The case for — and against — Washington as USC’s main Pac-12 contender
Is Utah USC’s main Pac-12 competitor? The Utes did beat USC twice last season, so you could certainly make that claim. Oregon might be the Trojans’ top obstacle in their final Pac-12 football season before moving to the Big Ten. Yet, there’s also a case to be made for the Washington Huskies.
“The Pac-12 preseason conversation likely will center on USC, led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, and two-time defending league champion Utah. But Washington might be the most complete team in the conference. After watching the Huskies practice on a beautiful morning — thank you, Seattle weather gods — I came away impressed with the star power on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. might become Williams’ primary challenger for the Heisman. He will throw to two 1,000-yard receivers (Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan) and a good group of tight ends, and play behind a solid line that protected him well in 2022. The key is the Huskies’ defense, which had been the program’s calling card until recently, but could soon be again. Washington returns one of the nation’s best edge-rushing tandems in Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui. There’s optimism at linebacker with Edefuan Ulofoshio and USC transfer Ralen Goforth. If the secondary can avoid injuries, the unit could be significantly better. I also liked how confident Washington’s players were in setting big goals for the season.”
Here’s the case against Washington:
“Reality check: Washington’s schedule is an absolute grind, as the Huskies face Boise State and Michigan State in nonleague play, and open November with USC, Utah and Oregon State. The defense is filled with talented players who have some troubling injury histories, too, so a wait-and-see approach there makes sense.”
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