Pac-12 Football Preview for 2021

Football Takes has you covered with our College Football previews for the Power 5 conferences for the 2021 season. Today, our Pac-12 Football preview from top to bottom. Let’s start with the North.

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Pac-12 Football Preview – North Division

1. Oregon Ducks

Head Coach Mario Cristoball is 25-10 in four seasons in Eugene, Oregon and this squad is ranked #10 in preseason polls. The strength of the 2021 team is in the lines, both offensive and defensive. But in order to win  games the offense is key. Quarterback Tyler SLough was starting all year and then had to split snaps in the Fiesta Bowl.Now he has left and transferred to Texas Tech. The most work now falls to sixth year senior Anthony Brown although some capable freshman will be pushing.

The most valuable player in 2021 is likely to be defensive end Kayvon Thibodequx. Last year he accumulated 12 sacks with 23.5 tackles in 20 games.  There is a chance he could be the top pick in the NFL draft in 2022. Linebacker Noah Sewell was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2020 with 45 tackles and 24 solo stops. 

The Top Newcomer on the team is considered to be wide receiver Troy Franklin.  He has some veterans to battle for the job but is capable. 

Some key issues to watch coming out of the Oregon Ducks team will be if Anthony Brown can come back from a knee injury. But In his earlier career at Boston College, he started 28 games he tossed for completion of 373 of 680 passes for 4.736 yars ,40 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.   

Oregon Ducks 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4: vs. Fresno State
  • Sept. 11: at Ohio State
  • Sept. 18: vs. Stony Brook
  • Sept. 25: vs. Arizona
  • Oct. 2: at Stanford
  • Oct. 9: BYE
  • Oct. 15 (Fri.): vs. California
  • Oct. 23: at UCLA
  • Oct. 30: vs. Colorado
  • Nov. 6: at Washington
  • Nov. 13: vs. Washington State
  • Nov. 20: at Utah
  • Nov. 27: vs. Oregon State

The over/under for this team is 9 wins.

2. Washington Huskies

Head Coach Jimmy Lake brings in a  3-1 record.  The offense will be handled by six-foot 210 lbs sophomore Dylan Morris. He got to play four games last season which isn’t many to heck his progress. He didn’t register any great performances. Also on the offensive side of the ball pass rusher Zion Tupola-Ferui will br insvsilsbl sd he tore hi Achilles tendon and expected to miss the entire season. 

The Huskies need to make a statement that their program is as good as the Oregon Program.If not this year then soon so they can begin to recruit better players. Good players that wish to stay in the area ten to migrate to the Ducks and not Washington. 

The emerging star of the program is inside linebacker Edefuan UlofosLhio. He tallied 47 tackles in 13 games in 2019. Last yer in the shortened season he accumulated 32 tackles in two games and was Second Team All Pac-12. Also watch fro the top newplayer being defensive back Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Riles. He came over from Oklahoma where had 115 tackles in 32 starts. He was a bit inconsistent at times but Coach Lake has been clamoring for a player like him. 

Washington Huskies 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4 Montana
  • Sept. 11 at Michigan
  • Sept. 18 Arkansas State
  • Sept. 25 Cal
  • Oct. 2 at Oregon State
  • Oct. 9 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 16 UCLA
  • Oct. 22 at Arizona
  • Oct. 30 at Stanford
  • Nov. 6 Oregon
  • Nov. 13 Arizona State
  • Nov. 20 at Colorado
  • Nov. 26 Washington State

Washington should be favored in all but two of their games. The O/U is 9. They are ranked #17 in the preseason poll. 

3. Stanford Cardinal

This team will get a chance to get back to respectability in 2021. They have a few players to replace. The schedule is in their favor with key teams playing them on Stanford’s home field. QB Connor Mc Kee returns for his sophomore season for longtime head coach David Shaw (80-36 in 10 seasons).

Stanford Cardinal 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4 Kansas State (in Arlington)
  • Sept. 11 at USC
  • Sept. 18 at Vanderbilt
  • Sept. 25 UCLA
  • Oct. 2 Oregon
  • Oct. 8 at Arizona State
  • Oct. 16 at Washington State
  • Oct. 23 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 30 Washington
  • Nov. 5 Utah
  • Nov. 13 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 20 Cal
  • Nov. 27 Notre Dame

4. Cal Bears

This team is physical which makes them dangerous. Coach Wilcox has QB Chase Garbers back along with a host of offense including other running backs. To be successful in 2021 they need to pull off some road wins. 

