1. USC- The Trojans are the trendy pick this offseason, with Oregon breaking in a new quarterback. USC returns many pieces of their impressive 2014 squad, including Heisman hopeful Cody Kessler. Whether or not Steve Sarkisian has the coaching chops to get this team to live up to their potential remains to be seen.
2. Oregon- Although still favored to win the North, there is a big enough question mark on offense that Oregon slipped to second. Vernon Adams, EWU transfer, has taken over the starting role but has had only a few days to practice. BlockU voters are taking a wait-and-see approach on the Ducks this season.
3. Arizona State- The Sun Devils have proven that they can compete every year, and returns many components of last year’s 10 win, top 15 squad. ASU lost their starting QB, but Mike Bercovici brings enough experience to the role that BlockU voters had plenty of faith.
4. Arizona- Despite winning the South in 2014, the Wildcats have struggled to gain traction in the media, and the BlockU voters have echoed that sentiment, placing them third in the South. This team returns most of its weapons on offense and plenty of defensive stars.
5. Utah- Utah was a nearly unanimous fifth pick, behind the Arizona teams which defeated them last year and divisional favorites Oregon and USC. Comfortable as a mid-tier PAC 12 team now, the Utes are going to have to prove it if they want to move up in the pecking order.
6. UCLA- UCLA doesn’t get as much credit from BlockU as they do nationally, where they are a favorite dark horse national title contender. The Bruins are breaking in a true freshman quarterback, and although their offensive line is highly regarded nationally, Ute fans can’t forget a certain ten sack performance.
7. Stanford- The Cardinal struggled offensively in 2014, and many major pieces of their excellent defense have left for the NFL. BlockU contributors put them second in the North, but behind the majority of South teams.
8. Cal- The Bears are wedged just behind Stanford in all but one poll. Although Cal returns almost everything from last year’s team and have a fantastic QB, they have been on the bottom of the Big Game rivalry for too long for voters to give them the benefit of the doubt.
9. Washington- There’s a big drop-off in the voting here; we all agreed on who the bottom four teams were but couldn’t agree on an order. On the strength of their coaching staff and less of a recent losing tradition, the Huskies stay in the ninth spot.
10. WSU- The Cougars are tenth, with the highest variability in the voting. Luke Falk gained experience last year, and Mike Leach always finds a way to score a bunch of points. The defense is going to have to find a way to be at least competent if the Cougars ever want to get out of the conference cellar, though.
11. Colorado- The Buffs are not in last place! In fact, no voter placed them in 12th this week. They continue to show an improving trajectory, but a winless season in PAC 12 play in 2014 means they still have a long, long way to go.
12. Oregon State- Breaking in a ton of new players in a completely new system with a new coaching staff is a recipe for disaster, and our voters have little confidence in Oregon State this preseason.
Each week, we’ll share with you several bowl projections from major news services, as well as adding a new feature. We use ESPN’s FPI win probabilities to calculate the odds of final records for each team. These numbers let us formulate our own bowl projections. Percentage odds of achieving a particular record are used as tie-breakers for who gets what bowl. The records odds will shift as games are won or lost, and as the FPI formula refines its projections for the rest of the season. Keep in mind that Colorado plays 13 games this season, the numbers below do not count their result against Hawaii this weekend.
FPI projects a record of 7-5 or 6-6 as the most likely result for the Utes, another fifth place finish in the South. UCLA has the best record in the South, and Oregon looks to win the North crown. With a slightly higher win total projection, UCLA wins the tiebreaker to head to the playoff. Don’t put too much stock in these numbers right now; they are fun to think about but still highly volatile, just like the news service projections.
BlockU and the news services all project the Utes to play in a lower tier PAC 12 bowl game. FPI gives the Utes a 71.6% chance of winning 6 or more games, so a spot in a bowl is a likely result. We’ll learn a lot more about the Utes and their bowl chances this Thursday, when they face off against the Michigan Wolverines.