Pac-12: Oregon Ducks picked to finish first

Another NCAA football season is right around the corner. Teams are just beginning to arrive and start their summer workouts to prepare for a late August or early September kickoff to the season.

The Pac-12 will once again have a strong contingent of teams competing for the right to go to the BCS Championship.

Early season predictions have the Oregon Ducks at the top of the heap out west. Consensus has Oregon edging out the Stanford Cardinal and the UCLA Bruins in preseason polls that were just released at the end of last week during media day for the conference.

Oregon in the media poll took 14 out of 25 first place votes for the North Division, while the Cardinal, the defending champions of the Rose Bowl, was given 11 first place votes.

Marcus Mariota the sophomore quarterback for Oregon said he was honored the media felt that way, but it would not affect the hard work they were doing each day.

While the preseason polls have Oregon and Stanford battling out the top of the Pac-12, there are teams from as far south as Tempe and as far north as Seattle hoping to have breakthrough seasons. At the same time, football fans in LA are trying to determine if the football pecking order has shifted.

Chip Kelly is gone, but Oregon should not slip without him. Their former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was hired to take Kelly’s place when he left to coach the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Much of the offense and the team’s innovative mentality will remain, since Helfrich does not want to fix something that is not broken. In Kelly’s four seasons at Oregon, he was wildly successful and the new coach knows it is best to stick with a good thing.

Helfrich said the talks would be the same, the practices will be the same and the workouts the same. Some things will be tweaked, as changes always happen, especially with a new head coach.

However, Helfrich said the players believe in what the coaches want them to do and that is what is most important.

This season the Pac-12 has three new head coaches. Besides Helfrich, Colorado hired Mike MacIntyre and California has Sonny Dykes, both of those programs are in a rebuilding stage.

Last season Oregon was victorious in the Fiesta Bowl, which was their fourth straight BCS Bowl appearance. They lost their head coach and eight of their 22 starters from last season.

However, Mariota is back and hailed by his new coach and David Shaw the coach of Stanford as the best QB in the country. Let’s not forget De’Anthony Thomas, who is multi-talented and can become a great tailback or do a little bit of everything on offense.

The media of the Pac-12 have correctly predicted the conference champion in 11 out of the past 13 seasons, but Cardinal Head coach Shaw is not throwing in the towel quite yet, as they will meet head to head with the Ducks on November 7 at home.

The Cardinal lost only seven starters from last seasons’ 12-2 team that won the Rose Bowl versus Wisconsin.

In Los Angeles, the changing of the guard could be taking place, as UCLA could turn out much stronger than USC. The Bruins were picked by the media to win the South division of the conference ahead of Arizona and USC, who was third.

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