Oregon Ducks ranked prominently in USA TODAY Sports preseason Top-25; USC Trojans unranked

A bit of a shock came for Oregon Duck fans a couple of weeks ago when ESPN released their ‘way-too-early Top-25’ for the 2022 college football season and had the Ducks as the third-ranked team in the Pac-12 conference.

No longer was Oregon just chasing Utah, who sat at No. 4 in ESPN rankings. They were also listed below the USC Trojans, who came in at No. 12 in the top-25. Oregon was a few spots below at No. 16.


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That was according to ESPN, though. Recently, USA TODAY Sports put out their version of the top-25, which was more favorable to Oregon, and less favorable to the Trojans. The Ducks, led by a new coaching staff under Dan Lanning, came in at No. 14 in the rankings. Here’s what USAT had to say about Oregon:

It’s a rare season when the Ducks aren’t the favorites in the Pac-12 and perhaps that chip on their shoulder will help them make a playoff run. Mario Cristobal departed to take the Miami job, leading to the arrival of Georgia assistant Dan Lanning. Lanning’s acumen on defense was illustrated with the Bulldogs during his tenure. There’s some quality returners to work with, led by linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Floe, that should make Oregon more stingy this fall. Oregon’s quarterback opening will be decided by competition between Auburn transfer Bo Nix and heralded redshirt freshman Ty Thompson. Whomever wins the job will be blessed with a talented offensive line that should lead provide the foundation for a strong running attack.

So where do the other teams in the Pac-12 rank according to USA TODAY Sports? Let’s take a look…

No. 6 — Utah Utes

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah isn’t quite as high in the rankings for USAT as they were for ESPN, but they still are a top-10 team that could really threaten to make the College Football Playoff should everything go as planned under Cameron Rising. Here’s what USAT had to say:

There won’t be any issues at quarterback from this start of the upcoming season with Cam Rising firmly entrenched as the starter after taking over after three games and leading the team to its first Pac-12 title. Tavion Thomas, who had 21 touchdowns on the ground, and the tight end combination of Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid are poised for big seasons alongside Rising. Defense is a constant for the Utes in the Kyle Whittingham era. Florida transfer Mohamoud Diabate fills one significant need at linebacker. The rest of the defense, especially the secondary, needs to raise its level to possibly break the Pac-12’s playoff drought, but Utah is the league’s best chance.

And now for the team from Los Angeles…

No. 24 — UCLA Bruins

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right, it’s the UCLA Bruins who are the third Pac-12 team to be ranked inside the Top-25, not the USC Trojans, per USAT. This is a stark contrast from ESPN, who had the Trojans ranked all the way up at No. 12 in their preseason polls. Apparently, USC’s lack of an established offensive and defensive line may be to blame, though they have arguably as strong of weapons as anyone in the nation. Regardless, the Bruins are flying under the radar a bit this year, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson coming back for a potentially great final year of college under Chip Kelly. Here’s USAT’s take:

Chip Kelly’s slow build of the Bruins hasn’t produced dramatic results each year but he has the program in contention to make a run for the Pac-12 title. Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed on the NFL and will be one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Running back Zach Charbonnet gives the offense balance. The biggest upgrades are needed on defense, especially in the secondary where UCLA struggled in its four losses. The transfer portal addressed some of the needs. There’s still uncertain how it will shake out in the fall.


Oregon Ducks football helmets throughout the years

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