Study: Common factors in the last 5 Pac-12 champions

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday June 14, 2017

How do you win the Pac-12? Take a look at what the last five league champions have done against Pac-12 opponents.

- Washington broke a streak. Stanford and Oregon had won all five Pac-12 title games and seven straight conference titles from 2009-15.

The Huskies were dominant in 2016, leading the league in scoring O, scoring D, 3rd down D, red zone O turnover margin and big plays, and they were second in rushing D and 3rd down O.

- There hasn’t been an undefeated Pac-12 champ since 2010, and only one since 2005. The 2013 Stanford team lost two conference games, but still won the league.

- The North reigns. The North has won all six title games, and the past five have featured five different South teams (UCLA, ASU, Arizona, USC, Colorado). A South team hasn’t won the league since 2008 USC.

- At least the past nine champions have finished in the top 3 in scoring D in conference games. It’s a league that puts up points, but the best teams can stop the opponent.

- Further, four of the last five champions finished in the top 2 in 3rd down defense in league play.

- Offensively, the past four Pac-12 champs led the league in 3rd down conversions.

- Turnover margin matters depending who you are. 2016 Washington and 2014 Oregon led the league, but the three Stanford teams were at or near 0.

- What’s next for 2016? Ten of the league’s 12 teams return their starting QB, including Jake Browning at Washington and Sam Darnold at USC. But UW, Colorado, USC and Utah return the fewest starters in the league. USC, perhaps the favorite, plays 12 straight games with no bye.

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Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to