Five Pac-12 story lines to follow
1. USC expectations: Quarterback Sam Darnold is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender, winning nine of 10 games he started last fall. The wealth of talent surrounding him in 2017 has made the Trojans a popular playoff pick. Can coach Clay Helton lead USC back to glory in Year 2?
2. New faces: Willie Taggart (Oregon) and Justin Wilcox (California) join the ranks of league head coaches. Can Taggart restore the Ducks’ luster after a 4-8 2016 campaign? And can Wilcox’s defensive background pay dividends in Berkeley?
3. Huskies’ hopes: The defending Pac-12 champions and playoff participants return starting quarterback Jake Browning. They also lose three of their four starters in the secondary. UW should be favored to win the north division, but can it keep the league crown over likely favorite USC?
4. Missing McCaffrey: Stanford is without Heisman finalist running back Christian McCaffrey after going 10-3 a year ago. Several offensive weapons return, though, including starting quarterback Keller Chryst. David Shaw has won double-digit games in five of six seasons as coach. Will that continue?
5. Rosen returns: UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen set several program records as a true freshman, then suffered a shoulder injury six games into last season. When healthy, Rosen stands among the league’s elite passers. Will his play lead the Bruins to their first outright Pac-12 title since 1998?
USC’s Sam Darnold may be the NFL’s top pick.