Pac-12: Stanford Cardinal

In 2012, Washington's offense averaged 24 points per game, and quarterback Keith Price had a horribly disappointing season. In 2013, the Huskies averaged 37.9 points per game and Price redeemed himself.

The Huskies' friends to the east, the Washington State Cougars, averaged 20.4 points in coach Mike Leach's first season, his Air Raid offense pretty much grounded. In 2013, the Cougars averaged 31 points per game. Much better.

Every season, offenses and defenses improve or regress. Oregon and Arizona each scored fewer points in 2013 compared to 2012.

In 2011, UCLA ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring offense with a measly 23.1 points per game. Oregon State was even worse, ranking 11th with just 21.8 points per game. In 2012, both made huge improvements on offense and continued to trend up in 2013.

So who is poised to make a big jump this fall? We're breaking it down by division. We looked at the South on Wednesday -- predicting a USC renaissance. Today, it's the North.


Obviously, Stanford and Washington State didn't have bad offenses in 2013. The Cardinal offense, which ranked 45th in the nation in scoring, is about ball control and physical play, not piling up huge numbers. The Cougars, who ranked 52nd in the nation in scoring, owned one of the nation's best passing attacks.

Heck, even Cal moved the ball well, averaging 453.6 yards per game. It just couldn't convert passing yards into points.

All three appear poised to improve in 2014.

Stanford, with third-year starting quarterback Kevin Hogan and a talented, veteran crew of receivers, is likely to throw the ball more in 2014 than it has the previous two seasons, thought it's probably wrong to think it will abandon its run-first, smash-mouth mentality. It had that even when Andrew Luck played behind center. The Cardinal running game, however, is a question, as four starting offensive linemen and running back Tyler Gaffney must be replaced.

Washington State's question also is the O-line. With veteran quarterback Connor Halliday and a deep, experienced crew of receivers, the Cougars could light up the scoreboard if the line holds up.

The same could be said for Cal. Quarterback Jared Goff will be a second-year starter and he has a strong crew of receivers, too. He didn't get much help from an inconsistent, constantly changing line last year, and that unit remains uncertain.

It wouldn't be surprising if all three of these teams added a touchdown to their points-per-game average in 2014. Washington State, however, looks like the most likely candidate to move up a class -- from decent to good -- in 2014.

While Cal has the most room to improve, we're projecting the Cougars to approach or even cross the 40-point threshold this fall.
It has been 296 days since the Stanford football team opened fall camp to begin preparations for the 2013 season. If that day marks the official start to an athlete’s season then Zach Hoffpauir has been in season for 296 days.

For Hoffpauir, the conclusion of the Rose Bowl meant the beginning of baseball season. One of four Pac-12 athletes to play both sports, he immediately shifted gears and begun preparations for what turned out to be a very successful sophomore season for the safety turned outfielder.

[+] EnlargeHoffpauir
AP Photo/Doug McSchoolerStanford OF Zach Hoffpauir, who will battle for a starting safety spot this fall, is a big reason why the Cardinal advanced to the Super Regional.
And thanks to a walk-off home run from freshman Tommy Edman on Monday against Indiana, the Cardinal, who were the No. 3 seed in the four-team Indiana regional, advanced to this weekend’s Super Regional at Vanderbilt. Hoffpauir was 5-for-19 in the series including a 3-for-5 performance with a home run and a triple in a 10-7 win against Indiana on Sunday.

Balancing the academic workload at Stanford with both sports is a challenge, but he’s in a unique position in that both head coaches -- David Shaw (football) and Mark Marquess (baseball) -- were multi-sport athletes as students at Stanford. Shaw made brief cameos with the track and basketball teams in addition to his role as a wide receiver in football, while Marquess also pulled off the football-baseball double.

“When your coaches are supportive of [playing both], it relieves a lot of pressure,” said Hoffpauir, who ranks second on the Cardinal with a .332 batting average and seven home runs. “It’s nice to have both coaches that have done it too, so they know where I’m coming from.”

