These Games Could Land the Pac-12 on ESPN College Gameday

Pac-12 ESPN College Football gameday

College football is back, and with it comes the return of the best sports show in all of sports: ESPN College GameDay. Now in its 26th year of the live show format (the program technically began in 1987 as an in-studio show), College GameDay kicked-off the season in proper fashion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, highlighting the huge Miami vs. Florida ‘Week 0‘ matchup. And while the atmosphere was outstanding, next week’s feature of Auburn and Oregon in the Advocare Classic is bound to be something special, and is just one of the many college football matchups that could feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay.

Having national attention shift to the Pac-12 is critical, especially as the conference looks to bolster its reputation. There’s no better way of doing this than a featured matchup on College GameDay. Yes, the conference has to win on the field and yes, many of the games listed below could have their “watchability” change as the season progresses, but there’s no denying the influence ESPN College GameDay has in drawing national attention.

Here are the games that could get the Pac-12 on College GameDay throughout the course of the year.

Weeks Ruled Out

Before taking a dive into what weeks and games could see Pac-12 teams featured on College GameDay, there are a few weeks where the show is pretty much booked sans Pac-12.

  • Week 2: Texas A&M vs. Clemson
  • Week 4: Michigan vs. Wisconsin OR Notre Dame vs. Georgia
  • Week 9: Auburn vs. LSU OR Notre Dame vs. Michigan OR Penn State vs. Michigan State
  • Week 10: LSU vs. Alabama
  • Week 14: Ohio State vs. Michigan

With just five weeks out of contention to feature the Pac-12 on College GameDay, the conference could see itself attract a fair share of national attention, even if this means Rece Davis and the gang will have to wake up a bit earlier.

Stanford vs. UCF OR Oklahoma vs. UCLA (Week 3)

After College GameDay’s undoubted visit to Clemson for Texas A&M vs. Clemson, the Pac-12 has a legitimate shot at seeing one of its teams featured on the show in week three, with Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA all in play. Much of this will depend on the outcome of UCLA’s week one matchup against Cincinnati and Stanford’s brutal first two weeks (vs. Northwestern, at USC), but should both those teams head into week three undefeated, their matchups are attractive enough for a College GameDay appearance. Oklahoma vs. UCLA, in particular, could be an outstanding matchup. The backdrop of the Rose Bowl would be a welcomed bonus.

PASADENA, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Chip Kelly of the UCLA Bruins talks with Dorian Thompson-Robinson #7 during the second quarter against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Rose Bowl on September 15, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Iowa State, Clemson vs. Syracuse

Washington State vs. Utah OR USC vs. Washington (Week 5)

The Washington schools have a great shot at seeing the Northwest’s best on College GameDay come week 5 of the season, especially if their opponents can play to some lofty expectations. Washington State vs. Utah is particularly intriguing and would be a great feature of the Pac-12 on College GameDay, giving Utah a shot to showcase its passionate fan base and WSU to continue its upward trajectory.

Biggest Competition: Ohio State vs. Nebraska

California vs. Oregon OR Washington vs. Stanford (Week 6)

Both of these games could be pivotal in the outcome of the Pac-12 North. With the California Golden Bears being a sleeper pick in the conference, should Cal surprise the Huskies in week two and hold steady at Ole Miss, their visit in Week 6 to Eugene could be a big matchup in the Pac-12 and in the College Football Playoff Picture.

Conversely, if the Huskies play to expectations and Stanford survives its brutal start to the season, their matchup in Palo Alto could see the Pac-12 on College Gameday. While The Farm isn’t the most raucous atmosphere for the show, the matchup between these two Pac-12 heavyweights does more than makeup for the fans (or lack thereof).

Biggest Competition: Iowa vs. Michigan OR Auburn vs. Florida OR Georgia vs. Tennessee OR Purdue vs. Penn State

USC vs. Notre Dame (Week 7)

One of the classic matchups in all of college football, USC vs. Notre Dame is an attractive week 7 matchup the producers of ESPN College GameDay will hope happens. With USC’s roster filled with talent that just needs to see its potential realized, this could be a statement game for USC, especially if they manage tough games against Stanford (Week 2), Utah (Week 4) and Washington (Week 5).

Sports Illustrated Notre Dame USC Cover
USC and Notre Dame have had some classic matchups throughout college football history.

Biggest Competition: Alabama vs. Texas A&M OR Florida vs. LSU

Oregon vs. Washington OR Arizona State vs. Utah (Week 8)

Don’t sleep on Herm Edward’s Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South. They’re a talented squad and freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels is ready to turn some heads. A week 8 matchup with Utah is another opportunity for the Utes to be on college football’s national stage, but they’ll face stiff competition from Oregon vs. Washington in the Pac-12 North.

Likely the game of the year in the Pac-12 North, Oregon vs. Washington is the conference’s fiercest rivalry and the unique atmosphere of Husky Stadium is going to be an attractive option for College GameDay.

Biggest Competition: Michigan vs. Penn State

Oregon vs. USC OR Utah vs. Washington (Week 10)

For a few years, a game featuring Oregon vs. USC was an easy feature for the national stage. With both their 2009 and 2010 matchups on College GameDay, when Oregon and USC clash in week 10 of this year, the teams could once again see Los Angeles serve as the backdrop for College GameDay. Known to Oregon fans as the ‘Storm LA’ game, this could be an opportunity for each program to reclaim college football glory and capture national attention in a big way.

