Early FPI projections for the 2022 season have been released by ESPN.

And it’s Utah leading the pack in the Pac-12. Surprise, surprise. The defending league champions ranked 15th nationally in early FPI projections. Here’s how the Pac-12 looks:

  1. Utah (15th nationally, 9.3 projected wins)
  2. Oregon (23rd, 8.6)
  3. UCLA (34th, 8.7)
  4. USC (37th, 7.9)
  5. Arizona State (41st, 7.7)
  6. Washington (50th, 7.3)
  7. Oregon State (57th, 6.0)
  8. Stanford (61st, 4.9)
  9. California (70th, 5.5)
  10. Washington State (79th, 4.7)
  11. Colorado (86th, 3.2)
  12. Arizona (89th, 3.5)

Utah ended the 2021 season ranked 11th in the Football Power Index. It would seem the losses on defense, notably future first-rounder Devin Lloyd, were enough to drop the Utes behind a few teams they finished ahead of just a few months ago. Texas (5-7 in 2021), Pittsburgh (11-3), Auburn (6-7), LSU (6-7), Penn State (7-6), and Texas A&M (8-4) were all below Utah in the final 2021 rankings and ahead of the Utes in the first 2022 batch.


As for the rest of the Pac-12, Oregon moved up seven spots from a 30th-place finish to the ‘21 season. UCLA moved back three spots after seeing a large chunk of its defensive rotation last season exit the program. Arizona State moved back two spots after switching out coordinators on both sides of the ball and losing its starting quarterback to the transfer portal.

The biggest risers were USC and Stanford, neither of which was much of a surprise. Stanford returns more production from its 2021 squad than just about any team in college football. The Cardinal climbed from a 91st-place finish in 2021 to 61st.

USC jumped from 58th to 37th. Huddled around them are teams that include Nebraska, Louisville, Iowa, and Kansas State. Of that group, you probably feel best about the Trojans. But offseason additions of Lincoln Riley, quarterback Caleb Williams, running back Travis Dye, and a whole host of other immediate-impact potential transfers weren’t enough on their own to push the Trojans into top-25 range.

Again, the Trojans remain one of the teams human pollsters and computer models disagree the most on. USC is a way-too-early top-25 team for most outlets. The Trojans have gotten “College Football Playoff darkhorse” buzz. And in Bill Connelly’s SP+ projections for the new season, USC was ranked 64th.

FPI gives seven Pac-12 teams a better-than-60% chance to make a bowl game during the upcoming year, with an eighth team (Cal) sitting at 49.7% chance to reach six wins.

Here’s the full top 25:

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Georgia
  4. Clemson
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Texas
  7. Michigan
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Auburn
  11. LSU
  12. Penn State
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Texas A&M
  15. Utah
  16. Michigan State
  17. Ole Miss
  18. Miami
  19. Baylor
  20. Kentucky
  21. Wisconsin
  22. North Carolina
  23. Oregon
  24. Mississippi State
  25. Florida