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Three Pac-12 Teams Make 'Ridiculously Early' Top 25 for 2022

This year presents a new season for the Pac-12 and its teams to redeem themselves after a down season. How are the heavyweights faring in the way-too-early preseason rankings?

After a fairly embarrassing end to the 2021 football season, the Pac-12 conference looks to make good on the slivers of hope currently displayed for the future. 

Head coach Lincoln Riley brings promise of potentially turning USC back into the powerhouse they once were, while fresh blood at the helm of programs such as Oregon and Washington could ultimately do good for both in the long term.

Can reining Pac-12 champion Utah show their success wasn't merely a flash in the pan? Arizona has already rebounded on the recruiting trail after a one-win season, while teams such as Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington State look to again give every team they play a run for their money. 

In Jon Wilner's "ridiculously early" top 25, the SEC unsurprisingly dominated the forefront of the rankings, featuring schools such as Alabama (1), Georgia (3) and Texas A&M (5) all at the top. 

However, the Pac-12 was shown some love when defending champion Utah was ranked No. 6 with the following explanation:

"Several key pieces return, including quarterback Cam Rising and tailback Tavion Thomas, making Utah the clear early favorite in the Pac-12. As for the Utes’ playoff prospects, much depends on the outcome of the ’22 opener, at Florida," said Wilner.

That's quite a big game for the Utes, who are set to travel to The Swamp to begin their Pac-12 title defense next season. That game should lay the course for the remainder of the season. 

Oregon found themselves at No. 17 after a fairly disappointing outcome to their season coming in the form of back-to-back losses in the Pac-12 Championship Game and Alamo Bowl. 

"A series of top recruiting classes seemingly provides a strong base for new coach Dan Lanning, whose first game will be against his former team (Georgia). High-level quarterback play from either Auburn transfer Bo Nix or redshirt freshman Ty Thompson is far from guaranteed, however," said Wilner.

As for USC, the Trojans were barely able to sneak in, coming in at No. 24. 

"Lincoln Riley’s schemes should mask the deficiencies on the lines of scrimmage well enough to make the Trojans immediately relevant. But the ceiling in ’22 is second place in the Pac-12 South," said Wilner. 

Time will tell if the Riley experiment will pay off, but the Trojans will certainly take their chances considering his track record on the field and in the realm of recruiting,

Schools that also received consideration were Arizona State, UCLA and Washington. 

The 2021 season was a dark one for the conference, and while basketball promises to yield better results for the Pac-12, there's no doubting the importance of football and how large of a role it plays in the grand scheme of the conference's plans.