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Washington Owns Best Odds To Win Pac-12 Championship

Quarterback Jake Browning of the Washington Huskies is congratulated by tight end Drew Sample and tight end Will Dissly after throwing a touchdown pass

Four different programs have won the Pac-12 football championship over the past four seasons, making it an incredibly tough conference to predict. Oddsmakers have pegged the Washington Huskies as the +140 favorite to win the Pac-12 in this upcoming season – due largely to their consistency in the backfield.

Pac-12 Betting Favorite: Washington Huskies

Which Jake Browning will be guiding the Washington attack? There was a time – not that long ago – that Browning was a Heisman contender but the signal-caller did not play up to that level in 2017. The then-junior posted a career low in passing yards and though he was incredibly efficient with the football, he saw his total number of touchdowns decrease drastically.

Though Browning will have the luxury of having stud running back Myles Gaskin sharing the backfield, who catches the ball is a mystery. Dante Pettis was Browning’s go-to guy last season but he is playing on Sundays now. The Huskies’ second-leading receiver last season was Hunter Bryant, a freshman tight end who accounted for 331 yards.

However, Washington will return the bulk of the defense that was the best in the Pac-12 last season. Replacing Vita Vea won’t be easy along the defensive line but the depth in the defensive front seven for Washington should help minimize that loss. The true key will be a secondary that endured some growing pains last season due to its inexperience but could make a huge leap in 2018.

There are still question marks in Seattle but with the true core of the team returning, it stands to reason that expectations will be high for Washington in 2018.

Who Takes Over For Darnold At USC?

The USC Trojans won the Pac-12 last season thanks to the play of their offense. Gone is running back Ronald Jones and leading receiver Deontay Burnett but the biggest question mark comes at quarterback. Sam Darnold will now find himself playing on Sundays after being drafted third overall by the New York Jets. But who takes Darnold’s place under center?

Matt Fink and Jack Sears will be competing for the job throughout spring practice but there is also J.T. Daniels, who reclassified because he thought he could grab the starting gig. Fink was USC’s backup last season and flashed the game-breaking ability with his legs that made him a highly touted recruit. Sears is a more traditional pocket passer than Fink and redshirted last season in order to learn the offense. Daniels is undoubtedly the best prospect of all the quarterbacks but also won’t be on campus until the fall, putting him well behind his competition.

USC is tied for the second-best odds to win the Pac-12 but the roster lost its starting QB, RB, WR – not to mention the several changes on the sidelines. The Trojans have the raw talent to win the conference but can they be polished enough to do so?

Riskiest Bet: Arizona Wildcats

Khalil Tate has already proven to be one of the most dynamic players in college football. But the real question is how the Arizona quarterback will mesh with new head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin has a reputation of being a quarterback whisperer but Tate is not your traditional quarterback.

Tate attempted 153 passes last season compared to 133 rushes and actually ran for more yards than he threw. He is a playmaker more than he is a quarterback at this stage of his development and Sumlin will need to manage his expectations of what the signal-caller can do with his arm. Sumlin also helped mold Johnny Manziel into a Heisman-winning quarterback, so the knowledge base is there – but this offensive scheme will be a big change for Tate.

Arizona has running backs to help alleviate the pressure on Tate but the big key will be getting more production out of the diminutive and mediocre receivers. The biggest reason Tate needed to run so much was because none of his receivers could win a contested ball due to their height, so if Sumlin can’t figure out how to get them open in space, Tate will need to rely on his feet yet again.

If everything clicks for the Wildcats, then Tate is unstoppable and the young defense takes another step forward. They become a surprisingly dominant team in the Pac-12 and garner national attention. However, there is plenty that could go wrong in Tucson.

2018 Pac-12 College Football Conference Betting Odds
Washington Huskies+140
Stanford Cardinal+500
USC Trojans+500
Oregon Ducks+750
Washington State Cougars+1400
Arizona Wildcats+1600
Utah Utes+1600
UCLA Bruins+1800
Arizona State Sun Devils+2000
Colorado Buffaloes+2000
Cal Golden Bears+2500
Oregon State Beavers+10000

Odds as of June 7 at BetOnline