Category Archives: Arizona
Tried to go against the grain, shot my credibility in the process. Never trust a Todd Graham.
Last year was supposed to be the year of the South. UCLA had returning talent everywhere but QB, where Josh Rosen came in and played pretty damn well. Injuries to Eddie Vanderdoes, Myles Jack, and many others sank the Bruins. USC had talent, but Steve Sarkisian had a drinking problem. The aforementioned failed pick of mine completely fell apart. Defending champ Arizona came back down to Earth. Though USC ended up winning despite failed expectations, it was Utah who stole the show for much of the season with an opening win over Michigan and a 42-point win in Eugene.
It was a weird year for this division, and it will be weird again. Because its the Pac-12.
6) Colorado. They’ve won 14 games in the past 5 years, and inexplicably have Michigan on their schedule this year. But the Buffs are slowly improving, and will eventually beat someone of note.
More importantly, Boulder is AWESOME. Its literally in the shadow of the Rockies, has a HUGE brewery and bar scene, and is worth a visit if you’ve run out of ideas for college football trips.
5) Utah. Losing all of their offensive production, 4 of their top 5 tacklers, and waste their Pac-12 home games on some of the best teams in the league (USC, Washington, Oregon). I could make an argument for either of the Arizonas, but I like them to trend back upwards.
4) Arizona State. See? Salamo Fiso and Kareem Orr are defensive players I can name, and Demario Richard is a beast at RB. Buuutttttt….they failed me last year, are looking to a redshirt freshman QB, and lose a whole O-line that wasn’t that great anyway.
3) Arizona. Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson are a fun read-option combo for the third year running, they return 8 starters from a D that was…not great, but EXPERIENCE! Call it the “5 conference home games and one of the road ones is Oregon State” phenomenon, as well.
2) USC. That schedule, woof. Alabama and Notre Dame out of conference. Visits to Stanford, Utah (the Pac-12’s ‘where dreams go to die’ location), Washington, and UCLA. Oregon coming to Los Angeles. Oh, and they’re running out a THIRD Pete Carroll tree retread. Clay Helton is a little less flashy than Carroll/Kiffin/Sark, but they could’ve hired literally anyone else on the market.
What USC lacks in management and scheduling, they make up for in talent. The starters as listed by Phil Steele had 16 guys ranked 16th or better at their position for their classes. You’ll see a lot of names below.
1)UCLA. The only team in the division I could justify picking with a combination of talent, schedule, and experience befitting a division champ. They avoid Washington and Oregon, Josh Rosen is the truth, and they don’t have exoduses from any position groups.
Basically, I’m going to be wrong. I know that. That makes the Pac-12 fun. Due to time zones, we don’t get them in the noon timeslot and thus miss out in favor of B1G/ACC C-listers.
Five Games Worth Watchin’
- USC at Stanford, Sept. 17: USC isn’t going to beat Alabama, and two September losses would be a rough start for Clay Helton. The underdog has won the last four games, and USC should be the underdog.
- USC at UCLA, Nov. 19: I mean, it should decide the division. And both teams wear their home jerseys, which is always neat.
- UCLA at Texas A&M, Sept. 3: The rare opening-weekend marquee matchup PLAYED ON CAMPUS. Given the chaos of the North (trust me, it’ll be wild and will post Monday), UCLA may represent the league’s best shot at a playoff bid. Not if they can’t beat a middling SEC team on national TV.
- Utah at Arizona St., Nov. 10: Considering the volatility of this division, this Thursday night matchup will probably feature at least one top-1o team controlling its destiny in the division. I just set my calendar to remind myself I said this so I can mock myself.
- Stanford at UCLA, Sept. 24: Catching a trend about Stanford’s September? UCLA’s Pac-12 opener could set the tone, as they have a real shot at going 8-1 at worst if they beat the Cardinal. I should probably flip this one with #1.
So, like I said– USC opens with Alabama and closes with Notre Dame. Utah and Arizona both draw BYU. Arizona State/Texas Tech may well feature 1500 yards of offense. Colorado…uhh…goes to the Big House. Given the 9-game conference schedule, the Pac-12 schedules are no joke.
Players to Watch
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado: Okay, bear with me here. The Buffs’ secondary intrigues me. They only gave up 229 passing yards a game in-conference– and the whole secondary returns. Awuzie stands out because I’ve never seen a corner lead a team in tackles (he did, 84) tackles for loss (8), pass breakups (7), and QB hurries (4). I kinda want to watch Colorado’s defense now, sounds like some fun.