Utah vs. Washington is another outstanding option, with Husky Stadium once again proving an attractive option to see the Pac-12 on College GameDay. Both these games could easily be previews of the Pac-12 Conference Championship.

Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Florida

Week 11 – UCLA vs. Utah

UCLA is another one of the Pac-12 South teams a little under-the-radar this year. With Utah not having any defined competition in the division, this week 11 matchup between UCLA and Utah could be a game that determines the Pac-12 South crown.

Biggest Competition: Georgia vs. Auburn, Michigan State vs. Michigan

Week 12 – Oregon vs. Arizona State

Another potential preview of the Pac-12 Conference Championship, Oregon vs. Arizona State in Tempe could provide an outstanding stage for the Pac-12 on College Gameday. By this time in the year, we’ll know where each team stands and freshman QB Jayden Daniels will have had plenty of time to establish himself. Oregon, meanwhile, will be hoping senior quarterback Justin Herbert is forwarding a Heisman Campaign by leading the Ducks through a difficult road schedule. Their final road test? This big matchup against the Sun Devils.

Biggest Competition: Penn State vs. Ohio State, TCU vs. Oklahoma, Texas A&M vs. Georgia

Is Chris Petersen Forcing the Jacob Eason Storyline?

Jacob Eason Featured Image

One thing was fairly certain heading into the Washington Huskies’ 2019 football season: a quarterback named Jake would lead them. The only question being, which one? Would it be Georgia transfer and Lake Stevens, Washington born Jacob Eason, 2018 backup quarterback Jake Haener or redshirt freshman Jacob Sirmon?

It’s a question many fans and pundits assumed was answered when Eason – a highly-touted recruit from the 2016 class – transferred from Georgia back home to help the Dawgs. Eason, a native of Lake Stevens, Washington, was a five-star recruit out of high school and has the build pro style coaches lust for (6-6, 227 lbs). He started for Georgia as a true freshman and led the Bulldogs to an 8-5 record. In 2017 he compiled 2,430 yards through the air and 16 TDs. But an injury in Georgia’s 2017 opener derailed his progress and allowed Jake Fromm to take command of the Bulldogs.

Seeing no opportunity to surpass Fromm on the depth chart, Eason transferred back to Washington and spent 2018 on the sidelines per NCAA transfer rules. After a battle with Jake Haener for the starting job, he was recently named UW’s starter by head coach Chris Petersen, though the coach was quick to note both quarterbacks would see playing time.

Yet just days after Jacob Eason was announced the starting quarterback, Haener elected to transfer from Washington. Haener’s decision makes him the second quarterback to transfer from Washington this season, as redshirt freshman Colson Yankoff transferred to UCLA in June.

Does this indicate something is amiss in Seattle? Or is this just about players seeking opportunities elsewhere?

The answer is more complicated than you’d expect.

Jacob Eason Washington Huskies Quarterback throws a pass
Jacob Eason will look to silence the doubters this Fall and beyond (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Transfer Central

Allowing collegiate athletes to transfer between programs is good. It allows young athletes to benefit from opportunities where they have better their chances at playing time. Jacob Eason is a beneficiary of such an ability, and with two season of eligibility remaining, it’s not difficult to understand why Yankoff and Haener transferred. If both remained at Washington they would need to burn two years of eligibility playing backup roles, something their talents were not fit for. Then you must consider the other young quarterbacks on Washington’s roster. Perhaps these up-and-comers, one a true freshman and the other a redshirt, were too much competition for Yankoff and Haener.

It’s not hard to imagine Jacob Sirmon pushing for the backup role, and now it is his to command. Yet, there is the complicated matter that Sirmon also considered transferring. That isn’t indicative of a normal quarterback battle, and had Sirmon transferred the Huskies would be left with just two quarterbacks on the roster, assuming Haener and Yankoff would still depart the program.

Something else has to be going on at Washington, right?

Is Petersen Forcing a Decision?

Jacob Eason has the pedigree to perform well. He has the size and abilities to thrive at quarterback. Questions have surrounded his work ethic, durability and progress (or lack thereof), however. This was highlighted throughout Washington’s spring camp and offseason, with reports emerging about Eason’s less-than-desirable work ethic and inability to stay healthy. Watching tape on Eason shows flaws in his footwork and decision-making abilities. This leads to the question: why Eason?

Washington Huskies helmet
Is all well in the Emerald City? Or is something wrong?

To be fair, fans are removed from the inner-workings of the team. They do not see everything that happens in practice and behind the scenes. Eason’s progress may lead Washington to a couple years of Pac-12 dominance. Yet the fact that Haener battled Eason for so long despite Eason’s physical attributes, and still decided to transfer, should concern Washington fans. In fact, Eason doesn’t have the full support of the Washington faithful. He’ll have to earn it throughout the year.

All this begs the question, is Chris Petersen forcing the decision to play Jacob Eason?

With a coach as respected as Petersen, it’s tough to say yes. But even the best of coaches are not immune to the pull of emotion or a great story. They are still human, and what a story Eason would be.

