The Oregon Ducks enter the 2021 season as the favorites to win the Pac-12 title for the third consecutive season, according to SuperBook Sports. They received 5/2 odds from the Las Vegas sportsbook, giving them a 28.7% chance to take the conference crown once again.
USC (7/2), Utah (4/1) and Washington (5/1) are close behind the Ducks. Mario Cristobal has his team ready to compete for a three-peat, and thanks to a handful of impressive recruiting cycles, the talent on the Ducks' roster should have them in contention to win the Pac-12 for the foreseeable future.
The Pac-12 may have a reputation for being the conference that produces the least amount of College Football Playoff contenders, but the conference has some underrated teams that could surprise in the fall. Oregon will look to smash that stigma in 2021.
Here is a breakdown of each Pac-12 team's odds to claim the conference championship in 2021.
Oregon Ducks (2020 record: 4-3)
After a shaky race to the finish line at the end of the shortened 2020 season that saw Oregon lose three of its last four games, the Ducks are primed to improve and dominate the Pac-12 for a third straight season. They return most of their starters on offense and defense and will carry a full offseason into 2021.
Reasons to Believe: Skill-position depth, offensive line improvement, Kayvon Thibodeaux
Reasons to Worry: Run defense, lack of starting experience in secondary, adjustment to new Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter's scheme
USC Trojans (2020 record: 6-1)
The Ducks stole the Pac-12 trophy from the Trojans in Los Angeles, leaving the Trojans without a conference title for the 11th time in the last 12 years. Head Coach Clay Helton has been on the hot seat for what feels like half a decade, but his team still has a ton of returning talent that should keep them within reach of a return to the title game.
Reasons to Believe: Solid recruiting class, elite receivers, defensive line depth
Reasons to Worry: Kedon Slovis' inconsistency, run game, pass protection
Utah Utes (2020 record: 3-2)
Kyle Whittingham's team returns most of its starters on both ends of the field and brings in longtime Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer, who looks like a favorite to lead the offense. The Utes have one of the most complete rosters in the conference, and a fairly favorable schedule could give the Utes a chance to return to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Utah has also brought in some bruisers in the backfield to tote the ball and will help impose their physical style of play.
Reasons to Believe: Entire offensive line returns, elite run defense, favorable schedule
Reasons to Worry: Finding a primary ballcarrier, depth and experience at receiver
Washington Huskies (2020 record: 3-1)
The Huskies start the season in Ann Arbor for their first true road game in nearly two years after not playing a single road game last year. They could have a solid record heading into their November matchup with Oregon in Seattle, a game that could ultimately decide the division, as well as bragging rights in a bitter rivalry.
Reasons to Believe: Elite secondary, starting offensive line returns
Reasons to Worry: Pass rushing on the edge, consistency at quarterback, development of young talent due to shortened schedule
Arizona State Sun Devils (2020 record: 2-2)
With a full offseason to develop and a relatively easy schedule, the Sun Devils are primed to have the kind of year they were expected to have in the chaotic 2020 season. They bring back almost their entire starting lineup on both sides and a budding star in quarterback Jayden Daniels.
Reasons to Believe: Potentially explosive offense (scored 116 points in final two games), Jayden Daniels, experience at most positions
Reasons to Worry: Lack of a go-to receiver, competing against top teams in Pac-12, closing out tight games
UCLA Bruins (2020 record: 3-4)
UCLA teams in years past have been young and inexperienced, but this year, all 22 starters could be upperclassmen, especially on defense. With a fully healthy and experienced Dorian Thompson-Robinson running the offense, the time is now for the Bruins to make a run at the Pac-12 crown and build on a promising 2020 season.
Reasons to Believe: Loads of experience, aggressive defense, electric receivers and tight ends
Reasons to Worry: Replacing Demetric Felton's production, offensive line consistency, finishing close games
California Golden Bears (2020 record: 1-3)
Cal was another team that got the short end of the stick in the COVID-19 season, playing four games sandwiched between four cancellations. While the Golden Bears had one of the best defenses in the conference last year, the offense was ineffective. However, a healthy Chase Garbers heading the offense gives them a chance to win most games. Head Coach Justin Wilcox will also have to replace two veteran defensive coaches in Marcel Yates and Tim DeRuyter, who both joined forces with Mario Cristobal in Eugene.
WATCH: Mario Cristobal Breaks Down Win Over Stony Brook
Hear from Oregon's head coach following Saturday night's game.
Reasons to Believe: Depth at receiver, elite linebacker corps, solid secondary
Reasons to Worry: Inconsistent offensive ability to score points, special teams miscues, defensive line inexperience
Stanford Cardinal (2020 record: 4-2)
The Cardinal have a tough path to the Pac-12 title, but they do face some of their stronger opponents, Oregon, Washington, and Utah at home. If David Shaw's team can build on its late-season success from last year and find consistency on defense, Stanford could be a Pac-12 powerhouse once again. Austin Jones looked incredibly promising at running back last season, and Shaw always fields capable receivers, many of which look more like tight ends and present matchup problems for defensive backs.
Reasons to Believe: Skill-position talent and depth, strong offensive line, experienced secondary
Reasons to Worry: Departure of many starters, unproven front seven, who will play quarterback?
Colorado Buffaloes (2020 record: 4-2)
Despite losing the two most important games of the year (vs. Utah and vs. Texas in the Alamo Bowl), there were a lot of positives from the Buffs' season, most notably the performance of breakout running back Jarek Broussard. If the Buffaloes want to take the next step as a team, they have to face a daunting schedule in 2021 and replace quarterback Sam Noyer, who transferred to Oregon State.
Reasons to Believe: Explosive run game, one of the best linebacker groups in the conference, tons of weapons at receiver
Reasons to Worry: Starting quarterback, defending the run, terrifying schedule
Oregon State (2020 record: 2-5)
Similar to UCLA, Oregon State was competitive in most of its losses in 2020. The Beavers lost two of their most impactful players in Jermar Jefferson and Hamilcar Rashed Jr. to the NFL, but they return one of the best offensive lines in the country and a talented roster that could pull off a few upsets in 2021.
Reasons to Believe: Sam Noyer as the new quarterback, excellent offensive line, talented receivers
Reasons to Worry: Replacing Jermar Jefferson, defending the run, pass rush on the edge
Washington State (2020 record: 1-3)
The Cougars will have nearly their entire starting defense back in 2021, but the offensive identity without Mike Leach has yet to be found. Max Borghi should see his most production after battling injury last year, but the question remains who will hand him the ball, as Jayden de Laura is coming off a suspension and Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano had a wildly inconsistent career in Knoxville.
Reasons to Believe: Max Borghi, one of the best offensive lines in the conference, experienced defense
Reasons to Worry: Quarterback, pass defense, defensive line
Arizona Wildcats (2020 record: 0-5)
Las Vegas believes the Wildcats have a less than 1% chance of winning the Pac-12. Under first-year Head Coach Jedd Fisch, the Wildcats have one of the most inexperienced rosters in the conference and will look to build on a forgettable 2020 season.
Reasons to Believe: The Kevin Sumlin saga is over, strong secondary, talented running back group
Reasons to Worry: Quarterback, one of the worst defenses in the country last year, inconsistent offensive line
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