The Pac 12 season opens with every team a legitimate contender throughout the conference (minus Oregon State). Although it is very unlikely a team from the Pac 12 will be in playoff contention, this conference will almost certainly provide plenty of drama throughout the season. Five teams start the season ranked in the Top 25, led by division rivals Oregon (11th) and Washington (13th). Utah, anchored by a stout defense, is ranked 15th, and Washington State and Stanford settle in at 23rd and 25th. As always, I will dive into the contenders and give my predictions for the 2019-2020 season.
Oregon (+305): Justin Herbert put his NFL dreams on hold to return for one more season for the Ducks. Herbert will be backed by a solid offensive line and the defense has several playmakers including stud linebacker Troy Dye. The Ducks have an elite recruiting class on board and will improve in the second year under Mario Cristobal. The conference schedule is brutal for the Ducks as they draw Stanford, Washington, and USC on the road and will host Washington State.
Washington (+290): Washington will have to replace a lot of offensive production with the loss of all-time passing leader Jake Browning and star running Myles Gaskin. Luckily for HC Chris Peterson, he will have Georgia transfer, QB Jacob Eason, to take over at the helm along with Junior RB Salvon Ahmed, who has averaged over 6 yards a carry in limited time throughout his career. Peterson will have a tougher task replacing 9 starters on defense. The schedule is generous getting USC, Oregon, Utah, and WSU at home while traveling to Stanford.
Utah (+275): Utah will bring back essentially every part of their offense from 2018 and the majority of their defense. The Utes will be solid at every level on both sides of the ball. In order for this team to make the jump, QB Tyler Huntley will need to remain healthy for the full season and continue to progress like he was before the collarbone injury. The clear favorite in the division, Utah will travel to Coliseum in a massive game to open the conference season against USC. Utah also travels to Washington but they avoid Stanford and Oregon in the crossover games this season.
USC (+655): Coach Helton enters the season on the hot seat after a 5-7 season last season. He has brought in new OC Graham Harrel to install the Air Raid offense. JT Daniels returns for his Sophomore season after an up and down freshman campaign but did see him have success with quick passes toward the end of the year. USC has tons of talent on their roster as always and will come into the season with lower expectations than normal but will have a real shot to gain confidence and get into the front seat of the division at home against Utah in the first conference game. USC gets Stanford, Oregon and Utah at home, and will travel to face Washington.
Conference Championship: Washington 34 Over USC 27
Offensive Player of Year: Justin Herbert, Oregon
Defensive Player of Year: LB Troy Dye, Washington
Coach of the Year: Clay Helton, USC
Future/Win Total bet I am taking:
Washington to win Pac 12: +290
Washington O9.5 wins: -116
Stanford O6.5 -142
USC O7 -133
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