Pac-12 Championship Odds: Who Will Emerge This Year?
By: Travis Pulver
Since the Pac-12 has been in existence (2011), only four teams have won a conference title (Oregon Stanford, Washington, and USC). For most of last season, there was reason to believe a new champion was going to be crowned.
However, in the end, Utah faded when it needed to shine, and the Oregon Ducks took home another one. But with their star quarterback gone and a few other roster holes, can they do it again? Who is going to arise and contend for the title?
Who’s going to flop?
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Pac-12 Championship Odds: Oregon’s To Lose?
The Oregon Ducks (Pac-12 Odds: +225) are losing a superstar quarterback and four offensive linemen, but the oddsmakers at DraftKings think they have a good shot at repeating. It helps that the one offensive lineman that is returning is one of the best in the country, Penei Sewell.
Sewell is so highly regarded that oddsmakers have given him Heisman odds (+10000).
Head coach Mario Cristobal has done a great job of reloading his roster. So, the Ducks are expected to have plenty of talent ready to step in on the offensive side. As for the defensive side, most of an excellent unit will be back.
Not having spring practice for new offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead to figure out who his quarterback is going to be, hurts. But the Ducks are still going to be tough. They may not make it into the national title picture again, but they will be in the conference title one.
Oregon may make it to the title game, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they were met there by USC (Pac 12 Odds: +225). Clay Helton survived the hot seat talk last season and shouldn’t hear even a peep about his job status this season if his passing game lives up to the hype.
Kedon Slovis returns at QB along with one of the better receiving corps in the country. However, the defensive is going to need to start playing up to its talent level for the Trojans to win the conference (which is entirely possible under new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.
Who Has the Best Pac 12 Odds to… “Wash”… the Rest of the Conference? (Sorry)
Washington comes in with the next best odds (+350) despite having a new head coach and offensive coordinator and needing to replace several starters on offense (quarterback, running back, tight end, center, two offensive linemen, wide receiver).
Luckily, they have a solid core returning on defense. The Huskies may have to lean on their defense early on as the offense works out the kinks.
Following the Huskies is another team undergoing a transition at head coach—Washington State (+600). New head coach Nick Rolovich is going to run a run-and-shoot style offense, so the personnel from Mike Leach’s air raid style should have little trouble with the switch.
Of course, when you lose your starting quarterback and three wide receivers, a pass-friendly offense is bound to suffer. But the Cougars do have a lot of talent in the wide receiver room, some good prospects at quarterback, and a good running back in Max Borghi.
Utah (+900) was nearly part of the College Football Playoffs last season but dropped out of the picture after losing to Oregon in the conference title game. While they could make it back, they are going to have their work cut out for them replacing all the losses on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
But they do have some good prospects. If they can pan out, the Utes may not miss a beat this season (but they do have quite a few holes to fill).
The Rest of the Best of the Pac 12 Odds
Arizona State follows up Utah with +1000 odds and shouldn’t be ignored. Herm Edwards has done an excellent job of turning the program around. Should sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels take the next step under new offensive coordinator Zak Hill, the Sun Devils offense is going to be potent. They’ll need to replace some skill position guys but have some solid recruits that could do the trick.
If something is going to hold Arizona State back, it could be the defense. They are going to need to replace some key starters and will also be learning a new scheme. Should they be able to, the South Division could be read for them to take over this season.
After Arizona State, the odds get a lot longer, and the prospects a lot dimmer. Kevin Sumlin has not been great at Arizona (+2800) so far. With a new quarterback and defensive coordinator, it will not be easy to be great this season.
There has been a lot of positive talk surrounding Cal (+2800) this year, with much of their two-deep roster coming back. Stanford (+3300) is coming off a losing season and could have a tough time contending with all the losses to the transfer portal. A conference title may be a little too optimistic.
Hope surrounds the UCLA Bruins (+3300) in Chip Kelly’s third year. But while the offense has been getting better, the defense has a long way to go. Thinking they’ll win the conference title may be wishful thinking, but they could finish with a winning record this year.
As for Oregon State, the Beavers (+8000) are a 5-7 team that will need to replace their quarterback, the left side of the offensive line, and a solid wide receiver. They have some guys that could step in and perform well, but there are too many questions about them.
Colorado (+12500) is going to be in a similar boat. They were a 5-7 team last year but will be needing to find a new quarterback, a couple of linemen, and a new pair of standout receivers. The picture does not look much better on defense.
So—who should you bet on?
The easy answer would be to go with the favorite—but there are two, Oregon and USC. While either would be a great choice, a good case could be made for Utah or Arizona State as well. But when it comes down to it, without spring ball this year, we don’t really know how good anyone’s new starters may be.
Without knowing how anyone is going to replace departing stars, it is hard to endorse anyone.