Examining the Over/Under 2019 Win Totals for the Pac-12
Could it be another down year for the Pac-12?
Last year, the Pac-12 went 3-4 in the postseason in what was considered to be another underwhelming year for the conference. I know some will disagree, but the Pac-12 really needs USC to become relevant and keeping Clay Helton as head coach may not get the Trojans there. They could have been in good shape when they hired Kliff Kingsbury to be the offensive coordinator, but he jumped to the pros to coach the Arizona Cardinals.
FanDuel Sportsbook out of New Jersey is the first to release the win totals for everyone in college football. For some of the teams in this conference though, you can find their numbers elsewhere and can shop around to find the best deal.
Note: Over/under totals provided by FanDuel Sportsbook.
Pac-12 North Division
Non-Conference Games: UC Davis, North Texas, at Ole Miss
California's offense was very underwhelming last year with just 21.5 points per game. The Golden Bears lost Ross Bowers to transfer so it looks like it's Chase Garbers team after he posted a 14:10 TD-to-INT ratio in 2018. Garbers may have to hold off UCLA transfer Devon Modster for the starting job. Brandon McIlwain threw 129 passes last year, but he's transitioning to more of an athlete role. Cal lost a ton of wide receivers so trying to find some production there will be tough although Michigan transfer Kekoa Crawford should help. The defense is going to be strong on the back end, but up front could be tough. Evan Weaver had 159 tackles from the linebacker position last year. This team has road trips to Oregon, Washington and Utah in conference and close out with two roadies as well.
Verdict: Six is a really good number. I came up with 5-6 wins so no play here.
Non-Conference Games: vs. Auburn (Arlington, Texas), Nevada, Montana
Justin Herbert is back and that was the biggest win of the offseason. The quarterback is looking at being one of the first players taken in next year's NFL draft if everything goes well. He's got pretty much everyone back on offense with CJ Verdell and Travis Dye in the backfield and three of their top four receivers. The one loss was Dillon Mitchell, who got a third of the targets, but Penn State transfer Juwan Johnson will be among those who will try and pick up the slack. The Ducks could have the best offense in the conference. The defense has seen improvement each of the last few years and returns a lot of experience led by standout linebacker Troy Dye. Defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux was a big get for the program as a blue-chip freshman. Special teams play needs some work. Oregon has just one true road game over the first six contests.
Verdict: I agree with the line move as I had nine wins for the Ducks. I'm not paying that price though.
Non-Conference Games: Oklahoma State, at Hawaii, Cal Poly
Jonathan Smith went 2-10 in year one and a similar record could be expected this fall. The Beavers have an intriguing quarterback in Jake Luton, who has the size and intangibles to get things done. Luton will have to hold off Nebraska transfer Tristan Gebbia, who has the mobility Smith is looking for to run his offense. Whoever is under center has Jermar Jefferson back in the backfield as well as two of the top three receivers. The defense has seven starters returning but this unit needs a lot of work after ranking 129th nationally in total, scoring and rushing defense last season. Special teams could be good so that's a positive. It's going to be another long year.
Verdict: I've got the under but the narrowest of margins. I don't recommend it though because of the price and the fact that it's not a slam dunk.
Non-Conference Games: Northwestern, at UCF, Notre Dame
The Cardinal open up with a potentially tough stretch of games including back-to-back road trips to USC and UCF. Stanford's offense will go as K.J. Costello goes after he threw for 29 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. Cameron Scarlett will try and fill the big shoes of Bryce Love at running back. At least tight end Colby Parkinson is back as a reliable pass catcher. There's a lot of unproven but highly touted wide receivers on this roster. The defense has to get better especially against the pass where it was 11th in the conference. Cornerback Paulson Adebo was named the best returning cornerback by Pro Football Focus. The issues may come at linebacker where there will need to be some rebuilding. BTW, the team's kicker is Jet Toner and that might be an all-time name.
Verdict: Pretty good number here by the sportsbook as I have them as a six- or seven-win team depending upon how the Cardinal do at home against some of the better teams in the conference.
Non-Conference Games: Eastern Washington, Hawaii, at BYU
The Huskies fail to challenge themselves once again out of conference with these three games. Washington opens up the year with three straight and four of the first five at home. Washington native Jacob Eason finally gets his chance to start as he will replace Jake Browning after transferring from Georgia. Eason won't have Myles Gaskin in the backfield but Salvon Ahmed has averaged six yards per carry through his first two seasons so there may not be a considerable drop-off. There are no worries about the rest of the skill position guys as the wide receiving corps is almost intact as well as the offensive line. The defense is led by Levi Onwuzurike up front as a disruptive tackle. Recruiting on this side of the ball has seen an uptick so we'll see how some of the young guys replace the departed veterans.
Verdict: Slight lean to the over as I came up with 10 wins. The schedule lines up nicely for a good year.
