In today's article, we are going to break down the
upcoming year in Pac-12 football. Who are the favorites to win the conference? Plus, we identify some underdogs with an outside shot to win one of the most
exciting conferences in the country.
The USC Trojans are favorites to win the National
Championship so, of course, they are going to be favorites to win their own
conference. College football oddsmakers have the boys from Southern Cal a -160 favorite right
now and rightfully so.
This team should dominate the conference - and their schedule
at that. We all know they return starting QB Matt Barkley, who will surely be
a Heisman finalist and over all #1 pick in next year's draft. The combination of
Barkley and wide receiver Robert Woods is simply unstoppable. Paired with Barkley, Woods has put up monster numbers; in just two years at
USC he has 176 catches overall for over 2,000 yards and 21 TDs. On
the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans will return a total of 9 starters to
a defense that was starting to get ferocious towards the end of 2011. One can
only imagine how good they will be in ’12-13. This team has the perfect formula: balanced offensive attack and tenacious D such as to come away with the conference championship they covet, especially after being ineligible last season.
Reigning Pac-12 champs, the Oregon Ducks come into the 2012
season as +250 favorites to win the conference once again and, in our estimation, they
are a very real threat to do so. Yes, the Ducks lost starting QB Darron Thomas
and RB LeMichael James but, in our opinion, they are bringing in two better
players at each position in Brian Bennett and DeAnthony Thomas. Bennett will
take over the QB position, and he is one of our favorite players to look out for
this season. This kid is Michael Vick 2.0: cannon for an arm, very accurate passer with the speed of an Olympic sprinter. With “Dat”
DeAnthony Thomas behind him at the RB position, this offense will be one of the
fastest and most explosive forces we have seen in quite some time as both
players have world class speed. Defenses are going to have their hands full
trying to get their stop either of these guys. Because the running game will be so effective, opposing
defenses are going to have fits, trying to decide how to defend the passing
game as well.
The Ducks put up a mind boggling 4,187 rushing yards last
year to go along with 42 rushing TDs for a combined 38.5 points per game. To
think those numbers are just going to get better is mind blowing!
There is a huge showdown between the Ducks and the
Trojans in week six. Oregon will be looking to ruin Southern Cal's national championship hopes
and put their own name in the discussion. If the Ducks want to win that
game, however, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti will have to make some big time
adjustments to a defense that struggled at times last year, ranking 61st
in the nation, giving up 381 yards per game.
The rest of the Pac
The rest of the the Pac 12 are all +2500 or higher to win the conference. There is one team we like, however, the Washington Huskies. We firmly believe the Huskies can cause some major ruckus in the conference - even at
+2800. QB Keith Price is going to be a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy; he can carry this team to 9 - 10 wins by himself, that's how good he is going
to be. Price matched up with Robert Griffin
III in last year's bowl game and actually outplayed the now starting QB
for the Washington Redskins but Price; he just didn't have enough help on defense
to get the victory. That will need to change this year if Washington wants to make any
type of run.
Stanford is +2500 but losing Andrew Luck, Colby Fleener, a
couple of key starters from both the offensive and defensive lines is just too much to ask
from the Cardinal. We are not sold on head coach Brian Shaw, either. Stanford is
on the decline in our view. With new head coach Rich Rodriquez, the Arizona
Wildcats are +5500 to win the conference but they are still years away from
being competitive. Than you have Washington State +7500, Oregon State +7000,
UCLA +6000, Utah +4000 and Cal +2700. None of these teams pose absolutely any
threat to the big dogs of the conference.
We are going to go out on a limb here and put our money down
on the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac 12 at +250 - that is how much we like the
combo of Brian Bennett and DeAnthony Thomas. Plus, Coach Chip Kelly has been
there before and is one of the best head coaches in the nation. Moreover, we aren’t sold on Lane Kiffin; he has not reached the big time yet in
terms of winning championships plus his game management is often suspect
and sometimes puts his team at a disadvantage.
Look for the Oregon Ducks to be your 2012-2013