USC The Favorite To Win The PAC-12 Ahead Of Oregon According To Preseason Odds
The Oregon Ducks have dominated the PAC-12 over the last couple of seasons but after saying goodbye to the reigning Heisman trophy winner quarterback Marcus Mariota the outlook for the conference has changed heading in to 2015. The rival USC Trojans have replaced the Ducks at the top in terms of the favorites to win the PAC-12 outright this season but it won’t be a surprise if Oregon finds a way to overcome and challenge for a conference title one more time. Here is a quick look at the best bets ton win the PAC-12 this season with their odds to win the conference outright listed next to them.
USC Trojans +200
The expectations are high for USC with 14 starters returning from a team that won nine games a year ago including most importantly quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler and the Trojans averaged 35.8 points per game in 2014 and he will have one of the top offensive lines in front of him as well as a deep receiving core. Scoring won’t be an issue for USC but if they are going to overtake the Ducks as the PAC-12’s best team they will need the defense to show improvement after they yielded over 400 yards per game last season. It won’t help that the Trojans lost the best defensive end in the country in Leonard Williams to the NFL and all eyes will be on the defensive line in particular to see if it can hold up enough to help this team win a PAC-12 title in 2015.
Oregon Ducks +275
Head coach Mark Helfrich has led the Ducks to 24 wins over the last two seasons and while he loses Mariota this team still has plenty of talent returning after last year’s national championship game loss to Ohio State. Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams is the favorite to win the starting job ahead of Jeff Lockie and whoever starts under center will certainly have a ton of talent around him with a deep group of skill players to help the transition. It will be a major transition for Oregon without Mariota but there is enough talent in the mix to once again challenge for a PAC-12 title as long as Vernon or Lockie can at least hold his own at the QB position this season.
UCLA Bruins +450
UCLA is hoping that top quarterback recruit Josh Rosen can hold his own after taking over the departed Brett Hundley but he still has to win the job from backups Jerry Neuheisel and Asiantii Woulard and there is no guarantee he is ready. An experienced offensive line and a dominant running back in Paul Perkins will help the process for the Bruins offense but there should be a dropoff at the QB position. UCLA will return 17 of 22 starters from last year’s team but ultimately their fate will rest on the shoulders of the QB that replaces Hundley.
Stanford Cardinal +650
Stanford is coming off its first season with fewer than 11 wins under David Shaw but they finished with eight wins and another three games ended in losses by three points or less. The defense should be better and the Cardinal overall will be expected to do better in closer games in 2015. Quarterback Kevin Hogan needs to take a step forward in his final year for Stanford to challenge Oregon in the PAC-12 North division.
Arizona State Sun Devils +700
The Sun Devils are a sleeper pick to do some serious damage in the pAC-12 after finishing in the top-25 in back-to-back years under head coach Todd Graham. Quarterback Mike Bercovici is in line for a breakout season and the defense returns a loaded front-seven that can get after opposing quarterbacks. The schedule will be tough especially early in the season when they face USC, UCLA and Utah but if they can hold their own early then Arizona State could be a sleeper pick to challenge for top spot in the PAC-12 South division.
Best Bet: Oregon Ducks +275