Pre-Season Pac-12 North Power Rankings

Here is the Pac-12 South’s power rankings
 

All of College football has started their Fall Camps and as a result it is time for us at Sports With Neil to kick-off our college football coverage for the 2012 season, mainly Pac-12 coverage. Now this coverage will mainly be based off of our observations and what the fantastic SBNation blogs for all the schools in the Pac-12 (Minus BruinsNation, that place is a mess). As for observations we will have the new Pac-12 Network and its website to help us keep up with the comings and goings of Pac-12 football.
Speaking of Pac-12 football on August 30th a Pac-12 team becomes the second college football squad in the country to kick off their season. That Pac-12 team would be the Washington State Cougars at Brigham Young University Cougars; these two squads will be the second game of the night on August 30th, being the night cap of ESPN’s Opening Night Coverage. And since we are so close to kick-off (not) I thought now would be a good time to take a look at my Pac-12 pre-fall camp power rankings

Pac-12 North:
  1. Oregon Ducks: The only thing that could really have threatened Oregon’s position at the top of the Pac-12 North was if Chip Kelly actually went to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the loss of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas to the NFL (well LMJ was drafted, Darron Thomas wasn’t drafted but is trying out for NFL squads).  The Ducks appear to be in good hands as they have the ever talented burner in DeAnthony Thomas (whom set several Oregon Freshmen records) to step into LMJ’s shoes. And at Quarterback they have Brian Bennett (whom saw a lot of playing time against the Pac-12 last year) and highly touted and talented Red Shirt Freshmen Marcus Mariota battling for the starting spot. 
    Add in the fact that there are a bunch of returning starters on each side of the ball and the fact that Chip Kelly is indeed staying in Eugene and it looks like the Ducks are poised for another epic year near the top of the Pac-12.
  2. Stanford Cardinal: Despite the loss of their head coach to the NFL prior to the 2011 season the Cardinal managed to win 11 games and advance to a BCS game. Now Stanford is trying to replace a first overall draft pick in Quarterback Andrew Luck. They also lost several key members of their defense last year. However, it doesn’t look like Stanford will be dealing with a rebuild; it looks like Stanford will be going through a restock instead. 
    The Defense and their offensive line still appears to be strong/deep and Stanford is returning their 1,000 yard rusher from last year in Stefan Taylor who ran for 1,330 yards and was just as crucial to the success of the Cardinal offense as Andrew Luck. All of this adds up to a nice comfy landing spot for the QB who will try and fill some giant shoes, whether it be Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes. A strong defense plus a good running game is why I feel comfortable keeping the Cardinal in second in the Pac-12 North.
  3. California Golden Bears: The Bears have a pretty good defense and a solid offensive line and core of running backs. In other words the same thing that I expect to keep Stanford as dominate as they were under Andrew Luck.  But unlike Stanford Cal gets to retain their starting QB from last year, but that doesn’t make Cal fans all that excited. 
    Zach Maynard made several key miss throws last year that cost Cal a couple of games late (the game in Seattle for example). But those are throws that a second year quarterback should make. He should learn from his mistakes and as a result Cal’s offensive should be more effective. That’s why I expect Cal to finish higher in the north and win more ball games this year than they did last year. 
  4. Washington Huskies: One of six teams that beat the Golden Bears last season and they are returning most of their starting offense from last year. So why do I have the Golden Bears ranked higher than the Huskies? Its cause of three things; the loss that the Husky offense did suffer, their weak offensive line. The second thing would be their atrocious defense that failed so spectacularly during the Alamo Bowl
    The loss that the Husky offense sustained is Chris Polk’s decision to enter the NFL draft. Polk was a one man wrecking crew and the weak Husky offensive line couldn’t even stop him. Now that Polk has left you have Sophomore Bishop Sankey who is a good back; but he’s a bit of a side to side runner and those kind of runners do best behind strong offensive lines. Also a strong offensive line can keep Keith Price on his feet, kind of necessary for the Huskies to score points and win games with their bad defense
  5. Oregon State Beavers: We very well could be seeing the last of Mike Riley’s days as the head coach of the Beavers. After a 5-7 season in 2010 and a 3-9 season in 2011, Riley’s seat has become rather warm. Startinga Red Shirt Freshmen Sean Mannion over Junior Ryan Katz last year made a few eyebrows rise. Now the team that finished fifth in the Pac-12 North looks to have a second year QB who has improved to go along with their still strong running game. 
    This is why I expect the Beavers to remain in fifth in the Pac-12 North, right above the team they absolutely humiliated last year. 
  6. Washington State Cougars: The Cougs had reason for optimism before last season and they watched it all go up in smoke when Jeff Tuel went down. But Marshall Lobestael wasn’t that bad and the Cougs seemed to be in the thick of their games, finally. Unfortunately for Paul Wulff that was too little too late and he got the axe and Offensive genius Mike Leach was hired in his place. 
    It’s not like the Cougs had any issues with offense last season; they had the 9th most passing yards per-game the country, and that was without their starting QB, it was their defense that let them down. The talent just isn’t there on the Cougar defense and the offensive line is just a sieve. Not the best combination when you want to win ball games. We’ll see how Leach’s system works with the talent available, but as of right now I expect them to remain at the bottom of the Pac-12 North.

    Poor Tyree Toomer
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