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Matt Barkley Returning To USC Means Trouble For Pac-12 Conference

Now that Matt Barkley has announced he will be a USC Trojan in 2012, it's time to look ahead for what kind of an impact it will have on the season. The Trojans were already one of the better teams in the conference this past season and many will have them ranked in the top-five to begin next season. Here's a look at which teams in the Pac-12 could change the Trojans next year.

Oregon, Stanford: The Ducks seemingly never run out of talent, but they will take a serious hit with the departure of LaMichael James and various defenders. Expect UO to be the biggest threat next season. The Cardinal may have had a nice three-year run, but it's tough to see the team maintaining their level of play without Andrew Luck at the helm.

Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State, UCLA: All three programs will feature new coaches next year, and while there is a considerable amount of talent returning in Tucson and Tempe, it's tough to see either of these teams competing with USC in the Pac-12 South without a few breaks along the way. Mike Leach will have his players ready to go, but it's going to take Leach some time to get enough skill players in the program to compete nationally. Honestly, does anyone know with UCLA at this point?

Washington, Utah, Cal: The Huskies and Utes could give the Trojans a run for their money, especially if both John White and Chris Polk return in 2012. Both teams will likely be ranked to begin the season. If the Bears are able to find consistent play out of their quarterback and skill position players, they could be a dark horse in 2012.

Colorado, Oregon State: Both schools are probably another year away, but you never know. Stranger things have happened.

As a whole, the Pac-12 projects to be pretty tough next season. It remains to be seen how Oregon replaces some of their impact players, but the Trojans will likely be relatively heavy favorites to win the conference if they can stay healthy.