If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that the only team that mattered in the Pac-12 was USC. The Trojans are backĀ to being able to compete for the conference championship and that’s all anyone can seem to talk about regarding the Pac-12. Yes the Trojans are extremely talented, but it won’t be a cakewalk to the title especially with a regular season date with Oregon in November and a possible rematch in the title game. Depending on how things turn out the Pac-12 championship game could be a play-in for a BCS title game slot.

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South
1) USC
The Trojans will have one of the most talented teams in the country. It all starts with QB Matt Barkley, back for his senior season. He’ll be throwing to a pair of elite WRs in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Curtis McNeal and Penn State transfer Silas Redd form a potent backfield. Even the O-line is talented though there is a gaping hole at LT with the loss of Matt Kalil. The defense could be just as good with guys like S TJ McDonald, CB Nickell Robey and LB Dion Bailey.

2) Utah
The Utes look like the best bet to possibly unseat USC in the South. The key might be for QB Jordan Wynn to stay healthy, but he’ll have All-Pac 12 RB Jordan White with him in the backfield and a collection of WRs as targets. The defense could be one of the best in the conference, with probable top Draft pick NT Star Lotulelei up front and an incredibly tough secondary, including CB Ryan Lacy, SS Brian Blechen and FS Eric Lowe.

3) UCLA
So much for the Neuheisel era. Jim Mora now leads the Bruins and wants to pass more on offense more, but must settle on a QB first. The WRs haven’t really proven themselves yet, but TE Joseph Fauria is a big target and RBs Jonathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman will make for a solid ground game. The defense will be the team’s strength and has talent at every level in DE Datone Jones, LB Eric Kendricks and S Tevin McDonald.

4) Colorado
It wasn’t a pretty first season in the Pac 12 for the Buffaloes, but there is reason for optimism. The offense will be at a disadvantage trying to sort out new starters at several positions, but there are several options. The defense has potential with guys like DE Chidero Uzo-Diribe and LB Jon Major, but must put it all together to succeed.

5) Arizona
Rich Rod is in Tucson to see if he can replicate the Morgantown success he couldn’t in Ann Arbor. Matt Scott appears to be the QB and there is depth at the other skill positions, but there will growing pains as Rodriguez tries to make his system work. He has his former D-coordinator at WVU who will try to implement his own system, a common theme for the Wildcats this year.

6) Arizona State
New coach Todd Graham has a terrific offensive weapon in RB Cameron Marshall as the focal point of the offense, but the QB and receiver positions are unsettled as no one has stepped up. There isn’t much in terms of stars on the defense, but DT Will Sutton, LB Brandon Magee and CB Osahon Irabor are leaders at each level.

North
1) Oregon
The Ducks lose alot of talent, but with The Greater Kelly (Chip not Brian) they’ll always have a well oiled machine. Marcus Mariota takes over at QB and even with LaMike gone they have Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas at RB, plus underrated Josh Huff at WR. Thomas in particular has game-changing talent. Though they’re not known for their defense, it’s always one that does enough for the offense to blow by opponents.

2) Cal
The Bears run game is set with talented RB Isi Sofele, but the passing is another matter. QB Zach Maynard and WR Keenan Allen form a good duo, but the receivers after Allen leave something to be desired. The line should be alright despite no real standout player. The defense is loaded with talent and potential from young guys like LB Chris McCain and CB Stefan McClure to vets like CB Marc Anthony and S Josh Hill.

3) Stanford
It’s a new era in Palo Alto, but the post-Luck won’t start off with as big a drop as some think. RB Stepfan Taylor will get a chance in the spotlight and running behind a stout O-line will help. The WRs aren’t that special, but for the Cardinal it’s the TEs that are the big receivers, despite the loss of Coby Fleener. The defensive front seven will be very aggressive, led by LBs Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov, though the secondary is a big question mark.

4) Washington
The good news for the offense is that Keith Price is back at QB, but the team must replace Chris Polk at RB, with Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey looking to do so. WR Kasen Williams is primed for a breakout year. The defense is being reshuffled though the secondary will be solid with several returning starters and DE Josh Shirley will be a pass rush machine up front.

5) Washington State
Mike Leach is back in the coaching ranks and looking to make another high-powered offense. Luckily for him he has several WRs, led by Marquess Wilson, not to mention a pair of RBs in Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston. Jeff Tuel looks to be the QB, but will have to deal with a thin O-line. The defense might be the worst in the conference and will most likely remain so with very little talent across the board.

6) Oregon State
The Beavers will fight to stay out of the North cellar, but it won’t be because of the offense. QB Sean Mannion is back and has a pair of WRs in Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks to get the aerial attack going, while Storm Woods is the most talented RB on the team. The defense was a massive liability, though with most of the starters returning, there could be some improvement.