A lot of people are mistakenly hyping up a blue blood and doubting the defending champion
The polls are coming out. The odds are set. The pundits and prognosticators have all had their say. There really isn't much more to do before the 2017 college football season kicks off, right?
Who am I kidding?
For better or worse, it's time once again for some OUTRAGEOUS* college football predictions heading into the 2017 slate.
Continuing on with our preseason series of outrageousness, it's time to take a look at the Pac-12. It's been an increasingly exciting conference to watch over the last couple of seasons, and 2017 won't be any different – especially given the hype surrounding at least one blue blood program out west.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Pac-12 in 2017
Oregon will finish below .500 again
A lot of people are high on new head coach Willie Taggart, thinking he can turn things around in Eugene rather quickly. The Ducks should be able to score against most teams, but they'll be involved in far too many shootouts as a result of a fairly young and inexperienced defense. To make matters worse, they unexpectedly lost perhaps their best receiver (Darren Carrington III) over the summer. Running back Royce Freeman is an elite talent, but there aren't enough other elite pieces on this offense to overcome the damage that teams like Nebraska, Wyoming, Washington State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Washington are going to do to the Ducks' defense on the scoreboard. Yes, I'm calling Wyoming over Oregon.
USC won't play in the Pac-12 title game
Within the last week I heard a national radio host call the Trojans a "safe bet" to play for the Pac-12 title. It seems like this happens following every season where USC finishes strong and has a couple of top-tier players returning. What nobody seems to notice is the talented gauntlet of teams the Men of Troy face this season – including a couple of brutal road trips. They'll host an absolutely loaded and mature Stanford team that will be coming off an easier game against Rice than the Trojans have against Western Michigan, and have less time to recover. Road trips to Washington State and Colorado will test USC's young depth chart, while a season-ending tilt with UCLA could create some matchup issues. Two conference losses will be enough to keep USC on the outside looking in when it comes to the Pac-12 title game.
Josh Rosen has a better year than Sam Darnold
It seems like everyone sort of forgot about Rosen last year. After missing the second half of the 2016 season due to shoulder surgery, Rosen and the entire Bruins team were basically an afterthought. He returns healthy and motivated in 2017, complete with an experienced arsenal of skill players to distribute the ball to and an underrated defense ready to get the ball back to him for maximum scoring opportunities. USC's Sam Darnold may have been the talk of the summer, but Rosen will be the story of the year in the Pac-12.
Colorado repeats as Pac-12 South champs
What happened last season was not a fluke. The Buffaloes were loaded with talent and Mike MacIntyre is a rising star in the coaching ranks. Colorado returns the bulk of a solid offense, including one of the most underrated running backs in the nation in Phillip Lindsay. The Buffs will take a slight step back on defense, but there are enough talented athletes on that side of the ball to improve as the season goes on. Look for Colorado to lead the Pac-12 in scoring en route to a second consecutive division crown.
Washington runs the table all the way to the College Football Playoff
Speaking of last season not being a fluke, I present the Washington Huskies. Chris Petersen just wins. His system works, and it works even better with one of the most efficient and experienced signal-callers in the country returning under center. Expect a couple of new faces and stars to emerge on both sides of the ball and a talented linebacking corps to be the catalyst that leads the Huskies to being the conference's stingiest defense. After navigating a fairly manageable schedule considering the talent they'll have, expect the Huskies to appear in college football's final four once again.
*Remember, "outrageous" can be defined as “wildly exaggerated or improbable,” and “very bold, unusual, and startling.” These are "outrageous" predictions and should be treated as such.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.