Pac-12: Expert Predictions
Our experts get you ready for the season in the Pac-12, breaking down everything from the offensive player of the year to which assistant will be the next head coach.
CBSSports.com's panel of experts break down what to expect in the Pac-12 during the 2013 season:
Offensive player of the year: Marcus Mariota , QB, Oregon Ducks . Chip Kelly may be gone but the Ducks won’t miss a beat on offense. Mariota had over 3,330 yards of total offense while completing 68.5 percent of his passes last season.
Defensive player of the year: Will Sutton , DT, Arizona Wildcats State. As a redshirt junior Sutton could have turned pro after recording 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last season. He was the Pac-12 Pat Tillman defensive player of the year. But the NFL gave him a fifth-round grade. QBs in the Pac-12 are not happy about that.
Top newcomer: Thomas Tyner , RB, Oregon. The Ducks recruit yet another player with world class speed to plug into the running back position. He’s just too good not to have an immediate impact.
Coach of the year: Since taking over for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford Cardinal , David Shaw has proved that he can flat coach. The Cardinal wins double digits again and will be playing in one of the two games in Pasadena come January.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Scott Frost, OC, Oregon. With Mark Helfrich moving up to the head job, the former Nebraska quarterback gets to conduct college football’s fastest offense.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: USC athletics director Pat Haden says he’s behind head coach Lane Kiffin "100 percent." But after USC lost five of its last six games to go 7-6 in 2012, one wonders if the players are giving The Boy Wonder the same kind of support.
Most intriguing conference game: Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7. The boxing guys say styles make great fights and this is the perfect match of opposite styles. Last season’s win by Stanford knocked the Ducks out of a shot for the BCS title.
Most intriguing non-conference game: Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 30. These two teams played a classic last season when Stanford’s Stephan Taylor (according to the officials) came up short of the goal line in overtime.
Bold conference prediction: Stanford will beat Oregon, win the North Division, and roll to the Pac-12 championship game. But UCLA Bruins will not be the opponent from the South. That will be Arizona State Sun Devils .
Offensive player of the year: De'Anthony Thomas , TB, Oregon. The only question is whether teammate Marcus Mariota trumps the multi-dimensional DAT. Thomas finished 12 among players who gained positive yards in all four categories (running, receiving, punt returns, kick returns) averaging 10.5 yards per "touch".
Defensive player of the year: Anthony Barr , LB, UCLA. This is one baaaad man. Barr finished second nationally in total sacks (13.5). Outside of Thomas/Mariota/ Marqise Lee , at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds this is as sure an All-American as the Pac-12 has this season.
Top newcomer: Eddie Vanderdoes, DE, UCLA. The feel-good story of the offseason, at least in Westwood. The NCAA rightly allowed the Notre Dame signee to transfer without penalty. Jim Mora Jr. now has a five-star talent dropped right in his lap. The Battle for Los Angeles just tipped a little further in the Bruins' direction.
Coach of the year: David Shaw, Stanford. The Cardinal are in the middle of their most successful in history – three consecutive BCS bowls. Shaw is the rock who will keep it going.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Derek Mason, defensive coordinator, Stanford. One of five finalists for Frank Broyles assistant coach of the year award. Mason only has to replace a handful of starters. His star is definitely rising.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Despite multiple votes of confidence from his boss Pat Haden, USC's Lane Kiffin faces a crossroads in his career. After being picked preseason No. 1 in '12, the Trojans finished 1-5. Breaking in a new quarterback with a rising UCLA across town, it isn’t going to be easy.
Most intriguing conference game: Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7. The conference’s two best BCS title game hopefuls face off on a Thursday night. Over the past two years they are both 16-2 in the conference. Last year's classic was decided in overtime in Eugene (Stanford, 17-14). Pro-style vs. up tempo. This isn’t just a rivalry. It’s a clash of philosophies.
Most intriguing non-conference game: USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 19. Kiffin did not distinguish himself in last year’s loss at the Coliseum. Irish could seal his fate.
Bold conference prediction: The league will have two Heisman finalists – Thomas/Mariota (pick one) and USC’s Marqise Lee.
Offensive player of the year: Marqise Lee, USC: Some great young QBs in this league led by Mariota and Hundley but it's Lee who'll be the security blanket as the Trojans break in a new QB while Lane Kiffin battles to keep his job.
Defensive player of the year: Anthony Barr, UCLA: Bruins difference-maker has packed on 20 more pounds while still clocking a sub 4.5 40, Barr has a chance for 20 sacks this fall.
Top newcomer: Su'a Cravens , USC. The Trojans have a couple of big holes in the secondary but the early enrollee displayed great range and instincts in spring ball and appeared to be the most ready of the program's five-star recruits.
Coach of the year: Mike Riley, Oregon State Beavers : Uncertainty at QB? No problem. The Beavers just keep on piling up wins.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Derek Mason, Stanford. The Cardinal have a couple of coordinators that should be on the radar of college ADs with OC and run game whiz Mike Bloomgren the other one, but the buzz on Mason after bottling up Oregon on the road last year is already hot.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Lane Kiffin, USC. I think Lane Kiffin has enough talent around him to hang onto his job, but he's definitely on the hot seat and if he doesn't win at least nine games it's hard to imagine any AD hiring him again after this.
Most intriguing conference game: Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7
Most intriguing non-conference game: USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 19
Bold conference prediction: The Pac-12 North will have the best collection of QBs in any division in college football with Marcus Mariota and Kevin Hogan proving to be Heisman contenders, while Keith Price and Connor Hall iday cut down on their mistakes and put up big numbers and Kline emerges as a future star.
Offensive player of the year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. There’s a compelling case for USC wideout Marqise Lee or Arizona tailback Ka’Deem Carey in this spot, but Mariota might be the country’s most polished quarterback -- and the primary reason Mark Helfrich’s transition at UO will be seamless.
Defensive player of the year: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA. Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton won’t beat out Barr for DPOY for the second straight year save an untouchable performance. With Barr’s athleticism coming off the edge, that’s unlikely.
Top newcomer: Pharaoh Brown , TE, Oregon. Yes, Oregon already has Colt Lyerla . But prolific offenses find a way to get emerging players the ball, and Oregon coaches have been impressed with the 6-foot-6, 234-pound Brown’s offseason.
Coach of the year: Todd Graham, Arizona State. He’s actually a pretty good coach when he’s not running off to the next program. The Sun Devils have a quarterback they believe in ( Taylor Kelly ) and 15 starters returning.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: Derek Mason, defensive coordinator, Stanford. Last year’s coaching carousel was curious because it didn’t involve Mason, who leads one of the country’s best front sevens and has the NFL’s attention after the Cardinal held Oregon to 14 points.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Steve Sarkisian, Washington Huskies . With a 26-25 record in four seasons, it’s time for Sark to get it done. Does the returning roster suggest a breakthrough is imminent? Debatable.
Most intriguing conference game: Oregon at Stanford, Nov. 7. The Cardinal was the only thing that could stop Oregon’s meteoric rise through 2012. A year later, these two will be the class of the Pac-12 for a second straight year.
Most intriguing non-conference game: USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 19. USC can erase last year’s curious loss that found Lane Kiffin struggling to call the right plays from the red zone. This rivalry rarely disappoints.
Bold conference prediction: Either Oregon or Stanford will play in the BCS national title game. Lane Kiffin will be USC’s coach in 2014.
* - Conference champions.
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