Praise the damn Lord we’ve just about gotten through all the offseason material here and let me tell you one thing: NEVER again am I doing 25 individual writeups of my top 25. So I hope you enjoyed those this year if you’re one of the five people who read them because that **** took far too long and put me extremely behind the eight ball in terms of getting my stuff out. Fortunately these shoulders can carry the world on them and a little less procrastinating brought us to this point. We continue the final part of the offseason preview with a couple previews looking at the PAC-12 and Big 12. Throughout the rest of the next 24 hours we’ll go through the SEC and throw some national picks in including Heisman, BCS bowls and national awards to wrap up the offseason coverage here at TSHQ. The end goal? Get more right than wrong as I’ve done more reading than I wanted to already and am finally ready to get back to watching games, drinking, and writing angry drunken SSR recaps each Sunday after Texas hoses me again. The season officially returned last night…WELCOME BACK FOOTBALL!!!
Below is everything that has been done to this point of the offseason. The top 25 link takes you to the #1 team in the TSHQ preseason poll and that writeup has links to each of the other 24 teams. Beyond that the rest of the topics are pretty self-explanatory. Yet if I were to sum it up best I’d probably leave it at this. So choose the topics that interest you, give them a read and bash me in the comment section. These shoulders can handle it.
Atlantic Coast and Big 10 Preview
American Athletic and Mountain West Preview
MAC and Independents Preview
Conference USA and Sun Belt Preview
Ten Games That Will Define The Title Chase
Ten Heisman Candidates
Ranking the Conferences
Five Weekends To Circle
Top Storylines for the Season
Coaches On The Hot Seat
Top 5 Non-AQs Not Named Boise State
Replacing 2012′s Stars
New Coaching Faces
Ten Teams Due For a Fall
Ten Teams on the Rise
2013 TSHQ Top 25
1) Records listed next to team name are conference records only. Usually I’ll mention overall records in the writeup. (Exception: Independents are overall record)
2) * Indicates a team who is projected to be a bowl team. You may even see a team get a star then have it removed later (before the season starts) if I’m overzealous in certain leagues. Come the final writeup (SEC/National Picks) the bowl teams will be clear.
1) Oregon 9-0*
2) Stanford 8-1*
3) Oregon State 6-3*
4) Washington 4-5*
5) California 2-7
6) Washington State 1-8
1) Arizona State 7-2*
2) UCLA 6-3 (wins tiebreaker)*
3) Southern Cal 6-3*
4) Arizona 3-6*
5) Utah 2-7
6) Colorado 0-9
PAC 12 Championship: Oregon defeats Arizona State
The PAC-12 North is essentially a two team race. I don’t want to hear any chatter about Oregon State or Washington as neither team can challenge Oregon or Stanford. It’s a back and forth debate but I like the Ducks (shocking!) again in the North after picking them I think each of the last 42 years or so. The offense loses almost nothing as even Kenjon Barner can likely be replaced by the plethora of weapons Mark Helfrich has at his disposal. Byron Marshall plus Thomas Tyner should do their part at running back while everyone knows about the dynamic Deanthony Thomas. Add in a receiving core that is almost completely intact and you have a loaded offense ready to roll again. O yea, did we forget to mention Marcus Mariota who is probably a legitimate second-tier Heisman contender and in my opinion the Ducks best quarterback since the program’s rise to prominence in the last decade. The defense should again be pretty solid and has depth at a few different positions, we’ll see if they can replicate the turnover success of a year ago. Stanford is right there and if you’re on Stanford winning the PAC-12 North I can’t get on you too much. The Cardinal get Oregon at home this year and bring back a ton from one of the country’s top defenses. They get a quarterback in Kevin Hogan who looked very comfortable late in the season last year and David Shaw is emerging as one of the country’s top coaches. There’s certainly question marks to be concerned with as the Cardinal lose Stepfan Taylor as well as both tight ends which collectively made up a lot of their offense. The schedule is not easy and doesn’t set up nearly as favorably as Oregon’s. I have them going 8-1 in PAC-12 play (11-1 overall) but a second loss wouldn’t be surprising. Oregon State has a similar season to last year but again comes up a little behind the big two in the division. One could question where the Beavers rank in the PAC-12 as they may be the conference’s third best team but in a division with Oregon and Stanford it’s tough to move up. With 15 starters back they’ll be tough week in and week out. Washington is right there with Michigan for team I question the most each season. I don’t believe in the Huskies at all and have them needing a win over Washington State to end the year just to get bowl eligibility. People drool over Keith Price but all I think of him is “Why only seven wins a year?” Yea, a quarterback can’t do it all but I’ve seen less talented teams win more games. Washington is Disappointment U. I expect nothing less this season. Bottom of the division you have Cal and Wazzu. Sonny Dykes faces a challenging slate and massive overhaul as a challenge in year one. Mike Leach and the Cougs disappointed me last year when I put some faith in them. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES CHILDREN!
