Earlier today, ESPN.com Pac-12 bloggers Kevin Gemmell and Ted Miller teamed up to write the Pac-12 post-spring power rankings. The Pac-12 clearly has depth and talent at the top this season and can compete to be possibly the second-best conference in college football this season, behind the SEC.
July 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian talks to the media during PAC-12 Media Day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Miller and Gemmell rank the schools as follows
"StanfordOregonArizona StateUCLAWashingtonOregon StateUSCArizonaUtahCaliforniaWashington StateColorado"
And here is what they wrote about the Huskies
"The Huskies welcome back 20 starters for the re-opening of a renovated Husky Stadium. It’s fortuitous that this looks like coach Steve Sarkisian’s best team. The biggest question was whether quarterback Keith Price would bounce back from a poor 2012 season. His strong spring, as well as improved play from the offensive line, hints that this could be a Top-25 team."
It sounds like the Pac-12 bloggers are pretty high on the Dawgs this season, just not high enough to rank them in the top quarter of the conference. Surprisingly, the rankings aren’t North-heavy, as many people think the conference is.
Cal and WSU are the North representatives in the bottom of the rankings. The Bears always seem to have quality talent and underperform, but now have less talent, so maybe they will exceed expectations.
ASU is a team that is going to surprise a lot of people this season, even after surprising some last season, too. Like they state in the article, both ASU and UCLA return 16 and 13 starters, respectively. Both those numbers pale in comparison to the 20 the Huskies return, however.
Obviously, both these teams are very talented, but seeing as the arguments used for ranking them so high are based upon returning starters, it surprises me that UW isn’t ranked higher. No. 5 would probably be accurate for any of the teams ranked three through six, including Oregon State.
The top of the conference is pretty set with Stanford and Oregon being top-5 teams (unfortunate for UW!) and the bottom as well, with Colorado and WSU being the cellar dwellers once again.
Between them, there seems to be two categories. The “high-middle” and “low-middle” teams. Those groups are comprised of ASU, UCLA, UW, Oregon State and USC in the “high-middle” and Arizona, Utah and Cal in the “low-middle.”
I think all those teams are going to battle and be fairly evenly matched throughout the season, but the “high-middle” teams have a better chance at gaining elite status similar to Oregon or Stanford, while the “low-middle” have a better chance at falling to the level of WSU or Colorado.
Overall, after the dust of spring practice has settled, I think Miller and Gemmell did a very accurate representation of the conference. ASU, UCLA and UW could be rearranged in any order and make sense. The same can be said for Oregon State, USC and Arizona, I think.
We’ll release our version of the post-spring practice power rankings later this week.