The Pac-12 is rich with talent on both sides of the ball.
From defensive stars such as T.J. McDonald of USC to offensive giants such as DeAnthony Thomas of Oregon, fans of the Conference of Champions can be rest assured that there will be numerous playmakers providing fireworks on Saturday nights.
One key group of playmakers that is sure to light up the highlight reel are an elite group of quarterbacks that combine to make up one of the better quarterback conferences in the nation.
Despite the departure of Andrew Luck, Nick Foles, and Brock Osweiler to the NFL, the Pac-12 is still laden with talented quarterbacks that will put up stellar numbers.
Looking to contend for their fourth straight Pac-10/12 Title, the Oregon Ducks will have to face a gauntlet of quarterbacks that are sure to test their young secondary and veteran linebacking corps. The Ducks will need to shore up issues in their passing defense if they wish to withstand the test of these elite quarterbacks.
Though every quarterback has a special set of tools that make them unique from the others, some stand out above the rest.
Here are the top five quarterbacks the Ducks will face, ranked from least threatening to most.
If the Ducks were playing Utah this year, Jordan Wynn would have replaced Sean Mannion on this list.
As things are, the Ducks will have to wait another year to take on their new Pac-12 foes while still competing against the Beavers in the Pac-12 North.
Mannion is an impressive player that is starting to shape up to become one of the next great Beaver quarterbacks. Though his mobility is in questionable at times, he has demonstrated the ability to remain poised in the pocket with pressure and throw strong and accurate passes to open receivers.
With a year under his belt and a bevy of returning offensive players, Mannion should become an even greater threat at quarterback and a force within the Pac-12.
In just his first season as starter for the Bears, Maynard more than impressed his constituents by throwing for over 3,000 yards.
Expect even greater things out of his second season as a starter as he fully grasps the offensive system of Cal.
Maynard has demonstrated the ability to hit his receivers with consistent accuracy and has shown that he has more than enough arm strength to cover the field with the ball. With Keenan Allen as his top receiver, Maynard looks the part to be one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in 2012.
Though the Cougars still have room for improvement, they can feel good about the fact that Jeff Tuel is healthy and ready to lead a Cougar resurgence in 2012.
Out because of injuries last season, Tuel has already shown that he has the tools to succeed as a quarterback in any offense.
Put him in Mike Leach's offense and Tuel could be deadly. With young weapons surrounding him, this Cougar quarterback will see his stats skyrocket in 2012.
Price will be a Heisman candidate at the end of the year because of the way he opens up the field for the Husky offense.
Already establishing himself as quite the force in 2011, Price will benefit from another year in the system in 2012 as he hopes to lead the Huskies to contention in the Pac-12 North.
Though he is a mobile quarterback that can break out a big run at any moment, Price uses his strong arm to dissect opposing defenses through the air.
Expect him to put up big numbers in 2012 and to be one of the better quarterbacks in the nation.
No surprises here.
Matt Barkley is a top Heisman contender and the leader of a potent USC team that will look to jump straight back into the BCS National Championship during their first year back from a NCAA postseason ban.
Though he is not mobile like some of the other quarterbacks on this list, Barkley has a high football IQ and one of the stronger and more accurate arms in the nation. With Robert Woods and Marqise Lee as his targets, this Trojan quarterback will be one of the best in school history.
Handling him will not be an easy task for any team this year.