Challenger Conferences of College Football

Delving into the Big 12 and PAC-12

DISH has college football covered North, South, East, and West. Let’s talk about the South and the West—the PAC-12 and the Big 12, to be specific.

Each conference boasts teams that are sure to land in the top 10 nationally. And both conferences are chomping at the bit for a shot at the national title. Here, we have a preview of the 2017 season as it’s taking shape.

Follow every team in the PAC-12 on the PAC-12 Network. From Arizona and Arizona State to Washington and Washington State, from USC to UCLA, you can watch every down. And you’ll be able to find the Big 12 all over television. From the Longhorn Network to ESPN, you can watch the toughest teams in the country vie for their conference titles and spots in the College Football Playoff.

Here, as the college football season begins, is how that’s going.

PAC-12

Of all the big conferences with all the incredibly competitive teams in all the country, the top PAC 12 teams might be the most evenly matched. It looks like Washington and USC will wind up cheek-by-jowl in the national rankings, and it’s widely expected that they’ll be playing each other in the PAC-12 championship. In the media poll at PAC-12 media days, USC was picked to win, but it’s hard to justify a strong opinion. Journalists will cite Sam Darnold’s incredibly strong finish last season, including his Rose Bowl win.

Washington will be looking to stay on top of the conference this year, the fourth of coach Chris Petersen’s tenure. They won the conference in 2016, but they were eliminated from the College Football Playoff by Alabama in the Peach Bowl.

As for the rest of the conference, Stanford is a likely 2nd in the North with Washington State trailing. Utah seems likely to edge out UCLA and Colorado for 2nd place in the South.

But will this be fun to watch on TV?

Yes. The PAC-12 is instituting a new 15 minute halftime to keep games a little shorter. And they will run all video reviews from a single command center in San Francisco.

Who’s humble?

At PAC-12 media days, it was noted that UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is mellowing. He made quite a ruckus in prior years, and this year he was conspicuous in his absence. UCLA is predicted to place 3rd in the PAC-12 South.

BIG 12

Staffing will be a big factor in the Big 12 this year. Both Oklahoma and Texas will be taking the field under first-year coaches. It should be noted that the circumstances for each are rather different. The Longhorns have been ailing in recent years. And it will be up to coach Tom Herman to restore the program to its former glory. In Oklahoma, Lincoln Riley takes over after the retirement of coach Bob Stoops in June. Stoops coached Oklahoma for 18 years, and leaves on a high note: the Sooners won the Big 12 last year and beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

This year, the Big 12 has added a championship game for the conference in hopes of raising its profile for selection to the College Football Playoff. The 12 teams also have assembled a very tough non-conference schedule. Big wins would bring in prestige and make the conference teams hard to pass over. West Virginia will play Virginia Tech, Texas will play the Trojans, and Oklahoma will play Ohio State. The Big 12 looks like a conference that wants to have an argument about its place in the grand scheme of college football.

It will be an interesting argument. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both have Heisman Trophy contenders at quarterback: Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph. The teams were picked to be #1 and #2 in the conference respectively.

But will this be fun to watch on TV?

Yes. Halftime in the Big 12 will be 20 minutes without exception. They’re trying to reduce TV time from the 2016 average of three hours and twenty-four minutes.

Are there mullets?

There are mullets. Oklahoma State’s coach Gundy is rocking a mullet and he will not apologize.

Whether it’s football you’re into or nice hairdos, be sure to tune in.