2011 Pac-12 Football Simulated Preview From WhatIfSports.com image

2011 Pac-12 Football Simulated Preview

We simulate the Pac-12 football season

By Joel Beall - WhatIfSports.com
Aug. 30, 2011

Once known as the incompetent conference of the Big Six, the Pac-12 has solidified its' standing in the college football world. While Colorado has been dormant for nearly a decade, the addition of a Utah Utes program that's accumulated 42 wins in the past four seasons instills credibility and depth to the league. Once USC is back to full-force in 2012, it's not inconceivable for the Pac-12 to challenge the Big Ten as the second-best conference in the land.

Oregon brings back a loaded squad fresh off a runner-up finish in the National Championship game last season, with stars LaMichael James and Darron Thomas to defend their conference crown. Overwhelmed with experience on the offensive side of the ball, Oregon can theoretically improve upon the nation's best offensive attack, which averaged 47 points per game last season. The Ducks face an early test against LSU in Dallas in Week 1.

Oregon isn't the only one vying for a national championship out west. Coming off their thrashing of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, Stanford brings back golden boy Andrew Luck to try and run the table this season. Losing coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL will hurt the program, but coach David Shaw, a former Cardinal, should be able to maintain the momentum from 2010.

A recurring narrative in the conference will be a focus on the head coaches, as Arizona's Mike Stoops, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel, Washington State's Paul Wulff, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson and even California's Jeff Tedford could be out of work if their teams don't reach the bowl season. Nueheisel and Stoops will especially be on the hot seat, as their output hasn't met the hype surrounding their respective schools.

Using our college football simulation engine, WhatIfSports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this Pac-12 Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of August 19th. What you see in the WIS-Pac-12 Predictions table is the most likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.

WIS-PAC-12 Predictions
Pac-12 NorthWLOverall Record
Oregon8111-1
Stanford7210-2
California456-6
Washington365-7
Oregon State364-8
Washington State274-8
Pac-12 SouthWLOverall Record
Utah729-3
USC548-4
Arizona548-4
Arizona State547-5
UCLA364-8
Colorado274-9

To hide the details, click here.

For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.


Oregon

Darren Thomas

Steve Summers of eDuck.com is our Oregon Ducks insider:

The Pac-12's defending champion dominated the conference last season, coming just 3-points short of the BCS title. This year's Ducks are loaded at every position and boast the top running back in the nation and one of the very best quarterbacks. Slowing down Chip Kelly's offense is a major task and the Ducks look to be better defensively from a team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation last season for several weeks in a row. The opening game against LSU will likely match the No. 1 and 2 teams and the winner should hold the No. 1 spot for the rest of the season.

For more from Steve Summers and the Ducks, check out eDuck.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Oregon Ducks
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1LSU Tigers7635-26
2Nevada Wolf Pack9547-22
3Missouri State Bears9572-6
4@Arizona Wildcats9036-20
6California Golden Bears9539-14
7Arizona State Sun Devils8838-20
8@Colorado Buffaloes9546-14
9Washington State Cougars9548-14
10@Washington Huskies9542-15
11@Stanford Cardinal7036-31
12USC Trojans8238-25
13Oregon State Beavers9542-15

Stanford

Stepfan Taylor

Andy Drukarev of theBootleg.com is our Stanford Cardinal insider:

Veteran quarterback and 2010 Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck as well as several key pieces from last year's Orange Bowl champion squad are back, but there are holes to be filled along both lines and question marks that come with a re-worked coaching staff. Even assuming good health, it remains to be seen whether the Card will be able to recover from the loss of the inaugural Paul Horning Award winner Owen Marecic, senior defensive tackle Sione Fua and a quartet of starting offensive linemen (including valuable "jack-of-all-trades" James McGillicuddy). That challenge may have the biggest impact on Stanford's success in 2011, although replacing the contributions of the myriad departed coaches is also a concern, as is navigating a difficult second-half schedule. Nevertheless, the outlook for Stanford's upcoming season is the brightest it has been in many years. Having the best college football player in the nation along with a smattering of future first-round NFL picks on the roster should lead to another successful, "recruiting scandal-free" campaign for the squeaky-clean Cardinal.

For more from Andy Drukarev and the Cardinal, check out theBootleg.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Stanford Cardinal
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1San Jose State Spartans9548-10
2@Duke Blue Devils9545-18
3@Arizona Wildcats7833-23
5UCLA Bruins9239-16
6Colorado Buffaloes9543-18
7@Washington State Cougars9545-16
8Washington Huskies9538-17
9@USC Trojans7036-27
10@Oregon State Beavers9537-17
11Oregon Ducks3031-36
12California Golden Bears9036-15
13Notre Dame Fighting Irish8636-22

Marvin Jones

California

A turnaround is going to be the responsibility of an offense that sputtered badly last fall and must retool the backfield. Quarterback, in particular, has been a nagging issue in these parts since Aaron Rodgers graduated in 2004. This year's answer might be Zach Maynard, who last took a snap two years ago at Buffalo.

