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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

12-Pac of Power Rankings

No. 3 Oregon

A loss in the BCS National Championship last season has done nothing to Oregon’s confidence coming into this year and the Ducks should still be primed to keep their run going. Although Oregon has to fill the void at the wide receiver position left by Jeff Maehl and DJ Davis, who combined for 1,546 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, the cornerstones of its offense are still there. Heisman finalist LaMichael James and gunslinger Darron Thomas both return to pace the Oregon offensive , and as long as head coach Chip Kelly is on the headset for the Ducks, it should be a quick shot to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game.

Beer Selection: Stella Artois

No. 7 Stanford

After preseason consensus No. 1 pick for the 2012 NFL Draft pick Andrew Luck decided to return to the Cardinal for his senior year, Stanford skyrocketed to the top of both major polls. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, however, was poached by the San Francisco 49ers in the off-season and he took defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with him. Now coach David Shaw’s co-coordinator front is creating skepticism about Stanford’s defense. If Luck stays hot like he was the entire season last year, then there’s plenty of reasons to believe that Stanford will be playing at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2

Beer Selection: Fat Tire

*Oregon State *

The Beavers have been stuck in the shadow of both Oregon and Stanford for the last couple of years, and it doesn’t look like much is going to change this season. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers was one of the most dominant backs in the nation last year, and the hole will be tough to fill for the OSU ground game. With the loss of tackle Stephen Paea, the Beavers will also be concerned with a weakened defensive line. Junior quarterback Ryan Katz returns after a successful 2010 campaign, where he completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,401 yards.

Beer Selection: Boston Lager

California

There’s some speculation as to whether head coach Jeff Tedford is in the hot seat. The Golden Bears didn’t make a bowl last season, and with the loss of Shane Vereen, the offense won’t be producing as many numbers on the ground as it has in the past. However, the Bears have greater mobility at the quarterback position thanks to junior Zach Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo. And last year’s leading receivers Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen return as threats to Maynard’s dynamic game. The Bears should cruise through their non-conference schedule, but if they want a bowl bid, they’re going to have to work for it.

Beer Selection: Tecate

*Washington *

Running back Chris Polk returns after running for more than 1,400 yards last season and comes in as the second best back in the conference. But with Jake Locker now in the NFL, the adjustment to new quarterback Keith Price could hurt the Huskies in the long run. Starting his third year at the helm, head coach Steve Sarkisian has yet to give the program real reason to keep his job secure and this year could be a make or break season for him as well. The Huskies can’t contend with Stanford and Oregon, so it’s essentially a battle for third and whatever bowl bid comes along with it.

Beer Selection: Coors Light

*Washington State *

They’ve been the cellar dwellers of the conference for years, and unfortunately it looks the same for the Cougars this season. WSU returns junior quarterback Jeff Tuel, whose surprising play last season accounted for 2,780 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Wazzou offense. WSU also returns its leading receivers from last year in Marquess Wilson and Jared Karstetter, who combined for 1,664 yards and 13 touchdowns. If the Cougs are lucky they might be able to squeeze out a win over Washington or Cal, but as of now it looks like they be fighting Colorado for the conference’s worst record.

Beer Selection: Natural Light

No. 25 USC

Although the Trojans are ineligible for postseason play, they’re without a doubt the Pac-12 South’s most talented team. USC returns quarterback Matt Barkley, who may be the top signal-caller in the conference, along with a staple of running backs, including the Trojan’s rushing leader last year, Marc Tyler. Leading receiver Robert Woods — who led the team in all-purpose yards after averaging nearly 140 total yards per game while doubling as a kick returner — also returns for his sophomore season, along with junior safety T.J. McDonald, who led the Trojans with 54 solo tackles in 2010.

Beer Selection: Blue Moon

ASU

The Sun Devils might not have a proven starter at quarterback, but Brock Osweiler has shown that he’s adequate enough to not to cost ASU any games. And linebacker Vontaze Burfict is one of the conference’s top players. The Sun Devils return six starters off the defense that led the Pacific 10 Conference in rushing defense a season ago, but linebacker Brandon Magee is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon and corner Omar Bolden is also out for the year after tearing an ACL during spring practice. The ASU offense will have big play capabilities, but it may struggle to consistently put together long drives.

Beer Selection: Heineken

Arizona

A trendy pick to be one of the Pac-12’s worst teams in 2011, the Wildcats are too talented to be a bottom-feeder in the conference. Returning two potential All-Americans in quarterback Nick Foles and receiver Juron Criner, Arizona will have an explosive offense. But questions arise on the defensive side of the ball after the Wildcats lost three defensive ends to the NFL draft. If the Wildcats can win one game during their brutal three-game stretch (against Stanford, Oregon and at USC) to open conference play, they’ll have a shot to make it to the conference’s inaugural football championship game.

Beer Selection: Corona

Utah

Utah is a talented team, but the Utes’ depth will be tested in the school’s first season in a BCS conference. Junior quarterback Jordan Wynn is just another name to add to the Pac-12’s list of top quarterbacks, boasting an 11-4 career record as Utah’s starter. But Utah’s secondary struggled against top quarterbacks in 2010, losing all three games against above-average opponents TCU, Boise State and Notre Dame. The offense should get a boost from the addition of offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who left UCLA to join the Utes during the offseason. The Pac-12 South schedule also isn’t in Utah’s favor — the Utes travel to both USC and Arizona.

Beer Selection: MGD

UCLA

The good news for UCLA is that the Bruins return eight starters off of the 2010 defense. The bad news is that defense ranked ninth in the conference in both scoring and total defense last year, and it’s without linebacker Akeem Ayers, who now plays for the Tennessee Titans. UCLA brought in highly touted quarterback recruit Brett Hundley, but he missed much of the Bruins’ fall camp after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow bolted for Utah during the offseason, which disrupts the little continuity the Bruins had on offense entering 2011.

Beer Selection: Bud Light

Colorado

Colorado has lost 18 consecutive games away from Boulder, Colo., entering 2011, and that’s not going to be easy to reverse with the Buffaloes’ schedule. CU travels to Hawaii, Colorado State and Ohio State out of conference, and Stanford, Washington, ASU, UCLA and Utah in Pac-12 play. Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen will lead the Colorado offense after winning the starting job during the spring. But he may have been named the starter by default — he’s the only quarterback on the roster that’s taken a snap in college.

Beer Selection: Milwakee’s Best

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