For top teams around the Pac-12, expectations are high heading into 2022.
Goals for programs such as USC and Oregon are lofty despite changes of scenery, while Utah looks poised to defend its title when the regular season rolls around.
The conference shifting away from divisions also might open the door for any team looking to play spoiler, as winning percentage will be used as the benchmark for the Pac-12 title game rather than matching the winners of the North and South standings.
Around the Pac-12, a majority of teams carry their own unique aura as the summer months approach. Can Arizona use an historically-good recruiting class and new transfer quarterback Jayden de Laura properly? Will Emory Jones propel the Sun Devils to heights nobody thinks they can reach? Will Washington find a way to return to prominence on the west coast?
While we wait for those answers, lists and rankings are aplenty this time of year.
The Athletic's Stewart Mandel recently completed his post-spring practice top 25 list, where three Pac-12 schools were ranked fairly high.
Three Pac-12 Teams Ranked in Post-Spring Top 25 List
No. 4: Utah Utes
Description: "Long accustomed to flying under the radar, Utah will enter 2022 with lofty expectations coming off its Rose Bowl run. QB Cam Rising, RB Tavion Thomas, TEs Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, DT Junior Tafuna, CB Clark Phillips III and safety Cole Bishop all return after playing key roles for last season’s Pac-12 champions. Early enrollee RB Jaylon Glover was one of the stars of spring. New faces need to emerge at linebacker."
No. 12: Oregon Ducks
Explanation: "If the spring game was any indication, new coach Dan Lanning and OC Kenny Dillingham plan to let Auburn transfer QB Bo Nix air it out. They added UCLA transfer WR Chase Cota, and sophomore slot Seven McGee was a breakout performer. RBs Sean Dollars and Western Kentucky transfer Noah Whittington impressed. The defense, led by LB Noah Sewell, is talented but needs to be more consistent."
No. 13: USC Trojans
Explanation: "USC is effectively a brand new team, having replaced 41 players from the 2021 roster. QB Caleb Williams showed off his talents in spring, and experienced RBs Travis Dye (Oregon) and Austin Jones (Stanford) upgraded that room. Now enter reigning Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison from Pitt as the cherry on top. But the Trojans’ defense is still lacking for elite talent. LB Shane Lee (Alabama) and CB Mekhi Blackmon (Colorado) were big pickups."