Cal Bears 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4 Nevada
  • Sept. 11 at TCU
  • Sept. 18 Sacramento State
  • Sept. 25 at Washington
  • Oct. 2 Washington State
  • Oct. 9 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 15 at Oregon
  • Oct. 23 Colorado
  • Oct. 30 Oregon State
  • Nov. 6 at Arizona
  • Nov. 13 USC
  • Nov. 20 at Stanford
  • Nov. 27 at UCLA

5. Oregon State Beavers

Quarterback Chance Nolan will have a returning running back and a wide receiver to help carry the load. Head coach Jonathan Smith needs to show some wins after his 3 year record of 9-22. 

Oregon State 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4: at Purdue
  • Sept. 11: vs. Hawaii
  • Sept. 18: vs. Idaho
  • Sept. 25: at USC
  • Oct. 2: vs. Washington
  • Oct. 9: at Washington St.
  • Oct. 16: Bye
  • Oct. 9: vs. Utah
  • Oct. 30: at California
  • Nov. 6: at Colorado
  • Nov. 13: vs. Stanford
  • Nov. 20: vs. Arizona St.
  • Nov. 27: at Oregon

6. Washington State Cougars

Head Coach Nick Rolovic returns for his second season in Pullman and will count on untested QB Jarrett Guarantano and very little returning offense. They do have a slew of defensive players returning. They need to improve though on last year as they gave up 49 ppg.   

Washington State Cougars 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4: vs. Utah State
  • Sept. 11: vs. Portland State
  • Sept. 18: vs. USC
  • Sept. 25: at Utah
  • Oct. 2: at Cal
  • Oct. 9: vs. Oregon State
  • Oct. 16: vs. Stanford
  • Oct. 23: vs. BYU
  • Oct. 30: at Arizona State
  • Nov. 6: Bye
  • Nov. 13: at Oregon
  • Nov. 19: vs. Arizona
  • Nov. 26: at Washington


Pac-12 Football Preview – South Division

1. Arizona State Sun Devils

Head coach Herm Edwards has a 17-13 record in 3 years at Tempe.Some places have rated the Sun Devils to have the easiest schedule of any Power 5 conference team.  Last year was a horrid start and a great finish in a shortened season. They return a solid quarterback in sophomore Jayden Daniels. He averaged 231 yards of offense and threw for nne touchdowns and one interception in 84 throws. 

Sophomore running back stars Rachaard White and Chip Trayanum return as the spark for this offense. White averaged 377.5 yards per contest and none touchdowns  including a 92 yard scoring run. He will be a star in the Pac-12. 

Herm Edwards has changed the culture and the Sun Devils are looking to win. The future is bright but it might be two years away if all the key pliers stay in Tempe.  

Arizona State Sun Devils 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 2 Southern Utah
  • Sept. 11 UNLV
  • Sept. 18 at BYU
  • Sept. 25 Colorado
  • Oct. 2 at UCLA
  • Oct. 8 Stanford
  • Oct. 16 at Utah
  • Oct. 23 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 30 Washington State
  • Nov. 6 USC
  • Nov. 13 at Washington
  • Nov. 20 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 27 Arizona

Arizona state is ranked #9 in preseason poll.They miss Oregon and Cal on their schedule this year.

2. USC Trojans

Head Coach Clay Helton has been at USC for 7 years and has a 45-23 record. There is lots of optimism surrounding this program after winning five of six in the shortened season. The issue is the wins were by narrow margins. Coach Helton fired his offensive line coach and his strength coaches upon the completion of the season and now he feels ready to lead the Pac-12 South Division. 

Quarterback Kedon Slovis returns and needs to be more consistent for this team to win.He has the team likely MVP to throw to with wide retriever Drake 6’5” he is a great target. He just needs to be part of the offense and become the -go-to guy. 

Another option is the emergence of running back Keontay Ingram. In 3 years at Texas he rushed for more than 1800 yards

USC Trojans 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4 San Jose State
  • Sept. 11 Stanford
  • Sept. 18 at Washington State
  • Sept. 25 Oregon State
  • Oct. 2 at Colorado
  • Oct. 9 Utah
  • Oct. 16 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 23 at Notre Dame
  • Oct. 30 Arizona
  • Nov. 6 at Arizona State
  • Nov. 13 at Cal
  • Nov. 20 UCLA
  • Nov. 27 BYU

They don’t have to play the top two team in Oregon and Washington They are #22 in preseason poll.

