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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

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January 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM

In the lull before signing day, a look at Pac-12 football, 2015

Trying to rough out a forecast of Pac-12 football, 2015, is like the proverbial attempt to nail Jell-O to the wall. But hey, gimme a hammer and one of those ten-pennies.

Very tough to know what the shape of some teams will be, with major staff changes at Utah, a new head coach at Oregon State and a new quarterback at Oregon. Then there’s recruiting, climaxed by signing day next Wednesday. And spring and fall practices still to come. Remember, the thinking back in the spring of 2012 was that Bryan Bennett was Oregon’s quarterback, until a guy by the name of Mariota beat him out.

So, a look ahead with far-too-early predictions. In several cases, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the order, because some teams look very close, and there are so many unknowns still to play out (can we hedge any more?).

North Division

1. Stanford. I’ll take the Cardinal to supplant the Ducks at the top of the Pac-12 North, mainly on the strength of having a returning quarterback. Kevin Hogan hasn’t always been superlative, but he’s won and if he gets better at the mid-range passing game, he should be able to take advantage of the eight other returning starters on offense, including all the linemen except for Andrus Peat. Defense will be the bigger concern, where there are major losses up front. Watch for the name Harrison Phillips to emerge on the line.

Schedule: At Northwestern, Central Florida, Notre Dame (non-league). Five league home games, and roadies with USC and Oregon State to open.

2. Oregon. Hard to displace the national-title game participants as a division favorite, but the losses are considerable, and the dropoff from Mariota to Whoever is inevitable. But a caveat here: If Vernon Adams, the Eastern Washington quarterback visiting Oregon this weekend, opts to transfer, reverse the predicted order with Stanford, because Adams is a difference-maker and Oregon has a lot of offensive talent to go with him. If nobody transfers in, Oregon would appear to be left with Mariota’s backup, Jeff Lockie; redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak; or possibly Wednesday signee Ty Waller or if they can flip his commitment to Texas A&M, five-star recruit Kyler Murray. Ducks lose some real studs in center Hroniss Grasu, defensive end Arik Armstead, linebacker Tony Washington, corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and safety Erick Dargan.

Schedule: Eastern Washington, at Michigan State, Georgia State. Tough league road games with Arizona State, Stanford and Washington.

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January 29, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Huskies and the NCAA tournament: Well, it was a good idea . . .

Washington’s dismissal of Robert Upshaw early this week led me to a former NCAA basketball committee member to try to shed light on the committee’s thinking when it assesses such situations. We talked Wednesday afternoon. And then a few hours later, the Huskies played like they were trying to render such speculation moot, turning in a…

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January 28, 2015 at 7:00 PM

College Hoops Hangout: Coach K and his place in history

  Thumbing through the NCAA basketball record book awhile back, I came upon this stat: Consecutive NCAA-tournament victories: UCLA, 38. File that one under “Records That Will Never Be Broken.” Runnerup in that category is 13. Thirty-eight, of course, was accomplished under the legendary John Wooden, so you might find my thesis curious: That you can make a case that…

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January 26, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Northwest 11: Beavers the story here and elsewhere

Each week, we rank the 11 Division 1 men’s college basketball teams in the Northwest — the nine in the states of Oregon and Washington, plus Idaho and Boise State. Herewith, week No. 4 in 2015: 1. Gonzaga (20-1) . . . Zags showed what most suspected — big gap between GU and St. Mary’s 2. Washington…

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January 21, 2015 at 7:00 PM

College Hoops Hangout: The Zags, and that single loss at Arizona

Each week until March Madness, I’ll be taking a look at the broader scene outside the Pac-12 in college basketball, looking at trends and faces in the game and previewing the next week’s best action on TV. Some weeks, the column may also run in the Times’ print edition. Late in the afternoon of Dec….

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January 18, 2015 at 9:41 PM

Northwest 11: Huskies retake second after sweep

Herewith, our third Northwest 11 ranking of 2015, featuring the Division 1 schools in Oregon and Washington, plus Idaho and Boise State. 1. Gonzaga (18-1) . . . Loyola was first team to outrebound Zags (38-33) 2. Washington (13-4) . . . Sweep was mandatory for UW; rugged mountain trip next 3. Oregon State (12-5) . . ….

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January 14, 2015 at 10:00 PM

College hoops hangout: Kentucky’s improbable journey

 Each week until March Madness, I’ll be taking a broad look at trends and faces on the national college basketball scene, with notes from around the country and a quick look at the best games coming up. The feature may also run some weeks in the print edition. This week on the SEC teleconference, John Calipari,…

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January 12, 2015 at 12:01 PM

Northwest 11: A scramble for the runnerup position

  Herewith, the second edition of the 2014-15 Northwest 11, covering the states of Oregon and Washington, plus Idaho and Boise State. The highlights of the week were major upsets by Washington State and Oregon State, making for a competitive scrap behind Gonzaga. 1. Gonzaga (16-1) . . . Salty Pepperdine next Zags challenge Thursday night in…

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