Pac-12 Football 2019 Predictions

Complete Pac-12 preview for the 2019 season

The Pac-12 has missed on a team earning a spot in the College Football Playoff in back-to-back seasons, and there’s a good chance that streak extends to three in a row in 2019. Athlon’s Pac-12 predictions didn’t generate a playoff team from this conference, but there are plenty of intriguing (and tight) battles to sort out.

 

At the top of the North Division, it’s a tight battle between Washington and Oregon. On paper, the Ducks have an advantage in established talent going into the season. Quarterback Justin Herbert and a standout offensive line lead the way on offense, and linebacker Troy Dye passed on the NFL to guide the defense. Washington returns just two starters on defense, but it’s safe to assume coordinator Jimmy Lake will have this unit performing at a high level early in the 2019 campaign. Offensively, the Huskies are strong up front and return plenty of talent at the skill positions. How quickly will Jacob Eason settle into the starting role? Washington has two big advantages in this battle for the top spot in the North: Chris Petersen and home-field advantage for the Oct. 19 showdown.

 

Washington State just missed Athlon’s projected top 25 teams for 2019, but this team will factor into the North Division. The Cougars bring back six starters from a solid defense, while Eastern Washington transfer quarterback Gage Gubrud should keep the offense firing on all cylinders. The biggest obstacle for Mike Leach’s team is a schedule that features road trips to Utah, Arizona State, Oregon, California and Washington. Stanford is a step behind the Cougars in the North projections. Coach David Shaw’s team returns one of the league’s top quarterbacks (K.J. Costello), but the offensive line, ground game and defense are all big question marks. California will have one of the league’s top defenses but more punch is needed out of an offense that averaged only 21.5 points a game last fall. Oregon State should continue to improve in coach Jonathan Smith’s second year. However, the Beavers may have trouble exceeding last season’s win total (two).

 

 

While there’s a debate for No. 1 at the top of the North Division, the unquestioned favorite in the South is Utah. Coach Kyle Whittingham’s team is loaded on both sides of the ball and enters 2019 with few question marks. Quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss are back after missing the final five games of ’18 with injuries. New play-caller Andy Ludwig should help Huntley reach his potential in 2019. Utah’s defense ranks among the best in college football, anchored by a deep defensive line and standout cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

 

Not much separates UCLA, USC, Arizona State and Arizona in the second tier of the Pac-12 South. The Bruins played better over the second half of 2018 and won’t have to play Oregon or Washington in crossover play. Coach Chip Kelly’s team should get some improvement from a defense that returns nine starters, and the offense can lean on running back Joshua Kelley until quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson settles into the full-time job. The 2019 season could be a make-or-break year for USC coach Clay Helton, and the schedule isn’t favorable for a quick rebound. The Trojans have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but this team needs a big jump from quarterback JT Daniels, the offensive line and better overall play on defense. Arizona State coach Herm Edwards exceeded expectations in his first year in Tempe and another seven-win season wouldn’t be a surprise. The Sun Devils boast one of the league’s top running backs (Eno Benjamin) and could have one of the Pac-12's best defenses with six starters returning. Replacing quarterback Manny Wilkins and receiver N’Keal Harry are the biggest offseason concerns for Edwards. Arizona has room for improvement on defense, but coach Kevin Sumlin needs a healthy year out of quarterback Khalil Tate to navigate a tough schedule. A brutal schedule and a roster with concerns on both sides of the ball greet new Colorado coach Mel Tucker. Receiver Laviska Shenault should push for All-America honors.

 

Pac-12 2019 Unit Rankings

Best RB 

Units

Best WR

Units

Best OL

Units

Best DL

Units

Best LB
Units

Best DB

Units

1.  1.  1.  1.  1.  1. 
2.  2.  2.  2.  2.  2. 
3.  3.  3.  3.  3.  3. 
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5.  5.  5.  5.  5.  5. 
6.  6.  6.  6.  6.  6. 

 

 

Pac-12 Football 2019 Predictions
       
North Division
Rank Team Projected Pac-12 Record Projected Overall Record
1 Washington 7-2 11-2
2 Oregon 7-2 9-3
3 Washington State 5-4 8-4
4 Stanford 5-4 7-5
5 California 3-6 6-6
6 Oregon State 1-8 2-10
       
South Division
Rank Team Projected Pac-12 Record Projected Overall Record
1 Utah 7-2 10-3
2 UCLA 6-3 7-5
3 USC 4-5 6-6
4 Arizona State 4-5 6-6
5 Arizona 3-6 6-6
6 Colorado 2-7 4-8
       
Pac-12 Championship Game
Washington over Utah

 

PAC-12 2019 SUPERLATIVES AND SEASON PREDICTIONS

 

Offensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon 

Pick by Mitch Light: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Pick by Mark Ross: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

 

Defensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Pick by Mitch Light: Evan Weaver, LB, California
Pick by Mark Ross: Evan Weaver, LB, California
 

Coach of the Year

Pick by Steven Lassan: Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Pick by Mitch Light: Kyle Whittingham, Utah
Pick by Mark Ross: Mario Cristobal, Oregon
 

Coach on the Hot Seat

Pick by Steven Lassan: Clay Helton, USC

Pick by Mitch Light: Clay Helton, USC

Pick by Mark Ross: Clay Helton, USC

 

Top Freshman

Pick by Steven Lassan: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DL, Oregon

Pick by Mitch Light: Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State

Pick by Mark Ross: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DL, Oregon

 

Top Newcomer

Pick by Steven Lassan: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

Pick by Mitch Light: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

Pick by Mark Ross: Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

 

Sleeper Team

Pick by Steven Lassan: UCLA 

Pick by Mitch Light: UCLA

Pick by Mark Ross: Arizona

 

Key Position to Watch

Pick by Steven Lassan: Oregon WRs

Pick by Mitch Light: USC OL

Pick by Mark Ross: Washington LB/DB

 

Best Coordinator Hire

Pick by Steven Lassan: Andy Ludwig, OC, Utah

Pick by Mitch Light: Andy Ludwig, OC, Utah

Pick by Mark Ross: Andy Ludwig, OC, Utah

 

Hardest Team to Evaluate

Pick by Steven Lassan: USC

Pick by Mitch Light: USC

Pick by Mark Ross: Colorado

 

Coach on the Rise

Pick by Steven Lassan: Jimmy Lake, DC, Washington

Pick by Mitch Light: Justin Wilcox, HC, California

Pick by Mark Ross: Mario Cristobal, HC, Oregon

 

Must-See Game

Pick by Steven Lassan: Utah at Washington

Pick by Mitch Light: Utah at Washington

Pick by Mark Ross: Oregon at Washington

 

Breakout Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Palaie Gaoteote IV, LB, USC

Pick by Mitch Light: Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington

Pick by Mark Ross: Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington

 

Comeback Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington

Pick by Mitch Light: Trey Adams, OT, Washington

Pick by Mark Ross: Zack Moss, RB, Utah

 

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