USC Trojans: 12-0 (9-0)
What do you get when you put together a top-5 quarterback, the best receiver corps in the nation, and a potent running game behind a strong offensive line? The most explosive offensive unit in the nation, and that's exactly what USC has going for it right now. It was already highly regarded as the top offense in the Pac-12, but with the addition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd at running back, there's no doubt that its my preseason No. 1. The only thing that will hold the Trojans back from a national championship is their depth on defense. If the injury bug stays away—especially on the defensive line—then it should be a straight shot to Miami.
Utah Utes: 10-2 (7-2)
Utah could be a threat to USC this fall if it can keep quarterback Jordan Wynn healthy. For that to happen, the new faces on the offensive line need to stay consistent and help produce a run game for a balanced offensive attack. The defense looks strong on paper, but will need more contribution from its young linebackers. The Utes have a pretty easy schedule and could make some noise with it if the Trojans slip once or twice.
UCLA Bruins: 5-7 (4-5)
Longtime NFL coach Jim Mora was hired this offseason to finally put an end to UCLA's football woes and eventually erase the "underachiever" name given by fans and analysts alike. He's already put together a strong recruiting class for '12 while hiring a good-looking coaching staff. Now he just has to get over the hurdle on the field, which could be difficult considering his offensive line is inconsistent and the defense couldn't work up a pass rush to save its life.
Arizona Wildcats: 4-8 (3-6)
With eight disappointing seasons under the books, Bob Stoops was replaced by Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats' style of play will be significantly different: Inserted is the spread-option offense with the exclusive 3-3-5 stack on defense. Rodriguez is a much better fit in the Pac-12 rather than the Big Ten, and his ideas will work—just not right away. The 'cats need a lot of work in the passing game and defensive front seven before even thinking about competing again for the South.
Colorado Buffaloes: 3-9 (1-8)
The last time Colorado finished with a winning record was 2005. Since then, its teams have combined for 24 wins and 50 losses. That leaves the Buffaloes with about four wins on average, which sounds about right for 2012: There are far too many holes among the roster for CU to stay above .500, including one of the worst secondaries in college football.
Arizona State Sun Devils: 2-10 (1-8)
First-year coach Todd Graham has a long way to go before he can dig the Sun Devils from the hole former coach Dennis Erickson left them in. A three-way quarterback battle has not been settled, which at this point means there's no one that's stepped up. The receiver corps is very light-weighted. The entire defense will be soft, especially after losing linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the middle to at least slow down the run. The only thing Arizona State has going for it this year is a solid backfield, which won't mean anything if the offensive line can't open holes.
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