College Football Picks: Pac-12 Conference Preview and Odds

Joe Catalano

Friday, April 12, 2013 5:59 PM GMT

Friday, Apr. 12, 2013 5:59 PM GMT

The Pac-12 has been a conference dominated by Oregon and Stanford the past few years and it appears that it will remain that way for the 2013 NCAA Football season.

Top Dogs

We take a look at the future NCAAF betting odds provided by Bovada Sportsbook and see that Oregon is the 2nd favorite in the country to win the BCS Championship at 13/2 and Stanford is listed at a respectable 18/1.

When a team is considered more of a favorite to win it all than an Ohio State team that was undefeated last year, you know they’re in the elite status.

The Rest

Although not up to the level of Oregon and Stanford, UCLA and USC are both listed at 50/1 and Oregon State and Washington are your lottery ticket at 100/1.

Oregon Ducks (12-1, 8-1)

The Hawaiian Punch

Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the leader for the Ducks and this young man can do it all. Last season. Mariota threw for 2677 yards with 32 TD and just 6 INT’s. He’s also a threat to run the ball as his 752 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground can attest to.

The departure of Kenjon Barner isn’t a problem as De’Anthony Thomas (701 yards, 11 TD) and Byron Marshall (447 yards , 4 TD) assist Mariota in the backfield and once again Oregon has a strong running game.

Replacing Ryan Clanton, Kyle Long, and Nick Cody up front could be a concern as this is a team that has a number of options to throw the ball to.

Inexperience at Key Positions on Defense

Along with losing their former head coach Chip Kelly, the Ducks have lost a number of veteran defensive players that provided leadership. Replacing linebackers Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay (182 tackles combined) will be difficult, but Oregon will look to fill in the pieces with players like Derrick Malone, Boseko Lokombo, and Rahim Cassell.

The depth is there, the talent is there, the defense is just weak in the leadership role due to the loss of players that have moved on.

One major positive for Oregon is their Pac-12 laced weak schedule. The real test comes on November 7th (Thursday) against Stanford at home.

Stanford Cardinal (12-2, 8-1)

Stanford’s schedule is quite similar to that of Oregon. The only difference is the rivalry that they have going with Notre Dame in which both teams meet eachother on the last day of the regular season.

Suspect Offense

While there’s no doubt that Stanford has one of the best defenses in the nation, they need the offense to get the ball in the endzone.

Center, Sam Schwartzstein will be missed as his eligibility is up and quarterback Kevin Hogan has a lot of room for improvement. Last season, Hogan threw for 1096 with 10 TD and 3 INT in 6 full games. Hogan doesn’t make mistakes and was good enough to beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but his main targets have either left for the NFL or graduated.

Look for Ty Montgomery (26 receptions, 213 yards) to be one of Hogan’s main targets this season as he’s the only returnee with any legitimate experience.

Barry Sanders Jr. Time?

With superstar Stepfan Taylor leaving Stanford, this enables Sanders an opportunity to show his skills. He redshirted last season , but the job is up for grabs. Sanders will be competing with Anthony Wilkerson and 3 other backs that got “PT” last season. This could get interesting.

Defense is Stacked

First team All Pac-12 linebacker Trent Murphy and First Team All Pac-12 safety Ed Reynolds head one of the best defenses in the country. If you can find a weakness, please let me know.

If Stanford’s offense can improve, they can be a contender for the BCS Championship with their top notch defense and they throw a real X-Factor into our Sports Picks for the upcoming season.

USC and UCLA

I’ve written a piece about USC and the major step that they took backwards last season. This season, the quarterback position and the defense are concerns. Oregon scored 62 on the Trojans last season while USC gave up a combined 77 points to UCLA and Arizona.  The secondary for this year has only 1 returning starter.

The Trojans have the top receiver in the nation returning in Marquise Lee (1721 yards, 14 TD) and a 1000 yard running back in Silas Redd, but can Max Wittek get Lee the ball efficiently and often are the question?

Who will Play UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but with 12 starters returning from last season and Brett Hundley (3745, 29 TD, 11 INT) returning at QB, the Bruins are a shoe-in to win the Pac-12 South Division.

The big question for UCLA will be “who will replace running back Jonathan Franklin and his 1734 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns?” There are a number of candidates, but Franklin will be sorely missed. UCLA won’t be competing for the BCS Championship, but this will be a vastly improved team and should have “the one up” on USC due to the talent of Hundley at QB.

Outlook

It looks like we’re going to see Oregon vs. UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship (barring injuries) and Oregon will be a contender for the BCS Championship. Are they capable of winning it all? Most likely not, due to teams like Alabama and Ohio State.

Oregon Ducks 13/2 at Bovada

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