When Hoffpauir went through the recruiting process, he sought out a place that would not only allow him to play both sports but provide an environment conducive to being successful in both. Stanford stood out immediately. John Elway in the 1980s, Toby Gerhart a few years back and, most recently, Tyler Gaffney are a few notable examples of how it has worked in the past.

“Stanford was really only program [recruiting me] that had repeated success of two-sports athletes,” Hoffpauir said. “Was I just being told I could do both or is there evidence that it had worked in the past? It was a big part of why I chose Stanford.”

All three of those players had professional baseball opportunities -- Elway and Gaffney both played minor-league baseball before returning to football -- and if things play out the way Hoffpauir hopes, he will too. He’ll be draft eligible after next baseball season, and if the price is right, he said he’d be open to going the Gaffney route and leaving for the minor leagues.

Like Gaffney, Hoffpauir didn’t redshirt during his true freshman football season, which would allow him to step away from football for a season -- essentially redshirting his senior year -- then return to the football team the following year if he’s not sold baseball is the correct permanent fit.

“Things worked out pretty well for Gaffney,” Hoffpauir said.

Gaffney was selected in the sixth round of the NFL draft after rushing for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns upon his return.

Projecting how Hoffpauir’s chances at a career in professional football factor into that equation are difficult. Through two seasons, he’s been a special-teams mainstay, but has sat behind Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards on the depth chart at safety. With Reynolds off to the NFL, Hoffpauir is one of four players who will compete to start alongside Richards next season.

The Cardinal moved receiver Kodi Whitfield and quarterback Dallas Lloyd to safety before spring practice to bolster the competition that also includes Kyle Olugbode. Hoffpauir knows he missed out on important reps that could theoretically play a role in who starts, but he isn’t overly concerned by it.

“Yeah, you want to be out there, but I came here and wanted to play both,” he said. “You really earn your spot in fall camp. Once you get to fall camp, whoever is going to make the plays is going to play the position.”

When he had time, Hoffpauir would still sit in on meetings with the football team during the spring and has a specific workout regimen designed to allow him to bulk up but remain flexible.

When Hoffpauir officially returns to football, there will be a new position coach to waiting for him. Duane Akina was hired to replace Derek Mason, who coincidently left for the Vanderbilt job, as the secondary coach following Stanford's first session of spring practice.

Pac-12 lunch links

June, 2, 2014
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I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.

Pac-12 lunch links

May, 30, 2014
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Happy Friday!
Much of the talk this summer has been about scheduling, whether it be FCS teams, number of conference games, or scheduling a conference game and then counting it as a nonconference game.

But the Pac-12, as usual, will play some pretty tough schedules, and Ted Miller and Chantel Jennings are discussing which team they think has the hardest road through the league in 2014.

Chantel Jennings: I’m going with Oregon State. I certainly don’t envy Mike Riley. Yes, he has a weapon in Sean Mannion, but Mannion is going to have some pretty big tests throughout the season as he searches for his new safety blanket with Brandin Cooks down in New Orleans.

For starters, the Beavers begin their Pac-12 season with a trip to Los Angeles to play USC. Steve Sarkisian hasn’t been there long at all but if his record at Washington against Oregon State is any indicator (a very convincing win last season, 3-2 in five years), it’s going to be a tough one.

After that opening, the road gets smoother. Really, from Oct. 4 through the middle of November Oregon State has a pretty favorable schedule, with the major exception of a trip to Stanford on Oct. 25. I’d take the Beavers at home against Utah, Cal and Washington State and a road trip to Colorado shouldn’t be too terrible for Mannion and Riley.

But the last part of the Beavers schedule just gets brutal. And by brutal I mean uphill both ways without shoes on broken glass.

Yes, the Arizona State and Oregon games are at home, but those games are going to be tough. And a road trip to Washington sandwiched in the middle could be very bad as well. Early in the year, a visit to Seattle might not be that terrible but I’d imagine that by the end of November, Chris Petersen is going to have the Huskies clicking on all cylinders and that isn’t the friendliest of stadiums.

