37.5 PPG (1st in the PAC 12), 77.7 Rushing Yards Per Game (Last in the PAC 12), 373.8 Passing Yards Per Game (1st in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 23.3 PPG allowed (5th in the PAC 12), 141.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (3rd in the PAC 12), 218.1 Passing Yards Per Game (4th in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Max Borghi, WR Dezmon Patmon

Defensive Key Returners: S Jalen Thompson

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 at Utah, Oct. 26 vs Oregon, Nov. 16 at Stanford, Nov. 29 at Washington

Washington State will have to replace the top passer in PAC 12 history when it comes to single-season numbers in Gardner Minshew, but the Cougars look up to the task in 2019.

The Cougars have become a legitimate threat in the PAC 12 with Mike Leach at the helm. Quarterback play is a staple in the Air Raid offense and Leach’s unit will show up ready to go. Washington State’s biggest challenge in 2019 will be replacing its quarterback and continuing its steady improvement on the defensive end. The Cougars are hoping to avenge a six-year losing streak in the Apple Cup (The yearly rivalry game vs Washington).

Prediction: 9-3 (Losses to Utah, Stanford and Washington)

Stanford

2018 Record: 6-3, 9-4 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 28.4 PPG (5th in the PAC 12), 107.9 Rushing Yards Per Game (11th in the PAC 12), 273.1 Passing Yards Per Game (2nd in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 22.9 PPG allowed (4th in the PAC 12), 146.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (7th in the PAC 12), 264.0 Passing Yards Per Game (11th in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB K.J. Costello, TE Colby Parkinson

Defensive Key Returners: LB Gabe Reid, CB Paulson Adebo

Toughest Games: Sept. 21 vs Oregon, Oct. 5 vs Washington, Nov. 16 at Washington State, Nov. 30 vs Notre Dame

Stanford enters 2019 with some frustration after what the Cardinal had hoped may have been a better season. Star running back Bryce Love struggled through injuries. Stanford dropped a few games and never was able to find footing to contend for the North Division title.

The Cardinal have had inconsistent quarterback play since Andrew Luck’s departure, but Stanford is excited to see what quarterback K.J. Costello can do with a full season of work. Costello came in and led Stanford to four consecutive wins after a heartbreaking loss at Washington a season ago.

Stanford needs to replace a lot of starters and has a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball entering 2019.

Prediction:  7-5 (Losses to USC, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Notre Dame)

 

Oregon

 2018 Record: 5-4, 9-4 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 34.8 PPG (2nd in the PAC 12), 179.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (4th in the PAC 12), 247.8 Passing Yards Per Game (7th in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 25.4 PPG allowed (6th in the PAC 12), 144.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (5th in the PAC 12), 241.6 Passing Yards Per Game (8th in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Justin Herbert, WR Brenden Schooler

Defensive Key Returners: LB Troy Dye

Toughest Games: Aug. 31 vs Auburn, Sept. 21 at Stanford, Oct. 19 at Washington, Oct. 26 vs Washington State

Oregon could have a fantastic season in 2019 after star quarterback Justin Herbert decided to forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season. Herbert is an elite talent and will be a legitimate threat to contend for the PAC 12 North Division title.

Oregon returns 12 players on offense from a season ago and brings in a talented wide receiver in transfer Juwan Johnson. Drops hurt Johnson’s value in a loaded wide receiver core, but if he can correct the issue, Johnson is an elite talent.

The biggest questions for Oregon come on the defensive side of the football where the Ducks allowed the sixth most points in the PAC 12 and gave up a lot of passing yards. Oregon lost an overtime game to Stanford and a close one to Utah a year ago. Look for the Ducks to be elite again in 2019.

Prediction: 11-1 (Loss to Washington State)

California

 2018 Record: 4-5, 7-6 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 21.5 PPG (12th in the PAC 12), 157.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (6th in the PAC 12), 186.2 Passing Yards Per Game (12th in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 20.4 PPG allowed (3rd in the PAC 12), 142.1 Rushing Yards Per Game (4th in the PAC 12), 175.1 Passing Yards Per Game (1st in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Chase Garbers

Defensive Key Returners: LB Evan Weaver, DB Camryn Bynum

Toughest Games: Sept. 7 at Washington, Oct. 5 at Oregon, Oct. 26 at Utah, Nov. 9 Washington State

California has a Top 20 defense in the country, yet the Golden Bears could only manage to win seven games a season ago, playing in the extremely competitive Pac 12 North Division. The Golden Bears return seven starters from last season’s defense that allowed just 20.4 points per game.

