The PAC-12 saw Utah win their first PAC-12 title in 2021 and they return a majority of the team that helped them achieve that. Both USC and Oregon underwent head coaching changes, but is that enough to get either team to the championship? There were also coaching changes at Washington and Washington State. So how exactly will each team in the PAC-12 perform this upcoming season? College football analysts Marissa Myers and Matt Levine predict each team’s record ahead of the season with Marissa previewing the North, and Matt previewing the South.
Washington State: 8-4
Oregon State: 6-6
The Oregon Ducks should be the favorites to be the top team in the North division. New head coach Dan Lanning enters a great situation with a team that has a solid offensive line and young offensive playmakers like Byron Cardwell, Kris Hutson, Dont’e Thornton, and Troy Franklin. The defensive side of the ball will be Lanning’s specialty and he has players like Noah Sewell, Brandon Dorlus, and DJ Johnson Sr. to work with. Most likely the two losses will be against Georgia and Utah who will have the defenses to slow down the Ducks’ young offense.
Oregon State had their first winning season since 2013 during the fourth year with Jonathan Smith as the head coach. They saw their defense improve down the stretch of the 2021 season when Trent Bray took over as the defensive coordinator. The offense will be a question mark heading into the season as they lost playmakers like Trevon Bradford and Champ Flemings. They will need more offensive and defensive consistency throughout an entire season. Games against Boise State, Fresno State, USC, Utah, Oregon, and Washington State make this a tough schedule, but they can get enough wins for a bowl game.
Washington has a new head coach in Kalen DeBoer who has a track record for improving offensive production. He will be looking to do so with Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback. Defensively they lose talent in the secondary with Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie heading to the NFL. They can still have defensive success but slowing down Michigan State, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington State will be a challenge. A 7-5 season should be better for the Huskies compared to their 4-8 season in 2021.
Washington State will see an increase in offensive production as well with Cameron Ward now at the quarterback spot. Despite their head coach Nick Rolovich being fired after seven games, Jake Dickert stepped up to lead the team through adversity and finish with a 7-5 regular season record. Dickert now gets the chance to lead the team for a full season. The defense should be able to replicate the defensive success they had with returning players like Ron Stone and Brennan Jackson. They have a team that can manage eight wins.
For Stanford, they have a promising quarterback in Tanner McKee, and they have a great receiving group of Brycen Tremayne, Michael Wilson, and Benjamin Yurosek. Kyu Blu Kelly is a great returning player for the secondary. Yet, with the switch to a 4-3 look up front and the loss of talent on the line, this new approach will be tough to stop teams like USC, Oregon, Notre Dame, UCLA, Utah, and BYU. Then there is California who are only returning three offensive and five defensive starters. Despite bringing in transfer quarterback Jack Plummer, their quarterback situation is a bit iffy still. Their schedule doesn’t help either with games against Notre Dame, Oregon, USC, or UCLA either.