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Pac-12 college football betting preview: Ducks doomed by defense again?

The Pac-12 is a conference loaded with serious college football playoff contenders, Heisman Trophy front runners, and big-name head coaches.

Oregon is the obvious favorite, but Stanford, UCLA, and USC should be hot on the Ducks’ trail if they falter. Six teams look like bowl locks as many as 10 may end up being eligible.

Covers Experts’ Doc’s Sports breaks down the best ways to bet the Pac-12 and gives season-win total picks for each of its programs heading into the new college football campaign:

Arizona Wildcats (2013: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +2500
Season win total: 6.5

Why bet the Wildcats: Rich Rodriguez has guided the Wildcats to two straight 8-5 campaigns and is now dealing primarily with his players who are familiar with his system. Wide receiver Austin Hill will be back from a knee injury and the defense was vastly improved in RichRod’s second season.

Why not bet the Wildcats: Arizona was wildly inconsistent last season, with a 26-point drubbing of Oregon in between a home loss to Washington State and a 37-point setback at Arizona State. Quarterback B.J. Benker graduated. Included on the Wildcats’ schedule are games at Oregon and at UCLA. 

Season win total pick: Over 6.5

Arizona State Sun Devils (2013: 10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS)


Odds to win conference: +600
Season win total: 7.5

Why bet the Sun Devils: Arizona State surprised its way to the best record in the Pac-12 last season. Three-year starter Taylor Kelly returns at quarterback. The Sun Devils also return receivers Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster and they get to play UCLA, Stanford, and Notre Dame at home.

Why not bet the Sun Devils: Although the offensive line is somewhat depleted, the main concern -by a mile - is defense. Nine of 11 starters are gone, including third-round draft pick Will Sutton (defensive tackle) and outside linebacker Carl Bradford. Arizona State’s defense already was not very good.  

Season win total pick:
Under 7.5

California Golden Bears (2013: 1-11 SU, 2-10 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +10000
Season win total: 2.5

Why bet the Golden Bears: Head coach Sonny Dykes is widely regarded as an offensive genius. He simply did not have the horses at his disposal in 2013, his first year at the helm. Quarterback Jared Goff is a highly-touted freshman who will have little pressure on him after last season’s debacle at California.

Why not bet the Golden Bears: Still, Goff is a freshman and may not make a smooth transition to the college ranks without much help around him. The Golden Bears also have a new defensive coordinator, so this is obviously a transition period. Six of their opponents finished the 2013 season in the AP top 25.

Season win total pick: Under 2.5

Colorado Buffaloes (2013: 4-8 SU, 7-5 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +10000
Season win total: 4.5

Why bet the Buffaloes: Colorado improved in just about every statistical category under new head coach Mike MacIntyre in 2013, including wins (from one to four). Quarterback Sefo Liufau showed promise as a freshman and now has a year under his belt. Fellow sophomore Addison Gillam made 119 tackles at linebacker last season.

Why not bet the Buffaloes:
Wide receiver Paul Richardson (83 catches, 1343 yards, 10 TDs) left early and was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft. The Buffaloes are still young and lacking depth. They are likely a year away from bowl contention, which will come when MacIntyre really has his own players in place.

Season win total pick: Under 4.5

Oregon Ducks (2013: 11-2 SU, 8-5 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
+115
Season win total: 10.5

Why bet the Ducks: Somewhat unexpectedly, quarterback Marcus Mariota is back for another season. A legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, Mariota will once again be supported by a loaded backfield. The Ducks now have a year of experience under head coach Mark Helfrich and they get to play both Michigan State and Stanford at home.

Why not bet the Ducks: As usual, it’s the defense that’s a question mark. For the first time in 15 years, the unit is being led by a new voice following the retirement of coordinator Nick Aliotti. Stanford ran all over Oregon in 2013 and a whole host of key contributors have departed what will be a depleted defensive line.  

Season win total pick: Over 10.5

Oregon State Beavers (2013: 7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
+3300
Season win total: 6.5

Why bet the Beavers: Like Oregon, Oregon State has a signal-caller who opted to forgo the NFL Draft. Sean Mannion is back for his senior year after breaking the Pac-12 single-season record with 4,662 passing yards. The Beavers’ defense returns seven starters. They play four of their last five games at home, including versus Oregon.

Why not bet the Beavers: Oregon State will be working with a new offensive coordinator (Danny Langsdorf left for a role with the New York Giants) and must deal with the loss of receiver Brandin Cooks (first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints). Defensive end Scott Crichton also left early and only one starter on the d-line returns.

