Washington is expected to carry the banner for Pac-12 football in 2018.

But Chris Petersen isn’t leading the charge for the conference as it looks to collectively atone for last year’s historically bad 1-8 bowl record.

“I don’t worry about that at all,” Petersen said during a post-spring practice coaches teleconference. “The only bowl record I care about is the 0-1 that the Huskies were. That’s all I can control and have some influence about. That’s what I worry about. These things are cyclical.”

With four-year starter Jake Browning leading the way at quarterback — and with USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Washington State’s Luke Falk moving on to the NFL — the Huskies appear to be the Pac-12’s best hope for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Washington also returns a dynamic running back in senior Myles Gaskin and a veteran offensive line led by tackle Trey Adams.

The defense lost nose tackle Vita Vea, a first-round NFL pick, but is loaded with linebackers and a deep secondary.

The Huskies, who were mocked by ESPN for their “cupcake” nonconference schedule last season, will open against Auburn in Atlanta.

The primary challengers to the reigning kings of the North Division are expected to be Stanford and Oregon.

The Cardinal feature Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love at running back.

But the offense had to go through spring practice with only one healthy quarterback. K.J. Costello, the presumed starter, sat out while recovering from a hip injury.

“K.J. approached it with the right attitude, which I think helped a lot,” coach David Shaw said. “Sometimes it’s good to watch. You play for a while, you play at the end of the year, and then you have to watch someone else do it. That makes you take a step back and really now play the cerebral part of the game.”

The Ducks have a star quarterback in Justin Herbert. The key for coach Mario Cristobal’s first season will be keeping the 6-foot-5, 237-pound junior healthy.

Oregon went 6-1 and averaged 52.1 points during the 2017 regular season when Herbert started. When the former Sheldon High standout was out with a fractured collarbone, the Ducks were 1-4 and averaged 15.0 points.

“We’ve definitely gotten closer,” Herbert said of his relationship with Cristobal, the third head coach he’s played for in three years at Oregon. “He’s a guy that I can go to for anything. I know that we trust each other. He’s a guy that everyone gravitates toward. He’s our leader.”

In the bottom half of the North, Justin Wilcox is trying to build on California’s five-win season, Mike Leach is rebuilding at Washington State after a nine-win season, and Jonathan Smith is inheriting an Oregon State program that hit rock bottom with an 0-9 Pac-12 record.

The Bears have an intriguing home schedule with North Carolina, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Stanford all visiting Berkeley this fall.

“We won five games last year, so that’s not good enough,” said Wilcox, a former Oregon player. “We have to improve physically, we’ve got to improve our understanding of the game, build on the chemistry in our locker room. I think we’ve got a good start this offseason.”

Tyler Hilinski, who was expected to replace the record-setting Falk at Washington State, committed suicide in January. The program and the community are still dealing with the tragedy.

Redshirt juniors Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon competed during the spring. Eastern Carolina graduate transfer Gardner Minshew and incoming freshman Cam Cooper also will have an opportunity to win the job during fall camp.

The Cougars also lost defensive line star Hercules Mata’afa early to the NFL draft and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to Ohio State.

The Beavers are coming off a 1-11 season, which was capped with a 69-10 loss at Autzen Stadium in what turned out to be Willie Taggart’s final game at Oregon.

The Smith era begins with a road game Sept. 1 at Ohio State.

“The biggest major goal we had is really setting the tone on how we practice in regards to the effort and detail of what we’re doing,” Smith said. “The scheme and the coaching is new to these guys, so I wanted to come out of the spring with the guys knowing what the expectation is in practice. …

“By the end I felt awesome about it.”

PAC-12 NORTH OUTLOOK

Here's a closer look at the Pac-12 North Division after spring practice:

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS

2017 record: 5-7 overall, 2-7 Pac-12 (fifth in the North)

2018 opener: Sept. 1 vs. North Carolina

Faces Oregon: Sept. 29 in Berkeley, Calif.

Key losses: RB Vic Enwere, RB Tre Watson, WR Jordan Veasy, DL James Looney, LB Raymond Davison, DB Darius Allensworth.

Key returners: QB Ross Bowers, RB Patrick Laird, WR Vic Wharton, LB Jordan Kunaszyk.

Coach speak: “I’m excited with the way guys are working and some of the gains we made, but we’ve got to continue to get better because it’s obviously a very competitive conference,” second-year coach Justin Wilcox said. “The teams we play are good football teams, and we’ve got to do a better job.”

