Initially the Oregon Ducks would seem to be the clear favorite to repeat as Pac 12 champions. Especially considering all of the negativity regarding the USC Trojans. Along with a Pac 12 Conference in the midst of significant transition. Yet USC has opened as a virtual co-favorite at College Football betting sites with Oregon. Let’s take a look at the current lay of the land for both the Ducks and USC. They remain top picks for the Pac 12 Conference title in 2020.
CashBet Odds to win the 2020 Pac 12 Conference Football Championship
Oregon Ducks -220, USC Trojans -250, Washington Huskies -350, Utah Utes -500, Arizona State Sun Devils -1000, Washington State Cougars -1500, UCLA Bruins -1800, California Golden Bears -1800, Arizona Wildcats -2500, Stanford Cardinal -3000, Oregon State Beavers -7500, Colorado Buffaloes +15000
Shough Looks to Fill Herbert’s Large Cleats
First among concerns for Oregon is replacing four year starting quarterback Justin Herbert. Eugene’s native son departed as a Rose Bowl championship hero. And a first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Chargers. Concurrently the pressure is on third year sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough as likely heir apparent. Spring practice was supposed to include a quarterback competition with four-star recruit Jay Butterfield. With COVID-19 shutting down spring football any challenge to Shough will come at fall camp. Which means the job is likely Slough’s to lose.
Replacing the O Line of the O
Equally worrisome is who will protect the new quarterback? While Herbert garnered the 2019 headlines he was not alone. Oregon boasted an outstanding offensive line that was among the nation’s most experienced. Four of the five starters from last year’s Rose Bowl championship team have departed. Namely All-American tackle Penei Sewell must anchor the new unit. Some of the replacements do have backup playing experience. Oregon also has the ultimate asset base to draw from. Few teams have recruited more effectively.
Crystal Ball of Cristobal’s Ace Recruiting Sees More Success
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal is a recruiting machine. Specifically, it is the accumulation of high-end talent that keeps the Ducks near the top of sportsbook betting favorites. When practice does resume, Oregon’s raw material could add an even greater impact. Especially when compared to other Pac 12 teams. In particular USC is coming off an abysmal recruiting cycle.
New Quack Attack
Starting with new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is a sense of optimism. Moorhead is seen by many as the missing link to a potential College Football Playoff run. He arrives at a perfect time as the roster turnover will be more receptive to new ideas. More emphatically Oregon’s 2019 offense was often inconsistent. It was a betting on NCAA football liability in losses to Auburn and Arizona State. Moorhead is seen as the man that can change that.
USC’s Feet of Clay?
At the onset of the 2020 season USC coach Clay Helton is on one of the hottest seats in America. USC did Helton no favors by letting him twist in the wind most of 2019. Following the Ducks 56-24 win over the Trojans on November 2 was Helton considered a dead man coaching. But he rallied to lead USC to three consecutive wins at the end of the regular season. Helton was spared the firing squad after a 52-35 payout in the season finale over arch rival UCLA.
USC’s 49-24 loss to Iowa in the bowl game nuked any good will that remained. Further adding to heat on Helton was a terrible recruiting class. Of course, the administration’s hesitation on his status was a major problem with prospective recruits. But a fan base that considers USC a top ten program is only interested in results. In view of previously higher recruiting classes does USC have talent. Of major concern is team depth that can last through the Pac 12 season grind.
Hence, USC’s first loss of the season will bring out the wolves. Following that will be a social media firestorm. And then calls for “Urban Renewal.” But why would Urban Meyer prefer the headaches of USC over retirement?