The PAC-12 went winless in the postseason, despite Utah’s best efforts to salvage the conference’s post-season in a dramatic Rose Bowl finish, which means there’s nothing left to do now except look forward to next season. It doesn’t matter that rosters aren’t set, or that recruiting season hasn’t even ended yet. It’s never too early to get excited about football, so without further adieu, let’s take a look at what next season could look like for every PAC-12 team as of today. Predictions will be updated again closer to the start of the 2022 season when rosters are closer to set.
- September 3rd @ San Diego State: W
- September 10th vs Mississippi State: L
- September 17th vs North Dakota State: L
Arizona is having a fantastic recruiting year and should be a better team than last season, but another FCS loss seems likely when that FCS team just happens to be an absolute powerhouse akin to Alabama. The Bison haven’t played an FBS opponent since 2016 when they toppled the then fifth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. This prediction has less to do with Arizona being bad and North Dakota consistently being VERY good.
- September 24th @ Cal: L
- October 1st vs Colorado: W
- October 8th vs Oregon: L
- October 15th @ Washington: L
- October 29th vs USC: W
While I have every reason to believe Lincoln Riley is the man to turn things around for the Trojans, year one will come with some bumps in the road, and Arizona is primed for a big upset off their bye week.
- November 5th @ Utah: L
- November 12th @ UCLA: L
- November 19th vs Washington State: W
- November 25th vs Arizona State: W
This should be the final year in Jedd Fisch’s rebuild as the Wildcats barely miss bowl eligibility, but can point to wins against USC and ASU as signs of progress down in the desert. The recent addition of former WSU QB Jayden de Laura could be just what the offense needs to get a win over North Dakota, Cal, or Washington to get bowl eligible.
- September 1st vs Northern Arizona: W
- September 10th @ Oklahoma State: L
Assuming Spencer Sanders returns to Stillwater for his senior season, the Cowboys will be primed to compete for the Big 12 title in 2022, and knocking off ASU in week two will be their first marquee win on their quest for domination after Baylor and Oklahoma collectively dashed their dreams in 2021.
- September 17th vs Eastern Michigan: W
- September 24th vs Utah: L
- October 1st @ USC: L
- October 8th vs Washington: W
- October 22nd @ Stanford: L
- October 29th @ Colorado: L
- November 5th vs UCLA: L
- November 12th @ Washington State: W
- November 19th vs Oregon State: W
- November 25th @ Arizona: L
A loss to Arizona to close out the season will not only shut the door on bowl eligibility but will poetically highlight the change in trajectory these two programs are on. The Wildcats are on the rise, and ASU’s position as the South’s most mediocre is starting to slip away.
Something about 2022 tells me the Herm Edwards experiment falls off the rails next season. The legendary NFL coach has never been able to bring ASU to the promised land, and returning QB Jayden Daniels has also failed to live up to expectations. With an NCAA investigation still looming over the program, I expect this to be the year that ASU gets knocked down a peg from mediocre to bad.
- September 3rd vs UC Davis: W
- September 10th vs UNLV: W
- September 17th @ Notre Dame: L
- September 24th vs Arizona: W
- October 1st @ Washington State: W
- October 15th @ Colorado: L
Back-to-back road games will prove to be too much for the first Bears, who will drop their first conference game of the season in Boulder.
- October 22nd vs Washington: W
- October 29th vs Oregon: L
- November 5th @ USC: L
- November 12th @ Oregon State: W
- November 19th vs Stanford: L
- November 25th UCLA: L
Becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2019 should be the goal for the Bears in 2022, and Justin Wilcox will barely make it thanks to a North division that is largely rebuilding and having the misfortune of drawing both LA schools late in the season.
- September 2nd vs TCU: W
- September 10th @ Air Force: W
- September 17th @ Minnesota: L
- September 24th vs UCLA: L
- October 1st @ Arizona: L
- October 15th vs Cal: W
- October 22nd @ Oregon State: W
- October 29th vs Arizona State: W
- November 5th Oregon: L
- November 11th @ USC: L
- November 19th @ Washington: L
- November 26th vs Utah: L
Colorado’s schedule doesn’t do them any favors with Oregon, USC, Washington, and Utah all to close out the season, ultimately killing any momentum gained coming out of the bye, however, an opening week win over TCU and a road victory over Air Force should keep the Buffs from once again becoming the PAC-12’s punching bag.
- September 3rd vs Georgia (“neutral site” game played in Atlanta, GA): L
Dan Lanning will take on his former team in Atlanta, however, taking down one of the SEC’s top teams will prove to be too much for the first-year head coach as he attempts to lead the Ducks to another PAC-12 championship.
- September 10th vs Eastern Washington: W
- September 17th vs BYU: W
- September 24th @ Washington State: W
- October 1st vs Stanford: W
- October 8th @ Arizona: W
- October 22nd vs UCLA: W
- October 29th @ Cal: W
- November 5th @ Colorado: W
- November 12th vs Washington: W
- November 19th vs Utah: L
Utah is simply returning too much talent on both sides of the ball and has so far recruited well at key positions to continue the new tradition of beating Oregon late in the season. Lanning isn’t stepping into an entire rebuild, but upsetting the conference’s reigning champ might be too tall of an order in his first season in Eugene.
- November 25th @ Oregon State: W
Oregon will have the luxury of coasting through a fairly easy schedule outside of week one, getting both Stanford and Washington at home, as well as a visit from UCLA from the South. I have every reason to believe Oregon takes care of business until it's time to face Utah again.
