The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 15, 2019

2019 Pac-12 Conference Football Preview

There was a time when the Pac-12 Conference, or one of its predecessor leagues like the Pac-10, Pac-8, Athletic Association of Western Universities, or Pacific Coast Conference was the premier football conference in America.  Southern California, UCLA, Stanford, California, Washington, Oregon and Oregon State have all been elite programs at some point in history.

In recent years, the league has failed to produce a dominant team like the 1954 UCLA Bruins, the 1972 USC Trojans or the 1991 Washington Huskies.  Oregon and Washington have fielded really good teams in this decade, but no Pac-12 team has finished number one since USC won in 2004 with Reggie Bush, LenDale White, and Matt Leinart starred at the LA Coliseum.

While the Pac-12 champion has been a touchdown to 10 points weaker than the SEC Champion in the last decade, the bottom teams in the league have been better than other conferences’ bottom teams.  Since moving from eight to nine conference games in 2006, in 10 of the 12 years, at least one team and in many cases two teams have come up one win short of bowl eligibility.  Only Oregon in 2010 has been able to go 9-0 in the league and win the Pac-12 Championship Game as well.

Will this be the year that one team emerges from the pack to earn the league’s first playoff spot since Washington in 2016?  The odds say it won’t happen this year.  The league is too balanced, and there are no dominant teams.  It also doesn’t help that the two leading contenders for the conference championship must face off in an interdivisional game, and chances are high the two teams could split those games.

Here is how the Pac-12 Media voted in the preseason poll.


Pac-12 Media Poll


North Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Oregon 17 190
2 Washington 17 189
3 Stanford 0 129
4 Washington St. 1 108
5 California 0 81
6 Oregon St. 0 38


South Division
Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Utah 33 206
2 USC 2 167
3T Arizona St. 0 118
3T UCLA 0 118
5 Arizona 0 85
6 Colorado 0 46


Championship Game Winner Overall Votes
Utah 12
Oregon 11
Washington 9
Washington St. 1


Preseason PiRate Ratings–Pac-12


North Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oregon 113.6 113.5 114.9 114.0
Washington 112.5 111.9 113.6 112.7
Washington St. 111.8 110.7 112.0 111.5
Stanford 108.5 107.5 108.6 108.2
California 106.8 107.0 108.1 107.3
Oregon St. 95.1 96.2 93.9 95.1


South Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Utah 116.4 114.7 116.6 115.9
Arizona St. 107.7 106.6 108.3 107.6
U C L A 107.6 106.9 106.8 107.1
U S C 104.0 105.2 104.4 104.6
Arizona 101.7 102.0 102.2 102.0
Colorado 99.8 99.0 99.9 99.5


Pac-12 Averages 107.1 106.8 107.4 107.1


Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.


Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.



PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss

North Division

Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Washington 8-1 11-2
2 Oregon 7-2 9-3
3 Stanford 6-3 7-5
4 Washington St. 5-4 8-4
5 California 3-6 5-7
6 Oregon St. 0-9 1-11


South Division

Pos Team Conference Overall
1 Utah 7-2 11-2*
2 UCLA 5-4 6-6
3 Arizona St. 4-5 6-6
4 USC 4-5 5-7
5 Arizona 3-6 5-7
6 Colorado 1-8 3-9

Utah picked to win Pac-12 Championship Game


As you can see, if our predictions are correct, three Pac-12 teams will miss bowl eligibility by one game, most likely because rather than playing an easy Group of 5 or FCS opponent, they will be playing a ninth conference game.


Bowl Predictions Team
Playoffs Not This Year
Rose Utah
Cotton Washington
Alamo Oregon
Holiday Washington St.
Redbox Stanford
Sun Arizona St.
Vegas UCLA
Cheez-it (At-large team needed)


Coaches That Could Move Up To Major Programs

None, but Stanford’s David Shaw has been rumored for years to be in the mix for a future NFL head coaching position.


Coaches On The Hot Seat

Clay Helton, USC

Helton begins the year with the hottest seat in college football.  He better win the BYU game in Provo, or who knows?  He could be met with his pink slip on the airport tarmac.  The Trojans’ schedule is a nightmare for a coach on the hot seat.  As if playing nine tough conference games isn’t enough, USC’s out-of-conference slate includes Fresno State, BYU, and Notre Dame.  If the Trojans go 2-1 in these games and then go 7-2 in the Pac-12 to win the South Division flag, Helton might keep his job.  Anything less, and Athletics Director Lynn Swann will have to make a move, assuming he still has his job.  Just remember, it only takes Urban Meyer one year to feel healthy enough to coach again.  There are also excellent options in Chris Peterson, Matt Campbell, Dino Babers, and even a current NFL coach.


Top Quarterbacks

Justin Herbert, Oregon

J. T. Daniels, USC

K.J. Costello, Stanford

Khalil Tate, Arizona

Keep eyes on Washington’s Jacob Eason and Washington State’s Gage Gebrud.


Top Offense





Top Defense





Coming Tomorrow: The Big 12 Conference–Oklahoma loses Heisman Trophy quarterback Kyler Murray and replaces him with former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts.  Will Hurts make a run at the hardware competing against his former teammate?

Can Texas build upon their progress made last year, or will Iowa State or Baylor emerge as the principle rival to the Sooners this year?


Blog at