The Golden Bears will go as far as their offense can carry them. California scored more than 20 points in just six games last year. Even with a good defense, Cal needs to improve offensively to be competitive.

Prediction: 5-7 (Losses to Washington, Arizona State, Oregon, Utah, Washington State, USC and Stanford)

Oregon State

2018 Record: 1-8, 2-10 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 26.1 PPG (9th in the PAC 12), 155.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (7th in the PAC 12), 249.2 Passing Yards Per Game (5th in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 45.7 PPG allowed (12th in the PAC 12), 281.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (12th in the PAC 12), 254.9 Passing Yards Per Game (10th in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Jermar Jefferson, WR Isaiah Hodgins

Defensive Key Returners: DE Jeromy Reichner

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 vs Stanford, Oct. 12 vs Utah, Nov. 8 vs Washington

Oregon State comes into 2019 at rock bottom defensively, finishing 129th out of 130 teams in the FBS in scoring defense (45.7 PPG and 536.8 yards per game). The Beavers will have seven returners from last year’s team but will need to be much improved on defense.

The Beavers have a tough schedule in 2019 and are going to be at the bottom of the North Division once again.

Prediction: 3-9 (Losses to Oklahoma State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, California, Washington, Arizona State, Washington State and Oregon)

South Division

Utah 

2018 Record: 6-3, 9-5 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 28.1 PPG (6th in the PAC 12), 180 Rushing Yards Per Game (3rd in the PAC 12), 215.8 Passing Yards Per Game (11th in the PAC 12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 19.4 PPG allowed (2nd in the PAC 12), 100.3 Rushing Yards Per Game (1st in the PAC 12), 215.8 Passing Yards Per Game (11th in the PAC 12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Tyler Huntley, RB Zack Moss

Defensive Key Returners: CB Jaylon Johnson, DT Leki Fotu

Toughest Games: Sept. 28 at USC, Sept. 28 vs Washington State, Nov. 2 at Washington

Utah is coming off a season in which it quietly won the Pac-12 South Division before failing to show up against Washington in the Pac-12 Title Game. The Utes return quarterback Tyler Huntley who helped lead Utah to a 4-0 October a season ago against Stanford, Arizona, USC and UCLA.

The Utes defense was elite last year, and the squad returns seven players on that side of the football. The Utes return 15 players from last year’s team and will have a wealth of experience looking to build on a nine-win season.

Prediction: 10-2 (Losses to USC, Washington)

Arizona State

2018 Record:5-4, 7-6 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 29.9 PPG (4th in the Pac-12), 184 Rushing Yards Per Game (2nd in the Pac-12), 237.7 Passing Yards Per Game (10th in the Pac-12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 25.5 PPG allowed (7th in the Pac-12), 170.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (10th in the Pac-12), 232.7 Passing Yards Per Game (10th in the Pac-12).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Eno Benjamin, WR Kyle Williams

Defensive Key Returners: LB Merlin Robertson

Toughest Games: Sept. 14 at Michigan State, Oct. 12 vs. Washington State, Oct. 19 at Utah, Nov. 23 vs Oregon

Arizona State comes into 2019 looking to reach bowl eligibility and improve on a 7-6 year last season. The Sun Devils had an elite offense that returns seven starters despite losing star wide receiver N’Keal Harry to the NFL.

The Sun Devils do return an elite running back in Eno Benjamin and Herm Edwards is looking to build in his second season as the head coach of Arizona State. Expect the Sun Devils to be about the same from a year ago.

Prediction: 7-5 (Losses to Michigan State, Washington State, Utah, USC and Oregon)

USC

2018 Record: 4-5, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 26.1 PPG (9th in the Pac-12), 133.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (10th in the Pac-12), 249.1 Passing Yards Per Game (6th in the Pac-12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 27 PPG allowed (8th in the Pac-12), 164.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (9th in the Pac-12), 223.3 Passing Yards Per Game (5th in the Pac-12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB JT Daniels, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Defensive Key Returners: DE Christian Rector, DT Jay Tufele

Toughest Games: Sept. 7 vs. Stanford, Sept. 20 vs Utah, Oct. 12 at Notre Dame, Nov. 2 vs Oregon 

USC comes into the 2019 season after another disappointing season under coach Clay Helton. The team has a wealth of talent, but the team was sub .500 for the first time since 2000.