- September 3rd vs Boise State: W
- September 10th @ Fresno State: W
- September 17th vs Montana State: W
- September 24th vs USC: L
- October 1st @ Utah: L
- October 8th @ Stanford: L
- October 15th vs Washington State: W
Picking up a conference victory will help soften the blow of a sudden .500 record, but there aren’t many (if any) gimmes left on the schedule for OSU.
- October 22nd vs Colorado: L
- November 5th @ Washington: L
- November 12th vs Cal: L
- November 19th @ Arizona State: L
- November 25th vs Oregon: L
The loss of BJ Baylor won’t go unnoticed, and the Beavers take a step back in 2022 without him. Credit to Chance Nolan, who is one of the most underrated passers in the conference, but opening the conference slate against USC, followed by trips to Utah and Stanford will kill any momentum the Beavers gain at the start of the season.
- September 3rd vs Colgate: W
- September 10th vs USC: W
Both Stanford and USC will be looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons, with Lincoln Riley leading the charge down in Southern California. The problem is, USC simply hasn’t recruited as well as Stanford in recent years, and the Cardinal (for now), simply have more potential than the Trojans. This prediciton, along with many others, could change once recruiting season officially wraps up, and we can better gauge what Riley brings to the table, but as of now, I’m taking the Cardinal as the PAC-12’s bounce-back team of 2022.
- September 24th @ Washington: W
- October 1st @ Oregon: L
- October 8th vs Oregon State: W
- October 15th @ Notre Dame: L
- October 22nd vs Arizona State: W
- October 29th @ UCLA: L
- November 5th vs Washington State: W
- November 12th @ Utah: L
- November 19th @ Cal: W
- November 26th vs BYU: W
Believe it or not, Stanford hasn’t been bowl eligible since 2018, but I see that changing next season. Tanner McKee is one of the best QBs in the conference, and recruiting along the offensive line has been a priority this season after seeing the sophomore endure 24 sacks in 2021. A McKee with more protection could make a difference, especially while most of the North is rebuilding.
- September 3rd vs Bowling Green: W
- September 10th vs Alabama State: W
- September 17 vs South Alabama: W
- September 24th @ Colorado: W
- October 1st vs Washington: W
- October 8th vs Utah: L
- October 22nd @ Oregon: L
- October 29th vs Stanford: W
- November 5th @ Arizona State: W
- November 12th vs Arizona: W
- November 19th vs USC: W
- November 25th @ Cal: W
While there are doubts surrounding Chip Kelly’s tenure in Los Angeles now that his buyout has hit $0, the potential and the seemingly likely return of DTR under Kelly could result in a special year for the Bruins. A cupcake non-conference schedule and a fairly manageable cross-division slate all bode well for the Bruins in 2022.
- September 3rd vs Rice: W
- September 10th @ Stanford: L
- September 17th vs Fresno State: W
- September 24th @ Oregon State: W
- October 1st vs Arizona State: W
- October 8th vs Washington State: W
- October 15th @ Utah: L
- October 29th @ Arizona: L
- November 5th vs Cal: W
- November 11th vs Colorado: W
- November 19th @ UCLA: L
- November 26th vs Notre Dame: L
As of now, I’m projecting the Lincoln Riley era to be a little hit and miss. Losses to Stanford and Arizona will be part of the growing pains of bringing in a new coach, but a seven-win season should be enough to show the west coast that the process is working and USC is on its way back.
- September 3rd @ Florida: L
While I’d love to see Utah win this game, the Utes haven’t had a marquee out-of-conference win since 2017’s Cotton Bowl win over West Virginia. Due to the PAC-12’s overall failure to perform in non-PAC-12 games, I’m inclined to give Florida a slight advantage here despite believing Utah is likely the better team on paper.
- September 10th vs Southern Utah: W
- September 17th vs San Diego State: W
- September 24th @ Arizona State: W
- October 1st vs Oregon State: W
- October 8th @ UCLA: W
- October 15th vs USC: W
- October 29th @ Washington State: W
- November 5th vs Arizona: W
- November 12th vs Stanford: W
- November 19th @ Oregon: W
- November 26th @ Colorado: W
Few people will argue the Utes are the favorite to repeat as PAC-12 champs, and it's not hard to imagine a scenario where Utah goes undefeated in 2022 after nearly doing so in 2021. Perhaps they lose to USC and/or Oregon and knock off Florida to open the season, but as of now, I’m looking at an 11-1 season.
- September 3rd vs Kent State: W
- September 10th vs Portland State: W
- September 17th vs Michigan State: L
- September 24th vs Stanford: L
- October 1st @ UCLA: L
- October 8th @ Arizona State: L
- October 15th vs Arizona: W
- October 22nd @ Cal: L
- November 5th vs Oregon State: W
- November 12th @ Oregon: L
- November 19th vs Colorado: W
- November 26th @ Washington State: W
The struggles in Seattle will continue, but Kalen DeBoer should be able to squeeze more out of this Huskies team than Jimmy Lake could. Getting U Dub back to bowl eligibility will be the first step in what looks to be a substantial rebuild.
- September 3rd vs Idaho: W
- September 10th @ Wisconsin: L
- September 17th vs Colorado State: W
- September 24th vs Oregon: L
- October 1st vs Cal: L
- October 8th @ USC: L
- October 15th @ Oregon State: L
- October 29th vs Utah: L
- November 5th @ Stanford: L
- November 12th vs Arizona State: L
- November 19th @ Arizona: L
- November 26th vs Washington: L
- Oregon State
- Washington State
- Arizona State