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Stud QB Kedon Slovis may not be enough for USC to win wide-open Pac-12

Stud QB Kedon Slovis may not be enough for USC to win
wide-open Pac-12 1

The VSiN college football analyst and looks at some betting angles for the 2021 Pac-12 season.

Favorites: USC and Oregon

A wide-open conference race means there is no dominant team, and that’s the case again this year in the Pac-12. Five teams will set the pace — Oregon (5/2 at BetMGM), Washington (7/2), USC (4/1), Arizona State (4/1) and Utah (6/1), according to the BetMGM odds board — with UCLA chasing as a 12/1 long shot. USC is the obvious favorite in the South, and the North is a coin flip between Oregon and Washington.

Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis is the conference’s top Heisman Trophy candidate (28/1) after totaling 47 touchdown passes in two seasons. USC coach Clay Helton has underachieved with an 18-13 record the last three seasons, and he was lucky to go 5-1 last year, when Slovis led improbable comebacks to beat Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA.

Oregon returns nine starters, including senior quarterback Anthony Brown, on an electric offense. The Ducks are probably more talented than the Huskies, but Oregon drew a more difficult schedule with road games against UCLA, Utah and Washington. The Huskies avoid playing USC and Utah from the South and will host Arizona State and UCLA. Washington faces a big question mark at quarterback, so it’s tough to pick the Huskies to win the North.

The Sun Devils will be a threat with the return of quarterback Jayden Daniels, and the Bruins are hoping talented QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson has a breakthrough year for coach Chip Kelly, who’s 10-21 in three disappointing years at UCLA. Kelly has 20 starters returning, so this is his chance to move up the standings and finally reach a bowl. Of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 appears to be the odd man out of the four-team playoff picture, but the league has opportunities to make a statement and test its strength in several marquee non-conference games.

Live ‘dogs: Utah and California

Who’s the best coach in the conference? If you don’t answer Kyle Whittingham, it’s the wrong answer. Utah went 11-3 in 2019 under Whittingham, and this team might be better. The Utes return 19 starters and have the league’s top offensive and defensive lines. Baylor graduate transfer quarterback Charlie Brewer should lift the offense to the next level. The Utes get home games against Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA, and they are worth a shot to win the league at odds as high as 8/1 in the market. Cal coach Justin Wilcox is a defensive mastermind, and junior quarterback Chase Garbers is 8-3 in his last 11 starts for the gritty Golden Bears.

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Dead money: Arizona

The Wildcats will carry a 12-game losing streak into this season. Jedd Fisch, formerly the quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots, takes over as the only new head coach in the conference. Fisch can motivate Arizona’s players to be more competitive, but a three-win season looks to be the ceiling.

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