Stanford won the PAC-12 title over Arizona State, 38-14, in a game played on ASU's home field. Both teams went on to lose their respective bowl games with Stanford bowing 24-20 to Michigan State in the 100th Rose Bowl, and Arizona State falling 37-23 to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. However, the conference enjoyed a 6-3 bowl season overall as 3/4 of the teams in the league made a postseason trip.
The 2013 preseason forecast, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, successfully projected both division winners and the championship game outcome. It also nailed the exact record of 4 teams.
The 2014 season will see multiple teams in new conferences, but the PAC-12 roster will remain unchanged for the third straight season after picking up Colorado and Utah in 2011.
The Lane Kiffin experiment came to an end at USC with an unceremonious canning just 5 games into the season. He was fired in the early morning hours of September 29 upon arriving back in L.A. after a 62-41 loss at Arizona State dropped the Trojans to 0-2 in the PAC-12 and 3-2 overall. It was the Trojan's 7th loss in their last 11 games. The 62 points they surrendered to the Sun Devils tied for the most points allowed in the history of the program, equaling the mark reached by Oregon last year.
Kiffin's overall record at USC was 28-15, including a 17-12 conference mark. The 2011 team would have played for the PAC-12 title were it not for probation tied to the Pete Carroll-led Reggie Bush years. But the 2012 squad - one which was widely expected to contend for the national title - finished 7-6 after losing 5-of-6 down the stretch. USC was 1-5 in its last 6 conference games under Lane. Kiffin later served as offensive consultant for Alabama in a 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, and subsequently hired as 'Bama's offensive coordinator.
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron was 6-2, but when he was passed over for the permanent head coaching job, he resigned to become available for other head coaching opportunities. Instead, the USC job went Steve Sarkisian in a hiring that was announced on December 2. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton led the Trojans to a 45-20 win over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, and USC will open the 2014 season vs. Fresno State in the L.A. Coliseum.
Sarkisian, a former BYU quarterback, was 34-29 in 5 seasons at Washington. He was 24-21 in PAC-12 games with 5-4 records in each of his last four seasons and 4 bowl trips. Sarkisian was an assistant for 7 years at USC under Pete Carroll and coached alongside Lane Kiffin for 2 years as co-offensive coordinator.
The Washington job went to Boise State's Chris Petersen on December 6. Petersen was 92-12 in 8 seasons at Boise State with 2 BCS bowl appearances, 2 perfect seasons and 5 conference titles. 5 of the 12 losses occurred in 2013.
Cal, Colorado and Oregon made coaching changes the previous year. Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State all made moves in 2012. That means the PAC-12 will have 9 teams entering the 2014 season with head coaches who have less than 3 years tenure. Stanford's David Shaw will be in his 4th season, while Utah's Kyle Whittingham is beginning his 10th and Oregon State's Mike Riley will be in his 12th consecutive campaign and 14th overall (Riley was head coach in '97 and '98, but was replaced by Dennis Erickson from 1999-2002).
The 2014 season forecast points to a UCLA-Oregon title game matchup in Santa Clara. It would be the third championship game appearance for the Bruins since the conference grew to 12 teams and began staging a conference championship clash in 2011. UCLA lost both previous meetings to Oregon (2011) and Stanford (2012).
It would mark Oregon's first title game appearance since 2011.
Either Oregon or Stanford has represented the North division in every PAC-12 Championship game and this year the Ducks and Cardinal square off at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Oregon is favored by just 2-1/2 points in that contest en route to an 11-1 overall campaign and an 8-1 PAC-12 mark. Oregon's only forecasted loss in the regular season is at UCLA on October 11 (+4.98).
UCLA is a slim 1.98-point preseason favorite in the conference championship tilt with the Ducks and is picked to ultimately move on to a national title showdown with Florida State where the 'Noles are a 4.47-point favorite. The Bruins will supposedly defeat Ohio State in the first round to advance.
USC is expected to pose the biggest threat to the Bruins. But the Trojans are projected to finish 2 games behind UCLA by virtue of their head-to-head loss on November 22nd, and a week 2 loss at Stanford on September 6.
Arizona and Arizona State are distant 3rdh- and 4th-place finishers while Colorado and UCLA will once again bring up the South division rear.
In the North, Washington begins the season almost 4 power points ahead of Oregon State in the battle for 3rd, with Washington State taking 5th. Cal is expected to lag well behind the field.