At the beginning of the season, your trusty Pac-12 Blog team made some bold predictions about how the 2015 season would go for the conference. Some were right, some were wrong -- here’s a reflection of all of those. We’ll own up to our misses and gloat for days about the ones (there were few) that we got right.
1. #Pac12AfterDark will trend in Week 1
Week 1 wasn’t exactly a banner week for the conference. Utah, USC, UCLA, Cal, Arizona and Oregon State all won their openers. But by season’s end, only Utah’s victory looked impressive.
Colorado lost to Hawaii, which went on two win just two more games the rest of the season.
Washington lost to Boise State.
Vernon Adams Jr. broke his finger, which ended up derailing the Ducks’ season, in a win over Eastern Washington.
Arizona State got smoked by Texas A&M.
Stanford lost at Northwestern.
Washington State lost to FCS Portland State at home.
So, maybe #Pac12AfterDark was trending. But it wasn’t trending for the right reasons.
2. USC vs. UCLA will decide the South Division
We’re geniuses (though it didn’t look like that would be the case midway through the season).
3. No coaches will be fired at the end of the season
Technically true. None were fired at the end of the season. Just USC coach Steve Sarkisian in the middle of the season.
4. Washington State will return to the postseason with a win over Washington in the Apple Cup
Should’ve just put a period after that “postseason.” Then, we would’ve gotten this one. But instead we got all fancy and tried to predict when the Cougars would reach six wins, which was a bad idea considering Washington State had one of the more unpredictable seasons in all of college football. The Cougars had bowl eligibility by early November and instead it was Washington that needed the Apple Cup win to get to six.
5. Oregon will no longer rank as the Pac-12's top offense
Wrong. The Ducks held the top spot in 2015 again, averaging just 2.4 points fewer per game that it did last season. And, considering how well the offense moved when Adams was healthy, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Ducks would have actually passed their 2014 totals if he had been able to play the entire season.
The top five scoring offenses this season:
1. Oregon (43.0)
2. Cal (37.9)
3. Stanford (37.8)
4. Arizona (37.4)
5. Arizona State (34.6)
6. Oregon's defense will be ranked in the top 25 (yards per play) by season's end
Swing and a (hard) miss…
Instead, the Ducks finished in almost the bottom 25 in yards per play. The Ducks gave up six yards per play. Only Cal, Arizona State and Oregon State were worse. And yes, that means one-third of the Pac-12 defenses were in the bottom 25 percent of all FBS defenses.
7. There will be coach face/beard holding, again
Nope. You disappoint us, Pac-12. You disappoint us greatly.
8. Washington quarterback Jake Browning will become the league's second true freshman starter
9. Colorado will upset someone
This one we kept a close eye on because it seemed like every weekend Colorado might be the team to pick as a possible upset just waiting to happen. The Buffs were tied with Oregon at halftime. They nearly beat Arizona. Then they did the same to UCLA, USC and Utah.
Yes, in the final five games of the season the Buffs lost by a combined total of 13 points to three teams that all finished with at least eight wins. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Colorado came close time and time again, but never pulled one off. Suffice it to say that the Buffs might have been the most dangerous four-win team in America this season.
10. Devontae Booker will be a finalist for the Doak Walker Award
Booker was a semifinalist, but missed out on the final round for the prestigious award. There's no doubt his meniscus injury, which caused him to miss the final three games of the season, held him back as other players were able to put up bigger numbers in more games. But it’s also difficult to argue against the three running backs that eventually were named as finalists for the award -- Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. The winner will be announced Feb. 16.