It’s a new era for the Pac-12, perhaps their last era, but the top quarterback rankings in the conference saw a big boost when Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams entered from Oklahoma. However, Williams doesn’t quite make the top of the list among Pac-12 QBs. That mantle belongs to Cam Rising at Utah as the Utes leader proved in 2021 that he’s capable of winning it all. Where do they rank among the top college football QBs nationally?
Top Pac-12 QBs in 2022 | 1-12
Hailing from our preseason top quarterback rankings at the FBS level, the starting quarterbacks from the Pac-12 landed as follows:
1) Cameron Rising, Utah
2) Caleb Williams, USC
3) Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
4) Tanner McKee, Stanford
5) Cameron Ward, Washington State
6) Chance Nolan, Oregon State
7) Emory Jones, Arizona State
8) Michael Penix & Sam Huard, Washington
9) Bo Nix, Oregon
10) Jayden de Laura & Jordan McCloud, Arizona
11) Jack Plummer & Kai Millner, Cal
12) J.T. Shrout & Brendon Lewis, Colorado
And here’s how they ranked nationally among all their peers:
8) Cameron Rising, Utah
10) Caleb Williams, USC
30) Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA
32) Tanner McKee, Stanford
35) Cameron Ward, Washington State
45) Chance Nolan, Oregon State
57) Emory Jones, Arizona State
66) Michael Penix & Sam Huard, Washington
86) Bo Nix, Oregon
91) Jayden de Laura & Jordan McCloud, Arizona
95) Jack Plummer & Kai Millner, Cal
108) J.T. Shrout & Brendon Lewis, Colorado
Which games should we be most excited for on the Pac-12 schedule, and why should you be sure to tune in this fall? Let’s take it week by week.
Week 1: Utah vs. Florida & Oregon vs. Georgia
Two perennial powers get big tests in Week 1 as Utah and Oregon square off against top-tier SEC competition. How Rising fares against the Gators’ defense is an interesting case study for his pro-readiness, while Bo Nix gets to face a familiar foe in the Georgia Bulldogs. Rising didn’t start in Week 1 last season but was the leader behind closed doors. He’ll lead the team into the Swamp in one of the most anticipated out-of-conference matchups of the season.
Week 2: Washington State vs. Wisconsin & Mississippi State vs. Arizona
The first taste of the Cameron Ward Experience against top-notch competition takes place in Week 2 as Washington State battles Wisconsin. Known for their offensive and defensive line, the Badgers host a sound secondary, and Ward will be tested early. Similarly, the Arizona Wildcats host Mississippi State and their Air Raid offense led by former Pac-12 coach Mike Leach. Will Rogers was a top-25 quarterback on our rankings and the nation’s most accurate QB a season ago.
Week 3: BYU vs. Oregon & Fresno State vs. USC
The No. 7 QB on the national rankings heads to Eugene as the BYU Cougars challenge Oregon and Nix. On the other hand, No. 9 on our national quarterback rankings heads south to USC as Jake Haener and Fresno State take on USC. Haener led a dramatic upset victory against UCLA last season and looks to cement his status as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. It’s No. 7 in Jaren Hall vs. Oregon, while it’s No. 9 Haener vs. No. 10 Caleb Williams in LA.
Week 4: UCLA vs. Colorado
Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins threw all over the Colorado defense in 2021. Do the Buffs get revenge, or do we have a quarterback conundrum all the way to Week 4? Colorado hopes their quarterback situation is figured out and they can compete with the Bruins this far into the season. We’ll get some answers regardless.
Week 5: Oregon State vs. Utah
Chance Nolan vs. Cam Rising isn’t necessarily a battle that fans of the conference would have thought was a top-tier battle a few years back, but here we are. Rising is a dominant athlete, but Nolan is one of the nation’s most underrated passers. How he fares against the Utes defense is another story.
Week 6: Washington vs. Arizona State
Both programs are hoping for continued success, and by Week 6, we’d hope Washington has an answer at quarterback. Similarly, how Emory Jones will adjust to life in the Pac-12 is one of the bigger stories coming from Arizona State this year. Week 6 will shed some light on both those situations.
Week 7: Stanford vs. Notre Dame
An out-of-conference classic takes place with two perennial powers duke it out. Stanford will be led by Tanner McKee, a veteran with serious pro potential. In contrast, Notre Dame is led by Tyler Buechner, who boasts a similar pedigree but needs more game reps before his professional future is considered. Notre Dame’s tough schedule doesn’t get any easier when the Cardinal come to town.
Week 8: Colorado vs. Oregon State
Nolan once again gets to put on a potential show after a sluggish performance against the Buffs last year. Will Colorado have their quarterback situation figured out by now, or are the Beavers the top team to beat in the North?
Week 9: Utah vs. Washington State
Ward will have some difficulty finding throwing lanes against some teams but none more difficult than this Utah defense in 2022. As talented as Washington State may be this year, their talent on the defensive side is subject to the transfer portal. Rising may be able to put up video game-like numbers against the Cougars here.
Week 10: Cal vs. USC
Cal vs. USC. North vs. South. Bay Area vs. Los Angeles. Do the Golden Bears have an answer at quarterback, or will the Lincoln Riley offense be too much to handle for their Pac-12 North counterparts? Williams has a legitimate Heisman candidacy but will need a game like this to cement his place among the nation’s frontrunners.
Week 11: Stanford vs. Utah
McKee will be tested yet again, and his pro-readiness will be put under a microscope against a Kyle Whittingham-led defense. The health of both units will be key as each lost key contributors at various points last season. While the Utes continued to improve and get healthy at this stage in 2021, this is where the Cardinal became an afterthought. David Shaw needs to be the former in 2022, not the latter.
Week 12: USC vs. UCLA
The Battle for the Victory Bell heads to the Big Ten soon, but for now, this is a Pac-12 game. And a good one to boot. USC vs. UCLA had lost luster over the past few years, but with Chip Kelly welcoming Lincoln Riley to the rivalry and two of the conference’s best quarterbacks set to battle it out for LA’s supremacy, this one is as good as it gets (on paper).
Week 13: Rivalry Week
Oregon vs. Oregon State — The battle for the state of Oregon as Nix gets his first taste of one of the nation’s best rivalries. Nolan welcomes Nix as this game has Pac-12 North title implications written all over it.
BYU vs. Stanford — This is a game to watch for Jaren Hall and BYU as this could put them into a potential College Football Playoff bid if all goes to plan. BYU has all winnable games on their schedule this season, and if the defense can stymie McKee, they can also beat the Cardinal here.
Notre Dame vs. USC — One of the better out-of-conference rivalries in all of sports, Notre Dame heads to LA for a battle with Williams, Riley, and the Trojans. It’s Notre Dame vs. USC. There isn’t really anything else to say.