Analysis and preview of schedules for each team in the PAC-12


Although there are too many factors still in limbo to produce comprehensive predictions for the 2021 season, there are a few components that are settled enough that we can assess. One of those is the schedule for each of the PAC-12 teams.

The Savvy Index has about 88% of the data it needs to give preseason projections and that should be enough to get an initial idea of how many wins Conference teams can expect.

Some games will be too close to call at this time and for those, we’ll give each team a half-win and a half-loss and call those games “splits”.

So, let’s see how things stand at least right now.


PAC-12 SOUTH

6th ARIZONA

projected over all record: 1.5 – 10.5

division record: .5 – 4.5

The Wildcats have lost a lot of defensive talent as well as their starting quarterback via the transfer portal. They fired their coaching staff and replaced it with a head coach and coordinators who don’t have the kind of FBS experience I was expecting.

Arizona will get an early win over Northern Arizona and possibly a win at home against California in a game that currently is classified as a split.

Losses will come at the hands of BYU, San Diego State, at Oregon, UCLA, at Colorado (in a close game), Washington, at USC, Utah, at Washington State, and at Arizona State.

Two wins should be welcomed by fans after 2020’s winless season.


5th COLORADO

projected over all record: 2.5 – 9.5

division record: 1-4

The Buffs begin the season at home against FCS Northern Colorado before facing four losses, Texas A&M, Minnesota, at Arizona Sate, USC. Then, CU will win at home against Arizona, play a toss-up at Cal, and finish with five straight losses (at Oregon, Oregon State, at UCLA, Washington, at Utah).

The Buffs may have found a gem in new quarterback Brendon Lewis but the defense has problems and coach Karl Dorrell didn’t do well in his first full recruiting cycle.

CU rates 2.5 wins, 9.5 losses, and 1-4 in the PAC-12 South.


4th ARIZONA STATE

projected over all record: 8.5 – 3.5

division record: 2-3

Many analysts are projecting Arizona State to battle USC for the PAC-12 South title. While the Sun Devils should be competitive, their trends under Herm Edwards are mostly negative.

Arizona State will open with a win over the FCS Southern Utah Thunderbirds although SU is a risky FCS opponent.

After that opener, the Sun Devils are expected to win handily over UNLV and by one possession in a low scoring game at BYU.  Other wins will come against Colorado, Stanford, Washington State, at Oregon State, and Arizona with losses at UCLA, at Utah, and USC.  The Washington game is currently a split.


3rd UCLA

projected over all record: 8.5 – 3.5

division record: 3.5 – 1.5

The Bruins have been steadily building and this is the year coach Chip Kelly gets his team to a bowl game.  UCLA gets its first three games at home but its hardest two division games on the road.

The Bruins will get wins over Hawai’i, Fresno State, at Stanford, at Arizona, at Arizona State, at Washington, and Colorado. They will lose to LSU, and at Utah. The cross-town rivaly game with USC is a split, as are games against Oregon and Cal.


2nd UTAH

projected over all record:    11  –  1

division record:   4-1

Utah is set for an outstanding season, one with national rankings and an upper-level bowl game. However, USC is still the king of the South and the showdown with the Trojans takes place in Los Angeles this season. Utah will come much closer than last year’s 33-17 loss to Troy because the Utes have six weeks to get quarterback Charlie Brewer (from Baylor) acclimated whereas last year, the Utes opened the 2020 season with so much uncertainty at the position that they used five (five!) quarterbacks against USC.

Utah will win against Weber State, at BYU, at San Diego State, Washington State, Arizona State, at Oregon State, UCLA, at Stanford, at Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon to finish 4-1 in the PAC-12 South.


1st USC

projected over all record: 10.5 – 1.5

division record: 4.5 – 1.5

To most observers, USC appears to be a top-15 team with a chance of making the national playoff. However, unless there is impressive progress in the offensive line, the PAC-12 is the highest title game the fans of Troy should expect.

USC doesn’t play Oregon or Washington from the North, so the schedule is a little easier than usual.

The Trojans should post a precarious win over San Jose State to open the season and go on to four solid wins over Stanford, at Washington State, Oregon State, at Colorado (although that game already has a high upset alert), Arizona, at California, at Arizona State, Utah, and BYU.

USC hasn’t beaten Notre Dame since 2016 and is not figured to do it in 2021.

Troy’s game with UCLA is too close to call at this time so it is rated as a split.


PAC-12 NORTH

6th CALIFORNIA

projected over all record: 2.5 – 9.5                          

division record: .5 – 4.5

Coach Justin Wilcox came to Cal with the reputation of a defensive guru. Indeed, his defenses have been competitive but in the past three seasons, they have been slipping while his offenses have had trouble just getting to 20 points.