Just imagine, the local boy who showed promise but got hurt, coming back home to lead the Huskies to college football greatness. It’s an attractive one, and you can’t help but wonder whether Petersen felt pressured to start Eason because Eason chose the University of Washington.

Then, there’s his physical presence. Eason looks the part. He stands as a giant behind his offensive line and can launch the ball with minimal effort. It’s his decision making, football IQ and footwork that are questioned. Jamarcus Russell taught us how dangerous it is to rely on arm talent alone.

Final Thoughts

It’s a tough argument to make, but one not outside the realm of possibility. Haener competing with Eason for so long and still electing to transfer should concern Washington fans. Could it be that Washington’s quarterbacks felt slighted by Petersen or questioned his decision making abilities?

Whatever the reason for Eason’s appointment as Washington’s starter, plenty of questions remain. Most will be answered in the near future. The Huskies open their 2019 season by hosting Eastern Washington, a team they should not overlook. And at a point when the long offseason spurs rumors and speculation day-in and day-out, getting answers from the meaningful game action will be a welcome relief.

Preseason AP Poll has 5 Pac-12 Teams, USC Disrespect, Offensive Breakout Players, Most Important Players, Coaching Hot Seats

Preseason AP Poll has 5 Pac-12 Teams, USC Disrespect, Offensive Breakout Players, Most Important Players, Coaching Hot Seats

Episode 4 of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, George Wrighster, and Ralph Amsden was heated. The preseason AP Poll came out and it featured five Pac-12 teams but there was still massive disrespect for USC in the mainstream sports media. Fans don’t realize how big of an effect the preseason polls have on the College Football Playoff rankings. There were countless cases in 2018. Eleven of the top 25 teams in the 2018-19 Preseason AP Poll didn’t even finish ranked. In 2017, nine didn’t finish ranked. In 2016, 13 didn’t finish ranked. Commonly, those early-season matchups that were so hyped up turned out to be nothing burgers, but they did affect the CFB Playoff committee rankings.

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Jeremy McCarthy wrote an article on Unafraid Show about the 12 breakout Pac-12 Players and the Apostles discuss where he got it right and where he went wrong.THE 12: There are many players that are crucial to their team and entire Pac-12’s success. We rank them from 1-12. There are defensive lineman, offensive lineman, running backs, a wide receiver, quarterbacks on the list.

CASTING STONES: When will media members stop asking about what coaches are on the hot seat? Do they really expect answers to “how many wins it will take for a coach to keep his job?”

USC’s Athletic Director Lynn Swann was asked that about Clay Helton recently and of course, he gave a nothing answer.

Send us an email with your thoughts on the Pac-12 Podcast: immad@unafraidshow.comVisit: https://unafraidshow.com

The 12 Offensive Pac-12 Breakout Players You’ll Know By Season’s End

Pac-12 breakout players Offensive 2019

Pac-12 Breakout Players

Each season, college athletes “come out of nowhere” to impress fans, coaches, scouts and media alike. In 2019, there are a large number of Pac-12 breakout players on offense. The conference is loaded with talent and opportunity. Get ready to watch these players turn heads and find the pay-dirt in 2019.

University of Arizona: Cedric Peterson

WR, Redshirt Senior

https://twitter.com/AZAuthority/status/1161656456283770883

In 2018, the University of Arizona’s top-four receivers in receptions and yards were Shawn Poindexter, Tony Ellison, Shun Brown and Devaughn Cooper. Now, the team is without each of them. Cooper was dismissed for violating athletic-department policy and the other three were redshirt seniors in 2018. Clearly, the University of Arizona football needs someone to step up.

To fill the void, Cedric Peterson will likely step up in 2019.

“Now I’m the head guy in the room, now I’m the leader for the first time,” he said to the assembled media. “It’s a little nerve wracking but I’m ready for anything. I’ve been preparing for this my whole life.”

Cedrick Peterson

Peterson is one of two returning receivers with at least one career reception for the University of Arizona. He is the only scholarship receiver with at least one game started for the Wildcats. Additionally, outside receivers coach Taylor Mazzone believes that Peterson will replace Poindexter. As an outside receiver in 2018, Peterson gathered multiple receptions in 7 of 12 games, was praised for his “sturdy” blocking (which helped the Pac-12’s best rushing team). All in all, he’s the guy with the most experience and the clearest opportunity to step up.

Arizona State University: Jayden Daniels

QB, Freshman

Jayden Daniels has already broken a record for Arizona State University. At the start of the season, he will be ASU’s first true freshman to open the season at quarterback.

“I think he manages the game really well,” Edwards said. “He doesn’t make a lot of bad throws, to be quite honest. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s got a lot of poise.”

ASU Coach Herm Edwards

In high school, Daniels was impressive. For Cajon High School, he had 1,389 pass attempts for 14,007 yards, 170 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. Additionally, he added 562 carries for 3,645 yards and 41 touchdowns. Because of his excellence, he is Southern California’s high school career holder for passing yards and passing touchdowns (he’s second in California state history to Jake Browning). He’s also the state record holder for total offensive yards in a single season. As far as high school careers go, he was an all-star quarterback.

Now, as the starter of a Pac-12 collegiate team, he has to grow, learn and improve to the speed of the game. Because he’s already impressing coaches with his decision making, look for him instantly join other Pac-12 breakout players and remain relevant for his collegiate career.

