The Pac-12 is still considered a Power 5 conference, but it has been underperforming as a group for years. The conference only has two appearances in the College Football Playoff, and its lone win came from Oregon in 2014. The Ducks probably have the best chance of any Pac-12 team to make the playoff this season, but they'll need a lot of breaks in order for it to happen. Utah, Arizona State, and USC all represent challenges in the Pac-12 South. Let's take a look at out west and see if there's any value with any of these teams.
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of DraftKings.
California (Over 6 +100...Under 6 -125)
Non-Conference Games: Nevada, at TCU, Sacramento State
Schedule Notes: The first six games of the year alternate between home and road before three of their final four come on the road. They get USC at home and Washington on the road.
QB: Chase Garbers
Roster Notes: The offense managed just 81 points in four games last year. Garbers was alright with six touchdown passes to three interceptions, but the hope is that he'll be better with another year of chemistry with six of his top seven skill position players back. The run game has to be better with four of the five offensive linemen returning. Justin Wilcox has done good things with the defense who has 11 of their top 12 tacklers back led by Kuony Deng and Cameron Goode.
Prediction: Slight lean to the under, although I think six is pretty good.
Related: Pac-12 Football 2021 Predictions
Oregon (Over 9 -125...Under 9 +100)
Non-Conference Games: Fresno State, at Ohio State, Stony Brook
Schedule Notes: Getting Ohio State early will show us what this team is made of. The Ducks play at Washington on Nov. 6 and alternate home and road throughout Pac-12 play. They are lucky to miss both USC and Arizona State.
QB Battle: Anthony Brown vs. Jay Butterfield vs. Ty Thompson vs. Robby Ashford
Roster Notes: The QB battle will be a fun thing to watch as we get closer to Week 1. Whoever wins the job will have last year's top three receivers back as well as Travis Dye and CJ Verdell in the backfield. It's Year 3 for heralded prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has been all the team has expected and more. The defense has seven starters back, including most of their linebackers. The secondary was alright last year, but the young group can take another step in 2021.
Prediction: Ten wins are definitely attainable if everything breaks right and the right QB wins the job.
Related: 2021 Pac-12 Quarterback Rankings
Oregon State (Over 4.5 -113...Under 4.5 -113)
Non-Conference Games: at Purdue, Hawaii, Idaho
Schedule Notes: The opening game at Purdue is interesting, as they follow up with two wins before getting USC and Washington in conference play. Closing out with a home matchup against Arizona State and the battle with Oregon is always tough.
QB Battle: Tristan Gebbia vs. Chance Nolan vs. Colorado transfer Sam Noyer
Roster Notes: Much like the rival Ducks, the Beavers are going QB searching this offseason. Nolan and Gebbia both got time last year, but Noyer was pretty good with Colorado. Losing Jermar Jefferson will hurt, but Deshaun Fenwick transferred over from South Carolina. The offensive line is intact and top receiver Trevon Bradford returns as well. The defense was bad last year so we'll see if the 7 returning starters can improve that. Avery Roberts and Omar Speights are the top two tacklers returning while the secondary will have to replace their starting corners.
Prediction: Slight lean to the under since there are a lot of question marks.
Stanford (Over 4 -125...Under 4 +100)
Non-Conference Games: Kansas State (in Arlington, Texas), at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame
Schedule Notes: Stanford has just two true home games in the first seven weeks of the season. The payoff comes with four of five at home to close out the slate. Getting Oregon and Notre Dame at home are good tests.
QB Battle: Tanner McKee vs. Jack West
Roster Notes: West and McKee had a combined 26 attempts last season, resulting in 216 passing yards. One of them inherits an offense that loses leading receiver Simi Fehoko but does have Brycen Tremayne and Michael Wilson. The offensive line has three starters back, but the losses are pretty big ones. The defense was bad last year, and the leading tackler is gone. We'll see if they can generate more pressure than the 2020 campaign because last year the corners had no interceptions.
Prediction: Small lean to the over here.
Washington (Over 9 +110...Under 9 -139)
Non-Conference Games: Montana, at Michigan, Arkansas State
Schedule Notes: The Huskies host Oregon in their biggest Pac-12 conference game. Washington has four of its first six at home and three of its final four there as well.
QB: Dylan Morris
Roster Notes: Morris wasn't bad last year and figures to win the job, but Colorado State transfer Patrick O'Brien or five-star recruit Sam Huard could push him. Two of the top WRs from last year transferred out, but Cade Otton is back at tight end. The offensive line is intact, and the top four running backs are back, so the ground game could be very good. The defense was good last year except for the Stanford contest. Seven starters are back including a great group of linebackers, although Washington will miss Zion Tupuola-Fetui (7.0 sacks) as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles.
Prediction: Nine is a really good number.
Washington State (Over 6 -113...Under 6 -113)
Non-Conference Games: Utah State, Portland State, BYU
Schedule Notes: The Cougars have six of their first eight at home as they have a pair of three-game homestands. The closing stretch features road games at Arizona State, Oregon, and Washington, so the wins better come early.
QB Battle: Jayden de Laura vs. Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano vs. Cammon Cooper
Roster Notes: Guarantano was inconsistent at Tennessee and hurt his hand in the spring game, so it figures to be de Laura in front. Receivers Jamire Calvin and Tay Martin both transferred out and Renard Bell tore his ACL, but Travell Harris is back. Harris led the team with 340 yards and two touchdowns last season on 29 receptions. The run game needs to get a bigger part, but under Nick Rolovich, that is no guarantee. Wazzu's defense has a ton back from a group that allowed 39 points per game last year. We'll see if they can improve from that.
