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  • Writer's pictureFred Wheeler

2022 NCAA Football preview - Pac-12 South

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Hopefully, you enjoyed the Pac-12 North preview, although, I know that the excitement is really in the South Division where Utah finally summited the Pac-12 to capture their first Conference Championship since 2008 when they were in the Mountain West.

We also found out that UCLA and USC have been making backdoor deals with the Big Ten and the 2023 season will be their last in the Pac-12 which leaves every other team in the conference wondering what conference they’ll be playing in come 2024 (Spoiler Alert! It’ll be a mash-up of the Pac-12 and Big 12, but I have no idea what it’ll be called).

Arizona State Sun Devils (8-5)

Head Coach – Herm Edwards (25-18 in 4 seasons, 3 bowls)

Biggest question for 2022 – Will an inexperienced roster (5 returning starters total) sink the season before it begins?

If things go right. . . The early season schedule finds them at 3-2 (upsetting one of @Oklahoma St., Utah, or @USC) heading into the Week 6 game Vs. Washington where they can find five wins in their last seven contests allowing them to match 2021’s 8 win total.

If things go wrong. . . They drop a game against either Northern Arizona (Week 1) or Eastern Michigan (Week 3) and enter their last seven games at 1-4 finishing the season at 4-8.

Likely outcome for the season. . . the Sun Devils win the games they should and pick up an unexpected win somewhere to finish with 6 wins and a trip to a forgettable city for a forgettable bowl game.

Arizona Wildcats (1-11)

Head Coach – Jedd Fisch (1-11 in 1 season)

Biggest question for 2022 – Will the Wildcats develop enough to allow HC Fisch to continue recruiting “his” players at a constant rate or will another 1 or 2-win season be enough to make the athletic department pull the plug?

If things go right. . . the Wildcats get two of three against out-of-conference opponents @San Diego St, Mississippi State, and North Dakota St (2021 FCS Champion) and scrape two of three away from @California, Colorado, and Washington. If they can make that happen and beat Arizona State to cap off the season, they have momentum going into 2023.

If things go wrong. . . Arizona only wins a single game (probably Colorado or @California) and things continue to spiral in Tucson.

Likely outcome for the season. . . I don’t know what they drink in Tucson, but whatever it is, stock up on it Wildcat fans, you’re probably only getting two or three wins.

Colorado Buffaloes (4-8)

Head Coach – Karl Dorrell (8-10 in 2 seasons, 1 bowl)

Biggest question for 2022 – Can the Buffs avoid their usual late-season swoon? In the last 4 seasons (excluding 2020 when they only played 5 games), Colorado has only won 6 of the 24 games they’ve played in the second half of the season. Alternately, will another losing season have the Buffalos looking for their sixth head coach in twelve years?

If things go right. . . Colorado will scrape together enough wins to go bowling and Karl Dorrell gets a fourth year in Boulder.

If things go wrong. . . TCU beats them badly in the season opener despite debuting new systems on both sides of the ball and the season spirals out of control with only a win or two (@Arizona? California?) to give them any joy. Oh, and Dorrell is replaced, but who would want to take the job? Certainly not former Buffs RB (and current KC Chiefs OC) Eric Bienemy who turned it down once already.

Likely outcome for the season. . . Colorado wins a game early in the year that they shouldn’t, I’m thinking @Minnesota and begins the season 3-2 before the schedule toughens and they go 1-6 down the stretch leaving them looking for another coach.

UCLA Bruins (8-4)

Head Coach – Chip Kelly (18-25 in 4 seasons)

Biggest question for 2022 – Will an inexperienced defense (2 returning starters) drag down what should be one of the more dynamic offenses you will probably not see this year?

If things go right. . . the Bruins sandwich a pair of 5-0 streaks around a pair of late October/Early November losses to Utah and @Oregon and have a shot at the PAC-12 Championship Game.

If things go wrong. . . they lose @Colorado and then to Washington after a short week. Those losses snowball to include the Utah and @Oregon games, plus Stanford, @Arizona State, and then USC leaving the Bruins at 5-7 and wondering about a Chip Kelly buyout, which, after signing an extension in January, will almost certainly be pricey.

Likely outcome for the season. . . With Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB-SR) back and Zach Charbonnet Jr (RB-JR) in the backfield, the Bruins burn up the scoreboard and finish in the 8-4/9-3 area.

USC Trojans (4-8)

Head Coach – Lincoln Riley (First season)

Biggest question for 2022 – Will Riley be able to get the Trojans to play at a level that USC fans expect? The roster had a lot of talent last season and even more this year with Riley bringing Caleb Williams (QB-SO) along with him from Norman. Transfer portal acquisition (and 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner) Jordan Addison should fill the gap Drake London left at wide receiver.

If things go right. . . The offense puts up a ton of points and only the @Utah and @UCLA games are in any doubt, at least conference-wise (the Trojans close out the season Nov 26 hosting Notre Dame).

If things go wrong. . . The inexperienced defense (3 returning starters) never gels (10 transfers in) leaving the offense needing to score 35+ points to win games.

Likely outcome for the season. . . a probable loss to @Utah and an unexpected early-season loss to an underestimated opponent (@Stanford?) leave the Trojans on the outside looking in for the PAC-12 Championship game.

Utah Utes (10-4)

Head Coach – Kyle Wittingham (144-70 in 17 seasons, 15 bowls)

Biggest question for 2022 – Can the Utes repeat as PAC-12 Champs?

If things go right. . . the Utes go undefeated and make the College Football Playoff on the strength of a season-opening win @Florida and a PAC-12 Championship

If things go right. . . the Utes go undefeated and make the College Football Playoff on the strength of a season-opening win @Florida and a PAC-12 Championship

If things go wrong. . . a season-opening loss @Florida eliminates the Utes from CFP consideration and mid-season losses to @UCLA and USC eliminate them from a chance at repeating as PAC-12 Champs.

Likely outcome for the season. . . we see the Utes win in The Swamp to open the season but drop a pair of unexpected games in the middle portion of the schedule and (maybe) Oregon gets its revenge to leave the Utes at 9-3/10-2.

Predicted order of Finish (Bowl team in italics)

North South

Oregon Utah

Washington USC

Oregon State \UCLA

California Arizona State

Washington State Arizona

Stanford Colorado

2022 Pac-12 Championship Game

Friday, Dec 2 at 8 PM EST FOX

Allegiant Stadium Las Vegas, NV

Southern Cal Vs Utah (Champion)

And there you have it, a preview for the beginning of the end of the Pac-12 with Part two to come in 2023. We’ll mosey on over the Big 12 next and preview the future partners of the PAC-12.

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