The Pac-12 season is once again likely to have BCS national implications.
The additions of Colorado and Utah has changed the landscape of West Coast football as we know it. Every Pac-12 team has that same goal—win the conference title and make it to Pasadena, Calif.
Will it be Oregon for a third consecutive year? Or someone new?
Let's find out.
The battle for the Pac-12 South will be a close one.
It will feature the Arizona schools, Southern California schools and the two newcomers. Numerous Pac-12 coaches are on the hot seat, needing wins and wins now.
The South winner gets the right to play in the conference championship game, and perhaps host it.
With a BCS spot on the line, the pressure will be on.
Out goes Dan Hawkins and his pathetic 19-39 record.
Jon Embree now heads the struggling Buffaloes as they try to rebuild with a new coach and new conference.
They return nine starters on offense and seven on defense off their 5-7 team last season.
The Buffaloes will play UCLA in Pasadena, Calif., in what will likely decide last place in the Pac-12 South.
Record: 4-9 (2-8)
What is there to say about UCLA?
They have a national championship-winning coach.They can recruit from the deep-and-talented Southern California. They get top-notch recruits.
Why aren't they winning?
Coach Neuheisel has only posted a 15-22 record in his time at his alma mater. Bruiser running back Jonathan Franklin returns to a struggling offense that is now without offensive guru Norm Chow.
Also gone are defensive studs Rahim Moore and Akeem Ayers.
UCLA will need consistency at the quarterback position, an area of weakness for the Bruins.
Rick Neuheisel will need to at least reach a bowl game to save his job.
Record: 4-8 (2-7)
While coach Mike Stoops has got the Wildcats playing in bowl games for the past three seasons, he is very much on the hot seat.
Arizona had hopes of contending for the Pac-10 championship the past two seasons, only to get close and watch it slip from their fingertips.
The powerful duo of quarterback Nick Foles and receiver Juron Criner return to lead an explosive offensive unit, but riding a five-game losing streak from last season might cripple this team.
Arizona should be happy to make it to the Sun Bowl.
Record: 6-6 (4-5)
Utah, like Colorado, will need to adjust to a new group of teams.
The Utes luck out and do not have to play two-time defending champing Oregon in the 2011 regular season.
The question entering this will be if a non-AQ team can hop into a BCS conference and compete.
Can Utah shock the nation? We will see.
Record: 9-3 (6-3)
Another coach who is under pressure to win and win quickly is Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin.
After weak performances with the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Volunteers, Coach Kiffin has somehow managed to weasel himself into one of the top coaching positions in the nation.
With all of that talent, USC should be thinking Pac-12 championship.
But poor coaching may be what holds them back.
Record: 9-3 (6-3)
An impressive first season with the Sun Devils kept Coach Erickson around, but his seat might be the hottest of the Pac-12 coaches.
Successful stops with the Miami Hurricanes and Oregon State Beavers are proof of Erickson’s ability to recruit and win, but the past three seasons have been far from promising.
ASU catches a break by not having to play Stanford in the 2011 regular season, and the Devils get three of their five Pac-12 South games at home.
The Sun Devils return 18 starters, and have no excuses not to win the Pac-12 South division and earn a shot at a conference title.
Record: 10-2 (8-1)
The Pac-12 North, while less open than the Southern Division, hosts the conference's two best teams.
The North is incredibly top heavy, but will still be witness to countless fantastic games in 2011.
Things have not gone well for this once-proud football program.
Unfortunately for those sad fans in Pullman, Wash., it probably won’t be getting any better next season.
Getting a conference win should be the goal for these cougars, but all of their potential wins (Cal, UCLA and Washington) will be on the road.
Up-and-coming stars Jeff Tuel and Marquise Wilson won’t be enough to salvage this season.
Record: 2-10 (0-9)
This team frustrates football analysts to no end.
They play good enough to hold up with Oregon one week, then barely get by Washington State the next.
At home they’ve proven they can hang with anybody, but playing on the road killed the Golden Bears last season.
Gone is standout Shane Vareen, and so are the hopes of contending in the Pac-12 North.
Record: 6-6 (3-7)
As is the common theme for many of the Pac-12 teams, getting to a bowl game is the most realistic goal for this team.
Coach Sarkisian has brought life back to the once proud city of Seattle, but this team is still one, good football-recruiting year away from being a top Pac-12 team.
The loss of Jake Locker will be a devastating blow, and the replacement QB will have big shoes to fill.
Record: 5-7 (3-6)
The Beavers have proven time in and time out to rise above poor offseason rankings and contend for conference championships.
Mike Riley has done an outstanding job since returning to his hometown, but 2011 won’t be OSU’s year to contend for a title.
The loss of star running back Jacquizz Rodgers to the NFL will prove to be too costly to the Beavers. They will need to strive for a bowl game.
Record: 6-6 (5-4)
Losing three starting offensive linemen, a starting fullback and a tight end are hard to overcome.
But Stanford’s biggest departure from their 2010 campaign is former head coach Jim Harbaugh, now with the 49ers.
Andrew Luck will be the bright star on a rebuilding Cardinal offense, and that offensive line will need to get comfortable together quickly.
The showdown with Oregon on Nov. 12th will likely be the game that will decide the Pac-12 North.
Record: 10-2 (8-1)
Let’s make it three years in a row!
The Ducks will be the overwhelming favorite to three-peat as conference champions.
With Heisman candidates LaMicahel James and Darron Thomas returning, the Ducks will have their chances to make it back to the championship game.
Opening week against LSU will be a good indicator of what this team is made of.
Will the Ducks be playing in New Orleans this postseason? We will see.
Record: 11-1 (9-0)
Just for fun, I'll make another prediction.
I have the Arizona State Sun Devils winning the South, and the Oregon Ducks winning the North.
With Oregon holding the better record of the two, the game would then be played at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.
Since the Ducks have the advantage in offense, defense and special teams, it seems pretty clear who will be representing the Pac-12 Conference.
The Ducks will enter contention for the national championship at a record of 12-1 (the sole loss to LSU).
Will the Ducks have their shot again at a national championship? Maybe a Rose Bowl?
Either way, it will be a great 2011 season to watch.