Pac-12: UCLA, USC positioned to rule South
For a couple of reasons, UCLA's status as the two-time defending champion of the Pac-12 South in football tends to be overlooked.
The Bruins claimed the title in 2011 because of USC's ineligibility. While UCLA genuinely earned the championship in 2012, the bigger story in the South was USC's underachieving performance. But the fact is, UCLA is the division's top program at the moment, and the Bruins' momentum continued on signing day.
Recruiting analysts gave UCLA a consensus top-10 ranking. That's impressive in the first full recruiting cycle for coach Jim Mora's staff. USC's class also was highly regarded and so was Washington's, with both schools ranking comfortably in the top 20 of most evaluations.
ESPN.com provided full rankings of the Pac-12 programs on a national basis: UCLA No. 12, USC No. 14, Washington No. 18, Oregon No. 26, California No. 30, Arizona No. 39, Stanford No. 40, Arizona State No. 42, Oregon State No. 46, Utah No. 48, Washington State No. 58 and Colorado No. 67.
The impact for Utah is that UCLA and USC are going to be tough to contend with in the South for years to come. Yet the Utes can be encouraged by the fact that even though their class ranked 10th in the Pac-12, according to ESPN.com, they're not very far behind the middle tier of the conference.