Nick Wilson, RB, Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona: Wilson was a stud as a freshman and hobbled last year, Solomon was a stud as a freshman and a scapegoat for the defense’s struggles last year. They’re not quite Steve Slaton and Pat White, but they will make some noise.
Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Yeah, he’s related to the Panthers guy. Yeah, his numbers weren’t amazing last year, but he anchored a stout run D on Utah’s magic first two months. He’s a true two-gap tackle, and two-gap tackles get PAID.
All of these guys at USC: Buried the lede a little bit, but told you I’d circle back. CBs Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall combined for 17 pass breakups, Marshall had 3 picks as a true freshman, and Jackson returned two punts for touchdowns and had 414 receiving yards. Read that Jackson line again. LB Cameron Smith was the league’s Freshman of the Year. QB Max Browne was the top recruit in his class, and he gets to throw to Juju Smith-Schuster of 1454 yards and 10 TD’s a year ago, and T’s Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler were both All Pac-12 last year. And they’re the only seniors I just listed.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: The whole “#1 pick of NFL Draft a few years out” hype train currently has the loose dirt of Christian Hackenberg’s grave on it, but Rosen is awesome. He put a hot tub in his dorm room and wore a hat with a message towards Donald Trump while playing golf this summer. Even if he flops, he’ll do so in Manziel fashion.
The SEC has not won a national championship since I started writing for DudeYouCrazy.net, a trend I find more ominous for Georgia’s chances than an anemic passing attack and once-again-ugly special teams.
What did we learn in college football’s second week from the other conferences, and who should you expect to win them thus far? Glad you asked.
I feel like we’re teetering on the brink of a full-blown #lolACC week, as the two best-looking teams (Georgia Tech and Clemson) both face stout road tests this week (Notre Dame and Louisville on a Thursday, respectively).
Assumed/foregone champ Florida State had a passing attack rivaling Georgia’s this week, as Everett Golson looked completely lost in a lackluster 34-14 home win over South Florida. Dalvin Cook may need to creep into the Heisman discussion, as he literally carried the Noles to the win.
Tech and Clemson both held serve, but ‘darkhorse’ Louisville fell to 0-2 with a home loss to Houston. The pleasant surprise of the week? Virginia, who outplayed Notre Dame, injured their quarterback, and came within a last-minute bomb of springing the huge upset.
Presumed winner, as of today: Got to give it to Clemson based on the young defense playing respectably, and DeShaun Watson being worlds better than Everett Golson.
Oh. My. God. We have our first ridiculous ‘B1G greater than all‘ hot-takey-thinkpiece of the season, courtesy of ESPN. That didn’t take long. Yeah, Michigan State held on thanks to a missed wide open receiver by Oregon’s Vernon Adams, and yeah, Ohio State is Ohio State, but then…what else ya got?
Penn State needed all four quarters to put Buffalo away at home. Maryland and Rutgers lost to Bowling Green and Washington State (fresh off a loss to Portland State). Iowa, to their credit, won “El Assico“. This conference is still two good teams and 12 scorching pieces of trash.
Presumed winner, as of today: Ohio State. Although Michigan State is definitely looking like a good bet for 11-1 and a playoff trip as it stands today.
All fairly good news for the ‘One True Champion’ league. Oklahoma secured a HUGE comeback win in Knoxville, beating Tennessee 31-24 in OT. TCU righted the ship with 70 points over Stephen A. Austin. West Virginia held serve for a second straight week and is starting to hit my darkhorse radar.
What’s not to like? Baylor, for the second week in a row, struggled with garbage competition, giving up 31 in a 35 point win vs. Lamar. Kansas is OH GOD. And Texas, even in a win vs. Rice, was outgained at an almost 2-to-1 clip in a 14-point home win. They really may struggle to win 5 games this year.
Presumed winner, as of today: Too close to call, with Oklahoma creeping towards Baylor/TCU territory.
After a rough first week to the season that saw Arizona State and Stanford fall from the top 25 with bad losses, week 2 was not much better. Oregon had the national stage loss, ASU was tied with Cal Poly going into the 4th quarter, and…well, nothing else of much substance.
USC and UCLA both secured impressive blowout wins against inferior (but FBS!) competition, and have to be considered the class of the
division as good as the SEC West Pac-12 South. Oregon, even in a losing effort, is still so damn fast and talented. Utah, Cal, and Arizona all held serve against…okay competition.
Presumed winner, as of today: I haven’t gotten to see USC play yet, but from the looks of it their D is eating people and Cody Kessler as a preseason Heisman candidate looks like a good call from where I sit.
