College Football Futures: PAC-12 Champion Picks
2019 Record: (8-5, 7-2 CONF)
USC struggled with injuries in 2019 yet managed to dominate in conference with a (7-2) record against the PAC-12. Another encouraging note is that four of the Trojans’ five losses came against opponents ranked inside the Top-20.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis had himself a sensational freshman season throwing for 3,502 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Slovis led the sixth-highest passing offense in the nation averaging 335.8 passing yards per game.
The Trojans finished in second place of PAC-12 South behind Utah, but with the Utes trending downwards, USC could find themselves in the driver's seat to at least reach the PAC-12 title game.
USC last won the PAC-12 in 2017 and are in a strong position to return to the top spot yet again.
2019 Record: (12-2, 8-1 CONF)
The Oregon Ducks finished ranked fifth in the nation and capped off an impressive season with a thrilling 28-27 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.
Oregon suffers a major loss in four-year starting quarterback Justin Herbert, who is projected to be a potential Top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Despite the loss, there is a positive - the Ducks return the team’s leading rusher CJ Verdell. Verdell has rushed for over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season totaling 1,220 yards with eight touchdowns. Running back Cyrus Hbibi-Likio also returns after scoring 10 rushing touchdowns.
The loss of Herbert, and the lack of back-to-back champions in the PAC-12, backs Oregon into a corner. However, with most of the key pieces returning in the Ducks, there’s enough profit to be made with the line sitting at +225.
Arizona State Sun Devils
2019 Record: (8-5, 4-5 CONF)
Head coach Herm Edwards has improved the Arizona State Sun Devils each season since taking over in 2018 largely due to solid recruiting.
Arizona State was led by the play of freshman dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,943 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions with 355 rushing yards and three rushing scores.
Another key returning player for Arizona State is running back Eno Benjamin, who put together back-to-back 1,000 rushing seasons posting 1,083 yards with 10 touchdowns while adding 347 receiving yards with two touchdowns.
The Sun Devils have only won the PAC-12 once in the last 20 seasons (2007) but have the makings of what could be a serious conference contender. With the odds sitting strong at (+2000), Arizona State is worth sprinkling some money on with a large payout due if they win.
2019 Record: (4-8, 4-5 CONF)
UCLA had an ugly season in 2019 but most of that can be blamed on a significantly slow start. The Bruins lost each of the first three games and had a (1-5) record through the first six games.
Despite a rough season, dual-threat quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was a silver lining. Thompson-Robinson threw for 2,701 yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and added 198 rushing yards with four rushing scores.
UCLA has missed a bowl game each of the last two seasons and I’m sure that is more of a realistic goal for the Bruins. However, the PAC-12 South is up for grabs and if UCLA can rally behind Thompson-Robinson they could find themselves in the mix for an appearance in the PAC-12 Championship game. With the longest odds to win the PAC-12 on this list, the Bruins aren’t a terrible bet at (+2500).