The Beavers should be bowl eligible by then (and if they’re not, Oregon State might not be seeing the postseason in 2014), but ending the season with that kind of a three-game stretch -- and a very possible three-game skid -- is rough.

Ted Miller: Stanford played the nation's fourth-toughest schedule last year, though it ranked only fourth in the Pac-12, and the Cardinal's 2014 slate is even tougher, at least from a preseason perspective.

For one, Stanford plays six road games, including five in conference play after having five at home in 2013. Five of those games -- Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA -- will be against teams likely inhabiting the preseason top 25. Oregon and UCLA are top-10 teams.

Then there are the Pac-12 misses: Arizona and Colorado. The Wildcats again look like a bowl team and the Buffaloes are improving, but Stanford's competition in the North Division have far more advantageous misses. Oregon, to note the Cardinal's chief rival, misses Arizona State and USC.

Speaking of USC, the Trojans visit in Week 2, sandwiched between Stanford's only easy games -- UC Davis and Army. After a bye, Stanford then travels to Seattle and Notre Dame on consecutive weekends. The season concludes with road games at rival California and UCLA, the South favorite.

This schedule is unrelenting. It's the best reason to favor Oregon in the North Division.

But if the Cardinal finishes 11-1 or even 10-2 and then win the Pac-12 championship game, you'd have to think they will be squarely in the hunt for a berth in the College Football Playoff.
Dates, times and early TV schedules have been released for the early portion of the 2014 season. Here’s a comprehensive list, team-by-team of what has been scheduled.

ARIZONA:
  • Friday, Aug. 29 vs. UNLV, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Thursday, Sept. 4 at UTSA, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Nevada, 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 2 at Oregon, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Nov. 28 vs. Arizona State, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
ARIZONA STATE:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Weber State, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at New Mexico, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 at Colorado, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  • Thursday, Sept. 25 vs. UCLA, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Nov. 28 at Arizona, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
CALIFORNIA:
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Sacramento State, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Friday, Oct. 24 vs. Oregon, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Thursday, Nov. 13 at USC, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
COLORADO:
  • Friday, Aug. 29 at Colorado State, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET/FOX Sports 1
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. ASU, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, ESPNU
OREGON:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. South Dakota, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Michigan State, 3:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Wyoming, 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 2 vs. Arizona, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Oct. 24 at Cal, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
OREGON STATE:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. Portland State, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at Hawai’i, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Thursday, Oct. 16 vs. Utah, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
STANFORD:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. UC-Davis, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. USC, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Army, 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Oct. 4 at Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
  • Friday, Oct. 10 vs. Washington State, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Friday, Nov. 28 at UCLA, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
UCLA:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 at Virginia, 9 a.m. PT/2 noon ET, ESPN
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Memphis, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Texas, 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Thursday, Sept. 25 at ASU, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Nov. 28 vs. Stanford, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
USC:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 vs. Fresno State, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET, FOX/FOX Deportes
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 at Stanford, 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 at Boston College, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2
  • Thursday, Nov. 13 vs. Cal, 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET, ESPN
UTAH:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Idaho State, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Fresno State, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Thursday, Oct. 16 at Oregon State, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1

WASHINGTON:
  • Saturday, Aug. 30 at Hawai’i, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, CBSSN
  • Saturday, Sept. 6 vs. Eastern Washington, 12 noon PT/3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Illinois, 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports
WASHINGTON STATE:
  • Thursday, Aug. 28 vs. Rutgers, 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1
  • Friday, Sept. 5 at Nevada, 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Saturday, Sept. 13 vs. Portland State, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks
College football is not only about being good. It's about scheduling.

Who you don't play is often as important as who you do. Just look at the SEC, where retaining an eight-game conference schedule in a 14-team league is Machiavellian genius. It's cowardly and fraudulent, of course, but it might help the conference get more teams in the College Football Playoff.

Anyway... back to the Pac-12, a 12-team league that plays a nine-game conference schedule.

