ESPN’s 2014 Preseason Football Power Index: Washington State and the Pac-12


ESPN released their yearly preseason football power index (FPI) Monday and the PAC-12 seems to be ranked mostly pretty high. Seven PAC-12 teams are included in the top 30 while all but 2 teams rank in the top 50.

The FPI is a combination of the expected points added (EPA) to the average score of a team in NCAA D1. The FPI takes the EPA on offense, defense, and special teams and adds them all up and gives the overall score, higher the score the higher the ranking.

Its no surprise that Oregon is ranked 1st on offense and that UCLA and Arizona State are in the top 10 on offense as well or that Stanford is ranked 8th for defense. What is a little surprising is that ESPN has Washington State ranked so low in both offense and defense, all of the Cougars EPA points come from offense (3.4) and defense (3.1). The Cougars are able to put up points very easily and very quickly. With QB Connor Halliday at the helm for the Cougars offense this season after leading the league in pass attempts last season he only looks to get better through the air leading to more points.

The Cougars lost a lot on defense when they lost Deone Bucannon to the NFL Draft but should be able to make up a lot of that with the younger players who have been able to sit behind Bucannon and work with him for their years at Washington State.

ESPN has the PAC-12 doing decently and looking more in depth with it looks about the same as the previous years conference standings with a few teams moving up or down. Some of the bigger surprises is how low ESPN has Arizona ranked and how high they have UCLA.

USC, who struggled early last year but was able to rebound later in the season after the firing of Lane Kiffin, will have a new coach in ex-Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. ESPN has them ranked pretty high at 13 for having all that uncertainty coming into the year.

Washington is also another sort-of-surprise as they have lost both their running back and quarterback in Bishop Sankey and Keith Price but are still ranked at 27, one spot ahead of Oregon State. The Beavers will be behind quarterback Sean Mannion who was one of only 3 quarterbacks to throw the ball 600+ times (the others being Halliday and Derek Carr). The previous 3 PAC-12 championship games have involved UCLA, Oregon, and Stanford whom ESPN has as the top 3 for the PAC-12.

It is only May and football season is still about 100 days away so it is hard to put a ranking on teams this early in the year but with all the calculations it’s hard not to believe these rankings will be semi-accurate (the Cougs obviously being ranked higher) come the end of this next season.

Below is ESPN’s preseason FPI for the PAC-12 and the conference rankings, overall rankings, offensive ranking, defensive ranking and their total EPA. 

PAC-12 RankOverall RankTeamOffense RankingDefense RankingOverall EPA
5.16.Arizona State93417.5
7.28.Oregon State145311.7
10.49.Washington State47456.6
12.66.Colorado State74501.5