Gold: Best, worst bets on Pac-12's over/under win totals
DraftKings released its 2023 college football team win totals on Friday, and they were not very kind to the Pac-12.
Not a single team in the conference is pegged for double-digit wins, a far cry from 2022, when 5 Pac-12 programs hit the milestone mark.
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Do they really think that low of USC and Utah? Washington and Oregon and Oregon State? How silly.
Here are my best and worst bets on the conference over/unders …
Washington: OVER 9, +110
I’m smashing this one with a giant mallet.
I slept on Washington and new head coach Kalen DeBoer and Ryan Grubb last year, convinced that the dysfunction over the Jimmy Lake breakup and a 4-8 record in 2021 would linger well into the season. It didn’t, DeBoer and Grubb helped turn a woebegone passing game into the best in the country and the Huskies won 11 games for the first time since 2016.
This year, with the Huskies returning more aerial talent than any program in the country, as well as some key defensive pieces that would make any program jealous, I’m riding with Washington from the start.
While I think the Huskies have the talent and scheme to compete with anyone, that three-game stretch at USC, vs. Utah and at Oregon State looms large. I’ve got them undefeated to that point — yes, beating Oregon at home and Michigan State on the road — before dropping back-to-back games at the Trojans and at home to the Utes before rebounding against the Beavers and closing out the season with an Apple Cup win over Washington State.
All told, 10 wins, and I’m pretty darn comfortable about it, especially getting +110.
Oregon: OVER 9.5, +100
Fresh off the easiest 5-game stretch in the conference, if not the country, I expect Oregon to be fat and happy — and undefeated — by the time it has to head to Seattle for a Week 6 matchup.
That game, along with tussles with Utah, USC and Oregon State, will define the Ducks’ season. Splitting those 4 games sounds about right, but I don’t see another loss on the schedule for Dan Lanning.
If they can go 3-1 against those Pac-12 heavy hitters, they’ll vie for a College Football Playoff berth.
Arizona: OVER 5.5, +135
This one was tough to nail down, but I have faith that Arizona’s defense will take even a marginal step forward this season.
The Wildcats had the toughest 5-game stretch in the Pac-12 last year, losing to Oregon, Washington, USC and Utah before pulling off an upset win at the Rose Bowl over No. 12 UCLA.
Stemming the tide helped Arizona finish the season 5-7 with some late-season momentum, including a 38-35 Territorial Cup win over Arizona State. That represented a 4-win improvement over a miserable 2021 campaign, Jedd Fisch’s first at the helm.
In Year 3, the personnel improvements and spiritual improvements in the program have the Cats on the cusp of their first bowl game since 2017. I’ll take +135 on the flyer that Fisch can get Arizona players jacked up for the postseason.
Washington State: OVER 6.5, -135
I already have the Cougars regressing this season, and now you want me to give -135 on the off chance that the Cougars can pull off a rare third-straight winning season? I don’t want that.
Washington State has won 7 or more games in 3 straight years just times: 1928-1930, 2001-03 and 2016-18.
I already was wary of a backslide this year, as the Cougars face a tough schedule and did not add as much firepower as some of their Pac-12 foes in the offseason, while losing one of my favorite players in the conference, Daiyan Henley.
I’ve got the Cougars on the losing end of a couple upsets, with trip-ups against Arizona and Colorado, while also losing to Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Oregon State and UCLA. Wins over Colorado State, Northern Colorado, Arizona State, Stanford and Cal feel like gimmes, but the Wildcats and Buffaloes will present bigger challenges than last season.
Stanford: OVER 3, +100
With the introduction of a new head coach for the first time in forever and an offense in a state of flux, this could be a bottom-out year for the Cardinal.
Stanford might have the worst offense in the league unless Troy Taylor can work some magic, but even if that happens, I’m not optimistic. Being hamstrung in the transfer portal and NIL game has just sent Stanford spiraling.
I see two clear-cut wins on the schedule, and I’m not even too clear on them: Hawaii and Sac State. The Cardinal get USC early and Notre Dame late, and aside from Cal, the two best opportunities for Pac-12 upsets happen on the road (at Colorado, at Washington State).
Getting even money on over 3 wins just isn’t appealing to me.
Utah: UNDER 8.5, -145
Even if you’re worried about Cam Rising’s injury keeping him out of game action, this still doesn’t feel like a tempting offer.
Kyle Whittingham is just too good of a coach and the Utes are too well-run to fall too far. Brandon Rose looked passable in spring ball, and Utah has several weapons returning on offense as well as a defense that features some promising young faces.
If Rising is healthy, Utah has to feel confident for another 9- or 10-win season.