PAC-12 2020 Preview
by Jace Garcia
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are into November and PAC-12 football is about to start its college football season. With the PAC-12 only playing 6 games the winner of the conference might find itself another year without a representative in the College Football Playoff. This is how I see the PAC-12 coming into the season before we actually see the football play out.
Who will be crowned the PAC-12 champion in December? Going into the season the frontrunner to take the conference championship but also the best representative of the PAC-12 in the College Football Playoff is Oregon. The Ducks lost a solid quarterback to the Los Angeles Chargers in Justin Herbert and a top 2021 NFL draft prospect on the offensive line in Penei Sewell, who opted out, however, they still have a solid defense that can help take them to the top of the PAC-12. Coach Mario Cristobal has the Ducks on the right path to repeat as PAC-12 champions.
Who will meet Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game? The frontrunner to come out of the PAC-12 South is USC, who if they can handle business beat Oregon in the PAC-12 championship could also find themselves in the College Football Playoff hunt. They have a returning Sophomore quarterback in Kedon Slovis who performed well last year and expected to be the best quarterback in the PAC-12 in the 2020 season. However, Slovis is missing a big target in Michael Pittman Jr., who was drafted by the Colts. The Trojans do have a tough test in week one as the host Herm Edwards' Arizona State and on November 21st USC travels to the defending PAC-12 South champions, Utah.
Who are some other teams to look out for in the PAC-12? I think another real contender in the PAC-12 is Arizona State, who might have a future Heisman quality quarterback returning in the Sophomore Jayden Daniels who was the best Freshman quarterback in the nation last season. But they do also suffer from key losses in running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to the NFL Draft. The Sun Devils could make a big statement off the rip if they can defeat USC on the road week 1. Another interesting team in the PAC-12 is the defending representative of the PAC-12 South in the PAC-12 championship game in Utah. The problem with the Utes going into this season is they lost their quarterback, running back, and multiple key defensive players, as well, really put me down on Utah this season. The only bright spots on the Utes to look out for is the transfer quarterback from South Carolina, Jake Bentley, and returning tight end, Brant Kuithe.
The PAC-12 could be very interesting this season and I am excited to see how it plays out. I am also intrigued to see how the PAC-12 will affect the current College Football Playoff picture. Overall I am really excited to see PAC-12 football back, but with the season being so short the PAC-12 cannot afford any cancellations due to COVID-19 to be in contention for a spot in the playoff.
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