The Trojans have a tough schedule once again and their talent should lead to an improvement. The team seems to be poorly coached at times and close losses to Arizona State, California, UCLA and Notre Dame were all avoidable in 2018.

Prediction: 9-3 (Losses to Notre Dame, Arizona and Oregon)

Arizona

2018 Record: 4-5, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 31.3 PPG (3rd in the Pac-12), 202.4 Rushing Yards Per Game (1st in the Pac-12), 255.3 Passing Yards Per game (3rd in the Pac-12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 32.6 PPG allowed (10th in the Pac-12), 162.5 Rushing Yards Per Game (8th in the Pac-12), 269.5 Passing Yards Per Game (12th in the Pac-12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Khalil Tate, RB J.J. Taylor

Defensive Key Returners: DL Justin Belknap

Toughest Games: Sept. 14 vs Texas Tech, Oct. 12 vs Washington, Oct. 19 at USC, Nov. 16 at Oregon

Arizona struggled in its first season under coach Kevin Sumlin — especially defensively — where the Wildcats had the 98th worst defense in points allowed and a defense that ranked 121st out of 130 teams in passing yards allowed.

The Wildcats will need to be much better if they are going to contend in the Pac-12 in 2019. On the bright side, Arizona does have a quarterback that garnered a ton of attention as a top recruit in Khalil Tate. The senior returns having thrown 26 touchdowns and for more than 2,500 yards last season.

Prediction: 6-6 (Losses to Texas Tech, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah and Arizona State)

UCLA

 2018 Record: 3-9, 3-6

2018 Offensive Ranks: 24.6 PPG (11th in the Pac-12), 154.8 Rushing Yards Per Game (8th in the Pac-12), 237.8 Passing Yards Per Game (9th in the Pac-12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 34.1 PPG allowed (11th in the Pac-12), 199.4 Rushing Yards Per game (11th in the Pac-12), 245.5 Passing Yards Per Game (9th in the Pac-12).

Offensive Key Returners: RB Joshua Kelly, WR Theo Howard

Defensive Key Returners: DB Darnay Holmes

Toughest Games: Sept. 14 vs Oklahoma, Sept. 21 at Washington State, Oct. 17 at Stanford, Nov. 23 at USC

UCLA had a rough first year under coach Chip Kelly in his return to the Pac-12. The Bruins hope to return to a bowl game in 2019 after just three wins a season ago and it should be realistic goal for the Bruins to do so, but not one that I see them reaching.

The schedule does not do UCLA any favors, with a tough non-conference matchup with Oklahoma and a long road trip to Cincinnati.

Prediction: 4-8 (Losses to Oklahoma, Washington State, Arizona, Stanford, Arizona State, Utah, USC, California).

Colorado

2018 Record: 2-7, 5-7 Overall

2018 Offensive Ranks: 27.1 PPG (7th in the Pac-12), 143 Rushing Yards Per Game (9th in the Pac-12), 249.6 Passing Yards Per Game (4th in the Pac-12).

2018 Defensive Ranks: 27.3 PPG allowed (9th in the Pac-12), 145.6 Rushing Yards Per Game (6th in the Pac-12), 234.7 Passing Yards Per Game (7th in the Pac-12).

Offensive Key Returners: QB Steven Montez, WR Laviska Shenault Jr.

Defensive Key Returners: LB Nate Landman

Toughest Games: Oct. 11 at Oregon, Oct. 19 at Washington State, Oct. 25 vs USC

Colorado won the Pac-12 South just two seasons ago, but now after back-to-back 5-7 campaigns, the Buffaloes are hoping to make a change in 2019 with head coach Mel Tucker entering the fray.

Colorado’s offensive line has struggled in recent seasons and despite having 11 returning starters, 2019 could be harsh again for the Buffaloes. Expect a disappointing season for Colorado.

Prediction: 2-10 (Losses to Nebraska, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon, Washington State, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Washington and Utah) 

2019 Predicted Order of Finish

North Division

Washington 8-1, 11-1

Oregon 8-1, 11-1

Washington State 6-3, 9-3

Stanford 5-4, 7-5

California 2-7, 5-7

Oregon State 1-8, 3-9

South Division

USC 7-2, 9-3

Utah 7-2, 10-2

Arizona State 5-4, 7-5

Arizona 4-5, 6-6

UCLA 2-7, 4-8

Colorado 2-10, 0-9

2019 Championship Game: Washington vs USC

2019 Champion: Washington