Cal: Christopher Brown Jr.

RB, Sophomore

Cal’s lead back, Patrick Laird, left for the NFL. He vacates 223 carries and 51 receptions from 2018. Now Christopher Brown Jr. has the chance to take over the lead-back role. At 6-foot-1, 230lbs, Brown has feature-back size. Additionally, he showed that he can carry the load for Cal when Laird exited in the Cheez-It Bowl against TCU. In that game, Brown rushed for 57 yards, while adding 3 receptions for 14 yards.

Also, Brown is known for breaking through arm-tackles and avoiding contact for long gains. Because of his powerful and elusive skill set, he’s a threat to take any rush to the house. Look for Brown to take over and become the feature of Cal’s offense in 2019.

UCLA: Chase Cota

WR, Sophomore

Chase Cota, didn’t hesitate to start producing for UCLA football. As a true freshman, he instantly made a splash. The 4-star recruit played in all 12 games and showed versatility as both a receiver and on special teams. He earned 13 catches for 168 yards and was 5th in team targets. On the field, Cota gained praise for his speed, intelligence, route running, and hands. What more could you want from a receiver?

In high school, he gathered experience on both sides of the ball, playing as receiver and defensive back. Additionally, his father is Chad Cota, former Oregon star and an 8-year retiree of the NFL. In 2019, Cota should be inserted into a starting rotation and will quickly gain trust from Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Colorado: Jaren Mangham

RB, Sophomore

Another 4-star recruit, Jaren Mangham is set for big opportunities in 2019. Colorado football lost Travon McMillian and Kyle Evans. As a recruit, ESPN ranked Mangham as the No. 37 athlete in the nation and Rivals ranked him as the No. 14 running back. Mangham is 6-foot-2, 215lbs. At Cass Tech High School, he notched 31 touchdowns in his senior season. 26 rushing, 2 receiving and 3 kickoff returns. He has excellent talent, size, and versatility.

Currently, he is the third running back behind Alex Fontenot and Deion Smith. However, Mangham is sparking interest in fans and coaches alike. In an April spring game, Mangham added three touchdowns and 149 yards with his rushing prowess. Without major talent or experience ahead of him, Mangham will set himself apart by season’s end.

University of Oregon: Sean Dollars

RB, Freshman

Yet again, the University of Oregon recruited top talent. This time, the Ducks signed the Nation’s No. 1 All-Purpose back recruit, Sean Dollars. Dollars is fast and elusive. Though he is 5-foot-10, 185lbs, his versatility in the running and receiving game will earn him precious snaps in Oregon’s high-octane offense. Dollars already impressed at spring and fall camps.

With highlights like those, it’s clear why Dollars made it on our Pac-12 breakout players list. With his diverse skillset and natural athletic talent, Sean Dollars will make an immediate impact with Oregon’s offense.

Oregon State University: Jesiah Irish

WR, Redshirt Freshman

When it comes to speed, Jesiah Irish has it. At Oregon State University’s pre-camp “combine in March, Irish unofficially ran a 4.26 40-yard dash. Also, as a top-baseball prospect, Irish recorded the fastest time running from second base to home for his age group. He has blazing speed. Downfield or after the catch, Irish is a danger to opposing defenses.

“He can take the top off the coverage,” Smith said. “It helps everything. In the run game, if you can put a guy out there who can roll, the safety better back up. You take a couple guys out of there, that’s a few less guys to tackle the running back.”

Jonathan Smith

Though his role still might go under-appreciated in 2019, Irish should still make enough plays to become a well-known name for Oregon State University football. Blazing speed makes for impressive plays and highlights, which is why he earned his spot on our Pac-12 breakout players set.

USC: Markese Stepp

RB, Redshirt Freshman

Ahead of Stepp are two solid talents: Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr. Malepeai, a former 4-star recruit and currently a redshirt junior, led the team with 8 rushing touchdowns last season. He is Hawaii’s high school leader for both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot, 200lb back is known for strength and power. Additionally, Stephen Carr is the talent that has yet to hit. The former 5-star recruit and current junior battled injuries in both of his first seasons. Now, supposedly healthy, Carr has his chance to shine.

But, with Carr’s injury history and Malepeai’s current knee injury from an early-August practice, opportunity is there for the taking. Leaving behind recency bias, Markese Stepp will be the go-to power-back for this offense. He’s got a smash-mouth running style and has health on his side. Sometimes, all a player needs is a healthy body in order to earn snaps and glory. His big deficiency is in his receiving skills. He lacks experience and stats to show that he is versatile enough to be a bell-cow in Graham Harrell’s Air Raid offense. Nonetheless, Stepp has a big chance to slip ahead of the oft-injured Carr and currently injured Malepeai.

Stanford: Colby Parkinson

TE, Junior

Colby Parkinson is a big boy. At 6-foot-7, 250lbs, he’s all the tight end a team needs. But, in addition to his size, Parkinson was an excellent deep threat for Stanford football. In 2018, he recorded 29 receptions for 485 yards and 7 touchdowns. His 16.7 yards per reception average displays his big-play ability. He’s not just a big body. Parkinson showed that he is a quality downfield option.

Additionally, it is important to remember that Stanford lost JJ Arcega Whiteside, Trenton Irwin, and Kaden Smith. Parkinson is their leading, returning receiver. With rapport, experience, size and big-play ability on his side, Parkinson is going to turn NFL scout heads in 2019.

