Pac-12 Football Predictions: Will USC Fulfill Its Destiny?

Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 will be a fun conference to watch as it made major news throughout the offseason. Some teams made enormous strides to put themselves in a position to win this conference, but there are successful teams from last season that are looking to continue their reign. It will certainly be a closer race in each division than last year.

With that, let’s take a look at our Pac 12 football predictions when it comes to crowning a conference champion.

Pac 12 Football Predictions: Best Bet

USC To Win Pac-12 Championship (+200) | PointsBet

USC is the shiny new toy every kid wants, but will they live up to the hype? They could roll into a championship if they play up to their talent.

On offense, former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley brought along his 2021 freshman sensation QB Caleb Williams. He provided him with options, including one of the biggest names to enter the transfer portal in Pittsburgh transfer receiver Jordan Addison. In fact, Williams is currently receiving the most betting tickets to win the Heisman Trophy (per BetMGM). 

Riley also brought in Oregon standout RB Travis Dye and Stanford’s Austin Jones to command the backfield.

The offensive line was one of USC’s strong points last season, and they bring back four starters, so this should be the top O-Line in the conference.

The defense is where the questions are. The Trojans allowed the most points in the conference (34.2), tenth most passing yards (223.9 per game), and the eighth-most rushing yards (175.4). Former defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Alex Grinch, has his work cut out for him on that side of the football. 

The Bottom Line

If the season goes the way most college football enthusiasts dreamed it up, the Trojans should cruise to the Pac-12 Championship. They have a couple of tough road matchups against UCLA and Utah, but USC will avoid Oregon — unless it’s in the championship.

We’re going to see a ton of shootouts with USC, and on paper, they have the best talent on offense. Can that new team gel early in the season? After all, the Trojans have one warm-up game (vs. Rice on Sept. 3) before playing Stanford on the road (Sept. 10). If USC can implement Riley’s scheme and start the season strong, it will be hard to slow the Trojans down.

Where To Bet: USC to win the Pac-12 Championship | +200 at PointsBet

Pac 12 Football Predictions: Sleeper Pick

Utah To Win The Pac-12 Championship (+250) | PointsBet

It’s strange to say the reigning conference champions are the sleeper pick, but Utah has the best chance to ruin USC’s dreams of winning.

The Utes had a tremendous end to their 2021 season, demolishing Oregon twice, claiming the conference crown, then going toe-to-toe with Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Because of that, Utah will have a target on their back this season, and some pundits are picking them as a legitimate force to contend for the College Football Playoffs on top of a Pac-12 Championship. 

Utah led the Pac-12 (conference-only matchups) in scoring with 37.3 points a game. They also led the league in yards per play (6.6), which could be a common theme in 2022 with QB Cameron Rising and RB Tavion Thomas returning in the backfield.

Rising made huge strides and got better as the season went along. He isn’t going to put up dazzling numbers, Rising is efficient while preventing turnovers. His 20 touchdowns to five interceptions last season serve as proof. Rising can also scramble to create plays while posting yards (and scores) with his feet. He will prove to be a great leader in year two as the QB1

The defense should continue to hold its own as they return five starters, including cornerback Clark Phillips III, defensive ends Van Fillinger and Karene Reid. The secondary will get an upgrade with the return of a healthy cornerback JaTravis Broughton who was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2020.

The loss of LB Devin Llyod is tough, but they went out and grabbed former four-star linebacker Florida transfer Mohamoud Diabate, and he should fill that gap admirably.

The Bottom Line

We know what to expect with the Utes, and there isn’t a reason why at this point, we can’t believe they’ll repeat. They have a couple of challenging road games against UCLA and Oregon, but they get USC at home, which could settle the winner of that division.

Where To Bet: Utah to win the Pac-12 | +250 at PointsBet

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