College Football Betting Primer: Pac 12

By Ryan Fowler @FreelanceFowler

Depending how you view and define USC's vacated wins, the Trojans dominated the Pac-10 from 2002-2008. Oregon carried the conference's title torch for three consecutive years from 2009-2011 before David Shaw led Stanford to their first conference crown since 1999 and picked up two more over the next three seasons. The Pac-12's three-headed dynasty ended in 2016 as the once elite programs made way for Washington and Colorado.

The Huskies destroyed the Buffaloes 41-10 in the conference championship, but the blowout shouldn't have shocked anybody. Washington's average margin of victory was 28 points in 12 wins. They averaged 41.8 points per game, while the defense allowed only 17.7 for the season.

Prediction Machine Pac-12 Favorite - USC
The Trojans (+110 futures odds to win Pac-12 title) finished the 2016 season on a nine-game winning streak including a 15-point, second-half rally to beat Penn State in the Rose Bowl. With 11 returning starters highlighted by Heisman Trophy hopeful Sam Darnold (3,086, 31 TD with 9 INT), USC is Prediction Machine's favorite to win the Pac-12. Our college pick engine projected the Trojans win the South Division 91.9 percent of the time, while they win the conference title 56.7 percent of the time. According to our model, rival UCLA doesn't stand a chance with only a 4.5 percent chance of topping USC in the South.

Prediction Machine Pac-12 Value Pick – Stanford
Despite being the favorites, USC does have the most betting value of any team in the conference. When you combine the unpredictability of the Pac-12 with so much attention and money on the Trojans and Huskies though, it seems obvious that the Stanford Cardinal (+600) are also worth a look. David Shaw is one of the best coaches in the game and although he lost Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, his team returns 15 starters. Junior running back Bryce Love may have played second fiddle to Mr. Everything McCaffrey, but still managed to average 7.0 yards per rush on 112 carries last season. Quarterback Keller Chryst returns for his senior season. He popped his ACL nine months ago during the Sun Bowl, but has rehabbed to the point where coach Shaw already named him the Week 1 starter. Chryst took over starting duties at the end of October last year and finished with 905 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in only five starts.

By no means does our college pick engine love the Cardinals, but the Huskies have to play three of their first four conference games on the road and also have to travel to Stanford in early-November. The Cardinal could snipe them off, win the division and have a shot at the Pac-12 crown again.

Prediction Machine Pac-12 Team to Fade – Washington
The Pac-12 futures odds between Washington (+180) and USC (+110) are close, but the Huskies lost four starters on defense – three of which were drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft. The unit ranked 12th in the country in total defense in 2016, 31st in total defense in 2015 and 80th in total defense in 2014. With so much talent gone, defensive regression is inevitable. So, the Huskies' 32.7 percent projection to win the conference title versus 56.7 percent projection for the Trojans indicates the juice may not be worth the squeeze to invest in Washington for only a slightly larger payout.

Other College Football Betting Primers:
Big Ten
Big 12