Utah: Jaylen Dixon

WR, Redshirt Sophomore

Redshirt sophomore Jaylen Dixon is ready to build on his redshirt freshman campaign. Last season, he garnered 32 receptions for 589 yards and 18.4 yards per catch. Like Jesiah Irish, Dixon makes his money (even though college athletes aren’t actually paid) with his speed. He is an explosive playmaker that the Utes will definitely utilize going forward.

Most impressive was that Dixon posted a near 75% catch rate last season. With his large depth of target, displaying a catch rate that high is an exceptional talent. Get ready for big plays and a big-time breakout into the Pac-12.

University of Washington: Sean McGrew

RB, Junior

Myles Gaskin, the most productive running back in University of Washington football history, is gone. He leaves behind 259 carries and 21 receptions. Behind him are capable backs that spelled Gaskins in 2018. Salvon Ahmed is the early leader to take over the feature-back role for UW. However, McGrew showed excellent efficiency in 2018 and is poised for a breakout season. His 50 carries for 226 yards and 1 touchdown show good running. But his 6 receptions for 110 yards display an elusive, satellite-back.

Recall that McGrew had 10.56 100-meter-dash speed out of high school. He was a 4-star recruit for good reason. The 5-foot-7 back is quick. When it comes to football, McGrew is explosive. Elite offenses need explosive playmakers. Look for McGrew to compliment Ahmed’s power-back role with his own explosive, satellite-back role. The duo will turn heads in 2018 and McGrew will transform into UW’s version of Tarik Cohen.

Washington State: Max Borghi

RB, Sophomore

Washington State University football’s Max Borghi rounds out the breakout candidates for 2019. WSU lost James Williams to the NFL Draft. He left behind 122 rush attempts and 83 receptions. Williams was utilized in all situations for WSU football.

Last season, Borghi already showed excellent skills when spelling Williams. He tied WSU’s freshman touchdowns record. Last season, he had 72 carries for 366 yards (5.1 YPC) and 8 rushing touchdowns. Borghi also had 53 receptions for 374 yards (7.1 YPR) and 4 touchdowns. He is just finding his form and Williams leaves behind ample opportunity.

At 5-foot10, 197lbs, Borghi isn’t a diminutive satellite-back. He has feature-back size for a collegiate football team. Borghi is powerful with excellent hands. His versatile skill set will impress Pac-12 viewers and earn him a spot in the 2020 draft.

Follow Jeremy McCarthy on Twitter to see how the Pac-12 Breakout Players do this season.

College Football Power 5 Sleeper Teams From Each Conference

Sleeper Teams from each Power 5 conference

Perhaps more than any other sport, parity seems to be – for lack of a better word – a rarity in college football. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Auburn, etc. seem to always be near the top of the standings, while teams at the bottom of the barrel tend to remain there for years, even decades. But every so often a team climbs from the ashes and shocks the world. They surprise their respective college football Power 5 Conference and come close to – if not actually – winning their conference. The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC all have sleeper teams in the mix for 2019.

Washington State was one of the best examples of that last season. Led by transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, the Cougars nearly won the PAC-12 crown and finished well within the top-25 despite projections having them near the bottom of the conference in the preseason.

Which team could make the WSU leap in 2019? Here is one option for a college football Power 5 surprise team in each conference. Consider them the proverbial dark horses.

College Football Sleeper Teams 2019

ACC: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia was projected to finish sixth in the ACC by USA TODAY, but that feels like it could end up being a mistake if quarterback Bryce Perkins can build off his ridiculously excellent 2018 season.

Perkins proved to be one of the more dynamic players in college football last season, throwing for 2,680 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and running for 923 yards and nine scores. 

The team will need to replace running back Jordan Ellis and receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, no easy task, but they do return nine starters to a defense that allowed the 20th fewest points last season.

A top-3 finish in the ACC seems very plausible for Bronco Mendenhall’s squad.

Minnesota RB

BIG-10: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota has a lot of things going for them in the BIG Ten, and could be a scary team if things go their way. For starters, they have one of the easiest schedules in college football, and could easily find themselves 5-0 in October.

Second, they return nine starters on offense and seven on defense, which includes receiver Tyler Johnson and a pair of former 1,000-yard rushers in Mohamed Ibrahim and Rodney Smith.

The Gophers finished 2018 winning three out of four, and could realistically challenge for a BIG-10 championship this season if things go right for P.J. Fleck and company.

Baylor QB Charlie Brewer College Football

BIG-12: Baylor Bears

Baylor went from one win in 2017 to seven wins in 2018, the second year under coach Matt Rhule. USA TODAY has them 22nd overall, so it’s hard to call them a dark horse necessarily, but Rhule’s squad is only picked to finish fourth in the BIG-12, and I think they can challenge for the top spot.

The Bears have one of the deepest groups of wide receivers in the country, and quarterback Charlie Brewer is coming off a season where he threw for over 3,000 yards with 19 touchdowns.

With an offense poised to do some damage through the air, and a team that has continued to improve in the last few seasons, Baylor has a chance to make some noise in 2019.

