Here are outlooks for all Pac-12 North Division football teams as the Pac-12 hosts its media day. Follow @wilnerhotline and @CalBearsBANG for updates during our coverage of Friday's event.
Pac-12 football capsules: North Division
CAL Coach: Sonny Dykes (1st year) 2 012 record: 3-9, 2-7 in Pac-12 Overview: The new-look Bears open camp Aug. 5 with three untested prospects competing for the quarterback job. Redshirt freshman Zach Kline, freshman Jared Goff and junior Austin Hinder have never thrown a pass in college football. Running back Brendan Bigelow will be another key element in the spread option attack and the defense, switching to a 4-3 alignment, has some nice pieces up front but features little experience or depth in the secondary. A .500 season in Dykes' debut would be encouraging.
STANFORD Coach: David Shaw (3rd year) 2012 record: 12-2, 8-1 in the Pac-12 Outlook: With one of the nation's stoutest defenses, a first-class offensive line and cool-under-fire quarterback Kevin Hogan, the Cardinal is a contender for not only the Pac-12 title but the BCS championship. Managing expectations will be a challenge, and the passing game must improve. But with UCLA, Oregon and Notre Dame all at home, the schedule sets up perfectly for a title run.
OREGON Coach: Mark Helfrich (1st year) 2012 record: 12-1, 8-1 in Pac-12 Overview: Helfrich has been elevated from offensive coordinator to replace Chip Kelly, now coaching the Philadelphia Eagles. He has nice centerpieces in quarterback Marcus Mariota, who accounted for 38 total touchdowns as a freshman last season, and darting junior running back DeAnthony Thomas. Sixteen starters return, but the Ducks must replace three key defensive players. Oregon should be 3-0 when Cal visits Eugene on Sept. 28.
OREGON STATE Coach: Mike Riley (13th year/81-67) 2012 record: 9-4, 6-3 in Pac-12 Overview: With 15 starters back on offense and defense, Riley's biggest concern may be choosing between Pleasanton native Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz for his starting quarterback. Both have performed well, but Riley insists he will pick one to run his team. Won't be a surprise if the Beavers are 7-0 when they visit Stanford on Oct. 26.
WASHINGTON Coach: Steve Sarkisian (5th year/26-25) 2012 record: 7-6, 5-4 Overview: UW returns to a rebuilt Husky Stadium, where it will host Boise State in an Aug. 31 opener. Running back Bishop Sankey was a surprise as a sophomore last season, rushing for 1,439 yards, but the Huskies need a bounce-back performance from senior quarterback Keith Price, who could thrive in the new up-tempo, no-huddle attack. If UW can get over the hump and win even eight games this fall, it will do so for the first time in 12 seasons.
WASHINGTON STATE Coach: Mike Leach (2nd year/3-9) 2012 record: 3-9, 1-8 in Pac-12 Overview: The Cougars have a long way to go to become competitive. They were last nationally running the ball last season and returning quarterback Connor Halliday completed just 52 percent of his passes a year ago. The defense was just as troublesome, allowing more than 36 points per game in Pac-12 play. And the Cougars jump right into the deep end, opening the season with games at Auburn and USC.
Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at Twitter.com/CalBearsBANG. Follow Jon Wilner on Twitter at Twitter.com/wilnerhotline.