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Pac-12 football: Can Lincoln Riley and Dan Lanning make immediate impacts?

By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer

Here are the highest 5 storylines for the Pac-12 heading into the 2022 school soccer season.

1. Is Utah going to make its first journey to the College Football Playoff?

From my preseason top 25 that was printed this previous weekend: “Kyle Whittingham’s Utes return 14 of their 22 starters from final yr’s Pac-12 title staff and added not less than one bona fide star switch in Mohamoud Diabate, a linebacker anticipated to fill the void left by Devin Lloyd. The Utes can make a mark with a win at Florida on the street that might put them on a path to this system’s first-ever invitation to the CFP. Let me see you sundance, Utah.”

I ranked Utah because the fifth-best staff within the nation. The AP ranked the Utes at No. 7.  There is motive for optimism in Salt Lake City, and it behooves Utah to capitalize on it with a win towards Florida.

Pac-12 Storylines: Is Utah a CFP contender?

Is Utah going to make its first journey to the College Football Playoff? Will Lincoln Riley win 12 video games? RJ Young discusses his high Pac-12 storylines.

2. Will Lincoln Riley win 12 video games, the convention title, produce the Heisman successful QB and make the CFP in Year 1 at USC like he did in Year 1 at Oklahoma?

My high 25 take: “We know Lincoln Riley can put collectively an offense, and he’ll definitely have the firepower to return out blazing with quarterback Caleb Williams, working again Travis Dye and large receiver Jordan Addison.

“What stays to be seen is whether or not coordinator Alex Grinch and his defensive employees can end up a Trojan protection that may win the Pac-12 and push the Trojans to their first CFP bid in historical past. Flip that F-18 the wrong way up, paint the goal, climb that mountain, take 9Gs to the face and put together to dogfight all the way in which dwelling. Fight(’s) on.”

Aside from that, the Utes most likely really feel some sort of means about all of the love USC has been getting from of us inside and exterior of the Pac-12 simply because they modified head coaches once more. Like many, I’m to see how the Trojans maintain within the Pac-12, not to mention towards a stout Fresno State squad returning the very best Group of Five quarterback within the nation and a Notre Dame squad that’s using excessive on the recognition and ardour from elevating Marcus Freeman to move coach.

Utah or USC the very best guess to make the CFP out of the Pac-12?

RJ Young believes just one staff out of the Pac-12 has a sensible shot to make the CFP this yr, and that staff would be the winner of the convention championship recreation.

3. Can Dan Lanning return Oregon to heights it hasn’t seen since Chip Kelly roamed the sidelines in Eugene?

My high 25 take: “Dan Lanning’s Year 1 in Eugene encompasses a gauntlet non-conference run. If UO comes out of that begin to the season 3-0, we’ll know the Ducks are prepared to absorb greater than Disney’s Youth Hockey Iceland in a made-for-TV film.”

Lanning and defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi may use a full season of Justin Flowe, who is among the most gifted gamers within the sport.

Flowe has performed in simply 15 quarters, however he was a consensus five-star recruit and the second-highest ranked participant the Ducks have ever signed. He recorded 14 tackles towards Fresno State of their 2021 season-opener, and is the primary Oregon participant since 2007 to file 14 tackles and power a fumble in the identical recreation.

On the flip aspect, the Ducks have three dying matches on their non-conference schedule that features a 10-win FCS squad (Eastern Washington), a 10-win FBS program (BYU), and the defending CFP nationwide champion (Georgia).

Why Oregon will underachieve in Dan Lanning’s first season

RJ Young explains why he thinks Washington State will high its projected win whole of 5.5, then shares why he thinks Oregon won’t be able to win greater than 8.5.

4. Can UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet be the very best working again within the league?

UCLA would love nothing higher than to construct on its 8-4 file final yr (6-3 within the Pac-12) and give itself a chance to play within the convention championship for the primary time within the Chip Kelly period.

With the league’s determination to scrap divisions, the Bruins can do this with video games towards AP high 25 opponents Utah and USC at dwelling, and a street recreation towards Oregon.

But, to perform that feat, the Bruins want Charbonnet to be the very best tailback within the league. After dashing for greater than 1,100 yards final season and scoring 13 TDs, he, alongside quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, should be formidable in 2022.

5. Can the Pac-12 show it is a Power 5 Conference in additional than name-only?

Now can be an excellent time for the Pac-12 to remind us all how good the soccer is on the West Coast. Over the previous 5 years, it has suffered a sequence of embarrassing losses and CFP choice misses, and now it has been raided by the massive unhealthy Big Ten for its two greatest brand-name packages.

This season the Pac-12 must get fortunate — prefer it did with Oregon beating Ohio State on the street final season — and it must keep away from cannibalization — not like it did when Stanford beat Oregon. Never thoughts that Utah beat Oregon twice in 13 days and had that very same Ohio State on the ropes within the Rose Bowl. 

The 2022 destiny and way forward for the Pac-12 Conference may very nicely relaxation on the shoulders of the Utes.

Bonus: Is BYU a CFP contender?

Obviously, BYU is not within the Pac-12. But for the reason that unbiased Cougars went 5-0 towards Pac-12 groups final season and play Oregon and Stanford this season, they could as nicely be.

My high 25 take: “The Coogs have gained not less than 10 wins in every of the final two seasons, and Kalani Sitake is poised to make that 30 in three years with the return of Jaren Hall — 23 TDs to simply 5 INTs — if he can discover one other tailback as gifted as Tyler Allgeier for 2022. But that is an enormous if with Notre Dame, Arkansas, Oregon and Baylor on the schedule. But that is additionally the sort of schedule that proves the Cougars are a respectable CFP contender.”

If the Coogs can run the desk — and that’s an enormous if — there isn’t any motive to imagine they will’t earn an invite to the CFP on their option to establishing themselves for his or her entry into the altering Big 12 in lower than a yr. What a boon it might be for the Big 12 to have two of its latest members with expertise within the CFP not named Oklahoma?

RJ Young is a nationwide school soccer author and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to “The RJ Young Show” on YouTube. He is just not on a StepMill.

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