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Beyond the Empire: A Pac-12 Preview with Pacific Takes

Pac-12 Championship - Stanford v USC Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Every year we at Off Tackle Empire try and do our best to remember that there are other teams outside the Big Ten footprint that exist. Specifically, there are other conferences with their own sites and thought processes and - surprisingly - they even are willing to talk about these things with us. One such site who has been amazing to us year after year is Pacific Takes, the SB Nation Pac-12 outpost. Jack Follman took some time to answer my questions about the upcoming B1G-Pac matchups, what being a big bully conference is all about in expansion, coaching, and predictions for the season slate of B1G-Pac 12 games. It’s good stuff. Check it out here and go over to Pacific Takes to read up on everything Pac-12.

Despite our somewhat shared history, the Big Ten and Pac-12 seem to be lacking some of the more marquee OOC games this year. Washington-Rutgers, Oregon State-Minnesota, Colorado-Michigan, and Nebraska-Oregon are not what Saturday night dreams are made of. That said, there is a certain amount of intrigue in each, mainly, what can we expect from the teams involved down the pike? Of the four games, which are you all most looking forward to? Anything that us Big Ten fans should start looking for now as far as upsets?

JF: This is a unique blend of Pac-12 teams. A quick bit on what I expect overall from each.

  • Washington – A nice, breakout season under Chris Petersen. However, I don’t think they reach the heights some are predicting (ie – Top 10 finishing, winning Pac-12).
  • Oregon State – Improvement, but another tough season. 1-2 Pac-12 wins at most.
  • Colorado – Another year of gradual improvement, but still don’t’ make a bowl.
  • Oregon – Another year of gradual decline from the top of the mountain, but still an elite Pac-12 team.

The only one of these games I am looking forward to is Oregon-Nebraska. Aside from Mike Riley taking on the old rival who was demolishing him while he was at Oregon State, this is a big ruler game for the Ducks. The Ducks can show they are still a national contender with a win, but a loss might show they are slipping back towards the upper-middle of the Pac-12 and their national title window may have closed. Plus, it will be our first chance to see the Ducks with their new starting quarterback against a real team.

The Associated Press sees Stanford as the early Pac-12 favorites, but also only as the 8th best team in the nation. Is it possible that the Pac 12 gets shutout of the College Football Playoffs for the second time in two years? If not, what is the path of least resistance for a Pac 12 National Champion?

I think that is spot on for Stanford. The Cardinal look like the strongest team going into the season, but looks like a team that should lose at least two games which should make it very hard to make the Playoffs. Other than Stanford, I think one of the LA schools has the next best shot. They are the next most-talented teams and could get there if all goes well.

As we throw shade in the general direction of the Big XII and their *ahem* expansion flirtation, it seems like the Pac-12, B1G, and SEC are doing just fine. That said, it was only five years ago that we were talking about you crazy West Coasters creating the first real super conference that would have housed the likes of Texas, Oklahoma, and whatever teams hang on to the gravy train. That in mind, what do you see as the future of CFB alignment? Is the era of 16 team Super Conferences a foregone conclusion? Also, tell me you're disappointed you didn't get to make trips to Austin for barbecue. I'm sitting in Austin right now, and let me tell you, I'm thinking the B1G should add Texas.

Being in a conference with teams from Texas seems flat out crazy to me, but the more is better philosophy seems to be really winning out in college football, and sports in general, these days. I would love to make a trip to Austin and enjoy some BBQ, but in general, a 16-team conference with schools from halfway across the country just seems to strange to me.

So we have some old Pac-12 friends here in our fair B1G country. How much do you miss ol' Jim Harbaugh and Mike Riley? More importantly, if we were to repay the favor, which two coaches from the B1G would you like to join the Pac-12 most? Points for non Urban Meyer responses, but let's be honest, that's the right answer.

I don’t miss Jim Harbaugh. I do miss him getting a Pac-12 team close to a national title a number of times, but I don’t miss him beating up on the rest of the conference. I do miss Riley. He was one of the most personable coaches in the conference, never seemed to ruffle any feathers and coached a program which is pretty hard to not like. As far as Big Ten coaches go, bringing Harbaugh and Meyer back would really help get two Pac-12 programs back into elite status, but that’s a little too straight forward. I would love to see what Mark Dantonio could do with a Pac-12 school and how bout Pat Fitzgerald as Stanford’s coach if David Shaw ever left.

Lastly, who do you all have in the four matches? Is this going to be another year that the Pac-12 takes home the head-to-head crown with the B1G or will our Midwestern values win out?

I think the Pac-12 and Big Ten split the four matches this year. I’m taking Washington, Minnesota, Michigan, and Oregon.

And there you have it. Again, huge shoutout to Jack and the Pacific Takes team. Go check them out at the links above, and don’t hesitate to give Jack a follow on Twitter. Hey everyone... FOUR DAYS AND COUNTING UNTIL FOOTBALL!