The CFP Threats
Let’s start with the alpha, the Trojans of Southern Cal. Head coach Lincoln Riley and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams are in year two in LA, and are not just the conference title favorites, but one of the top 3-4 teams in nearly every preseason power ranking. They will have some soon-to-be NFL draft picks, like WR Jordan Addison and Edge Tuli Tuipulotu, but there is a ton of talent surrounding the Trojans for them to be a favorite to make the CFP.
While USC is the media darling, you can make a strong case that either Oregon, Utah, or Washington is actually the conference’s best bet to win the conference and make it to the CFP. Utah, the reigning conference champs, had two major victories in the offseason. They were able to retain highly sought-after OC Andy Ludwig, and have their star QB Cam Rising returning for a final season. While they have lost some stars like TE Dalton Kincaid and CB Clark Phillips, most of the defense that finished 27th in scoring last season returns.
It was a rough coaching debut for Dan Lanning and Oregon, as they were embarrassed by the eventual champion Georgia Bulldogs 49-0. From there, Oregon rebounded and had a fantastic season, going 10-3 with an impressive Holiday Bowl win over North Carolina. In 2023, a successful transfer and recruiting class has Oregon thinking of not just a conference championship, but a national championship. With Bo Nix returning after a Heisman-contending 2022 season, this team will go as far as he can carry them…which will be far.
One of the best stories in all of college football last season was the resurgence of college football in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle. The Washington Huskies were one of the worst offenses in college football history in 2021, but in just one season under Kalen DeBoer, he had the Huskies’ offense humming in 2022. With Indiana transfer QB Michael Penix Jr. running the show, the Dawgs put together a top 7 offense in college football, won 11 games and finished ranked eighth in the final polls. With Penix and nearly every major offensive weapon returning, the Huskies look like a contender that is going to put 50 points on the board a ton this season.