DSA Roundtable: Pac-12 North and South favorites
The 2018 season is less than two months away so college football analysts Scott Reed, Dale Newton and A.J. Jacobson assemble once again to make some predictions. In this edition of DSA Roundtable we answer the question: Who is the favorite in the Pac-12 North and South for 2018?
Reed: The really bad thing, I think it is a two team race for the North. Washington is still the best in the division, but that margin has slimmed down over the past two years. They get Stanford at home and do not play USC in the regular season. I have them ahead of Stanford and I think that Oregon competes for that second spot in the division.
The South is wide open. USC has more talent than anyone in the division, but they lost a top ten quarterback to the draft and will be relying on either a true freshman or a redshirt freshman with no game experience. They play Stanford early which is bad timing for the Trojans. It looks like the South is a mess. Chip Kelly inherited a lot of talent, but a team with no discipline; ASU looks really messy. Arizona will be improved, but not enough to compete for a division title.
I am going to say USC wins it; but if there is a year where Utah could surprise people and win a division title, this might be the best chance.
Newton: Washington has a clear path to their second PAC-12 title in three years, as they get Stanford at home in November and don't face USC. They're blessed with tremendous senior leadership on a team that's went 12-2 and 10-3 over the last two years.
If you're looking for a door to chaos, the Huskies get tested early. They open with a neutral site game in the Georgia Dome against SEC contender Auburn and just two weeks later on September 15th, they face a tough road tilt in Salt Lake City versus Utah.. it's not impossible to envision a 1-2 start for the Dawgs, and a team with playoff aspirations could lose interest quickly after that. Drop another to Oregon in October, and there will be outright grumbling from the yachts on Montlake.
The South is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. USC has by far the most talent, but they're starting a new quarterback. The Utes are a tough physical team on the rise. Arizona has the conference's most dynamic dual-threat quarterback in Kahlil Tate, an opportunistic defense led by Colin Schooler.
The September 8th clash, USC at Stanford, provides some early clarity for both races.
Jacobson: The Pac-12 north has seen a bit of a power shift the last couple years with Washington on the rise and Oregon on the decline. The Ducks are the wildcard with a healthy Herbert and tons of talent. The Huskies will be favored to win the North and probably will with a healthy four-year starting QB Browning. But for them and the other top contender Stanford, the road goes through games in Eugene.
Pac-12 South will be another great race with the Trojans, Utes and Wildcats expected to be good in 2018. The Utes have a schedule advantage with USC and Arizona in Salt Lake City but face the toughest crossover games. USC is in search of a new starter at QB but have several good guys to choose from and tons of talent all around him. If they can win at Tucson they will win the South.