Brad’s 2022 College Football Preview- Pac-12 Analysis and Predictions

Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season.  This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few hours to publish my 16th annual college football preview guide which will contain 18 entries in all. The records below reflect each team’s predicted regular season overall record followed by their conference record.  These records include conference title games for the two division champions but exclude bowl games which will be previewed later on in a separate column on this blog.  The teams marked in bold font are the ones predicted to gain bowl eligibility.  Without further ado, here are my predictions for the Pac-12 in 2022.

1Oregon (11-2, 9-0)conference runner-up

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Utah (November 19)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Utah (December 2)- Pac-12 Championship Game

Bottom Line: I am predicting Oregon to win the Pac-12 regular season with a perfect 9-0 mark but then drop the conference title game to Utah in a rematch of their November 19th matchup. This team isn’t quite as talented as last year’s group, but they are still massively more talented than the rest of the league with the exception of Utah and maybe USC.

2Utah (12-1, 8-1)conference champion

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Oregon (December 2)- Pac-12 Championship Game

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Oregon (November 19)

Bottom Line: I believe the Utes will run the table in 2022 with the exception of their mid-November trip to Autzen. However, they will then avenge that defeat in the Pac-12 title game to earn the conference crown and a spot in this year’s CFP. The scariest part of this prediction, of course, is that it could burn down in flames the very first week of the season when the Utes travel cross-country to Gainesville. However, this is an extremely experienced team that brings a ton back from a squad that finished 2021 as one of the hottest teams in the country. It is time for Kyle Whittingham to take the next step as coach of the Utes and get these guys to the playoff!

3Southern Cal (10-2, 7-2)

Positional Strength: Quarterback (see Caleb Williams above)

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Notre Dame (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Stanford (September 10)- early season upset special!

Bottom Line: It is tough to pick a 4-8 perennial underachiever to get ten wins with an entirely new roster, but Lincoln Riley has just brough so much talent in with him through the transfer portal that is hard to see this team losing many games. They will likely be favored in 11 out of 12 of their matchups this season and could challenge for either a conference crown or even national title if things break their way.

4UCLA (8-4, 5-4)

Positional Strength: Quarterback (see DTR above)

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Arizona State (November 5)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at California (November 25)

Bottom Line: Dorian Thompson-Robinson will lead what should be Chip Kelly’s best college offense since his days at Oregon, but defensive losses are a major concern and will prevent this team from being elite.

5Arizona State (6-6, 4-5)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Washington (October 8)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Arizona (November 25)

Bottom Line: The Sun Devils had maybe the worst offseason in modern college football history with 17 players leaving via the transfer portal and 5 coaches departing amidst a major scandal. Still, there is enough talent here for the Devils to be respectable in a Pac-12 conference that is fairly weak after the top 4 teams.

T-6Washington (6-6, 4-5)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Oregon State (November 4)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Washington State (November 26)

Bottom Line: Michael Penix is the most athletic of the seven highly-touted transfer quarterbacks that are expected to start in this conference in 2022. He and new coach Kalen Deboer should ignite an offensive unit that struggled mightily under Jimmy Lake. However, defensive inexperience will prevent this team from getting over .500 in 2022.

T-6Oregon State (6-6, 4-5)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Arizona State (November 19)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Fresno State (September 10)

Bottom Line: Head Coach Jonathan Smith has slowly but surely rebuilt this Beaver program, but I do not think they have the talent, especially on the defense, to take the next step in 2022. Still, this team is too good not to at least make a bowl game.

T-6Stanford (6-6, 4-5)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. USC (September 10)- I’m calling for an upset here based on Stanford’s historical dominance over USC and the fact the game is early in the season before the Trojans will have a chance to really figure things out.

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Arizona State (October 22)

Bottom Line: Over the past four years, the Cardinal have experienced the “Northwestern phenomenon” where they have alternated good years (’18, ’20) and bad years (’19, ’21). I am expecting that trend to continue in 2022 (unlike Northwestern), as Stanford brings back a talent young quarterback and 16 other starters that Shaw will put in a better position to succeed this season.

9California (6-6, 4-5)

Positional Strength: Defensive Backs

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UCLA (November 25)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Stanford (November 19)

Bottom Line: The Golden Bears will be stout defensively as usual this season, and I think Purdue transfer Jake Plummer will provide just enough offense to get this team back to a bowl game for the first time in three years.

10Washington State (5-7, 3-6)

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Washington (November 26)- back-to-back Apple Cups for the Cougs!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Stanford (November 5)

Bottom Line: It was really impressive what Jake Dickert did in his interim role last year, but this team lost too many key components (starting QB, top 2 RBS, top 2 WRs, and top 2 tacklers) of that squad for me to pick them to go bowling again in 2022.

11Arizona (3-9, 2-7)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Wins of the Year: vs. Mississippi State (September 10)/vs. Arizona State (November 25)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. North Dakota State (September 17)

Bottom Line: Jedd Fisch (pictured above) has ignited a spark in this program, and I think the Wildcats will continue to improve over the new few seasons. This year, they are young and have a brutal schedule, but I still think Arizona will improve on last year’s 1-11 mark and pull off a couple of upsets along the way (see biggest predicted wins above).

12Colorado (0-12, 0-9)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: None

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Air Force (September 10)

Bottom Line: I predicted exactly one team to go winless in 2022 and here they are! A bad coaching hire + massive roster turnover + brutal schedule = 0-12 season for the Buffs.

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