The Pac-12 was the only Power 5 Conference to be left out of last season’s College Football Playoff. And frankly, I think it will be again this year. A lot of good teams in the Pac-12 but I don’t think there’s any great ones like potentially in the ACC (Florida State, Clemson), Big 12 (Oklahoma), Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State) and SEC (Alabama, LSU, Tennessee). Here are the two most anticipated regular-season games in the Pac-12 this year with early college football odds.
Taking a Closer Look at the Best 2016 Pac-12 Conference Betting Matches
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) August 14, 2016
Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 12)
The Ducks are early 2.5-point favorites. Either Stanford or Oregon has won the Pac-12 North Division each year since the conference has had a Pac-12 title game. And either the Cardinal or Ducks have won ever Pac-12 title game over the South Division champion. A lot of people like Washington to win the North this season but I still think it comes down to the winner of this game. Both these schools still have yet to name a starting quarterback to replace last year’s starter — Kevin Hogan for Stanford and Vernon Adams for Oregon. Both are pros now. Dakota Prukop and Travis Jonsen are the clear front-runners to replace Adams. Head coach Mark Helfrich hopes to decide on a No. 1 about 10 days before the season kicks off. “At some point you have to get into the game-planning mode, and there are differences. They don’t do everything exactly the same all the time,” quarterbacks coach David Yost said. “There would be things that Dakota does that you would lean on if he’s the guy, and there are things that Travis does better that you would lean on that way.” I believe Prukop, a transfer, wins the job. Meanwhile, Stanford’s QB competition could linger into the regular season, Coach David Shaw has said. The Cardinal open at home against Kansas State on Sept. 2, so it’s possible that both redshirt sophomore Keller Chryst and redshirt junior Ryan Burns will play in that game. “Both guys are tall, both are athletic, and both have strong arms with great releases,” Shaw said. Last year, Oregon upset No. 7 Stanford in Palo Alto 38-36 but the Cardinal still won the North. Adams threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns. The Ducks stopped Stanford on a 2-point conversion try with 10 seconds left. Hogan tried to find tight end Austin Hooper over the middle against the blitz. But linebacker Joe Walker got a finger on the ball.
USC at UCLA (Nov. 19)
UCLA is an early 3-point favorite on NCAAF lines. The winner of this game likely will win the Pac-12 South Division. UCLA has one of the best returning QBs in the nation in Josh Rosen, who set numerous school records last year as a true freshman. The Trojans have to replace starting QB Cody Kessler. Both junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold have mixed in with the first- team offense during camp so there’s still no clear leader. Browne was Kessler’s backup last year. USC Coach Clay Helton plans to decide between Darnold and Browne to start at quarterback on Aug. 20, two weeks before USC opens the 2016 season against defending national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas. Browne appeared in only nine contests the past two seasons, just three in 2015 and none after Helton replaced Steve Sarkisian as interim coach. Darnold’s last action in a real game came in December 2014 with San Clemente (Calif.) High School. USC beat UCLA 40-21 last season to win the Pac-12 South. Kessler threw for two scores and ran for another as USC ended a three-game skid in the series. Darreus Rogers and Taylor McNamara caught TD passes while the Trojans scored 20 consecutive points in the second half before raising the Victory Bell. USC would then be dominated by Stanford in the Pac-12 title game. I like Oregon-UCLA in that matchup this year on NCAA football odds.