The Pac-12 Conference is coming off another disappointing season. For the third time in the last four years the conference failed to send a team to the playoffs. Only 7 of the 12 schools qualified for a bowl game. While their 3-4 record was an improvement over the previous season when they went 1-8 in bowl games, their 3 wins came by a combined 4 points.
Washington State (No. 10) and Washington (No. 13) were the only teams in the Pac-12 to finish the year ranked in the Top 25.
Pac-12 College Football Preview & Predictions
A lot will need to go right for the Pac-12 to send a team to the playoffs in 2019. Oregon is considered by many as the conferences best hope, but Washington, Utah, Stanford, USC and Washington State are teams that could emerge into a national power.
One of the problems last year, was so many teams were undergoing significant changes in the first year of a new head coach. There were 5 first year head coaches in 2018. A lot more continuity in 2019, as Colorado is the only program that made a change with former Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker taking over for Mike MacIntyre.
You can see who I have winning it all in my 2019 college football predictions. Below you will find my projections for all 12 teams, both in the conference and overall. I’ve also included a number of future odds for teams and players throughout the article.
Now is also a good time to get ready for actual games. Week 1 betting odds are out and ready to wagered on.
2019 Pac 12 Projected Standings, Rankings & Betting Odds
I think we are going to see Oregon return to the top of the Pac-12 North in 2019. Star quarterback Justin Herbert could have went pro, but decided to return for his senior season. He’s one of 17 returning starters coming back for the Ducks.
Another big reason that I like Oregon this year, is the fact that both Washington and Stanford are losing a lot from last year. Both programs have just 9 returning starters. That’s not to say they can’t win the division. While both will be incorporating a lot of new faces, they will have an experienced signal caller.
Stanford’s K.J. Costello took a massive step forward in his sophomore campaign and is one of the top signal callers in the country. Washington will be adding in Georgia transfer Jacob Eason, who started 13 games in 2 seasons with the Bulldogs. People in Seattle are liking what they see and many feel he will be an upgrade over Jake Browning, who left as the all-time leading passer.
Another factor to consider, is both of these teams will get to host Oregon during the regular-season. Stanford gets to host both the Ducks and Huskies.
You might be wondering what about Mike Leach and the Cougars, who were hands down the biggest surprise of the conference last year. Washington State struck gold with transfer Garner Minshew at quarterback and will try to do so again with FCS transfer (Eastern Washington) Gage Gubrud, who has been one of the best players at the FCS level the past couple of years. The problem for the Cougars is the schedule. They have to play Utah, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon and Washington on the road, as well as a non-conference neutral site game against Houston.
Cal is a team that has struggled to put it all together under head coach Justin Wilcox, but are also a team no one in the Pac-12 wants to face, especially in Berkeley. Last year the Golden Bears knocked off No. 15 Washington at home and the year before upset No. 8 Washington State 37-3 as a 16-point dog. The defense will be one of the best again in 2019, I just don’t know that the offense will be good enough to get them competing for a division title.
That leaves Oregon State in the basement of the North and I have the Beavers going winless in the conference at 0-9. I just want to make it clear that while I don’t think Oregon State will win many games, this should he a much improved team over the one that got outscored by 20 ppg in 2018. The Beavers have 16 returning starters, will be in year two under head coach Jonathan Smith and have an experienced QB in senior Jake Luton. The problem is they only play 4 homes and all 4 are against one of the top teams.
A lot of people are really high on Utah this year. The Utes have 14 starters back from a team that won 9 games and played in the Pac-12 title. Doing so with their star quarterback (Tyler Huntley) and running back (Zach Moss) missing multiple games. If they can take that next step on offense, this team will be tough to beat with a defense that figures to be one of the best in the country.
As you can see, I have Utah finishing in a T-1st with USC on top of the South at 7-2. However, I’m going to roll the dice here with Clay Helton and the Trojans to win the head-to-head matchup (host Utah on Sept. 20) and represent this side of the conference in the title game.
I just think people are sleeping on this USC team and unlike most years when everyone is singing their praises, they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder in 2019. USC may have won just 5 games last year, but they started a true freshman at quarterback in JT Daniels and the defense was decimated by injuries. I think the offense could be special under new OC Graham Harrell, as Daniels really looked comfortable in the new scheme this spring.
While Washington State was the big surprise in 2018, Arizona State turned quite a few heads in the first season under head coach Herm Edwards. The Sun Devils were a lot better than anyone expected. While they matched 2017’s record of 7-6, all 5 of their regular-season losses came by 7-points or less. They will have 15 starters back, including star running back Eno Benjamin. They do lose quarterback Manny Wilkins and may be starting true freshman Jayden Daniels.
It wouldn’t shock me if Edwards had the Sun Devils in contention for a South title this year. Another team that I’m not about to rule out is UCLA. I know the Bruins were just 3-9 last year, but they were undergoing major changes in year one under head coach Chip Kelly. You could see strides this team made by November last year and will have 19 starters back. The problem is the schedule. They have to play 5 Pac-12 road games, four against the likes of Washington State, Stanford, USC and Utah. They also play Cincinnati, San Diego State and Oklahoma in non-conference. All three of those teams have a great shot of winning their respective conference.
I know there will be some out there that have Arizona a lot higher up in the standings. The big reason for that is the Wildcats will have a healthy Khalil Tate back at quarterback. I just think teams have figured out how to defend Tate. They too have to play 5 conference road games and 2of their 4 at home are against Utah and Washington.
That leaves Colorado, who I might be selling short in year one under Mel Tucker. The Buffaloes will have an experienced QB in Steven Montez and one of the nations best receivers in Laviska Shenault. The thing is, only 4 starters are back on a defense that allowed 30+ in 5 straight to end the year. They are also a team that has a really tough schedule in 2019. In a six week stretch they will host Arizona, play back-to-back on the road against Oregon and Washington State, host USC, travel to UCLA and then host Stanford. They then get a bye before having to play both Washington and Utah.
PAC-12 Championship Game Prediction: Oregon defeats USC
2019 Pac-12 Win Totals
|Players (Pos, School)||Odds|
|Justin Herbert (QB,Oregon)||+2200|
|K.J. Costello (QB, Stanford)||+6000|
|Eno Benjamin (RB, Arizona State)||+6500|
|Khalil Tate (QB, Arizona)||+6500|
Click here for a full list of Heisman odds for the 2019 season.
Playoff Odds (Win National Championship)
If you want to see what the payout would be for your team to win it all, check out our 2019 championship odds.