ESPN Insider Brian Fremeau’s post-spring Top 25 projections showcase high expectations for the Pac-12 in 2014. Six teams from the conference appear, including No. 2 Oregon and No. 4 Stanford.
The total number of teams ranks second to the 14-team SEC (7), but both conferences have five teams among the top 15.
Marcus Mariota is a main reason Oregon is expected to compete for a national title, writes Fremeau:
The Ducks' offense projects to be the most efficient in the country, and quarterback [Mariota] may be the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy as a result.
This won't the be last time UCLA is called a playoff contender:
UCLA is loaded with returning starters and has enough program momentum to break through as a national championship playoff contender in 2014.
Washington will play four of the conference teams ranked ahead of it, but will miss USC (and former coach Steve Sarkisian):
A tough conference schedule means Washington may be on the wrong end of a few lopsided Pac-12 losses this fall, but the Huskies should be the best of the next tier in the league.
Mark Schlabach's post-spring way-too-early top 25 also was released Monday. It included four Pac-12 teams: No. 5 Oregon, No. 11 Stanford, No. 12 UCLA, No. 20 USC.