The following is the predicted order of finish for the Pac-12 North:

  • 1) Stanford
  • 2) Washington
  • 3) Washington State
  • 4) Oregon
  • 5) California
  • 6) Oregon State

1) Stanford

The Cardinal is only returning nine starters from last season. But that's not to say the guys who are stepping up have never played.Stanford's last three recruiting classes are 2016, #18, nationally 2015, #16 nationally and 2014, #14 nationally. In addition, Heisman running back candidate, Christian McCaffrey will be a junior this year.Their quarterback competition is between two four-star recruits--Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns -- who may battle well into fall camp to pick the starter.

David Shaw's starters are a bit green but there is plenty of talent. It will be needed too. Kansas State, USC, at UCLA, at Washington and Washington State are the first five out of the gate. Even a 3-2 start here is recoverable.

2) Washington

Chris Peterson is a heck of a Football coach. One need look no further than Boise, Idaho to figure that out. 92 wins, 10 losses -- five of those in his last season -- in eight years.Peterson has been at Washington the past two years. During that time, he has led the Huskies to 8-6 and 7-6 records. The thoughts around the Washington program is they have the coach they need to bringtheir team back to the upper echelon of the Pac -12. In fact one national publication predicts Washington will win the Pac - 12 North this season.

We're not endorsing that one, but second place is believable for this team in 2016.

3) Washington State

Mike Leach has been working his magic here for the past four seasons. Though the records didn't reflect any real magic the first three at 12-25. The powers that be in Pullman kept the faith and things took off in 2015 when they went 9-4.Now that he has his type of players, expect goodthingsfrom the Cougars.With 14 returning starters -- eight on offense -- along with super-junior quarterback Luke Falk, the offense looks good.

If the defense continues to improve at last season's pace, they may be on to something really good in Pullman.

4) Oregon

It has been awhile since the Duckswerethis far down in the conference preseason rankings. Looking back at Oregon's 9-4 finish last year, you can say it's been awhile since that was true as well.

In fact, you must go back to 2007 to find a year where the ducks finished below double digit wins.

While Oregon kept their offensive reputation up, averaging 43 points per game, their defense was problematic in 2015. On average, it gave up 37.5 points per game. In an effort to fix the issue, Mark Helfrich brought in Brady Hoke as coordinator. They are dumping the 3-4 and have installed a 4-3, one gap scheme. No more read and react here, the new way is attack, attack, attack.

Helfrich is bringing in a FCS graduate transfer again to run his offense. Montana State All-American Dakota Prukop, is the new man. While he doesn't have the passing pedigree of Vernon Adams, he rushed for 1,763 yards and 24 touchdowns, something Adams didn't do.

5) California

This will be Sony Dykes fourth year in Berkeley. The best way to describe his progress thus far is slow and steady. Year one was a disaster at1-11, then 5-7 and finally last season, 8-5.The Golden Bears only return eight starters and must break in a new starter at quarterback as well. It would be nice to think they will continue improving in the win column but this year it will be very difficult to do. It would be a plus if they were able to win eight again but six is a more likely number this year.

6) Oregon State

Things are good news/bad news for the Beavers. The good news is Gary Andersen is the head coach. The bad news is it's going to take a couple more years to get the players he needs.Andersen is a builder.

He made Utah State a power in about four years. He kept Wisconsin averaging double digit wins the two years he was there.Andersen will build a winner in Corvallis too, he's just going to need some more time.

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