BYU won on a Hail Mary. Think I’m a week late in posting this? Nope, they did it again. This time against Boise State. Damn lucky Mormons.
In the American, Houston and Memphis both secured power-5 road wins. ECU looked competent against Florida. And Temple took its Penn State momentum on the road and beat presumed favorite Cincinnati.
Nothing else of consequence happened in the Group of Five, and if it did, well…you must already know about it.
SEC stock report coming tomorrow, because that’s all y’all care about anyway.
To you dear readers who abandoned us because we had nothing to write about:
Welcome back! In case you missed it (going out on a limb here: you probably did), I wrote a WHOLE LOT of College Football Previews this summer. Some good, some bad, some destined to be woefully inaccurate.
Interested in the Big XII? Vanderbilt? The ACC COASTAL!?!?!?! Get a quick overview of all of them below:
6/30: The whole damn thing.
Tweet a link, and tag @Chad_Floyd, and I’ll give you a shoutout during next Monday’s DudeYouPodcast. Or tell me why I’m wrong in the comments section (HINT: I picked Stanford to win the Pac-12 North).
Let’s go back in time 25 years, and picture a Pac-12 with divisions as they stand today. Historically great USC. UCLA with the tradition of playing home games in the Rose Bowl. Arizona State being a good, sometimes great program. Hell, even Colorado (as of 1991) was the two-time defending Big Eight champion.
Meanwhile, the North had Washington at its peak…and nothing else, really.
Why do I bring this up? Because after a few years of Stanford and Oregon dominating the conference from the upper reaches of the American Pacific, the South has risen again.
What Happened Last Year?
Excluding Colorado, who finished 0-9 in the conference, the South was a ridiculous 15-6 against the North (with four losses to Oregon, including the Ducks beating Arizona’s brakes off in the title game). Both USC and Arizona swept the North in the regular season, and five teams had winning conference records.
Division champ Arizona seems poised for the biggest dropoff, but its pretty fair to argue that they are still the best-coached team in the league as long as Rich Rodriguez is at the helm. They return linebacker Scooby Wright, who won the Nagurski, Bendarik, and Lombardi awards last year as a sophomore, a ton of skill talent…and are still picked by Phil Steele to finish 5th in this division. USC is everyone’s sexy pick to make the CFP. UCLA is a Brett Hundley replacement away from being another viable contender.
If the SEC West had a team as weak as Colorado, one could make the argument that the Pac-12 South is set to be the best division in college football this year. It may be anyway.
6: If you read above, duh: Colorado is really bad at football, but they showed a pulse for the first time since the infamous A.J. Green suspended in 2010 win over Georgia. They took Cal and UCLA to double overtime, and lost to Oregon State and Utah by a combined nine points as well. In the old Bobby Bowden “lose big, lose close, win close, win big” paradigm, the Buffs could be approaching “win close” status. They’ll get their fifth Pac-12 win this year, maintaining their four-year average of one per year. Poor Colorado.
5: The other new-ish-comer: Utah rode a hellacious front seven to a 9-4 record last year, but as Jason Kirk of SBNation said on a recent episode of the “Shutdown Fullcast”, it was a Utah team that we’d all be talking about coming off a 13 or 14 win season if they were still in the Mountain West.
4-1: The CaliZona Foursome: I originally lumped the first two together because they have the trickiest roads to hoe, and both suffered major personnel losses. Upon a quick copyedit, however, I can’t really do enough to separate them.
4) Arizona: Reading above, you’d think I’d be higher on the Wildcats. They still have Rich Rodriguez, Scooby Wright, and sophomore QB Anu Solomon. What they don’t have, however, is a terribly easy schedule. They miss Oregon for the first time in forever, but travel to Stanford, Washington, USC, and Arizona St. I could probably talk myself into them if I wanted to.
3) UCLA: They suffer the biggest personnel loss in the conference, as Brett Hundley is replaced either by a true freshman or Rick Neuheisel’s walk-on son. Why might I regret this? The true freshman QB (Josh Rosen) was the top-ranked passer in his class, they return their top five receivers, and the Pac-12’s leading rusher. And five starters on the OL.
I could probably talk myself into UCLA, too. But, passing league and freshman QB. Let’s stick here.
2) USC: Yesterday, I was still fighting non-firing brain synapses writing the North preview, and I picked Stanford to win. Today, I become one of few NOT to pick USC to win the South. Why?