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 California Golden Bears
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Fresno State Bulldogs7529-22
2@Colorado Buffaloes6525-20
3Presbyterian Blue Hose9547-6
4@Washington Huskies6023-19
6@Oregon Ducks514-39
7USC Trojans2821-28
8Utah Utes2720-27
9@UCLA Bruins6824-19
10Washington State Cougars8730-17
11Oregon State Beavers6923-18
12@Stanford Cardinal915-36
13@Arizona State Sun Devils3118-24

Washington

Keith Price

When spring camp closed, sophomore Keith Price had emerged as the likely successor to Jake Locker at quarterback. A good athlete, with a strong arm, his lack of experience will be his tallest hurdle to immediate success. The encouraging news for the heir apparent is that he inherits all of Locker's best weapons, including all-star RB Chris Polk and WR Jermaine Kearse. There's plenty of depth and a blend of youth and experience to help ease the transition.

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Washington Huskies
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Eastern Washington Eagles9549-8
2Hawaii Warriors4527-30
3@Nebraska Cornhuskers1813-25
4California Golden Bears3919-23
5@Utah Utes1720-31
7Colorado Buffaloes6127-23
8@Stanford Cardinal517-38
9Arizona Wildcats2217-26
10Oregon Ducks515-42
11@USC Trojans2720-30
12@Oregon State Beavers4722-23
13Washington State Cougars8129-21

Oregon State

Ryan Katz

The slate includes landmine trips to Wisconsin, Arizona State, Utah, and Oregon, and the trainer's table remains flush with rehabbing Beavers. The good news is that unlike a year ago, the program welcomes back a returning starter under center. Now that Jacquizz Rodgers is an Atlanta Falcon and older brother James is on the mend from a major knee injury, it'll be up to junior QB Ryan Katz to be the offensive sparkplug.

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Oregon State Beavers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Sacramento State Hornets9549-8
2@Wisconsin Badgers919-36
4UCLA Bruins4822-23
5@Arizona State Sun Devils2820-28
6Arizona Wildcats1617-28
7Brigham Young Cougars5024-24
8@Washington State Cougars7030-23
9@Utah Utes1620-33
10Stanford Cardinal517-37
11@California Golden Bears3118-23
12Washington Huskies5323-22
13@Oregon Ducks515-42

Washington State State

Jegg Tuel

The Cougars are going to go as far as the passing game will take it. Junior Jeff Tuel, who enters his third year as a starter, is on the brink of joining the upper echelon of Pac-12 quarterbacks. He'll get ample support from the dynamic receiving tandem of Jared Karstetter and Marquess Wilson, which combined for 117 receptions last fall. Washington State is going to put up points, but can it stop anyone?

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Washington State Cougars
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Idaho State Bengals9543-7
2UNLV Rebels7930-19
3@San Diego State Aztecs1422-36
5@Colorado Buffaloes3525-31
6@UCLA Bruins3424-29
7Stanford Cardinal516-45
8Oregon State Beavers3023-30
9@Oregon Ducks514-48
10@California Golden Bears1217-30
11Arizona State Sun Devils2020-32
12Utah Utes920-36
13@Washington Huskies1921-29

Utah

Chaz Walker

Brian Swinney of InsideTheUtes.com is our Utah Utes insider:

Utah ventures off into new territory as a member of the elite in the Pac 12. How they respond week to week over a 12 game season, with the physical toll a BCS schedule will impose on them, is still unknown. The front-line talent is as good as any in the South division, but the depth and lack of experience in the secondary and at running back could be their downfall. The Pac 12 opener at USC is going to be a measuring stick game that could propel the Utes to a division title and a spot in the inaugural conference championship game or send them spiraling toward a .500 season.

For more from Brian Swinney and the Utes, check out InsideTheUtes.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Utah Utes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Montana State Bobcats9555-8
2@USC Trojans4427-28
3@Brigham Young Cougars8432-23
5Washington Huskies8331-20
6Arizona State Sun Devils6030-26
7@Pittsburgh Panthers5030-29
8@California Golden Bears7227-20
9Oregon State Beavers8433-20
10@Arizona Wildcats4826-27
11UCLA Bruins8134-22
12@Washington State Cougars9136-20
13Colorado Buffaloes8635-21

USC

Marc Tyler

Whitney Blaine of SCPlaybook.com is our USC Trojans insider:

A decent schedule and a team with as much confidence as under the Pete Carroll era, the Trojans have had a productive spring. They seemed to have overcome their obstacles associated with last season's transition year and have a powerful list of offensive weapons and a veteran defensive line. If they can improve their pass defense and their offensive line can protect Matt Barkley, they should continue the tradition of being a college football powerhouse.

