Pac-12 Odds: Oregon, Utah Expected to Challenge USC

Can Utah Win Back-to-Back Pac-12 Championships?

Will Riley and Williams Lead USC Atop the Pac-12?

If Caleb Williams and Bo Nix were going to meet on the football field a season ago, it could have been part of an entertaining showdown between Oklahoma and Auburn. Now they are headliners in a new look Pac-12 Conference. Their arrival along with other high-profile transfers will impact the Pac-12 odds.

Williams followed head coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to Southern California while Nix made the move from Auburn to Oregon. They are far from the only highly touted projects who went looking for greener pastures. According to the 247sports.com database, 11 of the top 30 transfers either joined or left Pac-12 programs.

Williams and his soon-to-be favorite target Jordan Addison rank first and third on that list while former Oklahoma receiver Mario Williams is the ninth-rated transfer. They are three reasons why the Trojans have gone from being tied for fourth in the Pac-12 South Division to having the fifth-best odds (+2000) to win the national title. Oregon (+3300) and Utah (+6600) are the other top title contenders in the Pac-12 according to the NCAAF betting odds.

Six of the 12 Pac-12 teams have expected win totals higher than their 2021 victory total including 4-8 USC and Washington squads coming in with projected regular-season win totals of 9.5 and 7.5.

Here’s a look at the current odds to win the Pac-12 title

USC Trojans (+200 to win the conference)

The conference championship odds haven’t changed much in the last few weeks going from +185 to +200 according to the Pac-12 odds.

Williams, who emerged as a Heisman Trophy candidate for a bit as a true freshman after taking over for Spencer Rattler, could take off as he gets to connect with Addison, winner of the Biletnikoff Award a season ago while he was at Pittsburgh. The Heisman Trophy odds list Williams (+800) behind only Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young of Alabama.

Oregon’s Travis Dye, who was the second-leading rusher in the Pac-12 also headed to Southern California. Other prominent players transferring in included Virginia linebacker Eric Gentry, cornerback Jacobe Covington, and receiver Terrell Bynum who are both from Washington. Colorado cornerback Mekhi Blackmon, Ohio State safety Bryson Shaw, linebackers Romello Height, and Shane Lee from Auburn; and Alabama, Virginia offensive tackle Bobby Haskins, Wyoming defensive end Solomon Byrd, Stanford running back Austin Jones, and Colorado receiver Brendan Rice.

Seven freshmen and sophomores had at least 10 tackles a season ago and the Trojans held onto most of those players so this has the chance to be a much-improved defense.

Oregon Ducks (+275 to win the conference)

When it comes to breaking down the top linebackers in the country, it doesn’t take long to hear the name of Oregon’s Noah Sewell. He was one of a host of underclassmen who saw playing time for the Oregon defense in 2021.

Nix’s move from Auburn to Oregon was a bit of a stunner.  He will be joined in the backfield by former Minnesota running back Mar’Keise Irving, who could help fill the void from the transfer of leading rusher Travis Dye. Nix will have some talented targets to throw to with the return as 64 percent of the receptions in 2021 were by freshmen or sophomores.

The defense added defensive linemen Sam Taimani (Washington) and Casey Rogers (Nebraska) as well as defensive back Christian Gonzalez (Colorado).

It shouldn’t take long to see where the Ducks stand with the opening game of the 2022 campaign coming against defending national champion Georgia. Even a loss shouldn’t hamper Oregon’s Pac-12 odds. The game will have added significance for new Oregon head coach Dan Lanning as he came to Eugene after building the Georgia defense into one of the most dominating units in recent college football history.

Utah Utes (+275 to win the conference)

Just a reminder that it was Utah, which won the Pac-12 title a season ago and did it in impressive fashion with a 38-10 takedown of Oregon.

The loss of linebacker Devin Lloyd, a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, leaves a major role in the middle of the defense. There were 13 freshmen who recorded at least 10 tackles. If they mature quickly, this could still be one of the top defenses in the conference.

Illinois State safety Clayton Isbell, Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, Idaho tight end, and Syracuse receiver Landon Morris are all joining Utah.

The Utes held onto most of its offensive playmakers from the top-scoring team in the Pac-12 last season so Utah could emerge as a potential division champion yet again. The betting odds to win the Pac-12 did most from +350 to +275 in the last month.

UCLA Bruins (+1000 to win the conference title)

UCLA finished second in the Pac-12 in rushing offense a season ago and more yards could be coming in 2022 with the return of 1,000-yard rusher Zach Charbonnet. UCLA led the conference in passing efficiency, however, top receiver Kyle Phillips and tight end Greg Dulcich are off to the NFL

The pass rush should get a boost from the arrival of brothers Grayson and Gabriel Murphy, who combined for 15½ sacks as freshmen at North Texas. Hawaii’s leading tackler Darius Muasau is transferring in, as are cornerbacks Azizi Hearn (Wyoming) and Jaylin Davis (Oregon). Defensive lineman Gary Smith (Duke), Offensive linemen Raiqwon O’Neal, and Jaylan Jeffers arrive from Rutgers and Oregon.

Washington Huskies (+1400 to win the conference title)

Despite winning just four games a season ago, Washington is getting plenty of love in the offseason.

