The 2017 college football season is just around the corner, and it’s time to honor the best of the best for the upcoming year. The 2017 season features plenty of big names returning to the gridiron, including a standout group of quarterbacks.
Only one team has not yet claimed a solo Pac-12 South crown. Utah has come close to breaking through over the last three seasons. The Utes have won at least nine games — including a bowl game — and finished with a Top 25 ranking each year.
After a dismal, 4-8 finish in the 2016 season, UCLA football needs to bounce back in 2017. The return of Josh Rosen at quarterback, after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury, sets a positive tone. UCLA also is rife with talent, the result of strong recruiting throughout head coach Jim Mora's tenure.
Simply put, California is starting over. New head coach Justin Wilcox has been given the task of rebuilding a program that stagnated under Sonny Dykes. Growing pains should be expected not only because of the coaching transition, but also due to the fact a total of 10 starters are returning. Statistically speaking, the Golden Bears’ defense really has only way to go, which is up, but the flip side is the offense is all but guaranteed to take several steps backward.
After four straight winning seasons under Rich Rodriguez, Arizona cratered in 2016, going 3-9 overall and winning just one game in Pac-12 play. The Wildcats couldn’t score (24.8 ppg, 100th in the FBS) and couldn’t stop opponents from scoring either (38.3 ppg, 118th). Not surprisingly, the defensive coaching staff was revamped but that won’t change the talent and depth issues on that side of the ball.
Oregon State won only four games last season, but the Beavers’ progress in head coach Gary Andersen’s second season goes beyond just the wins and losses. Oregon State won its final two Pac-12 games and in the process identified some building blocks.
Washington claimed the Pac-12 title and a CFB Playoff berth last season, and despite some key personnel departures, coach Chris Petersen’s team isn’t fading from the top of the league in 2017. The Huskies are a slight favorite over USC in Athlon’s 2017 Pac-12 predictions, with Oregon, Stanford and Washington State rounding out the next tier.