Pac-12 Football 2011: 10 Burning Questions for the New Season

Evan HowardCorrespondent IIJuly 21, 2011

Pac-12 Football 2011: 10 Burning Questions for the New Season

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    With the additions of Colorado and Utah into the PAC-12, everyone is trying to prove that they are best in the Northern and Southern Conferences.

    The PAC-12 Championship game is played at the home of the best team, and there are numerous teams that are looking to gain that advantage. 

    I think that the PAC-12 has one of the most talented conferences as a whole in a long time, and this might be the year to win the title. 

1. Will the PAC-12 Provide the Best Three Quarterbacks in the Nation Next Year?

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    Answer: No, but they will be have three of the top four in the nation. 

    I think that Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the nation by a long shot.  There is no quarterback that comes close to the talent and ability of Andrew Luck. 

    I think that Kellen Moore is the second-best quarterback in the nation, followed closely by Matt Barkley and Nick Foles. 

    All four of these quarterbacks should be drafted in the first round next year.  I would expect the PAC-12 to have the highest powered offenses in the nation behind the arms of these quarterbacks. 

2. Will USC Win 10 Games?

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    Answer: I think they will.  

    I think they have a chance to even go 11-1 with their one loss coming to Oregon, Notre Dame, or Stanford.  

    I don’t think they have the ability to go 12-0, especially since they can’t play in a bowl game. Also, I don't think the drive to go 12-0 will be there.  

    I think that they will have the best offense in the PAC-12, but their defense will struggle at times.  T.J. McDonald should make it difficult for opposing teams to throw the ball, but teams like Oregon and Stanford will always score their points. 

3. Will the Ducks Win the First PAC-12 Championship, 3rd Championship in a Row?

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    Answer: Yes.

    I think that the Ducks have a very good shot, seeing that they need to beat Stanford down at the farm.  The Ducks return Heisman hopefuls LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, as well as numerous skilled players on both sides of the ball. 

    It is yet to be seen whether Stanford will have the success they had last year under a new head coach.  I don’t think there is any other team that will come close to winning the PAC-12 title, especially since USC is still on probation. 

4. Will the Heisman Trophy Winner Come from the PAC-12?

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    Answer: Yes. 

    I think there is a very good chance that the winner comes from the PAC-12. 

    The PAC-12 has at least three realistic chances in LaMichael James, Andrew Luck, and Matt Barkley, with an outside shot of Nick Foles and Darron Thomas. 

    I don’t think there is another conference in the nation that comes close to the talent the PAC-12 has.  This is the best shot the PAC-12 has since USC had Matt Lienhart and Reggie Bush in 2005. 

5. Will Colorado or Utah Succeed in Their First Year in the PAC-12?

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    Answer: Utah Yes, Colorado No

    I think that Utah will succeed in their first year and Colorado will be one of the worst teams.  The main reason I believe this is because of the rigorous schedule of the Buffs, and the very light schedule of the Utes. 

    The Utes will avoid playing Stanford and Oregon, the two best teams in the conference.  They still have to visit Arizona and USC on the road, but I think that they will finish with a winning record.  The Buffs, on the other hand, have to travel to Ohio State and Arizona State. 

    Although they play the better teams at home, they don’t stand much of a chance against Stanford, Oregon, USC, and Arizona.

    I think the Buff will beat Hawaii, UCLA, and Colorado State with a toss-up against the Golden Bears.  The Buffs running back Rodney Stewart will be the lone highlight on the season, and hopefully coming years will produce an easier schedule.

6. Will Washington State Finish at the Bottom of the PAC-12 North?

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    Answer: No.

    That stop will be reserved for the Washington Huskies or the Oregon State Beavers.  I will go as far to say that the Cougars might finish in fourth place in the PAC-12 North. 

    They have been the worst team in the PAC-10 for the past three years.  Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson will finally turn around the Cougars fortune and produce a season with more than two wins. 

    I think they should beat Idaho State and UNLV, as well as Oregon State and Washington, while putting up a fight against Cal. 

    Even though they aren’t returning to their dominant form of the early 2000’s, they will no longer be considered a cellar dweller.

7. Will Andrew Luck Have Last Year Success Without Jim Harbaugh?

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    Answer: Yes

    I think he will have an amazing season.  Yes, Jim Harbaugh was a very good coach, but he taught Andrew Luck all he needed to know.

    Andrew Luck threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns. He is extremely talented.  I think he will have a great year, throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, and should be in the running for the Heisman.

    Should he not win the prestigious award, he will be drafted number one overall in the 2012 NFL draft.

8. Who Has the Best Defense in the PAC-12?

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    Answer: Arizona State

    I think they have the best defender in the PAC-12 in Vontaze Burfict.  He is a massive defender in the middle of that defense, and held opponents to 25 points per game.

    I think that they showed toughness and speed that they haven’t seen out of their defense in a long time.  Their offense should be able to score in bunches this year, hopefully giving the opposing team bad field position. 

    I think the Sun Devils could rally around Vontaze Burfict, and this could be one of their better seasons of the past 10 years. 

9. Will Oregon and Stanford Return to BCS Bowl Games?

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    Answer: Yes for the Ducks, No for the Cardinal.

    I think the Ducks have enough returning starters and experience to make it back to a BCS game, if not the national championship. 

    I think this is where the Cardinal will miss Jim Harbaugh and falter at some point throughout the season.  I think they will lose to the Ducks, as well as possibly USC and/or Notre Dame. 

    Both of these teams should be very good next year, and if Notre Dame is in contention for a BCS bowl at the end of the season, they will be very hard to beat. 

10. Who Will Lead the Conference in Receiving Yards?

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    Answer: Robert Woods

    Matt Barkley is throwing him the ball and he should have a Heisman-type season.  Robert Woods was selected to the freshman All-American team last year. 

    He had 65 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns.  Juron Criner and Jermaine Kearse will also have very good seasons, but I think Robert Woods will win this title.