Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
USC Football

Breaking Down the Pac-12's Place in the Coaches Poll Rankings

August 6, 2020

There are two signs that the college football season is gearing to begin: pre-season award watch lists and early team rankings. On Thursday, the USA Today Coaches Poll announced its early rankings, and the Pac-12 was represented by Oregon, USC, and Utah. Four other teams, Arizona State, Cal, Washington and Stanford received votes. With three teams represented in the Top 25, the Pac-12 and the ACC have the least amount of teams in the rankings.

Oregon Ducks(2019 Record: 12-2)

The reigning Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions come in at #9 in the Coaches Poll, and may be one of the benefactors of the conference-only schedule in the long run. The Ducks were scheduled to play Ohio State and North Dakota State in Autzen, but will avoid both games due to COVID-19. On the field, the Ducks are looking to replace Justin Herbert, who was selected in the 1st round of this year’s NFL draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. Replacing him will be Tyler Shough, the rising sophomore would played in five games last year for the Ducks. Offensively, the Ducks also return elite left tackle Penei Sewell, former USC WR Devon Williams, and a 1000-yard rusher in CJ Verdell, among others. 

Defensively, the secondary of Thomas Graham Jr., Deommodore Lenoir, Mykael Wright, and Jevon Holland is one of the best in the nation and Kayvon Thibodeaux will look to build on his 9-sack 2019 season in 2020. 

The Ducks lose four offensive lineman who played meaningful snaps, as well as linebacker Troy Dye, Penn State transfer wide receiver Juwan Johnson, and tight end Jacob Breeland.

USC is scheduled to play Oregon November 14th in Autzen.

Utah Utes(2019 Record: 11-3)

The 2019 Pac-12 runner-up will have many spots to fill if it wants to live up to its #20 initial ranking and be successful in 2020. The Utes lose starting QB Tyler Huntley, Zach Moss, Bradlee Anae, Julian Blackmon, and Jaylon Johnson among many others to graduation. In the offseason, the Utes added South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley for more depth. Additionally, Kyle Wittingham’s squad ended the year on a sour note, losing back-to-back games to Oregon and Texas to finish out the year. Oddly enough, the defensive coordinator of the Texas team that held the Utes to just 10 points is current USC safeties coach Craig Naivar. It will be interesting to see if the Trojans can replicate that same success in their matchup this season.

The Trojans are schedule to play the Utes November 17th at Rice Eccels Stadium. 

Overall, having just three teams in the Top 25 isn’t the best look for the Pac-12, especially when you consider all four other teams to receive votes have large question marks they need to address. If nothing else, it’s a sign that once again, USC has the talent to make a statement in the conference and get back to its winning ways in 2020.


Tags: Football
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