Well, you take good Steve Sarkisian with bad Steve Sarkisian. The guy who’s only won more than 7 games twice (each of the past two years). The guy with inexplicable losses at Oregon State and Washington State with good Washington teams, and Boston College with a talented Trojan team last year.
On the other hand, Cody Kessler and his 70% completions, 39 TD, and 5 picks is back. They return 14 starters in mostly key spots, including the OL, interior DL, and secondary.
They’re still a year away for my tastes. Road trips to Arizona State (SPOILER!), Notre Dame, and Oregon don’t help.
1) Arizona State: I mention Sark not winning the games he should, then look at ASU missing the Pac-12 championship game because of a loss to Oregon State. Yeah.
The Sun Devils return a TON of their defense, and bring in a Bill Snyder-ian haul of JuCos to further bolster that side of the ball. They moved D.J. Foster to the Jaelen Strong role in the receiving game, and have a QB in Mike Bercovici who played exceptionally well in his injured predecessor’s stead last year.
Or maybe I am biased because TimeHop tells me I was overlooking Sun Devil Stadium two years ago today.
Let’s see how wrong I can possibly be!
Top Five Games
1) UCLA at USC, Nov. 28: Got to start at the pundits’ top, and not my own. And hey, Rage wrote the name of the rivalry!
2) USC at Arizona State, Sept. 26: After five of these articles, I think this is the first intra-conference battle with legitimate consequences for the division race. ASU has won three of four against SoCal, and gets the Trojans licking wounds from the always-physical Stanford game.
3) Oregon at Arizona State, Oct. 29: HALLOWEEN WEEKEND THURSDAY NIGHTERS IN THE DESERT!
4) USC at Oregon, Nov. 21: Man, the Ducks have a lot of tough games this year.
5) Colorado at Oregon State, Oct. 24: So, SO far from the 5th best game on the Pac-12 South schedule, it’s Colorado’s aforementioned best shot at a conference win. This is almost assuredly one of the midnight start #PACtion games we love.
5a) Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (in Houston), Sept. 5: We quickly get to see just how wrong I was in annointing Todd Graham’s Sun Devils. You’re welcome, readers.
Ten Players to Watch
Yep, back to ten for the good divisions.
– D.J. Foster, RB, ASU: Ran for 1081 last year, and caught 62 passes out of the backfield. Now, he’s a full-time receiver, so the Marshall Faulk act is over.
– Cody Kessler, QB, USC: Everyone’s favorite for the Heisman. He loses 5 of his top 7 targets from last year, and his leading rusher. We shall see…
– Su’a Cravens, ROV, USC: He was the nation’s top safety coming out of high school a few years ago, and has already been a freshman All-American and a third-team All-American in two years. Pac-12 Rovers are essentially nickel backs, but it would be fascinating to see him as a Roy Williams-type box safety at 6’1 225.
– Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: I keep hearing the words “he’s not a normal freshman” on SiriusXM previews. He’s still a freshman, and it’s a shame because UCLA is STACKED.
– Myles Jack, LB/RB, UCLA: This guy. 15 tackles for loss, 18 pass breakups, and 380 rushing yards in two years? Beast.
– Eddie Vanderoes, DT, UCLA: Y’all may remember him as the one who showed up to fall camp at Notre Dame and transferred to UCLA like, a week in. Turns out he ended up being better than like, 99.9% of the wishy-washy mega recruits before him.
– Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Panthers DT Star Lotulelei apparently has a brother, and he had 33 tackles and 4 sacks as a true freshman. That havoc-wreaking Utah defense? He’s going to play a vital role keeping Gionni Paul and Jared Norris clean.
– Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona: Clinched the win at Oregon with a strip-sack of Marcus Mariota to make a name for himself…then finished the season with 163 tackles (15 for loss) AND 14 sacks. Yeah.
– Nick Wilson, RB, Arizona: He and Anu Solomon are going to make a HELLUVA read option combo in year two.
– X, Y, Colorado: Man, I tried, y’all.
Time to get back to the East Coast tomorrow.
6/30: Big XII: https://dudeyoucrazy.net/2015/06/30/know-your-other-conferences-big-xii-edition/
7/1: B1G West: https://dudeyoucrazy.net/2015/07/01/know-your-other-conferences-b1g-west-im-sorry/
7/2: B1G East: https://dudeyoucrazy.net/2015/07/02/know-your-other-conferences-the-b1g-east-the-one-where-the-fun-schools-play/
7/7: Pac-12 North: https://dudeyoucrazy.net/2015/07/07/know-your-other-conferences-pac-12-north/