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2014 Pac-12: Predicted Order Of Finish
3. Washington State
5. Oregon State
2. Arizona State
3. Southern Cal
Conference Championship: Oregon over UCLA
Why Oregon: I felt like the Pac-12 was the best conference in the land last year from top to bottom, and it looks like it could be that way again. The potholes are many, and Oregon will need to be in one of those vehicles they show on TV dodging Stegosaurus, driving 60 over hot lava as a volcano spews from behind, or plowing through the Amazon for some reason with a surfboard tied to the top of the hood. But the Ducks have Marcus Mariota, they get Stanford at Autzen, and they just have veteran leadership everywhere. ACLs have been the issue, however, with staring left tackle Tyler Johnstone and wide receiver Bralon Addison on the mend for good. I still like them. Don’t care if no one else does. Bet your friends a case of brew on the Ducks. And none of that cheap stuff. Make your friends pony up.
Suprise of the conference: Washington State. Mike Leach typically works magic quickly, and the Cougars went from “this looks like it’s going to take forever” to “wow, look at how much they’ve improved” in one year. You’ve got to love where this program is going. Leach has a veteran quarterback and play makers. Avast ye matey, the Cougs be coming.
Disappointment: Southern Cal. Look, this doesn’t mean they’ll suck. But let’s be honest, it’s a new regime, the schedule is typical Trojan tough, and while the defensive talent is immense, I think depth is a fair question. It’s not the “Katy Perry’s music” depth of maybe two years ago, but sanctions aim at hurting teams in the long run. They’re around an 8-win team, I reckon, but with UCLA soaring and USC being USC … well, they expect more.
Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. In the end, it’s probably he or UCLA’s Brett Hundley, two of potentially the three best quarterbacks in the nation along with the obvious, Mr. Winston in Tallahassee. It’s weird to think Oregon, which seemingly has been on the cusp of a title for years, is due, but it just feels like the Ducks are. Mariota will flourish behind a veteran offensive line and play in whatever that College Football Playoff thingy is. Mark it down. Write it on one of those Bud Light bottles with the label you can put messages on, and pass it down the bar to everyone you know.
Breakout player: River Cracraft, WR, Washington State. Aside from having a great name, Cracraft asserted himself well late in the season and was sensational with 125 yards in the New Mexico Bowl. Obviously, being in Mike Leach’s pass-happy system helps, but so does talent. Take the over on Washington State, and you might end up winning on the River. Also, that’s the worst pun ever used in an article, and probably the most forced. That said, he’s good. Tell your friends.