The South is pretty open but you’re looking at Arizona State, UCLA and USC as the three prime candidates. As questionable of a tiebreaker as it may be, what separated a couple for me was the skeds. I basically said I’m not picking UCLA because they play both Oregon and Stanford whereas the other two duck Oregon. In a race that I expect to be close, and considering I count any Oregon game as a loss for the opponent, that difference could be big. When all was said and done I went with the Sun Devils. Todd Graham showed flashes last year of what the Sun Devils could be and with USC at home plus maybe the conference’s best defensive player, they have plenty of positives. The Trojans quarterback situation still seems like a mess as Kiffin didn’t seem confident with either guy going into the opener vs Hawaii. Defensively they had problems last year and Kiffin as a head coach still feels like a big question mark. The talent at the skill positions seems to be there, we just have to see if they have anyone to get those guys the ball as the season progresses. UCLA comes in second with the tiebreaker over USC but I simply don’t have much to offer in the way of analysis. Offensively we know Brett Hundley will carry a heavy burden and the question obviously becomes what happens at running back replacing Jonathan Franklin who was so key to the Bruins last year. Defensively they should be decent and keep the team in games. Anthony Barr and a good front seven may have to bail out a secondary that has a ton to replace. Arizona should have enough to get to six wins though Ka’Deem Carey doesn’t appear to have a ton to work with coming into the season. The Wildcats replace Matt Scott and lost Austin Hill leaving the offense with a bunch of question marks. The defense was a mess last year and has to be a lot better in 2013 or Arizona could miss the postseason. Utah has a tough hill to climb and after a down 2012 season doesn’t appear ready to bounce back with a postseason trip. Colorado could improve on the field but not sure they will in the win column all that much. Don’t see many wins for the Buffs in 2013.
Oregon rolls Arizona State in the PAC-12 title game. I got the Ducks playing for the national title behind that offense, a manageable schedule and some help when the Buckeyes drop one.
1) Texas 7-2 (wins tiebreaker)*
2) Oklahoma State 7-2 (wins tiebreaker)*
3) TCU 7-2*
4) Kansas State 6-3*
5) Oklahoma 5-4 (wins tiebreaker)*
6) Baylor 5-4 (wins tiebreaker)*
7) Texas Tech 4-5*
8) Iowa State 2-7 (wins tiebreaker)
9) West Virginia 2-7
10) Kansas 0-9
*Insert standard comment about the Big 12 being a cluster-f*** and so close*. No need to go into further detail about that as it has been covered ad nauseam on TV, in print and even on multiple TSHQ podcasts. The pick for me is Texas (shocker!) as I love returning starters, don’t like conceding defeat (picking Texas as a BCS at-large last year), and think the defense is in for a resurgence in 2013. “BUT BRYAN, REMEMBER WHEN TEXAS NEARLY LOST TO KANSAS AND GAVE UP A BILLION POINTS TO OKLAHOMA???” Yea I remember that and I’m certainly concerned so why not explain the positives I see. 1) The defense can’t be much worse. Tackling wise this defense was atrocious and with the return of Jackson Jeffcoat I’m confident that can improve. 2) I love the running backs. Collectively did they underwhelm last season? Sure you could definitely make that case. However you had a true freshman and two sophomores. With another year of experience and a more up-tempo offense, I think you could see this collection have a big year, specifically Johnathan Gray. With the defense the other main question is David Ash and whether he can quarterback a Big 12 champion. He showed flashes of it last year but must be more consistent if the Longhorns will come through for me. Second I have the Pokes of Oklahoma State. Lot of panic over the loss of LT Devin Davis and may that becomes a deal-breaker but with two quarterbacks back comfortable stepping in, an experienced receivers corpse that gets a healthy Tracy Moore back to boot and an offensive system that seems to produce no matter what, things look up. Is the defense strong enough? Who knows but Oklahoma State got by a couple years ago on turnovers. While it’s not a recipe for success year in and year out, it might be all they need this year given their ability to produce points. Third feature contender is TCU for me and the Horned Frogs will give Texas and Oklahoma State hell. The return of Casey Pachall gives the offense a weapon it simply lacked most of last season. Add in the conference’s best defense and you have a strong case for putting TCU in the driver’s seat. Gary Patterson and TCU didn’t really get a chance to show their potential in big boy football last year because of the Pachall situation but with an entire offseason to prepare for 2013, I’m very interested to see how they do. Expect them to be in the conference title chase down to the wire.