OREGON DUCKS

2017 record: 7-6 overall, 4-5 Pac-12 (fourth in the North)

2018 opener: Sept. 1 vs. Bowling Green

Key losses: RB Royce Freeman, WR Charles Nelson, LT Tyrell Crosby, DE Henry Mondeaux, CB Arrion Springs, S Tyree Robinson.

Key returners: QB Justin Herbert, RB Tony Brooks-James, WR Dillon Mitchell, NT Jordon Scott, LB Troy Dye, S Ugochukwu Amadi.

Coach speak: “We feel he’s about as good of a player as you’d find in the entire country,” coach Mario Cristobal said of prize 2018 recruit Penei Sewell, who is expected to help bolster a veteran offensive line during camp. “I think what gets lost in the whole thing is you see a mountain of a man, but he’s only 17 years old. His best football is still ahead of him.”

OREGON STATE BEAVERS

2017 record: 1-11 overall, 0-9 Pac-12 (sixth in the North)

2018 opener: Sept. 1 at Ohio State

Faces Oregon: Nov. 23 in Corvallis.

Key losses: QB Darell Garretson, RB Ryan Nall, RB Thomas Tyner, WR Jordan Villamin, LB Manase Hungalu.

Key returners: QB Jake Luton, RB Artavis Pierce, TE Noah Togiai, LB Bright Ugwoegbu, LB Andrzej Hughes-Murray.

Coach speak: “I don’t think leaving this spring there was a clear-cut guy that by far was just flat-out above the other two,” coach Jonathan Smith said of the quarterback competition between Luton, Jack Colette and Conor Blount. “We’re anxious to see how they take the next step in the summer and through August.”

STANFORD CARDINAL

2017 record: 9-5 overall, 7-2 Pac-12 (tied first in the North)

2018 opener: Aug. 31 vs. San Diego State

Faces Oregon: Sept. 22 in Eugene.

Key losses: QB Keller Chryst, OL David Bright, TE Dalton Schulz, DL Harrison Phillips, LB Peter Kalambayi, LB Joey Alfieri, DB Quentin Meeks.

Key returners: QB K.J. Costello, RB Bryce Love, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, OL Foster Sarell, DL Dylan Jackson, LB Curtis Williams.

Coach speak: “It’s a snapshot,” coach David Shaw said when asked about the Pac-12’s 1-8 bowl record. “If we go undefeated in bowls next season, it doesn’t mean our conference is any better. It just means those teams won on those days.”

WASHINGTON HUSKIES

2017 record: 10-3 overall, 7-2 Pac-12 (tied first in the North)

2018 opener: Sept. 1 vs. Auburn (in Atlanta)

Faces Oregon: Oct. 13 in Eugene.

Key losses: OL Coleman Shelton, TE Will Dissly, WR/KR Dante Pettis, NT Vita Vea, LB Keishawn Bierria, K Tristan Vizcaino.

Key returners: QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, OT Trey Adams, DL Greg Gaines, LB Ben Burr-Kirvin, DB Taylor Rapp.

Coach speak: “When you play in bowl games like we’ve played in you’re playing the best of the best,” coach Chris Petersen said of the Huskies’ losses to Alabama in the 2016 College Football Playoff and Penn State in last year’s Fiesta Bowl. “So you’re splitting hairs in terms of getting this thing done. … We didn’t play good enough and we’ve got to figure out how to take the next step as our program.”

WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS

2017 record: 9-4 overall, 6-3 Pac-12 (third in the North)

2018 opener: Sept. 1 at Wyoming

Faces Oregon: Oct. 20 in Pullman, Wash.

Key losses: QB Luke Falk, RB Jamal Morrow, WR Tavares Martin, OL Cody O’Connell, OL Cole Madison, DL Hercules Mata’afa, LB Frankie Luvu.

Key returners: WR Renard Bell, DL Nnamdi Oguayo.

Coach speak: “Like most players, it would have been in his best interest to stay in college throughout his eligibility and not come out early,” coach Mike Leach said of defensive line standout Hercules Mata’afa's leaving with eligibility remaining and signing as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings. “He would still have the same problem with regard to his size, but it would be beneficial, I think, to rub his nose in the fact that, ‘Yeah, I’m that good.’ I think that would have helped him some.”