The PAC 12 has been a pretty good football conference the last few years. Oregon has become the beast of the conference. Stanford is quickly on the rise and the Cardinal cost the Ducks a chance at playing for a BCS title last year. USC isn’t quite as strong as normal, but they always have tons of talent. Oregon State and Arizona State are all on the rise. This conference is much more wide open this year than it has been in the past.
The PAC 12 is divided up into the PAC 12 North and the PAC 12 South. There is no doubt that the North is the stronger of the two divisions this year. The winners of each division will meet in the PAC 12 Conference Championship Game in December.
BangtheBook is going to be looking at several of the major college football conferences in the next couple weeks. We’ll look at teams that have a chance to be in contention for the conference crown and make a selection at the end of each preview. All odds listed are from BetOnline. Let’s take a look at the top contenders for the PAC 12 title.
How will the Ducks respond to losing head coach Chip Kelly? Kelly took this team to some tremendous places, but they’ll have to keep building on the momentum he started. Oregon finished second in the nation in most polls last year, so expectations are still very high for the Ducks. There are 15 starters back from a team that outgained opponents by 145 yards per game last year. Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas form a dangerous combination on the offensive side for Oregon. Thomas is a Heisman Trophy contender, and he can do it all. Mariota is turning into one of the best quarterbacks in the country. The offensive line is tremendous, and the defense is better than most realize. The games at Stanford and Arizona in November will be huge.
Teams to Watch:
David Shaw was an unknown quantity when he took over for Jim Harbaugh, but he is now seen by many as one of the best coaches in college football. All he has done is go 23-4 in his first two years as head coach. Stanford was young last year and they still managed to win the PAC 12. The Cardinal are here to stay, and they have dominating offensive and defensive lines to thank for that. The front seven on defense here may be the best in the country. You simply can’t run the football against this group. Kevin Hogan should be much better in his second year. They lack play makers at wide receiver, but Stanford should be able to run the ball at will against most teams.
Lane Kiffin’s bunch lost a star quarterback when Matt Barkley graduated after last season. No one knows who the starter will be for this season. USC will put into place a new 5-2 defense and try to dominate on the defensive front. Marqise Lee may be the best receiver in the country. Silas Redd is a terrific runner who will take pressure off the new quarterback. The entirely new playbook on defense is asking a lot of a defense that was no better than mediocre last year.
Jim Mora Jr. did a great job in his first year at UCLA. The Bruins lost a stud in running back Johnathan Franklin, but they still have an amazing quarterback under center. Sophomore Brett Hundley is going to be a very special signal caller. You could make a good argument that UCLA may have the best linebackers in the conference outside of Stanford. The offensive line needs to be better.
Rich Rodriguez’s team finished the season with a thrilling come from behind win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. It was a nice 8-5 season for the Wildcats, but they are hoping for more moving forward. Ka’Deem Carey is one of the best runners in the conference, but missing quarterback Matt Scott is going to hurt a lot. The Wildcats need to get better defensively, because they can’t expect the same production from the offense this year.
Oregon State (+900)
Oregon State started 6-0 last year, but they lost 4 of their last 7 games and finished 9-4. Mike Riley’s team wants to erase that from their memory this season. Oregon State’s schedule is simple at the start of the year. They should be 7-0 after 7 weeks of the season. Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz have to step up or this offense won’t be able to keep up in PAC 12 play. The defense is very good, but I’m not sure they can be as good as last year.
Arizona State (+1,000)
Arizona State returns 55 lettermen from last year, and the Sun Devils could be a nice value pick (at +300) to win the PAC 12 south. Todd Graham’s offense is fitting in nicely here, and quarterback Taylor Kelly should be very good this year. The Sun Devils also get a favorable schedule during PAC 12 play, with many of their toughest games coming at home.
PAC 12 Conference Pick: Stanford (+450)
Stanford gets Oregon at home, and the Cardinal are still a team on the rise. Oregon might lose a little steam this year, and Stanford is far too big of a value to pass up at +450. I like the Cardinal quite a bit here.
2013 PAC 12 Odds
22094 Oregon +165
22095 USC +600
22096 Arizona State +1000
22097 Arizona +800
22098 Stanford +425
22099 UCLA +675
22100 Oregon State +900
22101 Washington +1400
22102 Utah +2000
22103 California +5000
22104 Washington State +5000
22105 Colorado +17000
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