College Football 2011: Pac-12 Post-Spring Power Rankings
Yes, I know it's way too early to come out with power rankings, but what else is there to do? We are in this dead period every year where basketball is wrapping up, baseball is just starting and just doesn't quite mean much yet and there is absolutely no football to watch now that the draft is over.
We started with the Big East and we are now moving on to the Pac-12 with the additions of Utah and Colorado. It should be an interesting 2011 football year on the West Coast. We start the rankings with...
No. 12: Colorado Buffaloes
A new coach, a new league and an injured QB equal lots of questions for the Buffaloes in 2011. They have been inconsistent over the years, and 2011 shouldn’t be any different.
They do have 14 starters returning, but they also have a depleted secondary with the loss of their top two cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown. They may not end up last, but they will be a bottom-dweller for a while.
No. 11: Washington State Cougars
The new Nike Pro Combat unis move them up one spot from the cellar. J/K...the Cougars ended the season looking somewhat decent, and QB Jeff Tuel should continue to improve in 2011.
Like Colorado, they will most likely hover in the bottom half in 2011, and this is a do-or-die year for coach Paul Wulff.
No. 10: UCLA Bruins
The defense looked pretty good this spring after struggling most of 2010. The Bruins did lose standout LB Akeem Ayers and S Rahim Moore, but they should improve vastly in 2011.
Again, questions remain in the area of QB. If QB Kevin Prince can remain healthy and run that pistol offense, the Bruins will be just fine.
No. 9: Cal Bears
Almost thought about putting them a tad lower, but they do have pretty good overall talent compared to the other teams hiding in the bottom.
The Bears have some concerns on defense after losing three quality guys to graduation, but the biggest concern is at QB. There just isn’t any pure talent at the position. As of now it looks like Zach Maynard is leading the way through the spring for the starting job.
No. 8: Oregon State Beavers
This low rating is strictly based on last year's performance, where the Beavers lost four of their last five games. The other part is the loss of two of their big stars, Stephen Paea and Jacquizz Rodgers.
However, they have plenty of talent coming back with QB Ryan Katz, WR James Rodgers, WR Jordan Bishop, TE Joe Halahuni and RB Jordan Jenkins. BUT that’s only if they all stay healthy in 2011.
No. 7: Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats are going to struggle in 2011, especially on offense, and it's not going to be because of QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner.
The O-line has to replace all five starters from 2010, and those guys struggled all year, giving up 32 sacks. However, Foles and Criner will light it up through the air and make it interesting.
No. 6: Washington Huskies
The Huskies get stuck right in the middle of the rankings with a bunch of "ifs." We just don’t know how good they will be with former QB Jake Locker moving to the NFL.
Coach Steve Sarkisian has done an amazing job recruiting, and the Huskies should see fruits from that labor in 2011. Only time will tell, but I see them continuing their climb to excellence with QB Keith Price taking the reins.
No. 5: Utah Utes
I'm going to take an optimistic point of view with the Utes even though it's tough to really place them in this lineup. QB Jordan Wynn was supposed to shine in 2010 but took a step back due to injury. He will be back in 2011 and should improve under the tutelage of Norm Chow.
Questions do remain with the secondary, which got shredded beginning with the TCU game in Salt Lake City.
No. 4: Arizona State Sun Devils
You have got to love the idea of returning 19 starters from the previous season. Even though the Sun Devils lost two of those starters to injuries this spring, I will still take it.
Their only concern is the breaking in of a new QB in Brock Osweiler, who has looked good in two stints as a replacement.
Don’t forget those sweet new Nike Pro Combat uniforms either. They should come in handy down the road somewhere.
No. 3: USC Trojans
The Trojans still have plenty of talent left over from the Pete Carroll era with Matt Barkley leading the way at QB. USC will be young with a bunch of RS recruits coming in to play, but it is very talented. Lane Kiffin’s team will be much improved and will battle for the Pac-12 title.
No. 2: Stanford Cardinal
Not overly confident placing Stanford in this No. 2 slot with lots of major questions. Jim Harbaugh is gone, but everyone loves the promotion of O-coordinator David Shaw. And you can't forget that the top college QB is returning for another year in Andrew Luck.
If they can answer the questions on the defensive line and not skip a beat with a new coach, all will be fine in the land of Cardinal.
No. 1: Oregon Ducks
Probably the easiest No. 1 pick in the power rankings. The Ducks come off a trip to the national championship game in pretty good shape. They return one of the best college running backs in LaMichael James and a pretty darn good QB with Darron Thomas.
Their only concerns are the loss of their top two wide receivers and a few O-line spots.
Stanford will give them a run for their money, but the Ducks fly to the top of our post-spring power rankings for 2011.