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Mailbag: Pac-12's best offense; Oregon a football school?

Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.

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To the questions!

Sammy from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Saw where you debated the Pac-12's best secondary and you took Utah and praised the Utah defense as a whole. Fine. Utah plays good defense and it seems like a lot of other teams have big questions on defense. But this is the PAC12, an offensive conference. Who do you think will have the PAC12's best offense next year?

Ted Miller: This became a more interesting question than I initially thought because I was forced to retreat from my first and overwhelming reaction -- Washington State -- when I looked at the numbers.

First, can we agree that the best measure of an offense is scoring? I like yards per play as much as the next person, but scoring is what offense is really about.

So let's start with the Cougars: If you were to guess, where did they rank in the Pac-12 last year in scoring? The correct answer is eighth at 31.5 points per game, less than one point more than Washington and Utah, teams that were considered offensively challenged.

If you had asked me that question before I looked at the stat sheet, I would have guessed third behind Oregon and California. So, yeah, me not so smart.

Still, I see Washington State among seven potential answers to this inquiry: the Cougars, Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington. The Cougars, Wildcats, Bruins and Huskies all welcome back accomplished QBs, which gives them an initial edge.

That said, it's tough to bet against Oregon, because ... it's Oregon. The Ducks have led the Pac-12/10 in scoring every season since 2007 (California led the conference in 2006).

Let that factoid marinate for a bit. Yeah, it's extraordinary.

But if I had to go with an offense other than Oregon, my next three would be Arizona, USC and Washington State.

And, if I had to pick one, I'd go with ... the Cougs.

Craig writes:: Gun to your head -- who do you REALLY pull for in Pac-12 football? We know you're secretly a homer for some team. Out with it, please!

Ted Miller: Craig, thanks for asking this question, even though no one will remember and/or believe my answer.

I do not root for any Pac-12 team. Honest. But that doesn't mean I don't have a rooting interest during the season.

My rooting interest is the same as every other sportswriter who considers him or herself a pro: I root for My Selfish Hopes.

What that boils down to is I want the college football season to play out in a way that allows me to write interesting stories and go to great games. As my primary region to cover is the Pac-12, that means I want the conference to be nationally relevant. It's more fun to cover a conference that is in the national title hunt than one that is not.

So I do prefer certain scenarios as the season progresses. If Pac-12 Team A is 10-1 and ranked No. 3 heading into its season finale against its 6-5 Rival Team B, I'd prefer Team A to win. That's all about My Selfish Hopes.

But if Rival Team B does prevail, it doesn't keep me up at night, particularly if it leads into a particularly snarky game column.

I know that for a certain segment of fans, their enjoyment of sport is largely based on creating an enemies list -- rival fans, biased sportswriters, etc. I don't want to break the illusion, but that's almost always fiction.

BTTR Cool writes: After Oregon beat Duke to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament I heard folks in the media talking about how that win would change the perception that Oregon is just a "football school." What? Oregon is a football school? I would think a "football school" would have at least one football championship to their credit. Or am I being unreasonable?

Ted Miller: You are being unreasonable.

Oregon is the Pac-12/10's winningest program over the past decade. In fact, it's the nation's fourth winningest program since 2005, with only Boise State, Ohio State and Alabama posting more wins. Since 2010, it has played for two national titles, won a Rose Bowl, a Fiesta Bowl and a College Football Playoff semifinal. Over the past five years, it's averaged 7.6 wins in Pac-12 play, more than any other team, including Stanford and former conference bell cow USC.

Oregon's offensive prowess -- see above -- and sartorial splendor are nationally known and respected. Well, the uniforms might still inspire a few raised eyebrows.

But Oregon is, without question, a national brand. It might not have the history of USC or Alabama or Michigan, but if you asked the averaged 18-year-old to name 10 great college football programs, just about all of them would include Oregon.

And, of course, more than a few Ducks fans will find that answer not laudatory enough.