Posted by Rock Mayock 10:30 PM Nothing is happening with the NFL this year so it is time to start focusing on football that actually matters, Pac 12 football! After spending time at several Spring scrimmages and getting reports from our regional correspondents, I am ready to release FOOTBALLPHDS’ projection for how the Pac 12 North and South divisions will pan out. We are starting with the Pac 12 South (ranked in descending order). Pac 12 North projections will come out on Thursday and I will be breaking down the QB position for all 12 schools on Sunday.
1. Utah (11-1): 2010 was an eventful year for the Utes. The finally joined a power conference and they also brought in a FOOTBALLPHDS favorite Norm Chow as their new OC. The Utes’ inaugural season in the Pac 12 is going to be a fruitful one. The Utes will have early season tests with their September 10 visit to USC and September 17 visit to in state rival BYU. The lone loss that I see for the Utes is the November 5 game at my projected Pac 12 South second place team, Arizona. Finishing the season 11-1, expect a superb Pac 12 Championship game between Utah and Oregon.
T2. Arizona (9-3): Mike Stoops keeps making progress for those angry Wildcats from Tucson. The Cats will have a very stiff test on the road at Oklahoma State on September 10 but I expect the veteran leadership of Nick Foles to pick up the win. The scheduling gods smiled on Arizona because they get both USC and Utah in Tucson, both of which should be upset victories.
T2. USC (9-3): As previously reported by FOOTBALLPHDS, second year coach Lane Kiffin is rumored to be on the hot seat unless he can produce a 10+ win season AND keep the football program away from the ever watching and ever scrutinizing eye of the NCAA. The good news for Lane is that this year’s schedule was custom made for a 10 win season. The out of conference schedule has perennial cupcakes Minnesota and Syracuse visiting the Coliseum, however they will be traveling to South Bend to face a much improved Brian Kelley lead Notre Dame. I expect USC to struggle at home against Utah and Arizona in addition to traveling to Eugene to face Oregon. Expect next year to be a rebound year for USC after they bring in Jeff Fisher and Matt Barkley takes his interceptions to the NFL.
4. Colorado (5-7): New coach, new QB, same results for the Buffs. Colorado will be rebuilding a program from rubble after former coach Dan Hawkins ran the program into the ground with his sorry ass son Cody pretending to play QB. The Buffs have a brutal schedule getting Stanford, Utah, Washington, and Hawaii on the road. The one bright spot on their away schedule is September 24 visit to Tressel-less and Pryor-less Ohio State. Nonetheless, expect another long year in Boulder.
5. Arizona State (4-8): In what will likely be Dennis Erickson’s final year in Tempe, the Sun Devils are looking at an uphill climb up a mountain of crap. New uniforms are not going to change the fact that they have a first year starting QB and only one defensive stud in sure fire Top 10 pick Vontez Burfect. I fully expect Erickson to be relieved of his coaching duties mid season, most likely after the October 1 ass whipping that Mike Riley and the Oregon State Beavers will lay on ASU in Tempe.
6. UCLA (2-10): Rick Neuheisel is another Pac 12 coach that enters the 2011 season on the hot seat. Neuheisel has enjoyed limited (and that is being generous) during his previous 3 seasons at UCLA. The biggest problem facing the Bruins is that they do not have a QB. Kevin Prince is still recovering from knee surgery, Richard Brehaut has reportedly left the football team to pursue baseball, which basically leaves the highly touted true freshman Brett Hundley as the possible starter. Couple the QB crisis with the fact that Norm Chow left the program and a new OC needs to broken in, the outlook is not so good for the hapless Bruins. I anticipate it will be a heated battle between the beleaguered Dennis Erickson and Rick Neuheisel to determine who will hold the title of Pac 12 South bottom dweller.