Barkley leads Trojans

Matt Murschel

Orlando Sentinel

Fresh off its two-year postseason bowl ban, USC is primed and ready to make a run at the Pac-12 championship. Quarterback Matt Barkley, a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, is surrounded by so much talent the Trojans are tabbed by many to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

Many people felt that with Andrew Luck's departure, so went Stanford's chances of success. Not true. The Cardinal still has a 1,000-yard rusher in Stepfan Taylor and a strong defense.

Todd Graham said the Arizona State job was his dream, but it could be a nightmare. The Sun Devils lost talented quarterback Brock Osweiler to the NFL and will have several inexperienced players on offense and defense.

USC has depth

Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

The Trojans likely have to beat Oregon twice, but senior quarterback Matt Barkley gives USC a decided edge in experience. The addition of transfer Silas Redd from Penn State provides the Trojans depth at a position that last season was remarkably thin.

Washington State will surprise. Mike Leach inherited a talented cast of passers and catchers for his spread offense and his team will shock somebody, somewhere. Leach could make an immediate statement on opening Thursday if he can go into Provo and defeat his alma mater, Brigham Young.

California will disappoint. Jeff Tedford arrived as a QB guru, but lately the position has been shakier than Barney Fife.

Utah could surprise

David Teel

Daily Press

Any program progressive enough to include players' Twitter handles on the depth chart is all right by me, so here's a nod to Southern California winning the Pacific 12.

That the Trojans return most key players from a 10-2 squad that finished No. 6 in the AP poll also helps, especially when central-casting quarterback Matt Barkley is among that group.

Oregon also is a top-five preseason squad, but with redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota at quarterback and four road tests, including at USC, in the final six games, here's guessing the Ducks fall short of expectations.