1. UCLA Bruins– Brett Hundley turned down a shot at the NFL for one more season at UCLA. This return is huge because it gives them more of a chance to compete for one of the playoff spots in the new College Football Playoff system. Under Jim Mora, the wins have increased. They won nine games in his first season and ten last year in season two. The biggest piece that will be missing and hard to replace will be Anthony Barr. He was their Mr. Everything on defense. These Bruins have an interesting schedule. Match-ups with Oregon and Stanford will be can’t miss games and then host USC in a key conference match-up.
2. USC Trojans– They used to be the team to beat year in and year out. Times definitely have changed. Lane Kiffin is now an offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa so USC decided to bring back a familiar face to coach the team, Steve Sarkisian. USC has some depth issues. With Silas Redd and Marquise Lee gone, who will step up and be those go to guys on offense? There are also questions on the offensive line as three starters return from last season. If the defense can avoid injury and be productive, they will rank amongst the top units in the Pac-12.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils– They were a surprise team in 2013. They will be without some key offensive players but Taylor Kelly comes back after putting together a very solid season of 3,635 yards passing and 28 touchdown passes. How will this ground attack be? Marion Grice is gone but D.J. Foster can continue to keep this ground game productive. The offense will have to carry this team because of the many departures on defense. The motto heading into the 2014 season for Arizona State will be simple: Outscore, outscore and outscore.
4. Arizona Wildcats– Under Rich Rodriguez, Arizona has put together consecutive seasons with an 8-5 mark. This will be considered a rebuilding season. They will look to move forward a replace Ka’Deem Carey who emerged as one of the best backs in the country a season ago. Coach will have these guys ready to compete and the defense that ranked in the bottom of the conference will look to improve. Rich has this program looking up and headed in the right direction.
5. Utah Utes– They made a great debut into the Pac-12 with an 8-5 record but since then they have struggled going 10-14 since then. Defense has not been an issue in Salt Lake City. They’ve ranked in the top ten in the conference every season since joining the Pac-12. They face Oregon and have a non-conference match-up with the Wolverines from Michigan this year.
6. Colorado Buffaloes– They improved their win total by three games under new head coach Mike MacIntyre. From the way it’s looking, this coaching staff will lead this program in the right direction. The biggest loss for the offense is receiver Paul Richardson. This defense must improve as they have been considered the worst in the conference.
Prediction: I like UCLA to win this division under Jim Mora Jr. This is why Hundley came back last year. Behind the leadership of Mora and Hundley, this team will win football games and compete. The offensive line should be in tact after having to reshuffle guys due to injury.