Pac-12 2017 Season Betting Preview

With NCAAF fall camps well underway and the college football season right around the corner, we’ve decided to break down each of the Power 5 conferences so that bettors will win a few more wagers this season. And let’s be honest, keeping track of 10 conferences worth of 129 D1 teams would be a little time consuming to say the least.

Washington Huskies

The Huskies made their long-awaited breakthrough last season by winning the Pac-12 and making it to the College Football Playoff. Washington will continue to rack up points with ease this season but filling holes in the secondary will be the key to the season.

Jake Browning was prolific and efficient last season, which should continue in 2017 as long as his shoulder is at 100 percent. The quarterback underwent surgery in the offseason and it limited him during spring workouts. Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman return to form the best RB duo in the Pac-12. Though John Ross is now in the NFL, the receiving unit returns both Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher. The secondary lost Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Budda Baker to the NFL, leaving massive shoes to fill. Taylor Rapp is a stud at one safety spot but who plays the other three spots is up in the air. That being said, the front seven should be stout, especially a linebacking unit that returns completely intact.

Washington is loaded with talent and has one of the softest schedules in the Pac-12 this season. As long as Browning’s shoulder is fine and the secondary meshes, there is no doubt the Huskies can make another run at the playoffs.

Washington 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+2000 +180 10.0 (-155/+125)

Colorado Buffaloes

Last season was magical for Colorado but people shouldn’t be expecting the same in 2017. Sefo Liufau, nine starters on defense and DC Jim Leavitt are all gone. There are a few pieces to help but that mass exodus doesn’t get fixed in one season.

Steven Montez will get the starting nod at quarterback after he started three games in place of an injured Liufau last season. Montez looked pretty good in his starts for a freshman and has the luxury of joining an offense with eight returning players. New DC D.J. Eliot knows he has a good thing going for him and will keep the defensive scheme and terminology that the Buffs ran the past two seasons.

2016 saw Colorado rely on defense but they will flip the script in 2017, hoping an experienced offense can carry them. The offense should rely on running back Phillip Lindsay as much as possible and control the clock. However, in the high-flying Pac-12, that might not be enough.

Colorado 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+30000 +3300 7.5 (+145/-175)

USC Trojans

There may be no more hyped team in college football than USC. After winning their final nine games in 2016, including the Rose Bowl, the Trojans are entering 2017 red-hot. To top it off, no player may have created more hysteria than Sam Darnold.

Darnold was putting up some absolutely ridiculous numbers once he took over as starting quarterback last season. However, he was protected better than any other Pac-12 QB last season and that offensive line will be breaking in three new starters in 2017. Ronald Jones II has quietly been producing prolific rushing seasons each of the past two years. USC’s defense was often overlooked last season, though they deserved more attention. The inside of the defensive line is a concern but the defense is going to be solid again.

There is no denying the talent in SoCal. That being said, the roster will be young this season. I’m not saying USC is going to look overwhelmed but keep in mind that it may take some time for everything to mesh. USC also has a relatively soft schedule with only Washington State looking like a real threat.

USC 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+600 EVEN 9.5 (-175/+145)

Washington State Cougars

Washington State has fully embraced Mike Leach’s air raid offense and has run it to perfection with Luke Falk under center. Though the passing game gets the recognition, the running game and defense are good enough to make a run at the Pac-12 title.

Falk, who is coming off a ridiculously productive 2016, will be missing his two favorite targets from last season but that shouldn’t be much of an issue. The running back situation is quietly stellar with a deep group of versatile players and the offensive line returns both tackles. Alex Grinch’s defense returns nine of its top 10 tacklers and a dynamic back seven. The defensive line is the weakest group on D, mostly due to depth concerns.

The Cougars have a low season win total, in my mind, with books pegging them at 7.5. Road games against Utah and Washington to close out the regular season are rough but Washington State looked unstoppable at times in 2016. That shouldn’t change in 2017. 

Washington State 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
Not Listed +1600 7.5 (-140/+110)

Stanford Cardinal

Stanford will return eight starters on both offense and defense from a squad that won 10 games last season. Of course, the health of QB Keller Chryst is going to be of vital importance for David Shaw and company.

Christian McCaffrey is gone but the Cardinal shouldn’t suffer exponentially thanks to running back Bryce Love. The bulk of the pass-catchers and offensive line will be held over from last season meaning stability for Stanford. If Chryst isn’t ready to go, Ryan Burns, who opened 2016 as the starter, will get the call. Stanford held opponents to just 20.2 ppg last season and their extremely deep defense should be just as good. The secondary is one of the most talent-rich in the country.

Being in the Pac-12 North is a curse for Stanford right now, as dates with Washington and Washington State might doom their season yet again. The schedule also includes a trip to SoCal and tricky games against UCLA and Oregon. That being said, you’d be stupid to doubt Shaw’s ability to produce double-digit wins. 

Stanford 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+7500 +800 8.5 (-140/+110)

Utah Utes

Utah has found consistency over the past three seasons but that wasn’t enough for coach Kyle Whittingham. The long-tenured head coach brought in yet another new offensive coordinator to bring in a quarterback-friendly system.

QB Troy Williams is a solid playmaker who can take care of the offense but will need to be more for Utah in 2017. Stud running back Joe Williams is gone, three starters on the offensive line are gone and three of the top four pass-catchers from last season are gone. The defense will be spectacular once again under Whittingham, especially a defensive line that sacked opposing signal-callers 43 times in 2016.

The offense offers far too many questions to confidently back heading into the season. Williams has the ability to be a good QB but who he throws to or who protects him is unknown. Their win total is set at 6.5, which is a reasonable fall down the standings, all things considered.

