On Thursday, the Pac-12 media released its annual preseason. According to the writers, USC is the consensus favorite to win the conference in 2023.
The Trojans received 25 out of 36 first-place votes. Two-time defending conference champion Utah appeared at the top of six ballots, while Washington ranked first on four. Oregon received the final first-place vote.
This is expected to be the strongest season for the Pac-12 in many years. All four of the conference’s top teams won double-digit games last season, and all four return star quarterbacks in 2023—Heisman Trophy winner junior Caleb Williams of USC, redshirt senior Cam Rising of Utah, redshirt senior Michael Penix Jr. of Washington, and redshirt senior Bo Nix of Oregon. With all that star power, the Pac-12 will look to send a team to the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016.
This will also mark USC’s final season in the conference before they depart for the Big Ten in 2024. USC will look to win the conference in its final season—something that the Trojans have done just once since the league expanded to 12 teams in 2011. (It should be noted that the 2011 USC team went 7-2 in Pac-12 play with a road win over eventual-conference champion Oregon, but was ineligible to play in the title game due to NCAA sanctions.)
Preseason All-Pac-12 teams
Earlier this week, the Pac-12 unveiled its preseason all-conference teams for the 2023 season. Four Trojans made the first team: Williams, junior safety Calen Bullock, junior wide receiver Dorian Singer, and junior punter Eddie Czaplicki.
In addition, four more Trojans made the second team: redshirt senior offensive lineman Justin Dedich, redshirt junior offensive lineman Jonah Monheim, redshirt senior offensive lineman Jarrett Kingston, senior linebacker Mason Cobb, and junior linebacker Eric Gentry. To round out the list, six USC players earned preseason honorable mention honors from the conference: redshirt senior running back Austin Jones, redshirt senior linebacker Shane Lee, redshirt senior cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace, redshirt senior defensive lineman Kyon Barrs, sophomore defensive lineman Bear Alexander, and sophomore running back Raleek Brown (as a kick/punt returner).
Williams and Cobb will speak at Pac-12 Media Day on Friday along with head coach Lincoln Riley. USC is scheduled to open up its 2023 Fall Camp next week.