The Pac-12 Conference really needs a shot in the arm on the football side. An expanded College Football Playoff could wind up being the starting point for a renaissance from the conference in terms of the national spotlight. It would certainly be nice because there have not been many deserving teams for the CFP from this league.
In fact, when we look at the recent winners of the Pac-12, the 2016 Washington Huskies were the only top-10 team. The Utah Utes could have spoiled the CFP party in 2019, but they got blown out by the Oregon Ducks by 22 points. That Utah team ranked fifth at the time of the game.
Oregon won again last year, but did so as an unranked team in place of Washington, who had COVID issues and was not able to play in the game.
Last year was a complete throwaway season for the Pac-12. Oregon, Oregon State, and UCLA played seven games. Most teams played six. Some teams played fewer than that. The conference wasn’t even going to play until the athletes and the member universities pushed hard for it as other teams around the country found a way to put together at least a conference schedule.
Washington “won” the Pac-12 North with a 3-1 record. It was a rough year for just about all involved and maybe we’ll see a much more interesting, exciting, and complete season from the conference this year.
PAC-12 Football Championship Odds
THE PRESEASON PAC-12 CONFERENCE ODDS
This conference seems to be about as wide-open as it gets in terms of the Power Five conferences. Four teams are given a great chance to win it and there are additional teams that really aren’t that much of a long shot. You do see a very well-defined split between the two best teams in the North Division, the two best teams in the South Division, and the rest of the teams.
The Pac-12 Championship Game moves to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas this year, so it will be played at a neutral site like it has been for the last several years, with last year excepted, of course.
Oregon has appeared four times in the Pac-12 Championship Game and has won every time, so maybe being a co-favorite alongside Washington makes sense. The Huskies didn’t get to show much on offense last season and we’ll be wondering about redshirt freshman Dylan Morris. On the other hand, Oregon also has a QB question since Tyler Shough transferred to Texas Tech.
In the South Division, the best quarterback in the league plays for USC in Kedon Slovis, but Arizona State could lay claim to the same title with Jayden Daniels. Both guys are lined competitively in the betting odds for the Heisman Trophy winner.
The North Division looks to be top-heavier than the South Division, as we see UCLA and Utah given some pretty reasonable odds to win if everything goes right for those two teams.
THE PRESEASON PAC-12 SOUTH DIVISION ODDS
We also have odds listed here to win the Pac-12 South. Click on that heading to see the lines for the team that will represent the division in the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game on December 3.
USC and Arizona State look to have the best chance there with odds below 2/1, but really five of the six teams have a puncher’s chance or more. Arizona is in a rebuilding year to say the least and the odds pretty much show that in spades.
It is also a year of turnover for Utah, as no team in the Pac-12 seemed to lose as many key contributors as the Utes, but you would find a consensus opinion out there that Kyle Whittingham is the best coach in the conference.
Perhaps UCLA puts it all together with Chip Kelly this year, as the Bruins showed some promise last season, but it would still be a big ask to leapfrog a consistent program like Utah and two teams with more talent and more polish like USC and Arizona State.
THE PRESEASON PAC-12 NORTH DIVISION ODDS
The North Division features the two Pac-12 Conference Champion favorites in Oregon and Washington and it seems like a long shot that a team would be able to jump over both of them. The head-to-head meeting in Seattle on November 6 could very well decide the title game representative from the North Division.
As the chart shows, it is very much in your best interest to shop around for the best odds. Some places have Oregon as the odds-on favorite, while others are giving a plus price on the Ducks. Some plus prices are bigger on Washington than others. That is especially true if you are looking to back a long shot like Stanford or Washington State.
Each sportsbook has its own ideas about the theoretical hold percentage on futures odds and some are much fairer than others.
PAC-12 CONFERENCE FOOTBALL HANDICAPPING
There are some highly questionable coaches in this league, so you’re almost always going to find a scenario or two in which a team loses a game that it absolutely should not and it winds up having some sort of impact on the overall picture in the conference.
The first year with a conference championship game was 2011. Since then, Oregon has appeared four times and won all four. Stanford is 3-1 and Washington has won both appearances. The South Division has only won the title game one time. That was USC back in 2017. That may be something that you want to keep in mind as you handicap the Pac-12 throughout the season.
Stanford won three times in four years from 2012-15, but the Cardinal program has fallen on some hard times in recent seasons. The recruiting pipeline has gone a little dry and David Shaw has not been able to get the same superstars on offense.
Generally speaking, the conference is not a long shot league. You’ll see the preseason favorites or at least teams very close that in the title game or at the top of the standings. Like most Power Five conferences, there are teams that are just ahead of others and that remains true of the Pac-12 this season, much like it has the last few seasons.