Utah 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+30000 +3300 6.5 (+105/-135)

Oregon State Beavers

2016 was better for Oregon State and Gary Andersen had the team looking at least competitive by the end of the season. The roster still isn’t exactly stacked with talent but the rebuild is showing some progress.

Running back Ryan Nall is the offensive centerpiece and the junior should pass the 1000-yard threshold. The offensive line needs to replace three starters, including left tackle Sean Harlow. Whoever ends up playing QB needs to be better because the Beavers were too one-dimensional last season. The front seven returns almost entirely intact but they need to become better at stopping the run. The secondary was great last season but will need to replace two starters in 2017.

I expect Oregon State to go bowling again for the first time since 2013 but this program is still rebuilding. Winning six games seems like the ceiling for this team, though, as the Beavers have dates with Washington State, Washington and USC.

Oregon State 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
Not Listed +10000 5.5 (+135/-165)

Cal Golden Bears

Cal is starting over. Justin Wilcox comes in as head coach to try to fix a defense that has been terrible while they brought in offensive mastermind Beau Baldwin to be the offensive coordinator. This rebuild is likely going to take several years before we see a winning Cal team again.

David Webb is gone and God only knows who ends up throwing the football in 2017. Whoever wins the job will be without the one true No. 1 receiver on the roster from 2016, as Chad Hansen headed to the NFL early. However, there is talent there and someone will likely step up. Replacing four starters on the O-line is a much bigger concern for the coaching staff than anything else. Wilcox and new DC Tim DeRuyter will switch to a base 3-4 but the players might not be in place to properly run that scheme.

There is some talent on the roster but there simply isn’t enough. Mix that with a completely new coaching staff and the knowledge that this rebuild will take time and 2017 isn’t going to be a banner year for Cal. I wouldn’t be holding my breath on the OVER 3.5 wins.

Cal 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+100000 +50000 3.5 (EVEN/-130)

UCLA Bruins

Can UCLA finally convert skill into something tangible on the field? Jim Mora did some housecleaning on offense and brought in four new faces, including new OC Jedd Fisch. However, all eyes will really be on Josh Rosen, who has yet to live up to his full potential.

Rosen flashed during his first two years in Pasadena but injuries derailed him during his sophomore campaign. Fisch will likely emphasize the running game more, which will help alleviate some of the pressure off Rosen behind a porous offensive line. Though there is talent in the backfield, the offensive line did nothing to help them in 2016. Defense was a highlight for UCLA, all things considered, in 2016 but it needs to replace several NFL-level talents. The team will want to see five-star recruits Keisean Lucier-South and Jaelan Phillips get after the QB.

UCLA will be better this season but just how much better is the question. Dates at Stanford, Washington and USC, plus a non-conference game with Texas A&M, is a tough schedule for the Bruins. Six wins seems about the right spot unless Rosen and the offense make major strides.

UCLA 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+10000 +900 6.5 (-165/+135)

Oregon Ducks

The reset button was hit in Eugene, as Oregon cleaned house and brought in Willie Taggart following the program’s worst record since 1991. Taggart should bring the offense back to its high-octane roots while new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt will look to work his magic on a terrible D.

The offense should put up points with Justin Herbert back at the helm. Herbert was efficient during his freshman campaign and though he doesn’t have the legs of previous Ducks QBs, he can move well enough. Plus, Royce Freeman is an absolute stud of a running back. Oregon will shift back to a 3-4, which the roster was always built for anyway. There are a few interesting pieces but the D will be largely young and inexperienced.

I’m very high on Oregon this year. I think the offense is set to do great things and Leavitt is good enough to make the defense competent. Books are also high, with a win total of 8.0. The Ducks also have a pretty easy schedule outside of their dates against Washington and Washington State.

Oregon 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+10000 +1600 8.0 (EVEN/-130)

Arizona State Sun Devils

Todd Graham basically blew it up after Arizona State failed to make a bowl game last season, bringing in a new offensive coordinator and a defensive coordinator to take over play-calling. Though the new look might spark optimism, questions surrounding quarterback and the secondary could doom the Sun Devils once again.

Manny Wilkins was OK as the starter last season but will need to hold off Alabama transfer Blake Barnett. Whichever QB gets the starting nod will likely affect the massive playbook, as Wilkins is a better runner while Barnett has the better arm. The rest of the offense should improve with a solid RB duo, a potential stud receiver and a growing O-line. ASU is fine in the front seven of its defense but the secondary was trash last season. The Sun Devils will return all four starters from a unit that allowed more passing yards per game than anyone else in the country.

Another year, another offensive coordinator. Though the talent is getting better in Tempe, the constant changing of philosophies is killing any potential. There should be minimal gains on both sides of the ball that might equal an extra win or two from last year.

Arizona State 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+50000 +5000 5.0 (+110/-140)

Arizona Wildcats

Arizona fans would like to forget the injury-riddled 2016 campaign. The Wildcats were a complete dumpster fire. College football fans are familiar with Arizona’s typical game plan of play no defense and simply outscore opponents. But injuries made sure the team couldn’t score like it needed to. So the question for 2017 is how good is a healthy Arizona team?

The quarterback position is a toss-up between Brandon Dawkins and Khalil Tate, though I’d be surprised to see either one start every game this season. The receiving unit needs to be rebuilt after losing several key contributors from last season. The defense was garbage last season but will return some serious experience with six of its nine leading tacklers back.

It’s hard to envision Arizona winning only three games like last season but it’s also hard to imagine the Wildcats being much more than bottom-dwellers. Rich Rodriguez is not going to magically have a good defense and the offense is entirely unknowns outside of running back.

Arizona 2017 Betting Odds
National Championship Pac-12 Championship Win Total
+100000 +5000 5.5 (+125/-150)