The conference's streak of missing the College Football Playoff ends this season
The polls are rolling out and the odds are being set. The 2019 college football season is upon us.
All of the most prolific talking heads have had their say, and yet none of them seem to think there could be a national championship contender coming out of the Pac-12.
There's a lot going on out West, and the Pac-12 could end up being one of the most exciting conferences in the country by season's end.
With that in mind, let's make some OUTRAGEOUS* college football predictions for the Pac-12 in 2019.
Outrageous College Football Predictions for the Pac-12 in 2019
Cal finally beats Stanford
The Cardinal have won nine straight against the boys from Berkeley, but that's about to change. Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has one of the more experienced defenses in the conference at his disposal. He's catching Stanford in a year where the team just lost prolific skill players at running back and receiver. Additionally, the Cardinal only have eight players returning with significant starting experience. The stars are aligned for this rivalry to tilt the other way.
Stanford misses a bowl game
Yes, I'm going to keep piling on Stanford. Every program takes a step back at some point -- some longer than others. I don't expect the Cardinal to be down long, but things just don't look great for David Shaw and Co. in 2019. They open with defending Big Ten West champ Northwestern and then get back-to-back road games with USC and UCF to start the season. And then they still need to play Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Notre Dame. This team isn't mature enough to navigate that kind of schedule successfully.
Khalil Tate re-emerges as a Heisman candidate
Tate was the talk of college football in 2017, only to flounder in his first season under Kevin Sumlin and a staff that tried to make him more of a pocket passer. I believe lessons were learned all around, and we'll see Tate looking more like the 2017 version of himself. Subsequently, that means Arizona will be must-see TV and a tough out in 2019.
Colorado wins the South
The Buffaloes are picked to finish last by many outlets, but they may be the biggest wild card in the conference. They have a new head coach in Mel Tucker who is going to put more emphasis on stingy defense. They also have the best quarterback-receiver combination in the Pac-12 in Steven Montez-Laviska Shenault Jr. That alone is going to change the way opposing defenses play them, opening up a lot of options in the playbook. Colorado is playing with house money in 2019, and these Buffs are going all in.
Oregon runs the table
The best quarterback in the conference plays for Oregon. He'll take snaps behind the best offensive line in the conference. That offense will be backed up by a defense with a healthy combination of experience and playmakers -- as well as a new identity. New defensive coordinator Andy Avalos is installing that swarming defense we've seen at Boise State over the last couple of seasons. The Ducks are loaded and ready to make a run at the College Football Playoff and earn back some of the respect the Pac-12 has lost nationally as of late.
*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!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.