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One reason for optimism — and one reason for concern — for all 12 teams – The Athletic

In 2021, Pac-12 football teams lost to Montana at home, to Northern Arizona at home, to Central Michigan in a bowl and in all five games they played against BYU. Every program lost at least four games.

It was definitely not a good time. And the Pac-12’s 0-5 bowl season was the rotten cherry atop it all.

But hey, it’s 2022 now, and the dismal 2021 season is in the past. New year, new Pac-12. (Or maybe the same one — check back this fall.) So let’s focus on the year ahead. What should each Pac-12 program feel optimistic about in 2022? And what should give each one some cause for concern?

If the Pac-12 is going to improve as a whole in 2022, these are the advantages each program will have to maximize and the landmines they’ll have to navigate in order to have a successful season.

We’ll start with the reigning champion, move through the Pac-12 South and then head north.

Utah (10-4 in 2021, Pac-12 champion)

Reason for optimism: Quarterback Cam Rising, running back Tavion Thomas and tight end Brant Kuithe, three All-Pac-12 players in 2021, are back to lead an offense that hit a different gear once Rising became the starter last season. And corner Clark Phillips has the potential to be the best defensive back in the conference.

The Utes have had success with transfers in the past, from Rising to linebacker Nephi Sewell, running back T.J.

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