The PAC-12 South should be very top-heavy this season. UCLA has the best duo of players in returning in redshirt junior quarterback Brett Hundley and all-everything player Myles Jack. But, the Bruins will be tested by USC, Arizona, and Arizona State and will not go undefeated but should win the PAC-12 South.
Now, here is a look at my 2014 preseason predictions for the PAC-12 South division this season.
1. UCLA (10-2, 7-2) The talent and toughness are all there for a championship run for head coach Jim Mora. There are multiple tricky contests away from Pasadena all throughout the schedule. The trip to Arlington to play Texas along with conference trips to Washington and Arizona State will not be easy at all. The other issue is that there has been a key game under Jim Mora during the season where the Bruins have come out flat such as Arizona State at home in 2013. That has to change for UCLA to be a playoff team this season.
2. USC (9-3, 6-3) The biggest concern with this Trojan team is depth on both sides of the ball. The loss of redshirt freshman defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow will be a hit especially if USC loses another defensive line starter.The road trips to Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona are going to keep the Trojans from winning the PAC-12 South this season as that will wear this team down by November.
3. Arizona (8-4, 5-4) Head Coach Rich Rodriguez should find a quarterback by the time conference play starts and the Wildcats will be able to outscore enough teams offensively. The loss of running back Ka’Deem Carey to graduation will not be easy to replace. However, there is ample depth on the outside at receiver to compensate for the loss of Carey. The defensive depth and talent is continuing to grow which will only make Arizona that much more dangerous.
4. Arizona State ( 7-5, 4-5) The Sun Devils have lost too much on the defensive side of the ball to defend their PAC-12 South Division championship in 2014. Senior Quarterback Taylor Kelly returns to lead an offense that will be tough to slow down. But, in the end look for Arizona State to be on the short end of multiple shootouts this season.
5. Utah (3-9, 1-8) This has been a tough transition to the PAC-12 after an initial Sun Bowl appearance for the Utes. The lack of stability at quarterback is a huge concern. That is why Utah will continuously struggle in the PAC-12 until they fix the quarterback position. Overall, the fans in Salt Lake City will need patience with this program.
6. Colorado (3-9, 1-8) The Buffaloes will be better but it won’t show up in the win column. The key to improvement for Colorado will be sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau. Liufau, had some bright spots in his freshman season but also struggled to keep the Buffaloes in games as he had a lack of quality skill position players. The 2015 season should bring a return to a bowl game for Colorado.