Non-Conference Games: New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, at Houston
Gage Gubrud replaces Gardner Minshew at quarterback. The signal-caller comes over from FCS Eastern Washington where he accumulated more than 11,000 yards of offense. He does have two other players on the roster who could challenge, but I don't believe they'll win the job. James Williams is the only real loss among the skill positions with Davontavean Martin and Dezmon Patmon expected to be the top targets. Losing standout left tackle Andre Dillard could result in the offensive line taking a step back. On defense, Peyton Pelluer is gone and he was the leading tackler and sack guy. Seniors made only 38 percent of the tackles last year. Wazzu needs to fix their weak run defense. The Cougars have some tough road trips to navigate, namely games against Utah, Oregon and Washington.
Verdict: Pretty solid number here as I came up with eight wins.
Pac-12 South Division
Non-Conference Games: at Hawaii, Northern Arizona, Texas Tech
Kevin Sumlin's first year wasn't exactly a success, going 5-7. In year two he has to figure out how to unlock Khalil Tate's potential. Tate still put up good numbers, but made mistakes at crucial times and just didn't seem like himself. He's got J.J. Taylor back to run the ball, but his top three receivers are gone. The offensive line brings back a few starters as well. The defense has six starters returning led by linebacker Colin Schooler and Tony Fields. Cornerback Jace Whittaker is back from injury and was very effective before then. The schedule has the Wildcats playing their first six at home. This team will push for bowl eligibility.
Verdict: I like the under as I came up with 5-6 wins for Arizona.
Non-Conference Games: Kent State, Sacramento State, at Michigan State
I'll admit that I was wrong about Herm Edwards as he had a better year (7-6) then I thought he would. He made an interesting hire of former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis as well to help out the coaching staff. We'll see what Edwards can do in 2019 without Manny Wilkins and N'Keal Harry on offense. Taking over for Wilkins could be either junior Dillon Sterling-Cole or true freshman Jayden Daniels. Daniels is the more intriguing prospect, but we'll see if he has enough. Eno Benjamin is the workhorse running back charged with keeping the offense afloat. Brandon Aiyuk is among those hoping to replace Harry. The defense has six starters back and special teams will be real solid with Brandon Ruiz at kicker.
Verdict: I came up with 7-8 wins so therefore this is a good number and there's no play.
Non-Conference Games: Colorado State, Nebraska, Air Force
The Buffaloes made a shrewd hire of Mel Tucker, the former Georgia defensive coordinator who is getting his first shot at being a head coach. The defense has five starters back from a unit that was good against the run. Davion Taylor is an intriguing pro prospect and should be pretty good in 2019. The front line may need some work. On offense, Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. will be busy. Montez had 19 touchdown passes in 2018 with six of those going to Shenault. The backfield is an uncertainty following the graduation of 1,000-yard rusher Travon McMillian. The two leading returning options had a grand total of 15 carries and that's because Beau Bisharat moved to tight end.
Verdict: I came up with four wins so a slight lean to the under.
Non-Conference Games: at Cincinnati, San Diego State, Oklahoma
UCLA's first year with Chip Kelly was a little short of a disaster as the Bruins went 3-9 although they had to deal with a lot of injuries. It could be a rough start to the year with three tough non-conference games. Don't sleep on the season-opening road trip to Cincinnati. Dorian Thompson-Robinson will look to take a big step forward and he has 2018 breakout Joshua Kelley to help take some pressure off of him. The offensive line should be strong as well. The defense has nine starters back. The Bruins allowed nearly 200 rushing yards per game last season. UCLA should be improved but this team still has a fair number of questions.
Verdict: I came up with 5-6 wins so this is a solid number.
Non-Conference Games: Fresno State, at BYU, at Notre Dame
It's a minor miracle that Clay Helton still has a job. Yes, he's 32-17 in three-plus years as head coach, but this team hasn't been a factor much as of late. The offense seems stale at times with the hope that new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell changes that. Sophomore quarterback JT Daniels needs to cut down on the mistakes for him to realize his recruiting hype. He has plenty of targets to throw to, including Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr. The offensive line is one area that needs to show a lot of improvement. On defense, just four starters return and the secondary will feature all new starters so that's one group that will need to come together sooner rather than later. The schedule features back-to-back road games against Washington and Notre Dame. Bowl eligibility is no guarantee here.
Verdict: This is a tough schedule. I've got 6-7 wins for the Trojans.
Non-Conference Games: at BYU, Northern Illinois, Idaho State
Before this season began, I put down a futures wager on Utah to win the PAC-12 in 2019. The Utes have one of the better head coaches and plenty of returning talent. Tyler Huntley has his full complement of weapons back, especially if Zack Moss and Britain Covey bounce back after injuries last year. The offensive line returns three starters and with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig returning to Salt Lake City this unit could be explosive. Utah is typically solid, if not outstanding, on defense, but this unit probably won't be as good as last year's, which finished fifth nationally against the run. Leki Fotu and Bradlee Anae returning give the Utes one of the nation's top defensive lines and Jaylon Johnson is a very good cornerback. Give me as many shares of this team as I can get.
Verdict: Give me the over.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.