Prediction: I like the under here. A lot of question marks and potentially tough games.
Arizona (Over 2.5 -113...Under 2.5 -113)
Non-Conference Games: BYU (in Las Vegas), San Diego State, Northern Arizona
Schedule Notes: Getting Oregon, USC, and Arizona State on the road is not good for the Wildcats. Northern Arizona won't be easy either for Arizona who will be hard-pressed to find a ton of victories.
QB Battle: Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz vs. USF transfer Jordan McCloud vs. Will Plummer
Roster Notes: Jedd Fisch brings plenty of NFL experience, and he'll need it because this team needs a ton of work. Cruz and McCloud are intriguing, but the WR group is hurting. Jamarye Joiner underwent foot surgery which puts more on Stanley Berryhill III, who had three touchdowns. Three starters are back up front, and the run game could be decent with Northwestern transfer Drake Anderson providing a shot in the arm. Don Brown comes over from Michigan to coordinate the defense. A lot was expected from him with the Wolverines and it didn't materialize the last few years. Arizona needs to change a lot especially a secondary that had no interceptions.
Prediction: There might be two or three wins here, so no play.
Arizona State (Over 9 -113...Under 9 -113)
Non-Conference Games: Southern Utah, UNLV, at BYU
Schedule Notes: It's a soft start to the year for Arizona State, which has six of its first nine at home before two of its final three on the road. The Sun Devils get USC at home and have to travel to Washington the next week.
QB: Jayden Daniels
Roster Notes: Daniels was very efficient last year and now gets 12 games to show everyone what he's got. There are a ton of returnees from the rushing and receiving lists, plus Bryan Thompson comes over from Utah. The offensive line has four starters back, which will help with the balance this side of the ball needs to succeed. The defense is led by D.J. Davidson and Jermayne Lole up front while Chase Lucas and Evan Fields patrol the secondary.
Prediction: Nine is a solid number.
Colorado (Over 4.5 -105...Under 4.5 -122)
Non-Conference Games: Northern Colorado, Texas A&M (in Denver), Minnesota
Schedule Notes: Not too many P5 schools play other P5 schools in the non-conference, but here are SEC and Big Ten opponents. Colorado has four of its final six on the road, including contests at Oregon and UCLA. The Buffs do host USC and Washington.
QB Battle: Brendon Lewis vs. Tennessee transfer JT Shrout
Roster Notes: Sam Noyer was supposed to be the quarterback, but he's now in Corvallis. We'll see who can win this job, as there are solid wide receivers including La'Vontae Shenault. Jarek Broussard found a lot of success last year in the ground game and could do so once again with four starters back up front. Nate Landman being healthy is huge for the defense as he's been really good but suffered an Achilles heel injury late last season. The secondary lost a couple of guys to the transfer portal, but Isaiah Lewis is a very good safety.
Prediction: Four or five wins are what I found so no value.
UCLA (Over 7 -106...Under 7 -121)
Non-Conference Games: Hawaii, LSU, Fresno State
Schedule Notes: The first three are at home, including getting LSU in the Rose Bowl in Week 2. October is filled with challenges as they take on Arizona State and Oregon at home as well as a road game at Washington.
QB: Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Roster Notes: DTR accounted for 15 touchdowns in 2020 as the offense put up over 30 points five times and had 27 against Arizona. The run game will miss Demetric Felton, but Brittain Brown and Michigan transfer Zach Charbonnet should fill the void, and five O-lineman are back. Osa Odighizuwa went pro, so that's a loss for the defense, but they have a ton of starters returning. They forced a lot of turnovers in their short schedule last year and look to do so once again.
Prediction: Seven is a solid number.
USC (Over 8.5 +100...Under 8.5 -125)
Non-Conference Games: San Jose State, at Notre Dame, BYU
Schedule Notes: There's a very good chance that if the Trojans beat Stanford, they will open up 5-0 before hosting Utah. USC even gets a bye week to prepare for their trip to South Bend on Oct. 23. The stretch run is manageable too.
QB: Kedon Slovis
Roster Notes: We saw this offense perk up under Graham Harrell last year, and Slovis should take the next step in 2021. He had 17 touchdown passes and will have to do without Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns. Still, Drake London, Kyle Ford, Colorado transfer K.D. Nixon and Memphis transfer Tahj Washington are back as key targets for Slovis. The offensive line stunk last year and they lost their LT. The run game picked up Keaontay Ingram from Texas to go with Vavae Malepeai. The defense could have been better last year, but the secondary is going to be one of the best in the Pac-12.
Prediction: At this price, I really like the over as I think nine or 10 wins are possible if things break right.
Utah (Over 8.5 -137...Under 8.5 +110)
Non-Conference Games: Weber State, at BYU, at San Diego State
Schedule Notes: Two non-conference road games early on will test the Utes, who only managed five games last year. They travel to USC and Stanford but host Oregon and Arizona State.
QB: Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer
Roster Notes: Brewer inherits an offense that returns Britain Covey and Brant Kuithe back at skill positions and adds former UCLA Bruin Theo Howard, who comes over via the transfer portal. The run game will be led by Oklahoma transfer TJ Pledger and LSU transfer Chris Curry after the unfortunate passing of Ty Jordan. Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore both transferred out. The defensive front seven is strong and it has to be because the secondary could be its "weakest" unit.
Prediction: Eight or nine wins seem about right for the Utes.