Utah, USC get major bumps in ESPN's updated way-too-early Top 25
As the spring period starts to wrap up around the country and the May 1 deadline for transfer portal players looms, we’re starting to get a clearer picture of how next season’s college football landscape will look. As such, ESPN has updated its way-too-early Top 25.
The Pac-12 has three teams in the bunch—Utah, USC, and Oregon. The Utes and Trojans rose from their previous respective places in the January version, and Oregon fell. Here’s the new top 25:
- Ohio State
- Utah (up from 7)
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
- NC State
- Michigan State
- Oklahoma State
- USC (up from 22)
- Oregon (down from 12)
- Wake Forest
- Ole Miss
The Utes jumped ahead of Notre Dame and Texas A&M to rise to the fourth spot. Here’s what Mark Schlabach had to say about their spring outlook:
If the Utes are going to repeat as Pac-12 champions, they’re going to have to rebuild a defense that lost many of its top playmakers, including All-American linebacker (Devin) Lloyd. (Lander) Barton, an early enrollee and younger brother of NFL players Cody and Jackson Barton, has made quite an impression on coach Kyle Whittingham this spring. (Mohamoud) Diabate, a Florida transfer, couldn’t do much this spring after having surgery for a torn labrum. After injuries decimated the secondary a year ago, the Utes are trying to build depth, especially after (Vonte) Davis and safety Brandon McKinney left.
USC was one of the biggest risers in the group. Here’s what Schlabach wrote on the Trojans:
Former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s face-lift of USC’s roster includes the addition of 13 players through the transfer portal, including former Sooners starting quarterback Caleb Williams and Oregon star tailback (Travis) Dye. Riley also has vastly upgraded the wide receiver corps by bringing in Mario Williams, (Brenden) Rice and (Terrell) Bynum. (Bobby) Haskins, who started 20 games at Virginia, might get plugged in at left tackle. USC’s defense seems to need more work, although former Alabama linebacker (Shane) Lee and ex-Colorado cornerback (Mekhi) Blackmon should help. The Trojans won’t play Oregon or Washington during the regular season, and they’ll hit the road for games with Stanford, Utah and UCLA.
And, finally, Schlabach on the Ducks:
New Ducks coach Dan Lanning, a former defensive coordinator at Georgia, has spent the spring installing new schemes on both sides of the ball. (Bo) Nix, who started three seasons at Auburn, has been working with the No. 1 offense. He will continue to battle Ty Thompson and Jay Butterfield for the starting quarterback job. Dye transferred to Southern California, so sophomores Byron Cardwell, Seven McGee and Sean Dollars are competing for carries. The Ducks added some beef up front on defense in (Sam) Taimani (6-foot-2, 330 pounds) and (Jordon) Riley (6-foot-6, 310 pounds). (Christian) Gonzalez, a two-year starter at Colorado, should help in the secondary, where three of four starters departed.