Season win total pick: Under 6.5

Stanford Cardinal (2013: 11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +500
Season win total: 9.5

Why bet the Cardinal: The Cardinal have won back-to-back Pac-12 championships and head coach David Shaw - 25-4 lifetime in conference games - is back on board. Quarterback Kevin Hogan and all of his aerial weapons are also returning. The defensive line will be stocked full of seniors.

Why not bet the Cardinal: Running backs Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson graduated and a whole host of stalwarts on Stanford’s heralded offensive line are also gone. Shaw may be back, but the Cardinal saw their coordinators and various staff members raided by other programs. The schedule is brutal, with road dates at Notre Dame, Oregon, and UCLA.

Season win total pick:
Under 9.5

UCLA Bruins (2013: 10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +400
Season win total: 9.5

Why bet the Bruins: UCLA beat just about everyone it was supposed to last year, aside from a home loss to Arizona State, and is coming off a 42-12 drubbing of Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Do-it-all quarterback Brett Hundley is back for his junior campaign. The Bruins entertain Oregon, USC, and Stanford all at home.

Why not bet the Bruins: Departures from last season’s squad include wide receiver Shaq Evans and linebacker Anthony Barr. Even beyond Barr, the Bruins were further depleted at linebacker and along the defensive line due to graduation. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos also left for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

Season win total pick: Over 9.5

USC Trojans (2013: 10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +500
Season win total: 8.5

Why bet the Trojans: Lane Kiffin is out. It’s hard to say that is not a good thing. Steve Sarksian is in. The jury is still out, of course, but he at least has ties to USC (coach from 2005-2008) and did well there in the past. Quarterback Cody Kessler is back in an attempt to soften the blow of receiver Marqise Lee’s departure to the NFL.

Why not bet the Trojans: Sarksian is going to run things differently, starting with a much more up-tempo offense. A veteran offensive line would facilitate such a transition, but instead the head coach will be forced to almost complete rebuild up front. The Trojans lost three of their four best pass rushers from the 2013 squad.

Season win total pick: Over 8.5

Utah Utes (2013: 5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +6600
Season win total: 4.5

Why bet the Utes: Utah should be in good shape at both running back and receiver. Bubba Poole will once again anchor the backfield and Devontae Booker was explosive in spring practice. Dres Anderson was the Pac-12’s leading receiver last season. The Utes will host both USC and Oregon.

Why not bet the Utes: Quarterback could be a position of strength, but right now it is a question mark. Travis Wilson was plagued by physical problems in 2013. The defense has also been depleted by injuries and star pass rusher Trevor Reilly (8.5 sacks last year) graduated. 

Season win total pick: Over 4.5

Washington Huskies (2013: 9-4 SU, 7-6 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +1400
Season win total: 9.5

Why bet the Huskies: Chris Petersen is one of the most well-respected coaches in the business after an extremely successful stint at Boise State. He takes over for Sarksian. Both the offensive and defensive lines remain largely intact. The Huskies play Stanford and UCLA at home, not to mention borderline guaranteed wins against visiting Georgia State and Illinois.

Why not bet the Huskies: Quarterback Keith Price is gone and it’s not clear who’s going to be taking over for Washington. The defense has major question marks in the secondary. Petersen may be a proven coach, but is some kind of transition period necessary before his program really takes off?

Season win total pick: Under 9.5

Washington State Cougars (2013: 6-7 SU, 9-4 ATS)

Odds to win conference:
+2500
Season win total: 5.5

Why bet the Cougars: The Cougars won nine total games in the four years prior to Mike Leach’s arrival. In just two seasons under the offensive mastermind, they have already matched that number. Leach has the program on the rise and it could continue with experience at two of the positions Leach loves most: QB (senior Connor Halliday) and wide receiver.

Why not bet the Cougars: Washington State was one of the most one-dimensional teams last season, averaging only 53.4 rushing yards per game. Improvement will not come easy with three of five offensive linemen having departed. Star safety Deone Bucannon is also gone. 

Season win total pick: Over 5.5

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Posted by THEMUGG
4 months ago

How can ASU be +600 to win conf. with a SWT set at 7.5, while Washington is +1400 & a SWT set at 9.5? I'd take the under on USC........they'll need some time to settle in under Sark.
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Top Response

Posted by THEMUGG
4 months ago

" How can ASU be +600 to win conf. with a SWT set at 7.5, while Washington is +1400 & a SWT set at 9.5? I'd take the under on USC........they'll need some time to settle in under Sark."