Now that every school is finished with spring practice, here's an updated look at how the Pac-12 power rankings will look in 2017:
1. USC: The Trojans will enter the 2017 with the nation’s second-longest winning streak (nine) and the Heisman Trophy favorite at quarterback in Sam Darnold. The spring saw the emergence of several talented young receivers, but injury problems on the offensive line are a concern.
2. Washington: After winning the Pac-12 and advancing to the College Football Playoff, the Huskies appear on track to be a national power for years under coach Chris Petersen. Quarterback Jake Browning, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, had shoulder surgery in January, but Petersen said Browning had no limitations following their spring game on April 22.
3. Stanford: The first two players from the Pac-12 selected in the NFL draft both came from Stanford, but even without defensive end Solomon Thomas and running back Christian McCaffrey, the Cardinal figures to be a conference-title contender. Call it faith in David Shaw. Since he became the coach in 2011, Stanford has averaged 10.7 wins per year.
4. Washington State: Need more proof Mike Leach is one of the best coaches in the country? Try this: The Cougars have won 17 games over the past two seasons but have had just two players drafted in the past two years (guard Joe Dahl, 2016; safety Shalom Luani, 2017). With quarterback Luke Falk returning for his final season, WSU should again be in the mix in the Pac-12 North.
5. Colorado: There is a lot of talent to replace on defense, but coach Mike MacIntyre has done an excellent job building something that should last for years. The Buffaloes have one of the best groups of receivers in the conference, return second-team All-Pac-12 running back Phillip Lindsay and should be in good shape with Steven Montez replacing Sefo Liufau at quarterback.
6. Utah: It feels like only a matter of time before the Utes break through and win the Pac-12 South, but they’re facing an uphill climb next year considering they must replace eight NFL draft picks – the most in the Pac-12 – and defensive end Hunter Dimick. New offensive coordinator Troy Taylor was an intriguing hire and should breathe life into the Utes’ passing game.
7. UCLA: The good news is quarterback Josh Rosen appears to be completely recovered from the shoulder injury that cost him the second half of last season, but it still remains to be seen if UCLA can fix its ailing running game. Jim Mora brought in Jedd Fisch to run the offense and he spent the spring tailoring a scheme to best fit what UCLA’s players do best.
8. Oregon: If Oregon’s spring game on Saturday answered anything, it’s that Justin Herbert should be the starting quarterback. Oregon’s issues, though, haven’t been on offense. The Ducks still need to prove they can improve defensively before expectations can be raised.
9. Oregon State: Coach Gary Andersen inherited a mess, but it’s clear he has the Beavers trending in the right direction. Junior college-transfer Jake Luton appears to be the front-runner at quarterback, a position Oregon State has struggled at since Sean Mannion departed for the NFL two years ago.
10. Arizona State: The Sun Devils came out of spring without a starting quarterback, but it still seems unlikely that Alabama transfer Blake Barnett won’t ultimately win the job. However, similar to Oregon, Arizona State’s ability to compete consistently hinges on the need for significant improve on defense.
11. Arizona: With a new athletic director in Tucson following a 3-9 season, 2017 will be pivotal for Arizona football. We know Rich Rodriguez can coach, but the Wildcats lack of talent will likely be an issue again. Last week’s draft marked the third time in five years that zero Wildcats heard their name called.
12. California: Justin Wilcox put together a strong staff, especially considering how late he came on board, but there are a lot of holes to fill for a team with a challenging nonconference schedule and a tough division. They’ll need some time to get things turned around.