3. Utah Utes

Head coach Kyle Whittingham has been coaching Utah for 17 seasons and has amassed a 134-66 record. The offense is likely led by transfer quarterback from Baylor. Charlie Brewer comes in with a strong resume. In 44 games for Baylor he threw for 9,700 yards and 65 touchdowns.

Cam Rising will beetle him for the starting spot. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. This team will struggle as most of the receiver type players have little experience. The Pac-12 Offensive Newcomer, running back Ty Jordan was killed in a gun accident on Christmas night. He will be hard to replace. A lot will be how they respond to this death. 

Utah Utes 2021 Schedule

  • Thursday, Sept. 2 – Weber State
  • Saturday, Sept. 11 – at BYU
  • Saturday, Sept. 18 – at San Diego State
  • Saturday, Sept. 25 – Washington State
  • Saturday, Oct. 9 – at USC
  • Saturday, Oct 16 – Arizona State
  • Saturday, Oct. 23 – at Oregon State
  • Saturday, Oct. 30 – UCLA
  • Friday, Nov. 5 – at Stanford
  • Saturday, Nov. 13 – at Arizona
  • Saturday, Nov. 20 – Oregon
  • Friday, Nov. 26 – Colorad0
  • Oct. 16 at Washington StateOct. 23 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 30 Washington
  • Nov. 5 Utah
  • Nov. 13 at Oregon State
  • Nov. 20 Cal
  • Nov. 27 Notre Dame

4. Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffs have returners from the offense and the defense , they have good running backs and linebackers  but they have a very tough road schedule. Head coach Karl Dorell hopes to find improvement in his second season at Colorado. New quarterback Sam Noyer 6’4” 220 lb senior gets his chance with plenty of offensive firepower to work with. This is a dark horse team that could surprise many teams.

Colorado Buffaloes 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 3 Northern Colorado
  • Sept. 11 Texas A&M (in Denver)
  • Sept. 18 Minnesota
  • Sept. 25 at Arizona State
  • Oct. 2 USC
  • Oct. 9 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 16 Arizona
  • Oct. 23 at Cal
  • Oct. 30 at Oregon
  • Nov. 6 Oregon State
  • Nov. 13 at UCLA
  • Nov. 20 Washington
  • Nov. 26 at Utah

Opening up against N. Colorado will be a win but a few punches with Washington and Utah at the end could dash bowl aspirations

5. UCLA Bruins

Some returners. on both sides of the ball could help build some momentum for this program. This might be a make-or-break season for coach Chip Kelly. History shows the can’t stop the passing game. 

UCLA Bruins 2021 Schedule

  • Aug. 28 Hawaii
  • Sept. 4 LSU
  • Sept. 11 OPEN DATE
  • Sept. 18 Fresno State
  • Sept. 25 at Stanford
  • Oct. 2 Arizona State
  • Oct. 9 at Arizona
  • Oct. 16 at Washington
  • Oct. 23 Oregon
  • Oct. 30 at Utah
  • Nov. 6 OPEN DATE
  • Nov. 13 Colorado
  • Nov. 20 at USC
  • Nov. 27 Cal

6. Arizona Wildcats

New head coach Jedd Fisch will need to step in with a new offense. He will ask freshman quarterback Will Plummer 6’1” 205 lbs to lea his team. His only returning offensive player of consequence is Boobie Currry and wide receiver. This is a complete rebuild and wins will be far between if at all. 

Arizona Wildcats 2021 Schedule

  • Sept. 4 BYU (in Las Vegas)
  • Sept. 11 San Diego State
  • Sept. 18 Northern Arizona
  • Sept. 25 at Oregon
  • Oct. 2 OPEN DATE
  • Oct. 9 UCLA
  • Oct. 16 at Colorado
  • Oct. 22 Washington
  • Oct. 30 at USC
  • Nov. 6 Cal
  • Nov. 13 Utah
  • Nov. 20 at Washington State
  • Nov. 27 at Arizona State


Be sure to check out ALL of our Power 5 football previews while you are here. Keep following the Sports 2.0 Network for all of the latest football news from around college football.


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About Tom Knuppel 16 Articles
I am a lover of ALL sports- big or small- some even obscure. I am a retired High School English teacher/coach that loves to write. and do book reviews of many sports. I want to write a book. Some around here call me “Dad” I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan from birth. Check out my History of Cardinals do com site Advice: Remember to always have a solid plan!