After a broken season, nearly everybody decided that they wanted to come back and have a normal season. Will that make west coast football extra tough next season?
One reason the returning production is so high is that a lot of 2020 Pac-12 draft prospects sat out the 2020 season compared to their conference counterparts, so their production is not being counted as returning (Penei Sewell for example is not part of Oregon's calculation since he did not return to the team). Also, because they played an abbreviated season, so there was just not enough tape to move the needle on later-stage NFL prospects.
So the returning production doesn't really reflect top-level talent matriculating out. You could see it in the Fiesta Bowl, when Iowa State battered Oregon for most the game. I'd expect top tier Pac-12 teams to be a step behind when the non-conference slate happens as a result, since Connelly's model can't really account for opt-outs.
Nice write up Nick and great analysis. Being the eternal optimist I am looking for CAL to win 9 or ten games and totally fuck up all the pre-season prediction models. ;-)
I still think Cal can be a dark horse in the North race, but out offense will really have to pick it up and especially, become more effective in the 4th quarter where we typically accomplish little except for when Garbers is running the 2-minute offense. We almost beat OSU and Stanford (well, tied at least) in the final minute. This speaks to the signature Wilcox' ulcer-inducing style.