On July 31, the Pac-12 came out with a tentative fall football schedule. Like the other Power 5 Conferences, the Pac decided to stick with in-conference games. They also agreed to push back the start of the football season from late August to September 26.
Other changes? Unlike the ACC, who will forego division football this season and instead play a single division, 15-team format, the Pac-12 added conference games to the schedule. Instead of playing out of conference opponents, teams will play ten games among their Pac rivals.
That presents both a challenge and opportunity for many squads. Two Pac-12 teams that appear ready to dominate are in the same division, the North.
Both the Washington Huskies and Oregon Ducks could end up playing in New Year’s Day Bowl games. Oregon has a real shot at getting into the College Football Playoff as they did in the 2014-2015 season.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Because we’re amid a pandemic, things could quickly change. The Pac-12 knows this, which is why the conference insists they’ve set up a flexible schedule for any coronavirus-related changes.
Oregon is favored to win the conference championship. The Huskies are the third choice based on current odds, while USC is the second choice. Check out previews of the Washington Huskies’ and Oregon Ducks’ 2020-2021 College Football Seasons.
Washington Huskies – Who Will Play Quarterback?
Washington’s most significant issue is at the most crucial position on the field. If the Huskies don’t find a solid signal-caller, it won’t matter if Jimmy Lake can get the defense together. Before a deep dive into the quarterback position, let’s discuss the massive change that happened after the 2019 season.
First, Washington finished with a decent 8-5 record. But, this is Washington, which means 8-5 is paramount to a losing season. Most expected the Huskies to challenge for a CFP spot. Not only did that not happen, but Washington failed to get into a New Year’s Bowl.
Second, Chris Petersen, whom the Huskies had courted from Boise State for years, called it quits. In Washington’s last game, Petersen looked burnt out and ready to head to the lake with his fishing gear.
Washington wasted no time making defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake the head coach. Lake knows defense. Not only that, but the Huskies return seven players on defense. That’s the recipe for a lockdown unit.
When it comes to the biggest question, who will play quarterback, the Huskies have two options, Jacob Sirmon or Dylan Morris. Neither can launch the pigskin like departed Jacob Eason.
Morris is a redshirt freshman, though. That means it’s Sirmon’s job to win or lose.
Oregon Ducks – Can the revamped offensive line protect the new quarterback?
Oregon star Justin Herbert was the third NFL quarterback drafted in the first round. Herbert landed with the Los Angeles Chargers after Miami drafted Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. Heisman Trophy-winning LSU quarterback Joe Burrow went first to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Herbert could excel in Los Angeles. Not that it matters to the Oregon Ducks. His departure left a hole at the quarterback position.
But unlike the Huskies, Oregon has prepared for almost every situation. Most feel the Ducks are the team to beat in the Pac-12.
Coach Mario Cristobal said Tyler Shough will start. Although he doesn’t have the arm strength that Herbert exudes, Shough is efficient and knows how to play under center.
It helps that the Ducks return eight players who had double-digits in receptions last year. All those excellent receivers will help Shough. Another advantage Tyler has? The Ducks go three-deep at the running back position.
CJ Verdell, the starter, is a LeGarrette Blount-type bruiser. Backups Travis Dye and Cyrus Habibi-Likio combined for almost 1,000 yards rushing while Cyrus scored 10 touchdowns.
The defense allowed an average of 15.7 points per last season. That ranked ninth in college football. Oregon’s defense could be better this year than it was last year. The thought must cause keep Pac-12 offensive coordinators up at night.
The biggest question for the Ducks? How will they replace four starting offensive linemen?
Cristobal, like Nick Saban at Alabama and Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, knows how important the offensive line is to his football team’s success. Like Saban and Riley, Cristobal spends every recruiting season finding offensive linemen. It’s at the top of the list no matter what other position the Oregon football program must fill.
In 2020, the Ducks must replace 4-of-5 offensive linemen. However, the lone returning offensive line starter is Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell. Not only that, but Cristobal recruited a couple of Juco transfers in Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and T.J. Bass.
We should expect Oregon’s offensive line to be as durable, if not stronger than it was last season.
The Bottom Line – Oregon offers fair odds to win the Pac, Washington doesn’t
The Huskies and Ducks offer +300 and +225 respectively to win the Pac-12 Championship. At +300, the Huskies offer underlay odds. Anybody looking to put a few bucks on the Huskies should contact a pph sportsbook bookmaker.
Pay per head agents use bookie software to set lines, offer wagering options, and run Vegas-like sportsbooks. Look for better odds on a pay per head agent site than the current +300 on Washington to win the Pac-12.
When it comes to Oregon, the +225 odds are fair. The Ducks not only should win the Pac-12 but, if the offensive line comes together, they should challenge for a College Football Playoff spot.