Pac-12 Rankings: South
This is NOT a prediction of how the teams will finish. They’re the rankings of how good the teams are going into the season.
Please scroll down for the Pac-12 Conference rankings done by total conference, ranking 1 through 12.
1. USC Trojans
Should be ranked higher because … the defense is going to be a killer. With Porter Gustin back along with Cameron Smith and Christian Rector, the pass rush will be unstoppable. The star power is there in a year of transition overall for the division – that might be enough to overcome the loss of some key offensive parts.
Should be ranked lower because … the franchise Isi being turned over to an 18-year-old true freshman quarterback who wasn’t around for spring ball. JT Daniels might be amazing, but he should’ve been a high school senior this year – and he’s still replacing Sam Darnold.
2. Utah Utes
Should be ranked higher because … the offense is about to start to work. After a year of experimenting with more of a downfield passing game, now everyone knows what they’re doing. Tyler Huntley is about to be a big thing quarterback, and he has Zach Moss to hand off to. The kicking game might be the best in the country.
Should be ranked lower because … the lines will be good, but they have to be better. The pass rush wasn’t up to the normal Utah snuff, and the offensive front has to deal with the Washington and Stanford defensive lines over the first half of the season.
3. Arizona Wildcats
Should be ranked higher because … that Khalil Tate guy is still really, really good. Along with having one of the nation’s most dynamic quarterbacks to work with, Kevin Sumlin also gets RB J.J. Taylor and the rest of the amazing offensive backfield. Enough good parts are there to come up with a good debut on D, too.
Should be ranked lower because … the lines are going to need a good fall camp. The offensive front has to be healthy and find the right from five, and while the rest of the defense should be good enough, the line needs to be better.
4. UCLA Bruins
Should be ranked higher because … UCLA really did hire Chip Kelly. It might take a little while to put all of the Chip Kelly things in place, but the program landed the biggest fish in the coaching pond. The defensive parts are okay, especially in the secondary, and the offense will come around in a hurry.
Should be ranked lower because … okay, the defense will need a while. The defensive front has to be more physical, and the O line has to be able to crank it up on the ground. There are quarterbacks, but it’s going to take right up until the opener against Cincinnati to find the right one.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils
Should be ranked higher because … the receiving corps is the best in the conference. N’Keal Harry and Kyle Williams are killers, and Manny Wilkins is a good enough veteran to consistently get them the ball. Herm Edwards is bringing in the excitement and new energy to a program that could be the Pac-12’s curveball.
Should be ranked lower because … the defensive line and linebacking corps have to prove they can handle the work. The offense has to deal with four killer defenses – UTSA, Michigan State, San Diego State and Washington to start the season – and the D has to hold its own.
6. Colorado Buffaloes
Should be ranked higher because … of all the good quarterbacks in the Pac-12, Steven Montez has the upside to be as strong as any of them. The special teams are going to be fantastic, and the linebacking corps will be sneaky-strong, but it’s Montez who could make the season great.
Should be ranked here because … outside of Montez, the skill players aren’t quite there. The lines aren’t going to be a plus – at least early on – but the real key is finding help for the offensive side. The team needs to be more explosive.