PAC 12 – 2012
Stanford would be much higher but the schedule is against them. In the CFBMatrix numbers the Cardinal has caught and passed Oregon in our critical 4 year adjusted national recruiting rank. With schedule cycles, without looking, tells me Stanford is on the list for the BCS NCG berth in 2013. But 2012 they are at Oregon, and thus goes the division title. Don’t worry about returning starter numbers as elite teams reload and returning kickers have the same impact numbers as returning QBs. Cal will get beat by Stanford and even with a brutal schedule ends up in 3rd just ahead of Washington. The difference is Call has slightly more talent and Tedford has been the better coach in the CFBMatrix over the last 3 years. Sarkesian is working on 3 straight net negative game effect seasons. The last PAC12 coach to make it 5 straight negative coach effects was Rick Neuheisel. Cal/UW will be played for the 3rd/4th place slots in the PAC12 North. My 5th and 6th place teams are the big question marks. The Beavers and Mike Riley have been CFBMatrix busters for most of the last 10 years. I see them bouncing back to .500 or better but still falling short in a division that has improved its talent at a very fast rate around them. Leach and Washington State is the biggest question mark. While he did great things at Texas Tech the talent recruited there was MUCH higher. I keep hearing above .500, bowl eligible and more from fans. I cannot buy it looking at the numbers. Until I get more data I will stick to the average expectations for coach and talent. WSU stays in the cellar one more year.
The Trojans has some of the best talent in the country and annually are a Matrix BCS NCG potential berth pick. This is one of just 7 teams in the country that models out 12-0 based on talent/schedule alone in 2012. In the last decade any finish of less than 10 wins is a down year. My concern with USC is not the players, it is coaching. Kiffin and staff have not proven to be able to control their destiny and all too often lose too many games they are predicted to win. They win the division, but do not get to the NCG as they split with Oregon and knock each other out of the top 2. The dark horse of the conference remains UCLA. As was predicted in 2011, UCLA will again be in 2nd in the South but in a tie with the over coached Utes. I wonder when folks will understand how good Whittingham truly is and back up the truck to have him run an elite program. Both go 8-4 (or 9-3 and top 25 with another easy OoC game). Arizona State is just above Arizona and Colorado in talent and since I have them beating Colorado (5th) and Arizona (last) they get slid into the 4th spot but still do not become bowl eligible. While Stoops was, in the CFBMatrix, a good game coach, his recruiting was bad and ended worse as the talent in Tucson is a zero. It may be a few years before the Wildcats can even think about the top half of division contention.