2018 Pac-12 Preview: Huskies Are Clear-Cut Favorites

USC narrowly defeated Stanford for the Pac-12 title last season, but the oddsmakers have looked into the 2018 mirror on the wall and have declared that the Washington Huskies are the fairest of them all. Let’s review each Pac-12 team and the corresponding odds to win the conference, national championship and projected total wins on the season.

Pac-12

Washington (2017 record: 10-3, Reg Season Wins 10 O-125, Pac-12 Title -115, National Championship +1500) – The Huskies will boast one of the best defenses in college football this season with a secondary that can blanket even the best receivers. In addition, the offense boasts a stout offensive line in front of returning quarterback Jake Browning and a rushing attack led by the dynamic senior Myles Gaskin who broke the plane of the end zone 21 times last season and chewed up over 1300 yards on the ground for the third consecutive season. True freshman Marquis Spiker should provide another weapon for Browning to target, and if the moon and stars align, the Huskies could be a CFP entry this season. Therefore, it’s not surprising that our friends over Sportsbook Review, the definitive word on all things sports gambling, is showing the best online sportsbooks on the planet offering the Huskies as the favorite to win the Pac-12 this season.

USC (2017 record: 12-2, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ -110, Pac-12 Title +385, National Championship +6500) – The dynamic duo of quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones are no longer Trojans, getting paid to play in New York and Tampa Bay, respectively. Whoever secures the quarterbacking position will be untested and the running game will begin as a committee until someone seizes the job. Coach Clay Helton’s offensive line is returning mostly intact but experience does not equate to talent as USC surrendered 30 sacks, ranking 71st in that category, last season. The defensive pass rush must remain as fierce as it was in 2017, tied for first in the nation with Clemson with 46 sacks on the year, if the Trojans are to make any noise in the conference.

Stanford (2017 record: 9-5, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ O-120, Pac-12 Title +660, National Championship +7000) – Heisman candidate Bryce Love is the straw that stirs the drink at Stanford this season, coming off a 2017 season in which he scored 19 touchdowns and amassed over 2100 rushing yards. KJ Costello seized the quarterbacking duties for the Cardinal last year, but whether he is talented enough to optimize the high-class receiving tools at his disposal and make the most out of having an outstanding offensive line is the big question mark.

Oregon (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ O-125, Pac-12 Title +925, National Championship +11,000) – Mario Cristobal is the new head coach in charge after Willie Taggert left for the Seminole sunshine of Florida State. Quarterback Justin Herbert is the superstar in the making but his receiving corps lacks the same top-tier ability. The running back stable will share carries, after the departures of Royce Freeman and Kano Benoit, with senior Tony Brooks-James as the early favorite to get the bulk of the work. Junior linebacker Troy Dye is the bonafide anchor of the defense and one of the best at his position in the nation. The rest of the Ducks’ defense is solid but are they good enough?

Utah (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ U-140, Pac-12 Title +2000, National Championship +31,500) – Questions abound regarding the offense with returning quarterback Tyler Huntley effective but injury-prone and his chief target Darren Covington having graduated. When a team’s best receiver catches six TD passes, it either means your quarterback needs to be better or the protection stronger or the receivers more talented. We’re not sure any of this has occurred for the Utes heading into 2018.

Arizona (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ O-160, Pac-12 Title +2300, National Championship +22,500) – Kevin Sumlin is the new shot caller in Tucson, replacing Rich Rodriguez, and will have plenty of offensive talent to coach, but the defense remains more than suspect yet has more experience than most. If the defense matures then the Cats could contend.

UCLA (2017 record: 6-7, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ U-130, Pac-12 Title +4000, National Championship +35,000) – The Chip Kelly Era has arrived in Pasadena, which means the offense should see a serious uptick this season. Unfortunately, Josh Rosen is no longer around to be the centerpiece of his high-octane offense and Kelly will have to keep his fingers crossed that either Devon Modster or true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson will emerge as UCLA’s quarterback of the future. Nevertheless, this season will be a rebuilding year for the Bruins.

California (2017 record: 5-7, Reg Season Wins 6 ½ U-125, Pac-12 Title +6000, National Championship + 200,000) – The Golden Bears are stacked with experience and should see all those returning starters develop into a better version of what they were in 2017. However, talent wins the day at this level and California is far from loaded.

Arizona State (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 4 ½ O-125, Pac-12 Title +6000, National Championship +75,000) – The talented triumvirate of senior quarterback Manny Wilkins, wideout N’Keal Harry, and running back Eno Benjamin is a good place to start on offense for the Sun Devils but their offensive line was a mess last season and if there are no improvements then this will be a long season … especially for Wilkins.

Colorado (2017 record: 5-7, Reg Season Wins 4 ½ O-145, Pac-12 Title +6000, National Championship + 500,000) – The Buffaloes weren’t very good on either side of the ball last season and there is little reason to believe that changes in ’18. However, head coach Mike MacIntyre is only two years removed from receiving the prestigious Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award and will try to get the best out of a mediocre bunch.

Washington State (2017 record: 9-4, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ O-160, Pac-12 Title +8000, National Championship + 100,000) – The Cougars had key losses in the offseason with none bigger than defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, now on the Buckeyes’ staff, and his Speed D. Quarterback Luke Falk departed to the NFL ranks, as did defensive lineman Hercules Mata’afa, both of whom were instrumental to the success Washington State experienced last season. This year is projected to be a regression from the past two seasons but whether or not that decline is steep remains to be seen.

Oregon State (2017 record: 1-11, Reg Season Wins 3 ½ U-140, Pac-12 Title + 50,000, National Championship +999,999) – After losing 11 of 12 last season, things can only get better in Corvallis … or can they? When the best online sportsbooks are dealing a team’s regular season win total at 3- 3 ½ then you know there’s plenty to fix and not enough tools in the shed.

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