Pac-12 betting preview: Oregon a narrow favorite in deep conference
The Ducks, 11/10 favorites to win the Pac-12 title, also enter the 2014 campaign as one of the top favorites to win the national championship.
Oregon's high-powered offense has been one of college football's best over the last five years, and quarterback Marcus Mariota has run it to near perfection in his two seasons as a starter.
Mariota's decision to return to college for his junior year makes him one of the clear favorites to win the Heisman Trophy at 6/1 and boosted the Ducks's odds to win the national title to 8/1. Oregon went 11-2 SU and 8-5 ATS last season. They open with a cupcake game against South Dakota next week.
UCLA enjoyed an excellent year in 2013, posting a 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS record. With seven starters returning on defense and star quarterback Brett Hundley (14/1 to win the Heisman Trophy) back under center, the Bruins are 11/4 to win the Pac-12 and are favored to come out on top in the Pac-12 South.
A tough schedule awaits the Bruins, but they get Oregon, USC and Stanford at home this year. UCLA is going off at 14/1 to win the national championship.
Could this be the year the USC Trojans get back on track? USC looked more like the Trojans of old after Lane Kiffin was fired, going 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS down the stretch. New head coach Steve Sarkisian, hired from Washington at the end of last season, could take the Trojans to the next level, but he'll need the team to stay healthy with depth still an issue due to the scholarship sanctions against the university. USC is going off at 5/1 to win the Pac-12 and 25/1 to win the national title. QB Cody Kessler is a 50/1 long shot to win the Heisman Trophy.
The Stanford Cardinal have put together a 46-8 SU record over the last four seasons, including a 31-5 SU record in the conference and a 2-0 SU and ATS record in its last two games against Oregon.
The Cardinal will once again be a force to be reckoned with this season, but a brutal schedule that includes road games at Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA will be tough to overcome. Stanford is 6/1 to win the Pac-12 and 40/1 to win the national title.
The Arizona State Sun Devils (12/1 to win the Pac-12) and the Washington Huskies (14/1) could also be in contention for the Pac-12 title. Washington has a strong young team and picked up heralded coach Chris Petersen from Boise State, but the North Division will be difficult to navigate with Oregon and Stanford. Arizona State should put up plenty of points, but only returns two starters on defense. The Sun Devils host UCLA on Sept. 25 in a critical Pac-12 South matchup.
Rounding out the Pac-12 with odds to win the conference are:
Arizona State 12/1
Oregon State 33/1
Washington State 75/1