- The opening 2020 Pac-12 football title odds favor Oregon at +225 to repeat as conference champs
- USC, Washington, UCLA and Utah are tightly-bunched contenders
- Read below for our analysis and prediction to win the Pac-12
The odds to win the 2020 Pac-12 football title have been released and Oregon is the favorite at +225. A logjam of contenders follow the Ducks, including perennial conference heavyweights USC and Washington, followed by UCLA and Utah. Stanford was the last Pac-12 program to repeat as conference champions, when the Cardinal did it in 2012-2013.
2020 Pac-12 Title Odds
Odds taken on March 27
While 2020 Rose Bowl Game Offensive MVP Justin Herbert has left the program, the Ducks are stocked with plenty of returning talent to make a run at a second-straight conference title. Plus, UO had the best 2020 recruiting class according to 24/7 Sports. That’s why Mario Cristobal’s group tops the table in our Conference Championship odds.
But will those factors be enough to earn consecutive conference crowns for that team in Eugene? If you were to ask USC fans about the state of their program, most would probably tell you the sky is falling. Yet, USC, led by seemingly lame duck head coach Clay Helton, still features a loaded roster. Meanwhile, a pair of coaching changes in the Evergreen State has Husky and Cougar faithful not sure what to expect in the upcoming season.
It all makes for a rather intriguing discussion as we try to figure out which team will hoist the trophy at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Penei For Your Thoughts
It’s not often an offensive lineman is considered the best player on a team — let alone the conference, let alone, arguably, in all of college football. But that’s exactly what the Ducks have in true junior and reigning Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell.
Sewell, a unanimous first-team All-American and potential top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, stands 6-foot-6, weighs 330 pounds and runs more like a running back than a left tackle. But due to Sewell’s ample talent (Oregon is 17-3 when he’s in the starting lineup), the Ducks will be in good hands this season despite the loss of Herbert.
What about the quarterback position? Cristobal’s club was able to get four spring practices in before shutting things down due to coronavirus concerns and sophomore Tyler Shough seems to be the heir apparent at signal caller. First-year starters and true freshman have had recent success in college football — and there’s no reason why Shough can’t join the likes of Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa
The one factor possibly holding Oregon back is its schedule. The Ducks open with a pair of home games against two legitimate national championship contenders. Yes, North Dakota State is an FCS school. But UO’s Week 1 opponent has won eight of the last nine FCS titles. Meanwhile, Ohio State comes to Autzen Stadium the following week. The Buckeyes were a College Football Playoff team last season and the winner of the most-anticipated non-conference contest of the 2020 season will certainly have an inside track to the CFP for this campaign.
USC and Washington are the two winningest programs in Pac-12 history and the historic conference powers are the next two favorites to dethrone the Ducks. But the Trojans and Huskies have very different feels about them heading into the upcoming season.
Let’s start with USC, which opens its slate against the best team in college football over the last decade , Alabama, at AT&T Stadium Sept. 5. The Trojans’ recruiting Class of 2020 was downright embarrassing, ranking No. 10 in the conference (ahead of only Washington State and Arizona) and devoid of any five-star players.
Much of that lackluster showing is due to Helton’s status — which is dubious at best. But USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn has given Helton the keys to at least start the season at one of college football’s Cadillac programs. Whether or not the sixth-year head coach is able to drive to the finish line is another story.
That group starts with sophomore quarterback Kedon Slovis. Slovis finished with 3,502 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in 2019. Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns will be one of his primary targets. Vaughns had 74 catches for 912 yards and six touchdowns last season and should get the majority of looks now that Michael Pittman Jr. has moved on. On defense, DL Jay Tufele and edge rusher Drake Jackson anchor an outfit hoping to rebound from an 8-5 campaign that ended in a Holiday Bowl loss.
As for UW, Chris Petersen’s stunning resignation last December leaves the program in the hands of former Husky co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. Lake comes into the head gig as one of the more respected assistants in college football. If he can stay healthy, Lake’s offense will run through running back Richard Newton, a physical — yet injury-prone — player with tons of potential.
Too many question marks for the Trojans and Huskies has me fading both.
If there is a sleeping giant — or a true value play — it might be Arizona State at +1400. With Utah seemingly unable to show up when the spotlight shines brightest of late and the Chip Kelly Era still sputtering heading into Year Three in Westwood, Herm Edwards has worked some magic in the desert.
The Sun Devils were the only Pac-12 team to beat the Ducks last season — knocking Oregon out of a potential CFP berth in the process. And quarterback Jayden Daniels is the real deal. The former four-star recruit and No. 2 dual threat quarterback showed promise as a true freshman in 2019.
Daniels threw 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions and completed 60.7% of his passes for 2,943 yards. On the ground, he rushed for 327 yards and added three more scores.
Taking everything into account, I’m betting on Oregon to repeat as conference champs. Even if they lose at home to the Buckeyes, the Ducks are still set up to do well with a favorable home slate. Too much uncertainty — much like everything these days in the pandemic world we’re living in — has me fading the contenders.
My pick: Oregon (+225)