The Sporting News' latest college football rankings have Alabama at No. 1 and Stanford at No. 2, which means the publication projects -- at least today -- that the Cardinal will get a crack at ending the SEC's seven-year reign atop the game.
Its blurb on Stanford:
The Cardinal lost two games in 2012 -- neither of which they should have. The next step? A salty defense and rising star QB Kevin Hogan will give the Pac-12 another shot at the SEC.
TSN isn't as high on Oregon, a team just about everyone ranks in the top-five. It dumps the Ducks into the No. 8 spot.
We don’t really know what Mark Helfrich will be like in his first season making every call that matters. We do know, however, that the Ducks have plenty of talent on their roster. That alone should put Oregon in a position to win every time it steps on the field.
As for other Pac-12 teams, TSU ranks UCLA 20th:
The Bruins should be very good -- and QB Brett Hundley could be Heisman Trophy-good -- but if the rest of the conference adjusts, the road will get tougher. UCLA is sort of the Pac-12’s version of Texas A&M; what was once all new and shiny and run by a fun quarterback now becomes a weekly grind to find a way to win against highly motivated teams.
And Oregon State 23rd:
Wasn’t so long ago that Mike Riley was feeling heat for back-to-back ugly seasons, and then 2012 comes along. It’s hard enough winning in Corvallis; it’s harder without a difference-maker at quarterback -- something the Beavers lacked (again) last year. Imagine what happens if/when Cody Vaz has a career season.
Also of note in terms of Pac-12 nonconference foes, TSN ranks Ohio State No. 5 (California), Notre Dame 10th (Arizona State, USC and Stanford), Boise State 15th (Washington), Nebraska 21st (UCLA), and Wisconsin 24th (Arizona State).