Chip Kelly Dorian Thompson-Robinson UCLA Pac-12 Teams

PAC-12: UCLA Bruins

Chip Kelly has proven he can win at the college level. His offensive style is no longer as unique and unknown as it was when he was leading Oregon to prominence a half-decade ago, but there’s reason to believe that the Bruins will begin to hit their stride in the second year under Kelly.

After all, the Bruins did show improvement in the second half last season, and they are returning a good chunk of starters on both sides of the ball.

While they have one of the toughest schedules in the entire college football landscape this year, they could certainly surprise some people heading into conference play.

USA TODAY has them ranked ninth in the PAC-12, and a top-five finish wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano Power 5 Sleeper

SEC: Tennessee Volunteers

The Vol’s may have lost defensive lineman Emmitt Gooden, but they still have a packed house upfront – especially if they can get Michigan transfer Aubrey Solomon cleared before the opener.

The defense should be solid, but this team’s ability to succeed next season will depend on how quarterback Jarrett Guarantano develops under new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.

Guarantano had some electric performances last season, particularly against Kentucky, which helped make him the 21st ranked quarterback in college football according to Pro Football Focus.

However, poor offensive line play limited his playmaking ability, and that is something that Tennessee will need to improve if they want to rock the boat in the stacked SEC conference.

These college football Power 5 sleeper teams may not win their conference but they will win games that decide who does.

Colson Yankoff vs Washington, Pac-12 Stadiums Ranked, Recruits Leaving Pac-12 Country

Colson Yankoff vs Washington, best Pac-12 stadiums Ranked, Recruits Leaving Pac-12 Country, Pac-12 Podcast
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In Episode 3 of the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast, they deal with George Wrighster’s tweet about Colson Yankoff that sent Washington Huskies fans into a tailspin. They rank the best Pac-12 stadiums and tell everyone what is going on with recruits leaving Pac-12 states for other conferences.

Colson Yankoff is a former QB for Washington who transferred to UCLA.  Huskies coach Chris Petersen refused to grant a waiver allowing Yankoff to appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility at UCLA. Both Ralph and George hate the hypocrisy in the NCAA system. The NCAA claims the players are student-athletes who need to be protected but regularly treats them like employees. It is ridiculous that coaches can move as they please from school to school, but the players have restrictions. (0:00-11:59)

Recruiting matters in college football. The teams with the most talent have the best chance to win the CFB Playoff and National Championship. There are 64 recruits in the 2020 class with either 4-5 stars who live in Pac-12 states or neighboring states. With the exception of the Oregon Ducks and Washington Huskies, the conference is falling behind in the recruiting rankings for the class of 2020. The early signing period is not until December, but the USC Trojans are ranked between 60th and 68th depending on which recruiting site you like. (12:00- 23:41)

The greatest Pac-12 podcat in all the land also ranks the best Pac-12 stadiums from #12 to #1. Will the historic sites get the top spots, or will the stadiums with the biggest home-field advantage prevail? (23:42-End)

Download the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast on any platform.

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Ten Pac-12 Players Who May Be NFL Draft 2020 First-Round Picks

Ten Pac-12 Players NFL Draft 2020 First-Round Picks

The PAC-12 may not be viewed as the powerhouse that the SEC is, but make no mistake, each year plenty of high-quality talent is selected in the NFL draft out of PAC-12 schools.

It’s too early to tell, but players like Andre Dillard (WSU), Byron Murphy (UW) Marquise Blair (Utah) and Kaleb McGary (UW) all have a chance to make an immediate impact in the NFL after getting drafted last season.

The 2019 college football season is nearly upon us, and once again the PAC-12 has numerous candidates who might hear their name called early on draft day next season.

10 players out of the PAC-12 who have a realistic chance of getting selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Justin Herbert Oregon Ducks

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, Oregon

Herbert is not only a near-lock to go in the first round next season – barring an injury – he has a great chance to go No. 1 overall. It was definitely a surprise when the star quarterback elected to return to college for his senior season, coming off a junior year where he threw for 3,151 yards with an excellent 29-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, leading the Ducks to a 9-4 record.

Herbert said he felt he had unfinished business with the Ducks, and he’ll return as an immediate candidate for the Heisman trophy, alongside Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Herbert has been praised for his ball placement, knowledge of the game and his sneaky mobility, although durability concerns and a tendency to stare down receivers could hurt him at the professional level.

Expect Herbert to be the first PAC-12 player selected next year, and possibly the first player overall.

Laviska Shenault Colorado Buffaloes Pac-12

Laviska Shenault, Receiver, Colorado

Laviska Shenault is not only one of the best names in the PAC-12 (more on that later) but he has a real chance to be a top-10 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, particularly if he can build off an incredible junior season.

At Colorado, Shenault hauled in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 17 times for 115 yards and five more touchdowns.

Shenault is listed at six-foot-two and 215 pounds, and most scouts think he’ll time out around a 4.40, which gives him an extraordinary blend of size and speed.

He’s still a bit raw as a receiver, but his versatility, size, speed, and instincts make it easy to see him as a future star – and one that should get drafted early in 2020.

Walker Little Stanford OL NFL Draft

Walker Little, Tackle, Stanford

Stanford tackle Walker Little is anything but – standing at six-foot-seven and weighing 317 pounds. He was co-freshman offensive player of the year in the PAC-12 two years ago and was an absolute beast at clearing rushing lanes for Bryce Love of the Cardinal.

