How much is returning production worth when you only played a few games last year? The answer will determine how good the Pac-12 is in 2021. In February's returning production rankings, the conference boasted eight of the top 15 teams, which would generally hint at massive forthcoming improvement. But Arizona State's 11th-ranked production came from a four-game slate, and Utah's eighth-ranked production came from five.
We'll find out how good the Pac-12 South in particular is soon enough, but one thing appears likely: the Pac-12 South race should be fantastic. Defending champion USC has a dynamite new skill corps, an improving defense and a workable schedule. Arizona State and Utah also have no guaranteed losses and plenty of reasons for optimism (at least if the NCAA doesn't soon vanquish ASU's optimism). UCLA looked genuinely exciting on offense and could be a major wild card. Colorado went 4-2 last year taking the fight to opponents. Five of six teams head into 2021 thinking they've got a shot at the division, and while only three to four of them are right, this battle could be a lot of fun. Let's preview the Pac-12 South!
Every week through the summer, Bill Connelly will preview another division from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively for ESPN+, ultimately including all 130 FBS teams. The previews will include 2020 breakdowns, 2021 previews and a brief history of each team in one handy chart. The series has thus far covered the Conference USA East and West, the MAC East and West, the MWC Mountain and West, the Sun Belt West and East, the top and bottom half of the AAC, the seven Independents, the ACC Atlantic and Coastal and the Pac-12 North and South.
What's the Hemingway line about going bankrupt -- it happened gradually, then suddenly? That's how things fell apart for Kevin Sumlin's Arizona. Now Jedd Fisch attempts a rebuild.