So let's look at how the Pac-12 schedules stack up, starting with the North Division (*-denotes FCS team; toughest nonconference game bolded):

CALIFORNIA

Nonconference slate: Aug. 30, at Northwestern (5-7); Sept. 16, Sacramento State (5-7)*; Nov. 29, BYU (8-5)

Pac-12 misses: Arizona State, Utah

Road games (5): at Northwestern, at Arizona, at Washington State, at Oregon State, at USC

Bye weeks: Sept. 13 (before Pac-12 schedule begins), Nov. 8 (before Thursday game at USC)

Skinny: Last year, California had the third-toughest schedule in the country with Ohio State and Northwestern on the slate. This year, things are more manageable, though the Bears will almost always be hurt by playing UCLA and USC every year, per agreement with the Pac-12 office. This schedule is far from easy, as a trip to Chicago is no cakewalk, and BYU is pretty much the equivalent of a B-list Big Five foe. The home conference schedule is much tougher than the road trips, but that can operate against a team struggling to climb from the bottom of the standings. The byes are reasonably spread throughout the year -- recall the useless "bye" last year the final weekend of the season -- though USC is also off before the Thursday game. The Bears also get a couple of extra days to prepare for the Big Game against Stanford due to the Thursday kickoff.

OREGON

Nonconference slate: Aug. 30, South Dakota (4-8)*; Sept. 6, Michigan State (13-1); Sept. 13, Wyoming (5-7)

Pac-12 misses: Arizona State, USC

Road games (5): at Washington State, at UCLA, at California, at Utah, at Oregon State

Bye weeks: Sept. 27 (before Thursday game with Arizona); Nov. 15 (before Colorado)

Skinny: This schedule sets up for a national championship run, including the Pac-12's nonconference game of the year against Michigan State, a likely top-5 team. The Ducks miss two South teams that are almost certain to be ranked in the preseason, so those are good misses. They don't play consecutive road games all season. By playing at Cal on a Friday, they get an extra day to prepare for Stanford at home. The Oct. 11 trip to UCLA could loom large in the national title race, and we might get a rematch in the Pac-12 championship game. So, because the Ducks play Arizona on a Thursday night, it's notable they will get a couple of extra days to prepare for the Bruins.

OREGON STATE

Nonconference slate: Aug. 30, Portland State (6-6)*; Sept. 6, Hawaii (1-11); Sept. 20, San Diego State (8-5)

Pac-12 misses: Arizona, UCLA

Road games (5): at Hawaii, at USC, at Colorado, at Stanford, at Washington

Bye weeks: Sept. 13 (before San Diego State); Oct. 11 (before Thursday game with Utah)

Skinny: The Beavers have the weakest nonconference schedule in the conference. They also have a bye before playing host to San Diego State, which might be good coming after a long trip to Hawaii. The conference misses are good, as UCLA is a top-10 team and Arizona is at least solid. The road schedule is tough, though the Beavers have recently had some success versus USC, at least at home. The Thursday game with Utah provides extra time to prepare for the trip to Stanford. They play four of their first seven games on the road, but the upside is playing four of the final five at home. The trip to Washington looms large as a North Division separation game. And will the Beavers play spoilers for Oregon at home in the season finale?

STANFORD

Nonconference slate: Aug. 30, UC Davis (5-7)*; Sept. 13, Army (3-9); Oct. 4, at Notre Dame (9-4)

Pac-12 misses: Arizona, Colorado

Road games (6): at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Arizona State, at Oregon, at California, at UCLA

Bye weeks: Sept. 20 (before Washington); Nov. 8 (before Utah)

Skinny: A brutal schedule. Just like last year. The trip to Notre Dame is never easy. From a preseason perspective, the misses are the least advantageous in the Pac-12. There are six road games, five of which should be against teams ranked in the preseason top 25. The Cardinal plays Washington and Notre Dame on the road on back-to-back weekends, and three of their final four games are on the road. The bye before playing the Huskies is well-timed, and you might recall that Stanford lost to Utah last year, so that bye isn't bad either. Of course, if the Cardinal emerge from this schedule at 11-1 and then win the Pac-12 championship, they not only will make the College Football Playoff, they might be seeded No. 1.

