Posted on August 30, 2022
It’s finally here. College Football is back. And that means the return of our weekly Pac-12 Power Rankings.
Our senior writers and broadcasters have submitted their votes, which we’ve compiled into a composite ranking, and their individual rankings appear in a table at the bottom.
My Post-Spring Power Rankings were released in May—to the chagrin of some—and since then, I have previewed all 12 teams over the last 12 weeks.
I remain high on Utah, Oregon, and UCLA, as do some of our other writers, though some believe USC is ready to crash the party.
These rankings are sure to generate discussion, but nothing is set in stone; you can expect them to change every week.
Be sure to check our individual game picks in my weekly previews, published each Thursday.
Our SuperWest Power Rankings, which also include BYU, San Diego State, and Boise State, will be published on Wednesdays.
But enough small talk. Here are our Preseason Pac-12 Power Rankings.
The Utes enter the year seeking to defend their Pac-12 Conference title and contend for the Playoff.
With what might be the strongest offensive and defensive line combination in the West, Kyle Whittingham’s team has the firepower on both sides of the ball to compete with the best.
Quarterback Cameron Rising’s mobility makes the Utes the early-season favorite to—at the very least—return to a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Under-valued by some, Oregon is set to prove the doubters wrong. Consistently elite recruiting has created a roster that is able to compete with the top programs in all of College Football.
The Ducks figure to rise and fall on the play of Bo Nix but should remain in the running to make the Playoff well into the season.
Never underestimate Oregon Football: Dan Lanning’s team is dangerous.
Don’t get it wrong, USC is good, but not necessarily elite. Coming off a 4-8 season, some of the media expectations for this year are arguably out of whack.
The problems along the defensive front were not addressed via the transfer portal, and the offensive line isn’t exactly stellar.
Still, the Trojans have a shocking amount of talent at the offensive skill positions and should roll over the teams they are supposed to beat.
Led by a veteran quarterback and one of the top running backs in the country, UCLA is set for its best season in nearly a decade.
A soft schedule makes a 10-win year a very real possibility, while the termination of Jerry Azzinaro could turn out to be a godsend.
The successful implementation of a new defensive scheme could make UCLA a dark-horse candidate for a New Year’s Six bowl berth.
5. Oregon State
A strong offensive line sets Oregon State apart from the teams in the middle of the Pac-12.
Jonathan Smith’s run-first offensive system should continue to thrive this season with Chance Nolan once again running the scheme.
The system produced the No. 4 scoring offense in the league last year and shouldn’t miss a beat in 2022.
6. Washington State
The first year of the Coug Raid could produce some surprising results.
Quarterback Cam Ward is one of the top transfers in College Football and should take full advantage of a WSU defense with a propensity to generate turnovers.
The new offense combined with the defensive genius of head coach Jake Dickert might make Wazzu stronger than many think.
Kalen DeBoer’s offensive system is schematically elite. The question is whether he has the personnel to execute it effectively in his first season.
The Dawgs have the talent at wide receiver to get the job done, but there’s an open question at quarterback.
Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr. has been named the starter and should play well enough to lead UW to a bowl game.
The Chase Garbers era is over, but Purdue transfer quarterback Jack Plummer has been brought in to command the offense.
His execution of Bill Musgrave’s system could be the difference between Cal reaching a bowl game or missing out on the postseason.
With plenty of young talent ready to explode, the Bears are arguably being overlooked.
At this point in the season, Stanford is in a “prove it” position.
With arguably one of the top QB/WR/TE combinations in the Pac-12, the Tree might be substantially better than some are giving them credit for.
But until David Shaw’s offensive system takes advantage of the talent on his roster, the Cardinal will remain low in many rankings.
Potentially underrated, Arizona enters the season with a drastically changed roster.
Jedd Fisch put together a strong transfer and recruiting class, essentially upgrading his offensive skill positions across the board.
But with concerns along the offensive line and linebacker corps, the jury remains out on UA’s ceiling.
11. Arizona State
Herm Edwards lost a plethora of talent to the transfer portal, but also brought several key new faces into the fold.
Florida quarterback transfer Emory Jones has been named the starter, while Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay should thrive under Edwards’ offensive principles.
But with questions in the wide receiver room and defensive secondary, ASU could find itself on the borderline of making a bowl game.
Outside motivation is a dangerous fuel, and the Buffs have plenty of it.
Every day since the beginning of the summer, Colorado’s players have seen the projections for their team.
The disrespect shown has undoubtedly caused hours upon hours of extra preparation that could manifest itself in a string of upsets to open the year.