UCLA Leads Early Pac-12 South Division Rankings
There is some serious talent on both UCLA and USC’s roster this season, along with great leadership in both head coaches.
So which team are you putting stock in?
Whoever you choose, the winner of the south division will be put the grinder, as there are three serious contenders in this group. Let’s take a look at who is considered the favorite going into the season:
1. UCLA Bruins
No question, UCLA is hands down the best team in the Pac-12 South. Jim Mora has all the weapons at his disposal, including his Heisman candidate quarterback Brett Hundley, who turned down the NFL for one more shot at greatness this season. His offensive line should be improved and he has been working to gain even more chemistry with his receivers. The 2013 freshman sensation Myles Jack will be focusing solely on defense this year and should lead the unit in tackles this season. I’d be shocked if this team wasn’t playing in the Pac-12 Championship.
2. Arizona State Sun Devils
The off-season has been a case of extremes for head coach Todd Graham. On the offensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils are set. Star quarterback Taylor Kelly is returning and will be expected to put up massive numbers. The defense on the other hand loses almost everyone. The team needs playmakers to step up on defense and make a name for themselves. I expect this team to be in plenty of shoot outs this season and win most of them. The good news for the Graham is they’ll host both UCLA and Stanford in Tempe this year.
3. USC Trojans
The Trojans return 19-of-24 starters from last season, including quarterback Cody Kessler—who only threw one interception over his last five games in 2013. New coach Steve Sarkisian is looking to get back to the old Southern Cal dominance, fast. He is dealing with some scholarship limitations, which leads to depth issues and problems late in the season. But if you trust in Sarkisian, this team has the potential to knock off UCLA for the top spot in the south. I’m still skeptical; you have to stop a guy name Hundley to do that.
4. Arizona Wildcats
Rich Rodriguez has this program going in the right direction (back-to-back 8-5 seasons) and is making progress on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats could improve even more on defense in 2014, as most of last year’s starters are returning. So what about the offense? We all know how Rodriguez likes his offense to run, but he may have a problem after losing his starting quarterback B.J. Denker. On top of that, running back Ka’Deem Carey left for the NFL. It may be a rough year, as Arizona will face Oregon, USC and UCLA in a four-week span.
5. Colorado Buffaloes
Mike MacIntyre had a young team last season and I believe the group will be matured for 2014. Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau has a full year of experience under his belt, throwing for 1,779 yards and 12 touchdowns. If Liufau can blossom this season, I expect the offense to go with him. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Addison Gillam needs to lead the way. If the Buffaloes can improve its pass rush, expect good things from this young group.
6. Utah Utes
Things are looking dark for the Utes in 2014. Quarterback Travis Wilson has gotten the “okay” from the doctors to begin practice. Wilson wasn’t live for the spring game but is expected to start for the Utes again this season, barring major setback. He’ll have his stud receiver Dres Anderson to go in times of need, which could be quite often.