WASHINGTON

Nonconference slate: Aug. 30, at Hawaii (1-11); Sept. 6, Eastern Washington (12-3)*; Sept. 13, Illinois (4-8); Sept. 20, Georgia State (0-12)

Pac-12 misses: Utah, USC

Road games (6): at Hawaii, at California, at Oregon, at Colorado, at Arizona, at Washington State

Bye week: Oct. 4 (before game at Cal)

Skinny: The Huskies play 13 games due to an NCAA rule that allows them to after taking a trip to Hawaii, and they have given themselves a pretty darn soft nonconference slate. Anything less than 4-0 would be a massive disappointment. The bad news about 13 regular season games is just one off weekend, and a break before visiting Cal doesn't seem ideal, though it does come after what should be a physically taxing matchup with Stanford. The misses are not unhelpful, particularly no game with USC. The final four games figure to define the season, with UCLA and Oregon State coming to Husky Stadium and trips to Arizona and Washington State. Hard to believe a 3-1 finish wouldn't make Chris Petersen's first season feel successful.

WASHINGTON STATE

Nonconference slate: Aug. 28 in Seattle, Rutgers (6-7); Sept. 6 at Nevada (4-8); Sept. 13 Portland State (6-6)*

Pac-12 misses: UCLA, Colorado

Road games (5, with the Rutgers game played in Seattle): at Nevada, at Utah, at Stanford, at Oregon State, at Arizona State

Bye week: Oct. 17 (before Arizona); Nov. 15 (before game at Arizona State)

Skinny: The nonconference slate is manageable, if not completely soft. Cougars fans have a right to believe 3-0 is the most likely scenario in Year 3 under Mike Leach. Playing Rutgers in Seattle rates as a 50-percent road game, as it breaks from routine, if not fan support. A road trip to Nevada could be tricky. Missing UCLA is good; missing Colorado probably isn't. Can the Cougs go 2-2 in conference play on the road? That might be the key to the season. That and beating the hated Huskies at home to conclude the campaign. It's not too much of a stretch to see eight wins on this schedule.

Pac-12 lunch links

May, 28, 2014
May 28
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I know we usually start with song lyrics, but in honor of the extraordinary Maya Angelou, who passed away Wednesday morning, I thought it'd be appropriate to start Wednesday's lunch links with one of my favorite quotes from her.

"I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back."

Now, on to the links.

Way-too-early bowl projections

May, 27, 2014
May 27
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ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach have made their "way-too-early" bowl projections, and both foresee Oregon representing the Pac-12 in the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.

McMurphy has the Ducks facing Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, one of the semifinal sites. Schlabach has the Ducks playing Alabama in the Rose. Both matchups likely would inspire plenty of "yes, please" among college football fans -- ignoring the fact that said fans obviously want their teams in those spots.

In the other semifinal -- the Sugar Bowl -- McMurphy has Alabama playing Oklahoma and Schlabach has Florida State taking on Michigan State.

Both also project Stanford making another trip to the Fiesta Bowl. McMurphy has the Cardinal playing Michigan State -- a rematch of January's Rose Bowl -- and Schlabach has the Cardinal playing Wisconsin, a rematch of the Rose Bowl following the 2012 season.

In total, both believe at least eight Pac-12 teams will earn bowl berths: Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona. McMurphy projects a ninth with Washington State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl opposite Rice.

Buffalo Wild Wings: Oregon State vs. TCU (McMurphy), Oregon State vs. TCU (Schlabach)
Las Vegas: Utah State vs. Arizona (McMurphy), Boise State vs. Arizona (Schlabach)
Heart of Dallas: Washington State vs. Rice (McMurphy)
Sun: Louisville vs. Arizona State (McMurphy), Duke vs. Arizona State (Schlabach)
Holiday: Nebraska vs. USC (McMurphy), Washington vs. Iowa (Schlabach)
San Francisco: Minnesota vs. Washington (McMurphy), Minnesota vs. USC (Schlabach)
Alamo: Texas vs. UCLA (McMurphy), Kansas State vs. UCLA (Schlabach)
Fiesta: Stanford vs. Michigan State (McMurphy), Stanford vs. Wisconsin (Schlabach)
*Rose: Ohio State vs. Oregon (McMurphy), Alabama vs. Oregon (Schlabach)
*Sugar: Alabama vs. Oklahoma (McMurphy), Florida State vs. Michigan State (Schlabach)