Washington landed former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix along with Virginia running back Wayne Taulapapa, New Mexico running back Aaron Dumas, Pittsburgh linebacker Cam Bright and Arizona State receiver Lonyatta Alexander.

Plenty of freshmen and sophomores saw time on both sides of the ball in 2021. On defense, 20 of the 24 players with at least 10 tackles were either freshmen or sophomores. Washington gave up the third-fewest points in the Pac-12 even with such a young defense. This year’s defense should be even better.

Arizona State Sun Devils (+3300 to win the conference title)

The odds for Arizona State have gone from +4000 to +3300 within in last month, even though eight more players transferred elsewhere since the start of April. Those departures include linebacker Eric Gentry, who is now at USC.

A key addition for Arizona State is Xazavian Valladay who ran for 1070 yards for Wyoming last season and was the Cowboys’ leading rusher in each of the last three seasons. The Sun Devils did see starting quarterback Jayden Daniels transfer to LSU.

The top four receivers from the 2021 squad are gone. Running back Rachaad White and tight end Curtis Hodges moved on to the NFL, while Ricky Pearsall and LV Bunkley-Shelton transferred.

Arizona State also added safety Khoury Bethley, the second-leading tackler for Hawaii, and Miami defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera

Oregon State Beavers (+3300 to win the conference title)

Replacing B.J. Baylor, now with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, won’t be easy after he ran for more than 1300 yards. Leading tackler Avery Roberts took the same path by bypassing an additional season at Oregon State to turn pro.

Leading receiver Trevon Bradford is also gone. Chance Nolan returns for his second full season as the starting quarterback for the Beavers. Baylor’s departure could open up the door for Deshaun Fenwick and Trey Lowe, who averaged 5.7 and 6.4 yards per carrying as sophomores.

Omar Speights, Jaydon Grant, and Kitah Oladapo are the top returning tacklers for the Beavers.

Oregon State did lose running back Damir Collins, receiver Zeriah Beason, (36 catches over the last two seasons), and linebacker Junior Walling in a span of nine days back in April. Also promising quarterback prospect Sam Vidlak is now at Boise State.

Washington State Cougars (+3300 odds to win the conference)

Losing quarterback Jayden de Laura, one of the nearly 20 players who transferred out, was a tough blow, however, the Cougars brought in Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward who threw for 4648 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2021. If the preseason buzz counts for anything, that might be a win for the Cougars, especially with his head coach now the Washington State offensive coordinator and two receivers also now at Washington State.

The loss of offensive tackle Abraham Lucas to the NFL is a big blow.

Nevada safety Jordan Lee, Virginia defensive lineman Nusi Malani, and Oregon State receiver Zeriah Beason are other transfers to join the program.

There shouldn’t be as much off-the-field drama after head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches were fired during the 2021 season for failing to comply with the state of Washington’s COVID vaccine policies for state employees.

California Bears (+6600 to win the conference)

The odds to win the Pac-12 title have tumbled from +4000 to +6000 according to the Pac-12 odds in just a few weeks.

California very quietly finished fourth in the Pac-12 in total defense in each of the last four seasons.

Cal added a couple of familiar names to its defense with edge rushers Xavier Carlton and Ouda Isibor transferring in from Utah and UCLA. The biggest addition could be linebacker Jackson Sirmon, Washington’s leading tackler in 2021.

Offensive lineman Matthew Cindric, and Ben Coleman, defensive lineman Brett Johnson, and cornerback Lu-Magia Hearns are worth keeping an eye on.

Stanford Cardinal (+8000 to win the conference)

Quarterback Tanner McKee returns after completing 65 percent of his passes and recording more than twice as many touchdowns passes as interceptions.

Patrick Fields, the second-leading tackler for Oklahoma, will help the Stanford secondary. Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones, the top two rushers for Stanford in 2021, have moved on to Missouri and USC. There were also a couple of key transfers on defense, so perhaps that is why the odds to win the Pac-12 have fallen from +5000 to +8000 in the last few weeks.

Colorado Buffaloes (+12500 to win the conference)

Brendon Lewis showed some promise as a redshirt freshman highlighted by throwing three touchdowns with no interceptions against Oregon. He finished with 10 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.

Speaking of young players producing, half of the top 28 tacklers on Colorado’s team in 2021 were either freshmen or sophomores. That could bode well for the future especially after Colorado finished in the middle of the Pac-12 in scoring defense with so many young players.

Offensive tackle Jalen Sami and receiver RJ Sneed have been receiving all-conference recognition from publications in recent weeks.

Colorado lost leading rusher Jarek Broussard to Michigan State and second-leading receiver Brenden Rice to USC. Cornerback Christian Gonzalez is now at Oregon.

Arizona Wildcats (+25000 to win the conference)

Head coach Jedd Fisch has his work cut out for him after Arizona scored the fewest points in the Pac-12 and nearly allowed the most points in the conference as well.

The Wildcats bring in quarterback Jayden de Laura, who threw for 2789 yards with 23 touchdowns in 2021 for conference rival Washington State. UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing (69 catches, 1367 yards) could be a top target. Arizona also added defensive lineman Tiaoalii Savea from UCLA.

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