College Football Playoff preview from a Michigan State perspective

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Dec 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; The Oregon Ducks players celebrate after their Pac-12 Championship game against the Arizona Wildcats at Levi

Pacific 12 (Pac-12)

The Pac-12 did well in the first year of the CFP as it sent its conference champs, Oregon, to the national title game. The chances of getting a team into the playoff for second straight year are great with six teams in the preseason AP Top 25.

Number of institutions: 12

Conference reputation: Very good. After years of the SEC being widely known as the best conference, the Pac-12 has challenged that notion. While it does not have the firepower at the top of the league as that of the SEC, the Pac-12 boasts very solid teams from top to bottom.

Jul 31, 2015; Burbank, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans linebacker Su’a Cravens (left), coach Steve Sarkisian (center) and quarterback Cody Kessler at Pac-12 Media Day at Warner Bros. Studios. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unlikely, but possible for the Pac-12 to get two teams into the CFP if there is one undefeated team and a second one-loss squad — one that doesn’t participate in the conference championship game.

Division format: North vs. South

Pac-12 Championship format: Championship Game between division winners

Defending champ: Oregon — made CFP and lost in national title game to Ohio State

AP Top 25 teams: Oregon (7), USC (8), UCLA (13), Arizona State (15), Stanford (21), Arizona (22)

Key non-conference matchups: Arizona State at Texas A & M (Sept. 5), Stanford at Northwestern (Sept. 5), Oregon at Michigan State (Sept. 12), USC at Notre Dame (Oct. 17), Notre Dame at Stanford (Nov. 28)

Key conference matchups: Arizona at Stanford (Oct. 3), Arizona State at UCLA (Oct. 3), UCLA at Stanford (Oct. 15), Oregon at Arizona State (Oct. 29), Arizona at USC (Nov. 7), Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 14), Arizona at Arizona State (Nov. 21), USC at Oregon (Nov. 21), UCLA at USC (Nov. 28)

Five players to watch: Mike Bercovici (Arizona State), Scooby Wright (Arizona), Cody Kessler (USC), Royce Freeman (Oregon), Josh Rosen (UCLA)

Projected winner: Oregon followed by USC

Next: SEC preview