Comparing Pac-12 preseason win-loss projections to final records in 2022

I’d be the last one to say I understand all of these analytics that have come into the sports world in the last five seasons. I barely passed trigonometry when I was in high school.

So when ESPN says its Football Power Index, “measures a team’s true strength on a net point scale; expected point margin vs. opponent on a neutral field,” they might as well be speaking Romulan. All we need to know is who’s favored and why. Of course, the end result is important as well.

Before the season started, ESPN’s FPI basically laid out who was going to be good and who was going to stink it up. They mostly got it right, but there are a few cases where the team performed better than expected.

Here is how each Pac-12 team was projected to finish and how they actually fared at the end of the season.

Colorado Buffaloes

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  • Projected record: 3.2-8.8 | 2022 record: 1-11

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 6.3% | No Bowl Game

  • Chance to Win Conference: 0.0% | 2022 finish: 12th place

Analysis: Everyone knew Colorado would be a bad team, but we didn’t think they would be THAT bad. The Buffaloes went through two coaches and then made the splash hire of Deion Sanders in hopes of resurrecting a once formidable program.

Stanford Cardinal

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  • Projected Record: 4.9-7.1 | 2022 record: 3-9

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 34.2% No Bowl Game

  • Chance to Win Conference: 0.9% | 2022 finish: 11th place

Analysis: Stanford was tough to watch at times, especially since it wasn’t too long ago that the Cardinal was a very good program. COVID really fouled up things in Palo Alto and it eventually led to longtime coach David Shaw resigning.

Arizona State Sun Devils

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  • Projected Record: 7.7-4.5 | 2022 record: 3-9

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 91.9%| No Bowl Game

  • Chance to Win Conference: 7.5%| 2022 finish: 10th place

Analysis: This was a team in turmoil before the season started, so the bowl projection of nearly 92 percent is quite surprising. Amid the off-the-field scandals and poor start, Herm Edwards was shown the door midseason. Now Kenny Dillingham will attempt to clean up that mess.

Arizona Wildcats

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  • Projected Record: 3.5-8.5 | 2022 record: 5-7

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 9.3%| No Bowl Game

  • Chance to Win Conference: 0.1%| 2022 finish: 9th place

Analysis: Even though they had a losing record and no bowl game, Arizona was a lot better than projected. The Wildcats just missed the postseason, which was a minor miracle. If they had made a bowl, coach Jedd Fisch might have received votes for Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

California Golden Bears

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  • Projected Record: 5.5-6.5 | 2022 record: 4-8

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 49.7% No Bowl Game

  • Chance to Win Conference: 1.0% | 2022 finish: 8th place

Analysis: COVID has also done a number on the California program, but coach Justin Wilcox won’t be able to use that as an excuse for much longer. The Golden Bears are just a ho-hum Pac-12 team that not many people care about very much.

Washington State Cougars

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  • Projected Record: 4.7-7.3 | 2022 record: 7-6

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 29.8% Lost Jimmy Kimmel Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 0.3% | 2022 finish: 7th place

Analysis: Yes, Washington State finished the season better than expected, but given how it started, the Cougars could easily have had a couple of more wins under their belt. They had both Oregon and Utah on the ropes. Wins in those games would have drastically changed the direction of WSU and the conference as a whole.

UCLA Bruins

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  • Projected Record: 8.7-3.3 | 2022 record: 9-4

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 98.7% Lost Sun Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 10.8% | 2022 finish: 6th place

Analysis: UCLA pretty much had a season that was expected, but there were a couple of games it let get away. That 37-35 loss to Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl will be remembered for some time. But it looks like Chip Kelly may have gotten the last laugh by signing one of the best quarterbacks in the Class of 2023, Dante Moore.

Oregon State Beavers

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  • Projected Record: 6.0-6.0 | 2022 record: 10-3

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 62.8% Won Vegas Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 2.2% | 2022 finish: 5th place

Analysis: The Beavers stunned a lot of people this season with their first 10-win season since 2006. Jonathan Smith has Oregon State rolling and just brought in quarterback transfer DJ Uiagalelei via Clemson. The Beavers will be dangerous in 2023 and has a legit chance at competing for a conference title.

Oregon Ducks

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  • Projected Record: 8.6-4.1 | 2022 record: 10-3

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 96.9% Won Holiday Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 33.3%| 2022 finish: 4th place

Analysis: Oregon was well on its way to appearing in the conference title, but Bo Nix’s ankle injury and a couple of busted coverages cost the Ducks a loss to Washington. Then the meltdown in Corvallis. But Dan Lanning’s crew rebounded nicely with a win over North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl. With an outstanding recruiting class and some high-profile transfers, plus Nix coming back, the Ducks should be a favorite, along with USC, to play for a conference title in 2023.

Washington Huskies

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  • Projected Record: 7.3-4.8 | 2022 record: 11-2

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 88.8% Won Alamo Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 5.4%| 2022 finish: 3rd place

Analysis: Washington is proof that if you have a good coach and a good quarterback, you can do some special things. We knew Kalen De Boer was a good coach, but no one expected quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. was going to be great. And he’s coming back and should be a Heisman contender next season.

USC Trojans

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  • Projected Record: 7.9-4.3 | 2022 record: 11-3

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 94.3% Lost Cotton Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 8.9%| 2022 finish: 2nd place

Analysis: Lincoln Riley and his quarterback Caleb Williams nearly led the Trojans into the College Football Playoff, but a hamstring injury in the Pac-12 title game took Williams out and USC out of the CFP. But their defensive woes continued in the bowl game and even though poor tackling cost them the bowl game, Riley is keeping defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. In 2023, Williams is coming back and so will the Trojans, making the Pac-12 the deepest conference in the country.

Utah Utes

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  • Projected Record: 9.3-3.2 | 2022 record: 10-4

  • Chance at Bowl Eligibility: 99.3% Lost Rose Bowl

  • Chance to Win Conference: 29.4%| 2022 finish: 1st place

Analysis: Just when you think Utah is due for a “down year,” the Utes announce quarterback Cam Rising will be back for 2023 and will be playing for a three-peat. Rising was injured during the Rose Bowl and it most likely cost the Utes a win in Pasadena over Penn State.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire