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Odds Suggest Darnold Can Take USC To The Promised Land

Things were not looking great for USC at the beginning of last season. They opened their schedule by going 1-2 and got thumped by Alabama. Coach Clay Helton made the decision to put freshman Sam Darnold in at quarterback. The rest is history, as Darnold went 9-1 as a starter while throwing for 31 touchdowns and nine picks.

Expectations have been heightened for the Trojans entering 2017, as Darnold is the unquestioned starter with a full offseason as such. Oddsmakers have put their faith in the youngster, as USC is being tabbed as a -110 favorite to win the Pac-12 conference. Though Darnold and stud running back Ronald Jones are back, the team will need to find a new top receiver and fill three holes in the offensive line.

Reigning Pac-12 champion Washington opens with the second-best odds at +180. The Huskies are going to be a tough out as long as Jake Browning is under center, as the quarterback put up some absurd numbers last season. Browning will be without his No. 1 weapon, John Ross, and the defense has lost basically all its key players to the NFL.

The rest of the Pac-12 is filled with huge question marks. Is Josh Rosen good/healthy enough to carry UCLA? Washington State still has Luke Falk but is watching two of his top three receivers leave. Colorado is good enough to dust the lower tier in the Pac-12 but may be a step behind the elite in the conference. I have no clue what to make of Stanford and their QB conundrum. Oregon’s offense should be exciting with Willie Taggart coaching but will the defense be remotely competent?

2017 Pac-12 Conference Championship Odds

Odds as of July 31 at Bovada

  • USC -110
  • Washington +180
  • Stanford +800
  • UCLA +900
  • Washington State +1600
  • Oregon +1600
  • Utah +3300
  • Colorado +3300
  • Arizona State +5000
  • Arizona +10000
  • Oregon State +10000
  • California +50000

Archived Article

The Pac-12 was an absolute dogfight last season with five teams finishing the season at 6-3 or better within the conference. The top dogs were the Stanford Cardinal, who have opened as slight favorites to win the Pac-12 for the fourth time in five seasons.

Stanford opened as a +300 fave to lay claim to the Pac-12 once again according to Bovada. Stanford will have the most versatile running back in the nation, as Christian McCaffrey returns following a record-breaking sophomore season. McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ record for most all-purpose yards in a season when he amassed a ridiculous 3864 last year. Stanford will need to overcome the loss of quarterback Kevin Hogan – who took almost all the snaps for the past three-plus seasons – who moved on to the NFL this offseason.

Nipping at Stanford’s heels will be any number of teams, but the UCLA Bruins come in with the second-best odds. UCLA has put all their eggs in the basket named 'Josh Rosen.' The former five-star recruit played extremely well last season as a freshman and a huge step forward is expected. The offense will rest largely on his shoulders, as he will need to find replacements for his starting running back and top two wide receivers.

Fellow freshman Jake Browning put up solid numbers in his first season for the Washington Huskies last year. The Huskies will need to make a big jump as they finished last season just 4-5 within the conference.

2016 Pac-12 Conference Championship Odds

Odds as of Sept 1, 2016 at Bovada

  • Washington +310
  • Stanford +325
  • UCLA +400
  • Oregon +500
  • USC +550
  • Utah +1200
  • Washington State +1200
  • Arizona State +2000
  • Arizona +3300
  • California +3300
  • Colorado +10000
  • Oregon State +10000