For more from Whitney Blaine and the Trojans, check out SCPlaybook.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 USC Trojans
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Minnesota Golden Gophers9538-15
2Utah Utes5628-27
3Syracuse Orange7430-21
4@Arizona State Sun Devils6631-25
5Arizona Wildcats5427-26
7@California Golden Bears7228-21
8@Notre Dame Fighting Irish5731-29
9Stanford Cardinal3027-36
10@Colorado Buffaloes8633-23
11Washington Huskies7330-20
12@Oregon Ducks1825-38
13UCLA Bruins7832-21

Arizona

Nick Foles

Hope of exceeding mollified expectations will rest on an incomplete offense. The skill positions are outstanding, led by next-level QB Nick Foles, RB Keola Antolin, and Juron Criner and the rest of a dangerous receiving corps. The line, however, has been stripped of all five of last year's starters, a major concern with no easy solution. Line play, in general, will be an issue now that defensive ends Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore are both in the NFL.

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Arizona Wildcats
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Northern Arizona Lumberjacks9556-7
2@Oklahoma State Cowboys4229-33
3Stanford Cardinal2223-33
4Oregon Ducks1020-36
5@USC Trojans4526-27
6@Oregon State Beavers8328-17
8UCLA Bruins8630-17
9@Washington Huskies7726-17
10Utah Utes5227-26
11@Colorado Buffaloes8833-18
12@Arizona State Sun Devils6827-22
13Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns9537-9

Arizona State

Cameron Marshall, Dan Knapp and Evan Finkenberg

Hod Rabino of DevilsDigest.com is our Arizona State Sun Devils insider:

There is certainly enough talent and experience on this Arizona State team to make a strong statement this season. The first half of the schedule is far more challenging than the last six games, but having seven home games can help negate that challenge. Everyone in Tempe is feeling the pressure to succeed this year and this sense of urgency should ultimately serve this team well.

For more from Hod Rabino and the Sun Devils, check out DevilsDigest.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Arizona State Sun Devils
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1UC Davis Aggies9554-7
2Missouri Tigers5024-24
3@Illinois Fighting Illini7429-20
4USC Trojans3425-31
5Oregon State Beavers7128-20
6@Utah Utes3926-30
7@Oregon Ducks1220-38
9Colorado Buffaloes7031-21
10@UCLA Bruins7729-20
11@Washington State Cougars8032-20
12Arizona Wildcats3222-27
13California Golden Bears6924-18

Johnathan Franklin

UCLA

Tracy Pierson of BruinReportOnline.com is our UCLA Bruins insider:

It's Rick Neuheisel's make-or-break season. It comes down to: If he wins, he'll clean up in recruiting and things will be rolling, with veterans returning in 2012; if he loses, he's probably lost his dream job. Neuheisel has recruited well since being at UCLA and that talent is coming of age, and the defense is deep, but the question will be at offensive line, where the Bruins have suffered attrition, and that pesky quarterback position.

For more from Tracy Pierson and the Bruins, check out BruinReportOnline.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 UCLA Bruins
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Houston Cougars5029-30
2San Jose State Spartans8832-15
3Texas Longhorns2420-28
4@Oregon State Beavers5223-22
5@Stanford Cardinal816-39
6Washington State Cougars6529-24
8@Arizona Wildcats1417-30
9California Golden Bears3219-24
10Arizona State Sun Devils2220-29
11@Utah Utes1922-34
12Colorado Buffaloes4725-26
13@USC Trojans2221-32

Colorado

Rodney Stewart

For the second time in five years, the Buffs are rebuilding from square one, with a new coaching staff calling the shot. This time around, the program eschewed the hot, nationally-coveted commodity, staying within the family instead. Coach Jon Embree knows Colorado inside and out. He gets his first chance to prove he knows how to guide it back to respectability.

- CFN, Scout.com

Absolute Schedule/Records

2011 Colorado Buffaloes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Hawaii Warriors3128-34
2California Golden Bears3520-25
3Colorado State Rams7731-21
4@Ohio State Buckeyes1016-32
5Washington State Cougars6531-25
6@Stanford Cardinal518-43
7@Washington Huskies3923-27
8Oregon Ducks514-46
9@Arizona State Sun Devils3021-31
10USC Trojans1423-33
11Arizona Wildcats1218-33
12@UCLA Bruins5226-25
13@Utah Utes1421-35

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Joel Beall is the assistant content manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

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