2022 Pac 12 Football Preview

Pac 12 Championship: Utah over USC

1. Utah Utes

Projected Record: 12-1

Wins: Florida, Southern Utah, San Diego State, Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Washington State, Arizona, Stanford, Colorado

Losses: Oregon

2000px-Utah_Utes_logo.svg

Utah was very close to a Rose Bowl victory last year against Ohio State. Now Utah returns their starting quarterback, Cam Rising, who had Utah playing as a top ten offense last year. The  offense will be led through the tight ends Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid. On defense, Utah’s strength is at linebacker with Lander Barton and Mohamoud Diabate. It should be a strong unit, but they will need to find an edge rusher (Van Fillinger could be that guy). Overall, this should be the favorite in the Pac-12 and a potential College Football playoff team.

2. USC Trojans

Projected Record: 10-3

Wins: Rice, Stanford, Fresno State, Oregon State, Arizona State, Washington State, Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Notre Dame

Losses: Utah, UCLA, Utah (Pac-12 Championship)

The Lincoln Riley era starts at USC. Coming with Riley are a ton of impact skill position transfers and quarterback Caleb Williams. The offense should be one of the nation’s best. Defense is another story. The linebackers, Alabama transfer Shane Leee and Romolo Heights were the best players on the defense in the spring. But the secondary and defensive line are not strong units. Overall, the offense will put up almost 40 points per game. But the defense will keep this team from being a playoff team.

3. Oregon Ducks

Projected Record: 9-3

Wins: Eastern Washington, BYU, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, Cal, Colorado, Washington, Utah

Losses: Georgia, Washington State, Oregon State

1238px-Oregon_Ducks_logo.svg

Dan Lanning enters his first season with quite a bit of talent leftover from Mario Cristobal. The offensive line is by far the strength with four strong starters returning. The skill positions and whether Auburn transfer QB Bo Nix can thrive in the Pac-12 are the main questions. Another position of strength is the front seven where Oregon has legitimate defensive lineman and linebacker sprinkled throughout. On defense the secondary will be the question, but getting transfer cornerback Christian Gonzalez from Colorado will help. Overall, do not expect much of a drop off as Oregon is still a legitimate Pac-12 contender.

4. Oregon State Beavers

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Boise State, Montana, Washington State, Colorado, Cal, Arizona State, Oregon

Losses: Fresno State, USC, Utah, Stanford, Washington

1200px-Oregon_State_Beavers_logo.svg

What an incredible job Johnathan Smith has done turning around this Oregon State program. The Beavers have another strong team this year with a good offensive line and returning most of their skill players. Quarterback Chance Nolan will have to step up if they want to go to the next level. Defensively, while there is some concern on the defensive line, the linebackers and secondary are solid. Overall, expect Oregon State to go bowling again and finish in the middle to upper tier of the Pac 12.

5. Washington State Cougars

Projected Record: 7-5

Wins: Idaho, Colorado State, Oregon, Cal, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington

Losses: Wisconsin, USC, Oregon State, Utah, Stanford

1200px-Washington_State_Cougars_logo.svg

Jake Dickert enters his first full season after taking over as head coach last year. His season will be locked to talented Incarnate Word QB transfer Cam Ward. The offense has an offensive line issue and questions on who will step up at wide receiver. Defensively there are real secondary questions after losing four of six starters to an average defense. Overall, I expect this team is good enough to make a bowl, but can’t see them as a legit contender in the Pac-12.

6. Washington Huskies

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Kent State, Portland State, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State, Colorado

Losses: Michigan State, UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Washington State

The issue with Washington continues to be their offense. Michael Penix transfers from Indiana to be presumably the new starting quarterback, but the offense finished 114th last year and I don’t see them making a vast improvement. Defensively this group will be a good unit despite only returning three starters. Overall, this is a little bit of a rebuild for new coach Kalen Deboer where making a bowl game will be a good season for the Huskies.

7. UCLA Bruins

Projected Record: 6-6

Wins: Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama, Colorado, Washington, USC

Losses: Utah, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, Arizona, Cal

UCLA_Bruins_Logo

UCLA finally made progress under Chip Kelly finishing 8-4 last year. Now they have Dorian Thompson-Robinson and and Zach Charbonnet back at quarterback and running back. The offensive line is decent, but they lost quite a few talented pass catchers of last year’s team. On defense, UCLA’s unit has some legitimate concerns with five out of the six defensive backs gone. Overall, UCLA will score points, but the defense could hold this team back.

8. Arizona Wildcats

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: San Diego State, Cal, Colorado, UCLA, Arizona State

Losses: Mississippi State, North Dakota State, Oregon, Washington, USC, Utah, Washington State

Arizona is coming off a 1-11 season where they played much better than their record would indicate. Part of the problem was at quarterback. But now stepping in is Washington State transfer Jayden de Laura who played well last season. Also at Arizona is stud UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing. On defense, they return most of the starters to an average unit. Overall, a tough schedule makes it tough for the Wildcats to finish with a good record. But a bowl game could still be a possibility and would be an excellent season for Arizona.

9. California Golden Bears

Projected Record: 5-7

Wins: UC Davis, UNLV, Washington, Stanford, UCLA

Losses: Notre Dame, Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Oregon, USC, Oregon State

2000px-California_Golden_Bears_logo.svg

Cal is coming off a rough 5-7 season. But I honestly don’t see it getting any better. The offense wasn’t great last year and it could get worse with losing Chase Garbers, the wide receivers, and most of their offensive line. The team will have to be led by the defense that lost most of their starters. Jackson Sirmon, a transfer from Washington, will be a major contributor. Overall, this team is in a bit of a rebuild where a bowl game should be celebrated.

10. Stanford Cardinals

Projected Record: 4-8

Wins: Colgate, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington State

Losses: USC, Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Utah, Cal, BYU

2000px-Stanford_Cardinal_logo.svg

Stanford had an abysmal year in 2021, finishing 3-9 with a bad offense and defense. The good news is the offense brings back almost everyone including talented quarterback Tanner McKee. Stanford does have two solid wide receivers with Elijah Higgins and Benjamin Yurosek, but the offensive line isn’t great. On defense, the line is thin with very little depth or talented guys. The secondary is the strength of this team led by corner Kyu Blu Kelly. Overall, the deficiencies at defensive and offensive line will bring this team down, but quarterback Tanner McKee could bring them a few surprising wins.

11. Arizona State Sun Devils

Projected Record: 4-8

Wins: Northern Arizona, Eastern Michigan, Colorado, UCLA

Losses: Oklahoma State, Utah, USC, Washington, Stanford, Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona

Arizona State has totally fallen apart after losing all but five starters off last year’s team due to transfers, the NFL Draft, and graduation. It is an absolute dumpster fire with the upcoming NCAA sanctions over their head. As for the team, the offensive line, secondary, and skill players aren’t great. The one bright spot is Florida transfer QB Emory Jones could be alright. Overall, expect this to be Herm Edwards last year with a bowl game being unlikely.

12. Colorado Buffaloes

Projected Record: 2-10

Wins: Air Force, Cal

Losses: TCU, Minnesota, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon State, Arizona State, Oregon, USC, Washington Utah

Colorado is going through major changes after 23 players left the program. Brandon Lewis returns to lead what was one of the worst offenses in power five college football last year. Transfer RJ Snead from Baylor will help lead the wide receivers. The defense wasn’t great last year and only returns four starters. Overall, don’t expect much from Colorado this year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s