As things stand now, California will win just once (Sacramento State) before its cellar showdown with Oregon State on Halloween weekend, a game narrowly that favors OSU.

After that, the Bears will win at Arizona but not win again in 2021 although the November 20 game at Stanford is a split right now.

Other losses will be to Nevada, at TCU, at Washington, Washington State, at Oregon, Colorado, USC, and at UCLA. The Colorado loss carries a high chance of reversal but not enough to classify it as a split.


5th OREGON STATE

projected over all record: 4.5 – 7.5

division record: 1.5 – 3.5

The Beavers are making progress under coach Jonathan Smith, but the 2021 schedule is likely to make it seem otherwise. OSU has lost its last four road games and now opens the season on the road against Purdue of the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have some issues to resolve but will likely be favored.

Oregon State’s PAC-12 crossover schedule couldn’t be worse as the Beavers play all four of last year’s PAC-12 South leaders, USC, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona State with only the Utah game being at home. The Savvy system says the Beavers will lose three but win over Colorado.

OSU will be favored at home against Hawai’i and Idaho and the Beavers are slight favorites right now over Cal in Berkeley, a team the Beavers have beaten the past two seasons.

Oregon State is listed as a split with Stanford but projected losers to both Washington schools.

Over all, the Savvy Index is pointing to 4.5 wins while also showing the Beavers as one of the teams in the nation with the highest chance of posting upset wins.


4th STANFORD

projected over all record: 3.5 – 8.5

division record: 1.5 – 3.5

Stanford is a team in transition and one that has been falling noticeably. However, it’s also a difficult team to assess right now because it has so many unsettled components. Consequently, this team has quite a few splits. 

The Cardinal are projected to open in Arlington, Texas with a win over Kansas State, a program that has lost almost as much momentum as Stanford in recent years. Both teams yielded more than 30 ppg last season but KSU lost its last five games amid a defense that was in the process of disintegrating.

The only other clear win for Stanford is at Vanderbilt on September 18.

Splits include at Washington State, at Oregon State, and California.

Losses will come against UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State, Washington, Utah, and Notre Dame.


3rd WASHINGTON STATE

projected over all record: 5.5 – 6.5

division record: 2 – 3

Until Washington State fixes its defensive woes, bowl games will be hard for the Cougars to come by. Over all, things are headed in the right direction but WSU gave up 38.5 points per game in 2020 and that was seven points worse than the horrendous year before.

The Cougars will get early wins against struggling Utah State and FCS Portland State but then lose against PAC-12 South favorites USC and Utah. WSU didn’t play California last year which would have been a home game but now faces the Bears for the second time in a row on the road. WSU is currently a four-point choice over the Bears.

From there, the Cougars will win at home against Oregon State, split with Stanford, then lose in successive weeks to BYU, at Arizona State, and at Oregon. Only a November 18th home game against clueless Arizona will salve those three losses before another loss comes in Seattle against the Washington Huskies.


2nd WASHINGTON

projected over all record: 9.5 – 2.5

division record: 4-1

Despite playing only four games in 2020 and having a defense yield 31% more points per game than the year before, Washington won the PAC-12 North title in 2020. A showdown with Oregon on November 6th will determine if the Huskies can do it again in 2021. A drop off in over all talent in 2021 should be offset by a weak schedule plus the promotion of Bob Gregory as the new defensive coordinator.

As things stand now, Washington will be favored over Montana, Arkansas State, at Michigan (2-4 with horrible defense), California, at Oregon State, at Arizona, at Stanford, at Colorado, and home against Washington State.

The Huskies will be nationally ranked by mid-October before losing at home to UCLA. Oregon is a slight favorite to win in Seattle on November 6th.

The following weekend, Arizona State will be in Seattle in a game that is currently cited as a split.


1st OREGON

projected over all record: 9.5 – 2.5

division record: 5 – 0

Not only do the Ducks have the best talent in the PAC-12, but this year’s roster is clearly stronger than in 2020. However, Oregon has yet to produce results that are commensurate with its talent so winning the PAC-12 North title is still very much in doubt.

The Ducks should win their opener over Fresno State, a team whose three wins came against awful opponents and whose three losses came against two mediocre teams plus 2-5 New Mexico. UO is a solid favorite against Stony Brook, Arizona, Stanford, California, Colorado, and Washington State and a slight favorite at Washington.

An October 23rd game at UCLA is currently too close to call.

The only projected losses will come early at Ohio State and again in November at Utah.

Oregon has elite talent and it’s time now for the coaches to produce elite results. A spot in the national playoff is not likely but this program needs to win at least the PAC-12 North championship.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s