The final 12 quarters of the 2022 football season did not unfold as the Pac-12 expected, with UCLA, USC and Utah collapsing in their bowl games. But before that point, the conference produced its most entertaining, competitive season in many years.

Six teams in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Five teams with at least 10 wins.

The Heisman Trophy.

Elite offense and first-class quarterback play.

Multiple wins over Notre Dame and the Big Ten.

A persuasive case as one of the top three conferences.

Collectively, the Pac-12 deserves a B+ for its showing. What about the individual teams? Some clearly outperformed; others flopped and flailed.

The following grades are based on our assessment of personnel, schedule, results and program potential. (Two teams can have the same record but receive different grades.)

Oregon State

Record: 10-3/6-3
Grade: A+
Comment: The Beavers did everything short of claiming the conference title in reaching the 10-win mark for the first time since 2006. They beat Oregon in a comeback for the ages, went 4-0 outside of league play and dominated Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl. Two of their three losses were by a field goal (to USC and Washington). And all of it was accomplished with mediocre quarterback play. Suffice it to say, Jonathan Smith’s rebuild is complete.


Record: 11-2/7-2
Grade: A+
Comment: Typically, the Hotline would only give a program of Washington’s stature an A+ if the season featured a conference title or playoff berth. But given the state of the Huskies 13 months ago, after the 4-8 dumpster fire, this qualifies as a stellar year — one that will send expectations for ’23 into the stratosphere with quarterback Michael Penix Jr. set to return for coach Kalen DeBoer. Our one quibble is, not surprisingly, the ASU loss.


Record: 5-7/3-6
Grade: A-
Comment: The Wildcats improved their year-over-year victory total by four games, beat UCLA on the road, broke through against ASU and were one win from the postseason — it’s tough to argue with any aspect of coach Jedd Fisch’s second season. Had the Wildcats gone bowling, the Hotline would have assigned an A, so we knocked it back slightly to arrive at the final grade. The jump to the high side of .500 will be at least as difficult as the climb out of the gutter.



Record: 10-4/7-2
Grade: A-
Comment: When 10 wins, a sweep of USC and a second consecutive conference title result in an A-, your team has been elevated to powerhouse status. We fully expected the Utes to defend their crown and make a strong run for the playoff. They managed the former, not the latter. The bookend losses (Florida and Penn State) dragged down what was otherwise a first-class season, particularly given the injuries and attrition.


Record: 11-3/8-1
Grade: B+
Comment: Admittedly, the Trojans were better than the Hotline expected, in part because (silly us!) we didn’t foresee an off-the-charts turnover margin. But because grades are relative to each program’s potential, USC’s bar is higher than any other. (Only a playoff berth would warrant an A+.) We were also influenced by the inept defensive performance in the conference championship and the complete collapse in the Cotton Bowl.

Washington State

Record: 7-6/4-5
Grade: B
Comment: For all the weekly ebbs and flows — the defense was better than expected, the offense worse — WSU’s season tracked with our forecast. But anytime the Cougars become bowl-eligible, especially with seven or more wins, it’s a successful year. Much like Oregon State and other programs on the lower end of the resource scale, the margin for error is particularly thin. Credit should be given for executing off the field as well as on.


Record: 10-3/7-2
Grade: B-
Comment: The Ducks dropped the three most important games on their schedule, each in unflattering fashion: The blowout against Georgia; and the fourth-quarter collapses against Washington and OSU. This, from a roster loaded with blue-chip talent and a veteran quarterback who (mostly) performed at a high level. The coaching staff whiffed on multiple occasions, and the defense didn’t come close to reaching its potential.


Record: 9-4/6-3
Grade: C+
Comment: This grade might seem a tad harsh considering the victory total, but the schedule was custom-made for at least eight wins. The Bruins were 3-3 against opponents with winning records — all three victories were at home (South Alabama, Utah and Washington) — and they played three bottom-feeders on the road (Colorado, Cal and ASU). Also, they lost at home to Arizona and fizzled in the Sun Bowl. Given the personnel, we were not overly impressed.

Arizona State

Record: 2-9/3-7
Grade: D
Comment: How do you grade a season derailed by coaching and administrative malpractice? Harshly. But the Hotline had low expectations for the Sun Devils because of the disruption caused by the NCAA investigation, and we were impressed that, for the most part, the players remained engaged and energized for interim coach Shaun Aguano. In fact, ASU executed one of the most impactful results of the season with the victory over Washington.



Record: 4-8/2-7
Grade: D
Comment: The record itself is suboptimal, but our grade is based more on the journey than the destination. The Bears were inept on offense for most of the season, waited too long to dismiss playcaller Bill Musgrave and — above all — were the only team to lose to Colorado. Why not an F, in that case? Because our expectations for Cal are forever influenced by the litany of intrinsic institutional challenges. And we don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Record: 3-9/1-8
Grade: F
Comment: The Hotline had low expectations for the Cardinal given years of poor recruiting and the unforgiving schedule. And yet, Stanford still managed to disappoint in what became the final season under coach David Shaw. It was rarely competitive in conference play, ill-equipped at the line of scrimmage and looked more like the floundering program from the years before Jim Harbaugh was hired. The circle has come full.


Record: 1-11/1-8
Grade: F
Comment: The Buffaloes were competitive only twice: in the lone victory (over Cal) and an eight-point loss to Arizona State. Otherwise, they served as a cupcake for 10 opponents and were indisputably the worst team in the Power Five — brutal on offense, a turnstile on defense and not suitable viewing for children under 13. That said, the Buffaloes deserve an A+ for the offseason. The hiring of Deion Sanders has transformed the program.