PAC-12 South Preview: Can anybody compete with USC? … No.

by Kevin Nesgoda

QB Kedon Slovis and a loaded group of USC receivers have the talent to roll to a Pac-12 South Division title in 2020.

QB Kedon Slovis and a loaded group of USC receivers have the talent to roll to a Pac-12 South Division title in 2020.

Well, somebody had to write this preview. So here we are. Not even a two-month delay to the season could make the Pac-12 South Division look any more intimidating than it would have back in September. It’s a bad division in an otherwise decent conference.

I can find absolutely no reason that No. 21 USC doesn’t win the South and a spot in the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 18, just seven weeks after kicking things off. Only one other team in the South is talented enough to challenge the Trojans, and even they are still a few steps behind.

That’s not to say USC back to elite status (they’re not), but a tribute to just how weak the South division is in 2020. Think I’ve bagged on these teams enough already? TOO BAD.

Here come the rankings/predicted order of finish.

USC – Clay Helton will ride the arm of QB Kedon Slovis, distributing the ball to one of (if not the) top receiving groups in the country. Offensive line is still a concern and the defense has yet to prove itself, but overall the Trojans are the only scary team in a weak division. Aside from Arizona State, nobody else in this division competes with the Men of Troy.

Arizona State – QB Jayden Daniels is a star, but will he have weapons around him or an offensive line capable of giving him time to succeed? The Sun Devils return the bulk of their defense from 2019 and should have one of the top defensive units in the conference. Herm Edwards has a good thing going, but the Sun Devils are at least a year away from playing for the conference title.

Utah – There are a lot of question marks for the Utes with just nine starters returning for the two-time defending division titleholders, BUT … Kyle Whittingham has a knack for reloading and should be able to put together a team significantly better than the bottom half of the division. Britain Covey is a special talent (and fun to watch) while Jake Bentley could turn heads as the new QB.

Arizona – Grant Gunnell gives the ‘Cats the ability to put points on the board, but can Arizona stop anybody from hanging 40-50 points? Kevin Sumlin could be coaching for his job, as he has yet to deliver on the expectations brought from Texas A&M. If the defense can make strides, Sumlin could have an extended stay, but I doubt it.

Colorado – The offensive cupboard is pretty bare, but the Buffaloes have a good number of defensive starters returning. Karl Dorrell takes over as Colorado’s third coach in as many years and despite a tough first season at the helm, he gets a morale-boosting win over UCLA, a program he coached from 2003-07.

UCLA – The Chip Kelly hiring has been a disaster. Fortunately for UCLA fans, 2020 will probably be the last time they see him roaming the sidelines in Pasadena. Offensively the Bruins are bad and defensively they’re even worse. They’re so bad in fact, Under Armour terminated a 15-year apparel deal after just three years. 


11/7 – Arizona State at USC

The top teams in the division meet in the season-opener, with the winner seemingly in the drivers’ seat for the South crown, thanks to a wide margin of competition between the rest of the pack.  

11/20 – UCLA at Oregon

Chip Kelly returns to Eugene, where his popularity soared as coach of the Ducks. Unfortunately, he brings with him a UCLA team among the worst in the conference to face an Oregon team that is the unanimous pick to win the Pac-12 title. Lots of points scored in this one … by the Ducks. 

11/28 – Utah at Arizona State

If the Sun Devils fall at USC, the Utes could find themselves in a situation where they could take control of second place by beating ASU on the road. It’s a big “if” but worth keeping an eye on. 

12/12 – USC at UCLA

Funny things happen in rivalry games, even when the two teams are so far apart in the standings. USC should enter this game looking to finish 6-0 before playing for the Pac-12 title, but in what could be “Chip’s Last Stand,” the Bruins would have nothing to lose.



1.     Oregon

2.     Washington

3.     California

4.     Stanford

5.     Oregon State

6.     Washington State


1.     USC

2.     Arizona State

3.     Utah

4.     Arizona

5.     Colorado

6.     UCLA


Oregon over USC

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