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The PAC-12 released its 2023 football schedule with minimal fanfare but tons of promise. In 2022, the conference showed teams like Oregon State and Washington State on the rise, Utah in charge of the division, USC going in the tank, and Colorado going big on the Buffaloes sideline.

Same can be said in Arizona where both the Wildcats and Sun Devils look to get back to challenging for a bowl appearance and a winning record. Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch got his team close after a watershed victory against UCLA in Pasadena, but weren’t able to close the deal. Arizona State added a new head coach with Kenny Dillingham, most recently the Offensive Coordinator at Oregon, who will be taking over in Tempe, trying to ‘right-the-ship’ of program who has been down for more than a few years. 

But all eyes in the PAC-12, and around the country will be on Boulder, as new head coach Deion Sanders takes over in Colorado. The conference, which typically swirls around Oregon, UCLA, and USC, has competition from a Buffalo’s football team who won’t win a conference championship in 2023, but will play a different brand and style not seen in the West. 

Nine schools will begin play on September 2, with only ASU beginning play on August 31 against Southern Utah, USC kicking off at home on August 26 against San Jose State, and Stanford starting on September 1 traveling to Hawaii. The Devils follow up their opener with two more home games against Oklahoma State and Fresno State before a road trip to USC.

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Based on how 2022 rolled out, three schools to keep an eye on are Oregon State, USC and Colorado. 

Oregon State

Oregon State had an amazing and unexpected season. After a 9-3 campaign that had them beat Cal, Arizona State, and rival Oregon in Corvallis, a close loss to USC 17-14 is one blemish among only three for this up-and-comer in the PAC-12. This season, marquee home games against Utah, UCLA, and Washington will be huge gate revenue for the Beavers. Now the question is can they keep the magic going In Corvallis? The Simple answer is, yes.

Oregon State has two things working for it: stability at head coach, and the ability to play staunch defense. They finished 2022 with a 10-3 record, including a monster win in Las Vegas against the Florida Gators, 30-3. The Beavers could very well shock the conference. If they do, it will be the quietest dynasty to rise in the PAC-12 in a very long time.

 

USC Trojans

USC had every marker of a would-be national champion. With Lincoln Riley, and a bevy of talent, a no-show game in the conference championship followed by an improbable loss to Tulane put a ton of tarnish on the Trojans in 2022. Their schedule is challenging with road trips to Colorado, Notre Dame, and Oregon, and a season ending game at the Coliseum against crosstown rival UCLA.

The big question is whether Riley can rebuild the momentum that USC rode every week enroute to Las Vegas. Utah had their number in 2022, but the Trojans will want to leave a legacy kind of season in the conference they helped build.

 

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Colorado Buffaloes

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The 2023 edition of the Colorado Buffaloes will be the best story not just in the PAC-12 but in all of college football. The Buffs went big when they hired Deion Sanders as head coach. Colorado, who has been a bottom-rung member of the conference, won’t be for long. Last season, they finished with a 1-11 record and 1-8 in conference. 

The Buffaloes will debut on September 2, against TCU. The Horned Frogs are fresh off a national championship drubbing at the hands of Georgia, and won’t be looking for a repeat of the kind of beat down they received. After their trip to Fort Worth will be the home opener against long-time foe, and once a marquee game, Nebraska, followed by in-state rival Colorado State. Notable home games against USC and Oregon State highlight a solid slate in Boulder.

The PAC-12 with USC and UCLA are officially on the clock this coming season with both the Trojans and Bruins moving to the Big Ten soon. In more ways than you can count, the conference adding a head coach like Deion Sanders will keep all eyes out West. Additionally, Oregon State, Arizona, Utah, and the Washington schools will produce a championship game worth the wait in Las Vegas.


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