In reality, projections and predictions in the pre-season are a fool’s errand.

But we do them anyway.

I could go into a long rant about how dumb they are — which I almost did — but I’ll skip that chrade since you already know the purpose of this blog post since you have eyes (probably) and can read (hopefully) the headline.

Before I get into my predictions, I will just say one thing — it’s going to be one fun season of football in this great Pac-12 conference where, unless the team is named ‘Oregon State’ or ‘Washington’, anyone can win on a given night.

Do I think Arizona will repeat as Pac-12 South champs? Probably not. But no one in their right mind thought that would happen last year. It’s tough to look past the whole 12 straight games fiasco they must deal with.

Anyway, here you go. We’ll check back mid-season and then post-season to see just how I did. Feel free to comment on the article with your own predictions for awards and standings and whatnot and we can all pretend we’re smart — or admit we’re dumb — as we’re proven right and wrong.


Six stupid predictions because predictions are stupid but here they are anyway

  1. Oregon State goes winless in conference play. Not too bold of a prediction, honestly, considering it’s a new coaching staff, with only two returning starters on defense and a platoon of freshmen at quarterback.
  2. There will be two Pac-12 players in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and it will be from the following group: Cody Kessler, Royce Freeman, Scooby Wright, Su’a Cravens and/or Vernon Adams. Gun-to-my-head prediction: Kessler and Adams.
  3. Speaking of Adams, I think he’s FOR REAL. Caps lock and everything. As in, Pac-12 offensive player of the year.
  4. Everyone wants to talk about the quarterbacks, but it’s the year of the running back in the Pac-12. Prediction: 10 backs will rush for 1,000 yards or more this season. Count Nick Wilson (Arizona), Devontae Booker (Utah), Royce Freeman (Oregon), Paul Perkins (UCLA) and Daniel Lasco (Cal) as locks, with Demario Richard (ASU), Storm Barrs-Woods (Oregon State), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and whoever gets the carries for USC right there. Booker, Freeman and/or Perkins might all get more than 1,500, too.
  5. Nelson Spruce will become the Pac-12’s all-time leader in receptions, but fall just short in receiving yards. He’s 54 receptions from Arizona’s Mike Thomas, who had 259, but 1,743 yards off Stanford’s Troy Walters.
  6. Mike Leach will say some stuff that’s weird, awesome or non-sensical on a weekly basis. Rich Rodriguez will reference Dumb and Dumber. Easy.

Three upsets

  1. Arizona State over Oregon, Oct. 29
  2. California over USC, Oct. 31
  3. Colorado over Utah, Nov. 28

Awards

  • Offensive: Vernon Adams, Oregon (Runner-up: Cody Kessler, USC). I say Adams lives up to the hype, big-time. I picked Kessler in the print version, but this is America so I changed my mind because this is America.
  • Defensive: Su’a Cravens, USC (Runner-up: Scooby Wright, Arizona). Hard to pick against Scooby Wright, of course, but his numbers probably won’t be as good as last season, and Cravens is a star in the making.
  • Coach: Todd Graham, ASU. It just feels like his time, doesn’t it? My dark horse pick here, though, is Mike MacIntyre at Colorado. Everyone’s pegging them for last place, but he’s a good coach, and they have some pieces in place. Watch out for an upset or two from the Buffs.
  • Offensive freshman: Josh Rosen, UCLA. A true freshman starting at quarterback for a team in the nation’s toughest division. What could go wrong?
  • Defensive freshman: Iman Marshall, USC. The Trojans top recruit will get immediate playing time.

Stat champions

  • Passing yards: Luke Falk, Washington State.
  • Passing TDs: Jared Goff, California
  • Rushing yards: Royce Freeman, Oregon
  • Receiving yards: Nelson Spruce, Colorado
  • Sacks: Scooby Wright, Arizona

Projected standings and bowl games

North

  1. Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12): Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff)
  2. Stanford (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12): Sun Bowl
  3. California (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12): Las Vegas Bowl
  4. Washington State (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12)
  5. Washington (4-8, 2-7 Pac-12) None
  6. Oregon State (2-10, 0-9 Pac-12) None

South

  1. USC (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12): Rose Bowl
  2. Arizona State (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): Fiesta Bowl
  3. Arizona (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): Holiday Bowl
  4. UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): Alamo Bowl
  5. Utah (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12): Cactus Bowl
  6. Colorado (6-7, 2-7 Pac-12) None

Pac-12 Championship Game: Oregon over USC


All-Conference

  • QB: Cody Kessler, USC
  • RB: Royce Freeman, Oregon
  • RB: Devontae Booker, Utah
  • WR: Nelson Spruce, Colorado
  • WR: Juju Smith-Schuster, USC
  • TE: Austin Hooper, Stanford
  • OL: Max Tuerk, USC
  • OL: Josh Garrett, Stanford
  • OL: Kyle Murphy, Stanford=
  • OL: Nick Kelly, ASU
  • OL: Tyler Johnstone: Oregon
  • DL: DeForest Buckner, Oregon
  • DL: Kenny Clark, UCLA
  • DL: Hunter Dimick, Utah
  • DL: Lowell Lotulelei, Utah
  • LB: Scooby Wright, Arizona
  • LB: Su’a Cravens, USC
  • LB: Blake Martinez, Stanford
  • DB: Budda Baker, Washington
  • DB: Lloyd Carrington, ASU
  • DB: Adoree’ Jackson, USC
  • DB: Jordan Simone, ASU
  • DB: Will Parks, Arizona
  • K: Andy Phillips, Utah
  • P: Tom Hackett, Utah
  • KR: Adoree’ Jackson, USC

Contact the Pac-12 Pundit at zrosenblatt@tucson.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @ZackBlatt.