Little is already projected as a mid-first round pick, and if he can stay healthy (he’s battled injuries in the past) there’s little reason to assume he won’t find himself as an NFL starter as soon as 2020.

Calvin Throckmorton Pac-12 NFL Draft

Calvin Throckmorton, Tackle, Oregon

On nearly any other list, Laviska Shenault would be the best name. However, it’s pretty darn hard to beat Oregon tackle Calvin Throckmorton, a name that sounds like it belongs in the Harry Potter universe.

Throckmorton is listed as a tackle, although he has experience as a guard as well – and many analysts believe that is where he will end up in the NFL.

His explosiveness is nearly unparalleled, and his ability to pull and locate blockers makes him an attractive piece to run-heavy NFL squads. He does struggle out in open space however and might be a liability as a pass-blocker.

Throckmorton will have to mitigate some of those concerns if he wants to end up in the first round, but his size, explosiveness, and high football IQ make him a tantalizing prospect entering his fifth season at UO.

Trey Adams Washington Huskies Football offensive lineman

Trey Adams, Tackle, Washington

Trey Adams is an absolute unit, standing at six-foot-seven and weighing over 300 pounds. Despite that he has shown good body control as a pass-protector, making him a potential left tackle in the NFL and capable protector of the blindside.

Durability is a big concern here, as the UW star has missed big chunks in each of the last two seasons. He’ll need to be healthy and productive next season if he wants to find himself getting selected in the first round, but he does have the talent to go that high.

Jaylon Johnson Utah Utes cornerback

Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah

Jaylon Johnson enters his third season at Utah coming off a sophomore campaign that saw him snag four interceptions, along with 31 solo tackles and two sacks.

Johnson has the near-perfect size for an NFL corner, standing six-foot and weighing 190 pounds. He’s physical and aggressive at the point of contact, making him a great asset against bigger, more physical NFL receivers.

He’s raw, and has some issues in quick throws. But Johnson has the tools and build to be a high-quality defensive back in the NFL. He could find himself getting picked in the first-round of the NFL Draft if he has a strong junior campaign.

Jacob Eason QB Washington transfer from Georgia bulldogs

Jacob Eason, Quarterback, Washington

The range of outcomes that are possible for new Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason is nearly infinite.

The transfer from Georgia sat out last year but is expected to start for Chris Peterson and company next season. Eason wasn’t bad the one season he started at Georgia, completing 55.1% of his passes for 2,430 yards with a nice 16-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

But after losing his job to Jake Fromm, Eason will have to prove himself in the Pacific Northwest. If he can harness his absolute cannon of an arm, he could easily find himself getting selected by a QB needy team in the first round.

Troy Dye 2020 NFL Draft Oregon linebacker

Troy Dye, Linebacker, Oregon

Dye has started for the Ducks over the past three seasons, posting remarkably consistent numbers throughout his career. His 182 solo tackles are already 22nd all-time in the PAC-12, and his 125 assisted tackles rank 16th.

Dye possesses excellent range and instincts as a linebacker, and his size and style of play should mesh well with the current NFL style.

He does have some issues in run protection, often relying on seeing the ball-carrier and chasing them rather than anticipating, but those are things he can learn at the pro level. It would take a step forward from Dye for him to jump into the first round, but as it stands he has a great chance to be a high-quality NFL starter for a long time.

KJ Costello Pac-12 conference quarterback Stanford

K.J. Costello, Quarterback, Stanford

Scouts, coaches and general managers love their tall quarterbacks. It’s why Paxton Lynch was an NFL Draft first-rounder and Russell Wilson fell into the third – even though Lynch is now fighting for a job backing up Wilson in Seattle.

K.J. Costello stands six-foot-five and weighs a lean 215 pounds, and his size and absolute rocket arm make him an appealing potential first-round target next season.

He led the Cardinal to a 9-4 record by throwing for 3,540 yards with a nice 29-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a solid 65.1% completion percentage.

Costello’s IQ in the pocket is excellent, and he has complete trust in his receivers – often making challenging throws and seeing openings before anyone else can.

He’s a bit limited mobility wise – as most six-foot-five quarterbacks are – but another strong season could vault Costello into the first-round conversation, particularly if multiple quarterback-needy teams emerge. He may end up being a Pac-12 NFL Draft first-rounder.

Christian Rector USC defensive end

Christian Rector, EDGE, USC

EDGE defenders were all the rage in the NFL Draft first-round last year, and while the PAC-12 doesn’t have a huge laundry list of elite, draft-eligible pass-rushers in 2019, one who could sneak his way into first-round consideration with a strong campaign is USC’s Christan Rector.

Entering his fifth year with the Trojans, Rector will need to show consistency if he wants to get attention at the top of the NFL Draft. An imposing six-foot-four and 270 pounds, Rector can absolutely wreak havoc off the edge – but too often he disappears for entire games.

His hand placement and use of length have been strengths of his in the past, but he often gets too upright and struggles to fill gaps in the run-game – both traits that he’ll need to improve on in his final season down in Southern California.

