While the Pac-12 is often criticized for failing to register success in the NCAA, it can boast having what appears to be the meanest competition heading into next season. None of the other leagues can compare in terms of parity and it’s likely going to provide some of the best entertainment in college football.
There are seven teams which have been handed odds of +1500 or better to win the Pac-12 in 2021. The Pac-12 is the only power conference with no clear preseason favorite with negative odds. Clemson is at -800, while Ohio State is at -200, and Oklahoma -140 to win the other top conferences as outright favorites, USC and Oregon are both +275 on the NCAAF Odds board for the Pac-12.
They’re followed by Washington at +325, Arizona State at +450, UCLA at +1200, and Utah at +1400.
USC at +275 is considered to be the best bet of the bunch as they’ve drawn Stanford, Washington State, Oregon State and California in the North. They won’t have to play Oregon or Washington while every other Pac-12 side in the South will be playing either one or both of Oregon and Washington. This leaves them with a great advantage, especially given their roster, which stands out as the one bearing the most talent in the conference.
The scheduling does point to a repeat of the Pac-12 Championship Game but, of course, the Ducks are right there and have just as great of a chance.
Arizona State at +450 is not advised due to off-field issues surfacing recently. While they’re a very good team and are being talked up with good reason heading into their fourth season under Herm Edwards, they’re still 6-7 in league games over the last two years. They have back-to-back fixtures against USC and Washington in November, which could go a long way into deciding how their campaign ends. Arizona State has a good chance of making it to the final hurdle but it’s still hard to see them ousting Oregon, Washington, or USC.
Utah is considered to be a value pick at +1400 after making it out of the Pac-12 South in 2018 and 2019. They did lose on both occasions but the third time’s a charm, right? The Utes also boast former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer so things are looking good. However, they will have to prove their mettle against USC on October 9, and should they make it past, could make a run at the Championship Game for the third time in four years. They’re a pretty good bet if one’s looking for a Southern team that isn’t USC.
California (+4000) believes they have a legitimate chance of making the Rose Bowl and have set the bar pretty high. They were unfortunate to be the team who suffered the worst of the COVID-19 regulations last term and sorely disappointed, but they expect to be a very formidable side in 2021, with the defense looking solid under Justin Wilcox and a number of proven players returning in key positions.
Meanwhile, ESPN has predicted all of Oregon’s 11 games. The Ducks are projected to win 9.5 games on the back of the network’s Football Power Index, which seeks to predict the way a season will turn out to be.
The model gives the Ducks’ odds above 50 percent against all opponents except Ohio State, with the team predicted to win over 90 percent of their five games in 2021. The Ducks are also projected to win the Pac-12 and play in the College Football Playoff but are 0.4 percent likely to win it all.
That is a pretty generous model for the Ducks; what are your picks?
Top Photo by John McGillen of USC Athletics
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