Pac-12 football predictions 2022: Conference standings, impact transfers, best games

The Pac-12’s future is uncertain after USC and UCLA announced on June 30 that they were leaving the conference for the Big Ten.

The Trojans and Bruins will leave a big hole in their wake when they’re eliminated in 2024, but in the present they’re among teams looking to break the conference college football playoff drought. Washington was the last Pac-12 team to reach the CFP in 2016, and the conference’s 4-8 record in New Year’s Day Six Bowls is the worst among the Power 5 conferences.

Utah and Oregon are again the favorites in the conference, and they have big games against SEC opponents in Week 1. The Utes travel to Florida and the Ducks play defending champion Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

MORE: SEC Predictions | Big 12 Predictions | Big Ten Predictions | 2022 All-America Team

USC and Washington have new coaches. Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to join the Trojans, and star quarterback Caleb Williams followed. Washington hired Kalen DeBoer after a 4-8 season in which Jimmy Lake was fired. A few transfer quarterbacks could stand out across the league in 2022.

The Pac-12 scrapped divisions; The new fold will allow the two teams with the highest winning percentage to compete in the Pac-12 championship game. Here’s a closer look at the Pac-12, with predictions, big games, Heisman competitors and more:

2022 Pac-12 predicted finish order


  1. Utah
  2. U.S.C
  3. Oregon
  4. UCLA
  5. Oregon State
  6. Washington
  7. Washington
  8. State of Arizona
  9. cal
  10. Stanford
  11. Arizona
  12. Colorado

Utah and USC will be 1-2 in most predictions, and for good reason. The Utes and Trojans have each won the Pac-12 South three times in the past seven seasons. This is our predicted championship game.

The rivalry between the states of Oregon and Oregon continues to heat up. The Beavers won the last meeting in Corvallis, Oregon in 2020, and Jonathan Smith is hoping to build on the program’s first winning season since 2013.

UCLA is a sleeper favorite and it’s time for Chip Kelly. The schedule is set for a 4-0 start and they have Washington, Utah and USC in the Rose Bowl.

DeBoer had a 12-6 record at Fresno State and was able to turn the Huskies over faster than expected. The Cougars will build with Jake Dickert, who replaced Nick Rolovich last season and traded Cameron Ward to Incarnate Word as quarterback. Stanford has an 11-19 record over the past three seasons, ranking 11th overall in the conference.

Arizona State finished last season 8-5 but Herm Edwards is under pressure. Florida transfer Emory Jones and Wyoming transfer Xazavian Valladay, who rushed for 1,063 yards at 5.1 yards per carry last season, make up the new backfield. Arizona is 5-24 for the past three seasons.

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Lincoln Riley went 55-10 and made three straight playoff games in Oklahoma from 2017-19 before departing after the 2021 season.

Starpower followed him to USC. Caleb Williams was transferred from Oklahoma. He rushed for 1,912 yards, 21 TDs and four interceptions last season. Travis Dye was Oregon’s leading rusher with 1,271 yards and 16 TDs. The topper was Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, who joined from Pitt in the spring. The trojans load at the skill locations, and Riley comes under scrutiny for having left Oklahoma.

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All of this has made the Trojans a popular choice to win the Pac-12, but it won’t be easy. The Trojans have road games at Stanford, which blew USC 42-28 last season, not to mention Utah and UCLA. The final against Notre Dame could generate a lot of hype, but the rivals have a long way to go.

Still, USC is a program that has gone 22-21 for the past four seasons. If Riley turns this into a Pac-12 championship team in one season, that would be more than enough to live up to the hype.

Impact newbies

Josh Conerly Jr., T, Oregon

Conerly (Rainer Beach, Seattle) is a formidable 6-5, 283-pound tackle who stayed close with the Ducks. He’s giving new coach Dan Lanning a piece to build future offensive lines and he could enter the rotation with an experienced line this season.

Domani Jackson, CB, USC

While the attention is on offense, Jackson (Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.) is a five-star talent who will be fighting for instant game time with the Trojans in defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s new look. Jackson should help a defense that compiled 14 interceptions last season.

transfer effects

Jayden de Laura, QB, Arizona

Jeff Fisch has a major makeover underway in Arizona, but it doesn’t hurt that the leader of the Pac-12 is joining the team in last season’s TD passes. Jayden de Laura, who played at Washington State last season, brings a playful presence to an offense that averaged just 17.2 points per game last season.

Emory Jones, QB, Arizona State

Jones has played in 37 games for Florida over the past four seasons and gives the Sun Devils an experienced option at the position. He ran for 759 yards last season but struggled with interceptions. He fits into Edward’s offense in an interesting way.

