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Pac-12 football: Washington poised for another run

By in Press Enterprise on August 29, 2017

By Scott Wolf

USC might be ranked No. 4 in the nation but you can probably find just as many pundits who believe Washington will win the Pacific-12 Conference.

The Huskies certainly have a favorable schedule that skips the Trojans during the regular season and opens with Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State. They also play UCLA, Oregon, Utah and Washington State in Seattle. Their toughest road game is at Colorado. It almost sounds rigged.

“Washington has an all-league quarterback (Jake Browning), two starting running backs (Myles Gaskin, Lavin Coleman) and an offensive line intact,” said Nick Aliotti, the former defensive coordinator at Oregon. “Right now I like them to win the league.”

The Huskies also have the experience of playing Alabama in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal. But if they have to play USC in the Pac-12 title game, the Huskies won’t be happy because the Trojans will get a bye the week before the contest.

Here’s a look at the conference, excluding USC and UCLA, in order of perceived strength:

WASHINGTON

Huskies coach Chris Petersen always hates to be considered a favorite but Washington is favored to win the Pac-12 North. Linebacker Azeem Victor and defensive tackle Vita Vea were Associated Press preseason All-Americans and the front seven is probably the best in the conference.

The only question with the schedule is whether the Huskies might blow a home game like they did last year vs. USC.

STANFORD

It might be easy to discount the Cardinal but quarterback Keller Chryst looks fully recovered from last season’s knee injury; tailback Bryce Love demonstrated against Rice that life after Christian McCaffrey is possible and tight end Colby Parkinson looks like the latest star 6-foot-7 receiver.

If you want an idea of how consistent Stanford has become under Coach David Shaw, the Cardinal went 10-3 last season and it was considered a down year. […]    

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