Uncle. That’s all there is to say on Kansas State. I’m done doubting Bill Snyder. Tap me out, make a call to the bullpen, whatever you want to say. NO MORE. The Wildcats return eight starters, lose basically the entire defense and will win six Big 12 games and finish fourth? Why? I have no idea and I have no idea how yet when it happens I won’t be shocked like I was in 2011 and 2012. Just prepare for it. We all know it’s coming. No sense in trying to analyze the team any more. Oklahoma comes in fifth. Yes, K.M’s Big 12 pick and a program that has dominated the Big 12 for a decade takes four league losses and comes in fifth. Honestly, I’m fairly confident having Oklahoma this far back. Most years there’s not much to question coming into the season but this year I think there’s a few going into 2013. At quarterback for all the crap Landry Jones took he was just about guaranteed production every single season and despite a maybe less than stellar year in 2012 was still pretty good. Does Trevor Knight really step in and put up Jones’ type numbers and if not will the run game compensate for that? The top two pass catchers are gone but the Sooners should have plenty of talent there in the form of underclassmen and returning players. Defensively what happened to the Sooners defenses of old? Someone send out an Amber Alert, haven’t seen it in a while. Baylor serves as a wild card of sorts with a very talented offense year in and year out and a running back in Lache Seastrunk who vows to win the Heisman. The front half of the schedule lends itself to a lot of winnable games. The advantage Baylor gets is while new quarterback Bryce Petty gets his feet wet the Bears should be able to get by on talent alone before a brutal last five games of the year against Oklahoma, Texas Tech, at TCU, at Oklahoma State and Texas. We know they don’t defend so just enjoy the shootout.
Bottom of the league I actually like Texas Tech a bit coming into 2013. While they have a lot to replace from last year’s group and fall under my pet peeve of breaking in a new coach, it may not be any old new coach. Kliff Kingsbury obviously first made a name for himself setting NCAA records as a Texas Tech quarterback but now comes home to coach his alma mater. Was his offensive coordinator success a product of Johnny Manziel or is he that sharp as an offensive mind? That’s question number one we’ll find out in 2013. The offense figures to produce (do any non-Kansas offenses not?) but they will have to get better production from the run game and need a couple guys at receiver to step up to assist a new quarterback. Beyond that are West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas. Iowa State and Kansas I simply can’t waste any more words on given how exhausted I am from this offseason stuff. Read Bill Connelly on SB Nation for a full breakdown on them. As for WVU, they lose Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and couldn’t play defense. A new crop of faces take over the offense from Clint Trickett and Paul Millard at quarterback to Charles Sims at running back who comes over from Houston and adds to the running game. Can they defend? Probably not. Get that arm lose guys.
ALMOST DONE! SEC and National Picks coming out tonight to wrap up the final preview of the offseason. What’s that? The season started? Nothing changed with last night’s results or tonight’s so kiss my ass if you’re critical. In the meantime, AS ALWAYS but ESPECIALLY this Labor Day weekend, you stay ******* classy America….