Jack Plummer, QB, Cal

The Bears need more production at the quarterback position, and Plummer has had 26 TDs and 10 interceptions at Purdue over the past three seasons. He’s fighting for the first job but could push Cal to a bowl spot if he wins the job.

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Nix started 2019 for the first time in his career against Oregon. Now he’s said to be the Ducks’ starting quarterback with a bunch of talented players around him. Nix finished with 2,294 yards, 11 TDs and three interceptions, but the key will be how much he improves from his 59.4% career completion percentage.

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Injuries have hampered the at times promising career of Penix, who had a breakout season with Indiana in 2020. Penix will have to hold Dylan Morris and Sam Huard back for the starting job, but the grad transfer should be able to keep that spot for the Huskies.

Cameron Ward, QB, Washington State

Ward enjoyed an impressive two-year career with Incarnate Word in FCS. He won the Jerry Rice Award as a freshman and had 4,648 passing yards, 47 TDs and 10 interceptions as a sophomore. Offensive coordinator Eric Morris, Ward’s coach at Incarnate Word, joined Jake Dickert’s staff in Washington State. This pairing should be worth it.

Heisman hopefuls

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Williams has true superstar power, which he flashed in bundles in Oklahoma when he took the job last season. He’s averaging 9.2 yards per pass and 5.6 yards per carry, and he’s more familiar with Riley’s offense with a tremendous group of playmakers at USC. Williams has had his ups and downs, but he doesn’t turn the ball over often. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (2014) is the last player in the conference to win the award. Williams can challenge Bryce Young of Alabama and CJ Stroud of Ohio State to become the nation’s top quarterback.

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Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Addison led the FBS with 17 TD catches last season and finished third in yards (1,479) and seventh in receptions (93). He’s an all-around talent to join the high profile offense at USC and he should prove to be a favorite target for Williams. Marqise Lee finished fourth in the 2012 Heisman voting for USC. Addison could do it.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA

Robinson is back at UCLA and has had an efficient season that included 2,409 yards, 21 TDs and six interceptions. He’s averaging a career-best 8.5 yards per attempt, and Zach Charbonnet is a good running mate in the backfield. Thompson-Robinson is 3-7 against ranked teams as starters. That must change for the Bruins’ long-awaited breakthrough.

Biggest Pac-12 games of 2022

1. USC in Utah (Oct. 15)

The Trojans have away games at Stanford and Oregon State before, but a 6-0 start under Riley isn’t out of the question. The Trojans are 2-3 at Rice-Eccles Stadium since the Utes joined the Pac-12. This could be a prime time game that sets the tone for the second half of the season.

2. Utah in Oregon (Nov. 19)

This has been the marquee game at the Pac-12 for the past few seasons. They split eight meetings in the CFP era, including two Pac-12 championship games. Utah suffered two blowouts last season. How will the ducks react? Will this be the first of two matchups again?

3. USC at UCLA (Nov. 19)

The other big game of the day – albeit a future Big Ten clash. The Bruins and Trojans have split the last four meetings since Chip Kelly arrived at UCLA, and Riley’s presence adds a new wrinkle to a classic rivalry that needs a jump start. Both teams have not been rated in this game since 2014.

4. Oregon in the State of Oregon (Nov. 24)

State rivals clash with potential impact on Pac-12 title The Ducks and Beavers have shared the last two meets, and this is one of those Black Friday appetizers you won’t want to miss during Rivalry Week.

5. Oregon, Washington State (September 24)

It’s the Ducks’ Pac-12 opener, and there’s excitement about Ward in Pullman. The Cougars have won two recent home games against the Ducks and this appears to be a must-see Pac-12 After Dark affair.

Pac-12 stats that matter

Oregon has been 22-1 at Autzen Stadium since 2018 and Utah is 20-2 at Rice-Eccles Stadium over the same four-year span. Those are clear home advantages and a big reason the Ducks and Utes have each won three division championships in the past four years. Utah plays USC at home, but the Utes have to go to Autzen Stadium on November 19. The Ducks don’t play the Trojans in the regular season. This could be a split, especially if home advantage continues.

Pac-12 Champion: Utah

Despite that tough opening game and schedule, the Utes remain the most balanced team in the Pac-12. The running game will be strong, and Rising should improve its NFL stock with every game. linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, a transfer from Florida; and newcomer Lander Barton are part of what improved defense should be. The question is can the Utes beat Florida in the opener and position the conference for the long-awaited return of the CFP.

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