*-College Football Playoff semifinals

These are perfectly reasonable and defensible projections, though the Pac-12 blog at present sees UCLA as a more likely No. 2 seed coming out of the Pac-12. You could make an argument that Utah might give the Pac-12 10 teams with legitimate designs on bowl eligibility.
Over the last two weeks we’ve been taking a look at some players who had big springs for their respective teams. Some are upperclassmen finally coming into their own, some are younger guys taking advantage of open spots on the depth chart, while others are leap frogging some older players and making a name for themselves. Regardless, there were plenty of impressive performances in the Pac-12 this spring. All of these players are going to play a big part for their teams this fall, but which player do you think will be the most crucial to his team’s success in 2014? Rank them 1-12 here.

Here’s a breakdown of the players we’ve profiled over the past two weeks:

Arizona: WR Cayleb Jones -- The Wildcats might have the deepest wide receiver group in the entire conference, but could a Texas transfer become the most important one of the bunch? With a year spent studying the offense and learning from the sideline, Jones could be a major factor.

Arizona State: LB D.J. Calhoun -- The early enrollee ended the spring listed as a starter with Antonio Longino at the weakside linebacker position. With the Sun Devils trying to replace three starting linebackers, could Calhoun become a significant contributor as a true freshman? Seems likely.

Cal: RB Daniel Lasco -- Lasco found himself taking some extra reps this spring as Khalfani Muhammad (last season’s leading rusher) split time between the Cal track and football teams this spring. During his career he has been slowed by injury, but now that he’s finally healthy and taking more reps, could he battle Muhammad for the lead spot this fall?

Colorado: WR Bryce Bobo -- Colorado fans should feel encouraged by Bobo’s spring game performance (five catches, 132 yards) as they head into the summer wondering who can replace Paul Richardson's yardage. It’s highly unlikely that it’ll be one single player, but could Bobo carry a large part of it?

Oregon: WR Devon Allen -- When he wasn’t running for the Oregon track team this spring he was running circles around some Ducks defensive backs. The redshirt freshman could prove to be a huge player for Oregon as they look to replace last season’s top-three receivers as well as injured Bralon Addison’s production.

Oregon State: WR Victor Bolden -- Could Bolden be a possible replacement for some of the yardage lost by Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks? He has seen most of his time on special teams, but could step up as a big contributor in the fall as QB Sean Mannion looks to have another very big season for the Beavers.

Stanford: DL Aziz Shittu -- The sophomore, who can play every spot on the defensive line for the Cardinal, has received high praise this spring. Coach David Shaw said Shittu was, “probably the player of spring for us.” If it’s good enough for Shaw, is that good enough for you?

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsHow will USC wideout Nelson Agholor follow up his stellar 2013 season and excellent spring?
UCLA: CB Fabian Moreau -- He was a big contributor to the Bruins last season but during this spring season Moreau became a better leader for UCLA. Coach Jim Mora has given Moreau high praise and if the Bruins are able to take the South Division title next season, a bit part could be because of the breakout year Moreau could have.

USC: WR Nelson Agholor -- Chances are if you’re a USC fan, you know who Agholor is. If you’re not -- then he was the guy who played opposite Marqise Lee. But this spring Agholor took the steps to go from good WR to great WR, and next fall, the fruits of his labor could be on display for the entire conference to see.

Utah: RB Devontae Booker -- Booker is right on the heels of RB Bubba Poole, as displayed by his spring game performance (2 touchdowns, 19 carries, 103 yards). But between Booker, Poole and Troy McCormick, the Utes could have a three-headed monster at running back that Pac-12 teams would not enjoy having to face.

