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2013 Football Conference Review: Pac-12

Stanford still sticking around at the top of the conference.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 made a real strong case that it is the second best conference in football. Was it that way last year too? Here's a review of those Western teams.


North Division


Predicted: 11-1 (8-1)

Actual: 10-2 (7-2)

Things were looking so good for Oregon two-thirds of the way through this season. They were 8-0, scored 40+ points in every game, and Marcus Mariota was a leading candidate for the Heisman. In that eighth game they beat UCLA by 4 touchdowns but they lost another close game to Stanford the next week and played possibly their worst game in years in a blowout loss at Arizona later on. They limped to the finish, barely beat Oregon State in the finale, and Mariota didn't even get invited to the Heisman ceremony.

The Ducks will play Texas in the Alamo Bowl.


Predicted: 10-2 (7-2)

Actual: 11-2 (7-2)

Stanford showed glimpses of being a national title contender but just couldn't be consistent enough on offense to remain in the conversation. The loss at Utah hurt a lot at the time but in the end they are still back in the Rose Bowl after winning the conference. This is now 4 straight seasons of 10+ wins for Stanford---will they make it five in a row next fall?

The Cardinal will play Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.


Predicted: 8-4 (5-4)

Actual: 6-6 (4-5)

Expectations were fairly high for the Beavers coming off a 9-win season and it's safe to say they were a disappointment in 2013. At one point they won 6 straight but the problem is that streak was preceded by a loss to FCS Eastern Washington and book-ended by finishing the season with 5 straight losses. Their offense was quite explosive at time (34.5 PPG) but the defense sometimes atrocious (32.1 PPG).

Oregon State will play Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.


Predicted: 8-4 (5-4)

Actual: 8-4 (5-4)

Washington played 4 ranked teams and lost to every single one of them. But they took care of business in the rest of their games and it was enough to impress USC to hire Steve Sarkisian away from Seattle. Sure it felt like Washington was always underachieving but 8 wins is their most since 2001 (that's a really long time) and the Pac-12 is much stronger now than it was then.

Washington will play BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.


Predicted: 4-8 (2-7)

Actual: 6-6 (4-5)

This was pretty close to an amazing season for Washington State's recent standards and a job well done by Mike Leach. They barely lost to Auburn (a defeat that looks great in hindsight), beat USC, and finished with 3 road wins in league play. Of course, they were completely blown out in 4 of their losses which should keep them sufficiently humble. It will be intriguing to see where the ceiling for this program is under Leach.

The Cougars will play Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl.


Predicted: 3-9 (2-7)

Actual: 1-11 (0-9)

There's not much to say about the first year of the Sonny Dykes era in Berkeley. The Bears had possibly the worst defense in the entire country and they didn't hold a single opponent under 30 points. Think about how ridiculous that stat is---even their FCS opponent got to 30 points! This job might not be a major rebuild but Cal is clearly the basement team in the division for the foreseeable future.


South Division


Predicted: 10-3 (7-2)

Actual: 9-4 (6-3)

The Trojans' season can be summed up by an inconsistent offense, one awful game on defense, and a fired head coach. Out of their 4 losses they scored 14 or less in 3 of them and of course they gave up 62 points to Arizona State in the other loss. All things considered this season probably feels worse for USC then their record indicates. A win in their bowl game would make them 35-17 over the past 4 seasons. Honestly, their Kiffin/sanctions era could have been much, much worse.

USC will face Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.


Predicted: 9-3 (7-2)

Actual: 10-3 (8-1)

Should Todd Graham be getting some of the love that's being directed Jim Mora's way in the Pac-12? They both have the same record after two years. It's too bad ASU had to play Stanford otherwise they would have easily been a BCS bowl team this season. Well, you could say that about a dozen or more teams I suppose. My point is the Sun Devils haven't looked this strong in a very long time. Will Graham stay in the desert for much longer?

Arizona State will play Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.


Predicted: 8-4 (5-4)

Actual: 7-5 (4-5)

What are we to think of the Rich Rod era at Arizona? With a bowl win he'll post back-to-back 8-5 seasons which is decent given the recent history of the program but he's yet to really do anything of significance in the Pac-12. Will next year be his move up the division ladder?

The Wildcats will play Boston College in the AdvoCare Bowl.


Predicted: 7-5 (5-4)

Actual: 9-3 (6-3)

I thought UCLA would tread water in Mora's second season but they improved and overcame a lot of adversity. They did lose all 3 games against ranked teams though. Nevertheless, they went into Lincoln and won and finished the year strong with a solid win over USC. It's the first time in 15 years that UCLA has won consecutive games against the Trojans.

The Bruins will play Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl.


Predicted: 4-8 (2-7)

Actual: 5-7 (2-7)

Kyle Whittingham is one of the my favorite coaches in the country. I don't know why. He seems like a nice fellow. He's not doing so hot in a major conference unfortunately. After posting a decent 8-5 season in 2011 it's back-to-back 5-win seasons for the Utes. Will they ever climb out of the bottom two in this division?


Predicted: 3-9 (1-8)

Actual: 4-8 (1-8)

It seems like Colorado has been terrible forever but it was really the 2011-12 seasons that brought this program to a new low. Winning just one game in conference won't turn any heads but they did win 3 more games overall than last year. Hey, that's some desperately needed progress in Boulder.