The PAC-12 enters its next-to-last season with its current roster of schools as UCLA and USC will officially join the Big Ten on August 2, 2024. That offseason development stunned the national college football community and added to the earlier realignment news that Texas and Oklahoma will exit the Big 12 for the greener dollar pastures of the SEC on July 1, 2025.
Meanwhile, the 2022 campaign begins with a major shakeup at the head coaching level as USC plucked Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma, and Oregon lost Mario Cristobal to Miami.
Additionally, Washington will begin the season with Kalen DeBoer as its new head coach, while Washington State took the interim tag off Jake Dickert at the end of last season after he guided the school to a 3-3 finish (3-1 vs. PAC-12 schools) that included a win over rival Washington and a narrow loss to a Central Michigan team that served as a last-second replacement for Miami (Covid) in the Sun Bowl.
The conference opted to shelve divisions, making this an all-out race to finish among the top two to play for the conference championship.
Expectations are off the rails in Los Angeles where Lincoln Riley is supposed to be an overnight sensation at resuscitating the Trojan's program and the PAC-12 Media Poll had USC 3rd. We think USC will be much closer to the media's 3rd-place pick than the 11-place place projection by the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com. Riley brought Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams with him and upgraded the roster through the transfer portal, including the additions of Jordan Addison from Pitt who won the 2021 Biletnikoff Award, and RB Travis Dye from Oregon. But he also lost QB's Kedon Slovis to Pitt and Jason Dart to Ole Miss.
The computer expects Dan Lanning's first year as Oregon head coach to be a huge success, but not any better than last season under Mario Cristobal. In a repeat of 2021, the computer has the Ducks falling to Utah in the PAC-12 Championship game in Las Vegas. It would be the fourth straight title game for Oregon, and the fourth in the last five seasons for Utah.
We won't have to wait long to find out how good Oregon can be as Lanning's squad opens against Georgia on Labor Day weekend in the Chick-fil-A kickoff. Lanning spent the last four seasons on Kirby Smart's staff at Georgia, beginning as outside linebackers coach in 2018. He had the defensive coordinator role added in 2019. Oregon is expected to be led by Auburn transfer Bo Nix.
Utah returns Cameron Rising at QB, and if either the Utes or Ducks live up to expectations, they could find themselves in the Final Four playoff.
Oregon State may seem like a surprising 3rd-place computer pick, but the Beavers return 15 starters from last year's 7-6 squad, including Chance Nolan at QB and 9 on defense.
Stanford brings back 17 starters, including Tanner McKee at QB.
At the other end of the spectrum, Arizona State lost 15 starters (added QB Jayden Daniels from LSU), while Cal and UCLA each lost 14 starters, but the Bruins return Dorian Thompson-Robinson at QB.
|3||21||Oregon State||PAC 12||82.85||69.04||10||2||7||2||53|
|5||61||Washington State||PAC 12||66.31||38.68||7||5||5||4||64|
|8||70||Arizona State||PAC 12||68.40||34.20||6||6||4||5||56|
|*Utah defeats Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship game in Las Vegas|