Washington: LB/RB Shaq Thompson -- He was the second-leading tackler for the Huskies last season so it wasn’t a defensive breakout spring for him. But considering he started getting offensive reps, it was a breakout spring for him as a running back. UW needs to replace Bishop Sankey’s yardage, could Thompson’s spring give him a jump start to do so?

Washington State: WR Vince Mayle -- The converted running back had a big spring for the Cougars. This spring Mayle got close to becoming quarterback Connor Halliday’s safety net. Considering Halliday threw for more than 4,500 yards last season, being his safety net would mean major, major yardage next fall.
On Thursday, the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class was announced. Unsurprisingly, the Pac-12 was well represented among the 2014 honorees.

Of the 14 players selected, three were Pac-12 alumni: former USC offensive tackle Tony Boselli, former Stanford running back Darrin Nelson and former UCLA quarterback John Sciarra.

Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti was one of the two coaches selected for the honor. The other was former Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore.

The 16-man class will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 9 at the 57th National Football Foundation annual awards dinner in New York City.

College Football Hall of Fame Class, 2014
DB Dre Bly, UNC
OT Tony Boselli, USC
OT Dave Butz, Purdue
LB Shane Conlan, Penn State
QB Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech
RB Darrin Nelson, Stanford
OT Willie Roaf, Louisiana Tech
QB John Sciarra, UCLA
WR Sterling Sharpe, South Carolina
LB Derrick Thomas, Alabama
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU
TE Wesley Walls, Ole Miss
Mike Bellotti, Oregon coach
Jerry Moore, Appalachian State coach
And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more.

Top five recruiting jobs: Pac-12 

May, 21, 2014
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While Pac-12 parity is on the rise thanks to an influx of money and dynamic coaching, all things still are not equal on the recruiting scene. The conference as a whole has more to offer recruits than ever before, but location and tradition simply can't be trumped, as we take a look at the five best recruiting jobs in the Pac-12.

[+] EnlargeTommy Trojan
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsIt's tough to beat the tradition of USC, especially for the rest of the Pac-12.
1. USC

Proximity to out-of-state talent: Finding out-of-state talent ranks a distant second to locking up in-state recruits, of which a large majority lives near USC's home in Los Angeles. The top players from Arizona, Washington and Nevada are easy enough to reach, while going into the Southeast is made possible by the draw that is Los Angeles. Still the distance to Florida and the rest of the Southeast does take a number of talented prospects off the board before the recruiting process even really begins.

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May, 20, 2014
May 20
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Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way. See how they shine.
We continue our look at breakout players from spring practice. Today, the Stanford Cardinal.

Breakout player: DL Aziz Shittu

2013 statistics: Recorded five tackles in 10 games, including one in the Pac-12 championship game.

[+] EnlargeAziz Shittu
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezStanford coach David Shaw said DL Aziz Shittu was "probably the player of spring for us."
The case for Shittu: Over the past two years, Shittu has been an interesting player to watch progress. He arrived on The Farm after a high-profile recruitment that included just about the entire Pac-12 and several national powers. He had the type of profile that made it seem plausible for the Atwater, Calif., native to contribute early in his college career.

It didn't exactly play out that way. Stanford pulled his redshirt midway through his freshman season in 2012, but Shittu held minimal roles the past two seasons. After a strong spring, it appears that will change this season.

Shittu is listed at defensive end, but he can contribute at all three spots on the defensive line, which will be without Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro, both of whom are beginning their NFL careers. Among the players Shittu will compete with for snaps are Blake Lueders and tight-end convert Luke Kaumatule. DE Henry Anderson, a potential All-American, and DT David Parry, a one-time walk-on, both return.

Stanford coach David Shaw was complimentary of Shittu throughout the spring, especially after the spring game when he called him, "probably the player of spring for us."

Other spring breakout players:

Arizona: WR Cayleb Jones

Arizona State: LB D.J. Calhoun

Cal: RB Daniel Lasco

Colorado: WR Bryce Bobo

Oregon: WR Devon Allen

Oregon State: WR Victor Bolden

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