Now that we’ve taken a look at the Pac-12 North rivals and the Beavers position-by-position, Peter and I are taking our best shots at predicting who will finish where. Here goes nothing, and please, feel free to rip us a new one or wholeheartedly agree with us. Either way, Go Beavs!
Why: It’s partly by default (They did play in the National Championship last season) and partly because the Ducks return the conference’s best group of running backs. Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner are a load and will take pressure off the new starter at quarterback.
Why they slide: It would be easy to point at all of Oregon’s losses on defense, but has it really sunk in that Marcus Mariota is gone? He was a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He put the team on his back numerous times and willed the Ducks to wins.
Why they finish higher: Jared Goff and his countless, talented wide receivers will put up video game stats this season. It’s hard to imagine any defense slowing them down. And here’s a scary thought, what if that defense is better?
Why they slide: But on the other hand, will the defense continue to lag behind the offense? Or what if Goff gets injured? That would be enough to derail the Golden Bears, especially since they don’t have a standout running back.
Why they finish higher: Stanford is always well-coached, disciplined, and hits hard. Plus, never count out a team that has a senior QB (Kevin Hogan) — that can make all the difference during crunch time, as well as down the stretch.
Why they slide: Much like Oregon, the Cardinal will be replacing a lot of starters on defense, as well as their offensive line. Not to mention, who will be their playmaker, filling the void of the dangerous Ty Montgomery.
4. Oregon State
Why they finish higher: The Beavers return enough playmakers on both sides of the ball that they could make noise if several things go their way. Under the new coaching staff, the defense could be very tough.
Why they slide: Breaking in a new starter at QB, especially one who has never taken a snap in a college game, is never ideal. Plus, can the defensive line stay healthy and make more of an impact this season?
5. Washington State
Why they finish higher: Mike Leech is unpredictable and his team will play with nothing to lose. So maybe they sneak up in some teams. The Cougars passing game, a Leech-hallmark, also should be solid…
Why they slide: Conner Halliday was a warrior — his heart and determination will be missed. Plus, what makes a passing attack go? The QB. Nobody can fill his huge shoes right away. And much like Cal, is the defense any better?
Why they finish higher: Honestly, the only reasons they might not finish in last place is because Chris Petersen is their coach, or the Cougs…. coug it. With all their losses, the Huskies are likely in for a long and difficult season.
How do you stack the Pac-12 North teams this season?