With the 2017-2018 season about to kick into high gear, it’s time to start looking into which teams are shaping up to go all the way during the 2017-2018 Pac-12 season. So now, in no particular order are our picks for seven teams that may have what it takes to win this year’s championship trophy.
USC’s defensive line will be strong as the team welcomes back their defensive line of Rasheem Greene, Porter Justin and Cameron Smith that will provide a challenge to any top line Pac 12 team. Quarterback Sam Darnold provided to be a force to be reckoned with during 2016 as a freshman, who threw over 3,000 yards even after only starting during the fourth week. But, by our estimates, USC will have to watch how its offensive line shapes up due to the departure of NFL entrant Damien Mama and some of their former starting tackles.
The huskies had an outstanding 2016 season, but will have to deal with the departure of most of the team’s defensive line such as Budda Baker and Elijah Qualls to the NFL. The future of the Washington defensive line appears to be uncertain. However, The Washington offensive line remains intact and with returning quarterback Jake Browning the Huskies can easily make it back into the playoffs.
The Oregon Ducks appear to be poised to rise up toward the championship due to the change in coaching staff. The Ducks have the advantage of Justin Herbert’s experience paired with a maturing offensive line that is sure to make Oregon a great turnaround team for the upcoming championship. Jim Leavitt’s linebacker coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers leaves him well poised to provide Oregon with the best in defensive line in the conference. Plus, the addition of Wille Taggart as head coach is shaping up to make Oregon’s potential ascent towards the championship quite interesting.
Colorado is in a unique position to raise in the ranks for a potential spot in the championship, the Buffaloes move to expand on offense due to freshman Steven Montez arm strength should help compensate for the departure of senior Sefo Liufau. Montez’s experience and fresh battle tested energy is setting up to be a great addition to take the team toward a championship final. But, a strong offensive line isn’t the only thing Colorado will be counting on, defensive performers with immediate impact such as defensive end Chris Mulumba and nose tackle Javier Edwards twill also bring fresh stopping power to the group. Colorado will also benefit from the return of Coach Mike Macintyre who created the circumstances that brought the buffaloes up in the ranks to end 2016 with a 15th place ranking according to the USA today/coaches poll.
UCLA’s chances to enter into the Pac-12 championship are good if improvements are made on the offensive line. But, the team has suffered losses in its defensive line that will need to be replaced. Freshman Darnay Holmes, son of former Buffalo Bill Derrick Holmes could provide a much-needed boost to the team’s offense. He tallied 1,400 yards receiving coupled with 14 touchdowns during his senior season. He’s hoping to carry that success over to Pac-12 play. We like that UCLA has also recruited outstanding pass rusher, Jaelan Phillips to the Bruins. The 6-foot-5 ½ tall Phillips has a high motor and quick skills that Coach Jim Mora may rely on from day one.
The Wildcats appear to have some potential with plenty of good prospects coming on board to help the effective downfield passer, Brandon Dawkins. The Arizona quarterback’s rushing yards per game was ranked fourth in the Pac 12 during 2016. However, Dawkins will need to improve his aerial game if he wants to lead the Wildcats towards a championship. While the team continued to be hampered in 2016 by injuries, Coach Rich Rodriguez has worked steadily to strengthen the team with the addition of defensive coordinator Scott Boone as well as recruiting five new linebackers that could see Arizona sitting pretty for a championship run.
Head Coach David Shaw has recruited a solid group of offensive lineman who could boost the Cardinals championship hopes for the 2017/2018 season. Stanford’s ability to bring in strong football talent has been continually showcased with first-rate All-Americans and draft picks. They have continued to provide strength to its offensive line with great incoming support from tight end recruits Colby Parkinson and Tucker Fisk. The Cardinals have also signed the nation’s top quarterback Davis Mills as well as five-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell which shows Stanford is shaping up to be top contenders for Pac 12 glory.
So, that’s our picks for up-and-coming teams that could go all the way to the 2017/2018 championships. Whoever squares off during the championships match with such a great pack of players and coaching staff this season’s college season is going to be a great one.