Pac-12 conference title odds, picks: USC eyes first crown since 2008, Stanford lurks

There are less than 100 days left to go before the 2017 college football season starts, and that means you have less than 100 days to figure out which teams you want to bet on before the season.

You’re so lucky to have friends like us at CBS Sports.

BetOnline has released conference title odds for the Power Five conferences, and we want to make sure you’re prepared with all the knowledge you need to make the smart play.

Let’s take a look at the odds for the Pac-12.


Southern California Trojans
+125

Washington Huskies
+250

Stanford Cardinal
+600

UCLA Bruins
+900

Oregon Ducks
+1200

Utah Utes
+1600

Washington State Cougars
+1600

Colorado Buffaloes
+2000

Arizona State Sun Devils
+3300

Arizona Wildcats
+8000

California Golden Bears
+8000

Oregon State Beavers
+8000

Best bet: USC hasn’t entered the season with expectations this high since
Matt Barkley
decided to come back for his senior season and the Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. That season ended with just seven wins and a loss to
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
in the 2012 Sun Bowl. Since then, it’s been a slow climb back to the top of the Pac-12 for the Trojans, and after winning the Rose Bowl, they’ve reasserted themselves as the team to beat. 

Though there is a recent history of proven success, the Clay Helton era has not been in place long enough to feel good taking the Trojans — likely the most popular pick of the experts come media days season in July — with those odds. After all, Washington is the league’s defending champion and it was Colorado, not USC, representing the Pac-12 South in last year’s conference title game. In fact, while USC has won 10 games three times in the last six years, the Trojans haven’t won the Pac-12 championship since 2008. 

But the best bet here is Stanford (+600). In six years as the program’s head coach,
David Shaw
has three Pac-12 titles and five double-digit win seasons. What’s been the most impressive over the last couple of seasons has been Stanford’s ability to reinvent itself schematically and stylistically, even over the course of a single season. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that
Bryce Love
is about to break out as a superstar running back, and the Cardinal will have a chance to take back the Pac-12 North from Washington and challenge USC in the conference title game. 

Most interesting long shot: While USC was shuffling through head coaches, UCLA rolled off a mini-run form 2012-14 that included 29 wins, two top-20 finishes and a division title. The pressure is on for Jim Mora to recapture that level of success following a 4-8 campaign in 2016, especially considering this fall may be the last run with
Josh Rosen

The outspoken and outrageously gifted quarterback was shut down for the year after just six games because of injury concerns, but when he was healthy as a freshman in 2015, Rosen threw for more than 3,600 yards and 23 touchdowns. A five-star prospect coming out of college and potential first round NFL Draft pick, Rosen has somehow remained out of the spotlight since the days of dorm room hot tubs and highly-publicized rounds at Donald Trump’s golf clubs. 

So even though UCLA (+900) is the fourth team listed on the odds board, it still seems like a long shot pick worth considering. The Bruins pulled a top-15 recruiting class in the 2015 and 2016 cycles. In a conference where everyone pretty much has to play everyone — the nine-game schedule in a 12-team league leaves no room to hide — the division titles usually come down to the tiebreakers. 

In that case, a bet on UCLA is a bet that Josh Rosen is healthy and can outshine USC quarterback
Sam Darnold
in a battle of 2018 NFL Draft hopefuls with the Pac-12 South on the line. I don’t know if it will happen, but it sure would be awesome to watch.