By Stewart Mandel
August 21, 2013
Ater taking over the starting job in November, QB Kevin Hogan (8) led Stanford to five consecutive wins.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Pac-12 Conference Report
How They'll Finish
NORTH Conference Overall
Stanford 8-1 11-1
Oregon 7-2 10-2
Oregon State 6-3 9-3
Washington 5-4 8-4
Cal 3-6 4-8
Washington State 2-7 4-8
SOUTH Conference Overall
Arizona State 7-2 9-3
USC 5-4 8-5
UCLA 5-4 7-5
Utah 3-6 5-7
Arizona 2-7 5-7
Colorado 1-8 2-10
Conference championship: Stanford def. Arizona State
Offensive MVP
Marcus Mariota
2012 stats: 2,677 pass yards, 32 TD, 6 INT; 106 carries, 752 rush yards
2013 projection: 3,239 pass yards, 36 TD, 8 INT; 90 carries, 630 rush yards
The gifted athlete can burn opponents with his feet, but he's even more dangerous with his uncanny precision passing. While Oregon still figures to run the ball frequently behind backs De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall, neither is likely a LaMichael James or Kenjon Barner-type workhorse. Redshirt sophomore Mariota will get more opportunities to win games for the Ducks with his arm.
BAUMGAERTNER: Oregon ranks No. 5 in SI's preseason Top 25
Defensive MVP
Anthony Barr
2012 stats: 83 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss
2013 projection: 99 tackles, 12 sacks, 17 tackles for loss
While Stanford has a bevy of candidates (linebackers Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy, safeties Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards) who seem poised for big seasons, Barr and Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton are the league's premier individual defenders. Barr gets the nod because the running back turned linebacker should only continue to improve in his second year on the defensive side of the ball.
Staff: Anthony Barr on's 2013 Preseason All-America Team
Breakout Star
Brendan Bigelow
2012 stats: 44 carries, 431 yards, 3 TD
2013 projection: 164 carries, 972 yards, 9 TD
Ohio State fans surely remember Bigelow, who burst for touchdown runs of 81 and 59 yards, respectively, during last year's game in Columbus. But the then-sophomore back never gained a prominent role in Jeff Tedford's pro-style attack. Sonny Dykes' spread offense is a better fit, and the speedy Bigelow is too explosive to languish on the bench. He'll emerge as an all-purpose weapon in the 2013 campaign.
BAUMGAERTNER: Brendan Bigelow ready to get back to full speed
Impact Freshman
Su'a Cravens
2012 stats (high school): 98 tackles, 11 sacks, 3 INT, 4 forced fumbles
2013 projection: 73 tackles, 3 INT, 7 pass deflections
A standout performer early in spring practice before going down with a knee injury, Cravens -- last year's USA Today Defensive Player of the Year and's top-ranked safety in the class of 2013 -- may wind up starting opposite veteran Dion Bailey for the Trojans. "I didn't come here just to sit on the bench," Cravens told the Los Angeles Times. "I came to SC to try and get on the field as fast as I can."
BAUMGAERTNER: Freshman 15: Impact newcomers in 2013
Coach On The Hot Seat
Lane Kiffin
Last season: 7-6 (4-5 Pac-12)
Career at USC: 25-13 (17-10 Pac-12)
Despite AD Pat Haden's continued public support, no coach in the country is on shakier ground than Kiffin, due in large part to the Trojans' tumble from preseason No. 1 to Sun Bowl loser in 2012. The impact of NCAA scholarship reductions will be felt most profoundly this season, when Kiffin will be under pressure to return to the 10-win realm despite an untested quarterback and a suspect secondary.
RICKMAN: Hot Seat Watch: Which coaches have the most at stake in 2013?
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