Pac-12 Apostles: State of the Conference, Predictions, Preview Podcast

Pac-12 Apostles Podcast Ep 2

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George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden return for the second installment of UnafraidShow.com’s Pac-12 Apostles Podcast. In this episode, the guys discuss the critical nature of the 2019 season for the Pac-12 conference, as well as the responsibility of the fans to help keep the conference from becoming irrelevant before the tv deal is up in 2024. The conference is falling financially behind the other power 5 conferences. So, winning a national championship or two before 2024 is paramount to the future of the Pac-12.

One of the biggest potential changes for the upcoming season in the Pac-12 is the proposed 9 am kickoff times for a small selection of games meant to air on Fox. George and Ralph discuss the pros and cons of early kickoffs and debate whether or not there will ultimately benefit from the change (14:00-31:38).

Pac-12 Apostles Podcast North and South Predictions

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George and Ralph revealed their preseason predictions for where the Pac-12 North teams will finish. Oregon, Washington, and Stanford have been the class of the Pac-12 for the last decade. But, both of the apostles believe Cal is a well-coached team on the rise. (31:39-1:01:11).,

The media picked Utah to win the conference at Pac-12 Media Day. However, neither George or Ralph picked them to win the south division. The apostles’ predictions for the Pac-12 South teams caused a big disagreement. They could not be further apart on the predictions for the UCLA Bruins, USC Trojans, and Arizona QB Khalil Tate. (1:01:12-End).

Download the Pac-12 Apostles Podcast on any podcast platform.

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Pac-12 Football: Cal Golden Bears Looking Good After Spring Game

On a beautiful spring day in Berkley, California, the California Golden Bears open up the gates and welcome everyone to the Spring Game and showcase its talent.

The Cal Golden Bears football team finished last season with a wining record of 7-6, giving them just their third winning season in nine years. Looking forward, the PAC-12 conference appears to be wide open and the Bears are poised to bring back 13 players from last seasons stingy 10th ranked defensive units.

The defense features Sr. ILB Evan Weaver a 2nd team All-American, and redshirt Jr. CB Camryn Bynum, leader of the #Takers, the defense, is working towards being even better.

The #Takers, Cal’s defensive back unit was live on the scene when sophomore Safety Daniel Scott made a beautiful play. Dropping back into zone coverage Scott read the eyes of quarterback Robby Rowell and elevated snagging an interception.

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Kuony Deng the 6-foot-6 Jr. ILB dropped back into coverage and somehow managed to avoid detection from sophomore City College of San Francisco transfer Jack Newman, and get setup with for a pick-6.

Transfer student Deon White, OLB, laid down the Hitstick “Crush of the Game” when he stuffed a Gun zone run and completely blew up the ball carrier. The Bears have a long way to go and will find it difficult to fill the shoes of Jordan Kunaszyk, but they appear ready to #EarnIt and be up to the challenge.

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Offense

Cal has 4 quarterbacks on the roster Chase Garbers, UCLA transfer student Devon Modster, freshman Robby Rowell, and Jack Newsome. Collectively in the spring game the quarterbacks went 23-32 177 yards 1TD 2INTS. Modster recorded the only passing touchdown of the day and would finish 6-7 27 yards and 1TD. Garbers completed 7-10 for 60 yards with a rushing touchdown. Rowell looked sharp early with the ball coming out on time and with zip. He had the offense in a nice rhythm up until feeding Scott the interception. Rowell’s stat line was 7-10 for 68 yards and 1INT.

Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin has his work cut out for him as the Bears offense seeks ways to put more points on the board. Returning quarterback Chase Garbers appears to be the likley starter, and his confidence in his ability in the passing game is growing. Last years Bears scored 280 total points and averaged 21.5 points per game.

Baldwin must also find ways to replace Patrick Laird’s production. Laird’s 223 carries accounted for 47% of the run game and his 9 scoring plays (5 rushes, 4 receptions) were 29% of the Bears 29 scores in 2018.

Luckily for Bear enthusiasts everywhere, the 2019 have a healthy sized stable of young workhorses ready to carry the load. Alex Letherda had a team longest run of 29 yards, and would finish the afternoon with 12 carries for 76 yards. Deshawn Collins rushed nine times for 39 yards including a 2yd TD run. The Bears offense appears to be featuring two special players.

Dancing Dancy and J-Hawk

Marcel Dancy turned in one of the top performances of the day, Dancy is a playmaker with vision, speed, power, hands, some shimmy/wiggle, and an ice cold spin move. Dancy would finish the day with 8 carries for 33 yards and a TD, he would also catch 3 passes for 29 yards including this 16 yard catch and run ending in pay dirt.


Jeremiah Hawkins introduced himself to the Golden Bear family with impressive displays of speed, moves, and a punishing stiff arm. Hawkins brings a very much needed shot in the arm to the speed department. What shouldn’t be understated is Hawkins knowledge of how to use his speed. Knowing that the best application of it is actual changing speeds and mixing it up so as to throw off the timing of defenders.

These two dynamic young players look to factor in heavily into Cal’s offensive attack and rightfully so. Dancy runs with power can churn through tackles and freeze defenders in their tracks when he puts them through spinning off of defenders.

Hawkins is 5-foot-8 185 pounds of pure dynamite, and if he’s not blowing past you, he’s embarrassing you with a smooth peel-back block or a merciless stiff-arm to the ground. Hawkins is one tough cookie, and we should hope that he has remedied his ball security issues.