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2008-2009 PAC 10 ODDS AND PREVIEW
USC - OREGON - ARIZONA STATE FAVORED
The PAC 10 had some surprises last year with teams like Arizona State coming on strong and Oregon but in the end, it was the old stand by, USC taking the crown, though it wasn't as easy as years past (az st were co-champs but we're beaten soundly by usc). So, the question on everyone's mind of course, is, will USC once again end up on top in the Pac 10? Well, let's dig in and see. But at quick glance, it looks like that answer is yes. So many of the other teams have lost crucial players. To them, it matters. To USC, it doesn't. Strictly from a betting standpoint, looking for the best value on the board, we may suggest Oregon at 7-1 Odds. It will be tough to duplicate last years magic, but this squad has had only one losing year this decade. If you gotta take a shot, Oregon may be your bestbet.
USC - Odds 2-7 As I eluded to above, when a team like USC loses players to graduation (ok, not everyone graduates) it really doesn't matter. With so many teams, losing key starters on both sides of the ball really puts them behind the curve. A team like USC, can actually be BETTER then they were the year before after having lost key players. It's virtually impossible to predict how players filling shoes of departed stars will fair, unless you're sitting their monitoring film and practice sessions every day. But it's no stretch to predict USC will be good. They are good every year. They recruit NFL caliber talent two and three deep. Most back ups would be starting on most teams across the country. After a 6-6 year in 2001, USC has rattled off 11, 12 and 13 win seasons every year. This year should be no different. Circle September 13th on your calendar. Ohio State comes to town. That game could be the title game right there, only 2 games into the season!
Arizona State - Odds 4-1 Arizona ranked as high as #6 in the nation last year after an 8-0 start and despite being blown out by USC, tied them for the regular season PAC 10 title with a record of 7-2. But they were simply too far away from the elite teams. As mentioned above, they were beaten by 20 by USC, Oregon put them away and then Texas spanked them 52-34 in the Holiday Bowl. There wins came against mostly .500 or below teams. It doesn't look like they can match last years success. The have Georgia coming to town, they play at USC, and other PAC 10 teams with similar talent levels figure to improved this year. I can see 7 wins as a possibility but there are too many games on the card that can go either way to predict a higher win total.
Oregon - Odds 7-1 Last year was a special one for the Ducks as we watched them climb to #2 in the nation before QB Dennis Dixon went down and the wheels came off. What could have been? We'll never know. But don't count the Ducks out just yet. They have a good chance to run the table at home this year where they have only lost 4 times over the last 4 years. That would be 6 wins right there. They have winnable road games at Purdue, Wash St, Az St, Cal and Oregon St. They won't get all those, but even 3 would put them at another 9 win season. Coach Mark Bellotti puts winning teams on the field more times than not with only one losing team this decade. Expect Oregon to be a contender in 2008.
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California - Odds 8-1 After a 10-3 2006 season for the Golden Bears, there were very high hopes heading into last year. Cal opened the year with a revenge game destroying Tennessee and then rattled off 4 more wins to start the year 5-0 and climb as high as #2 in the Nation before losing 6 of their last 7 games in a classic meltdown. This year, hopes aren't as high. They return 8 to a defense that really wasn't very good to begin with. They are deep at the QB position though and have some offensive firepower back. It's just tough to make a case for more than 7 wins for the Bears. The schedule isn't exactly easy, with plenty of games both in and out of conference that can go either way.
Oregon State - Odds 40-1 Similar to the Cal write up, it's tough to make a case for the Beavers winning more than 5 or 6 games. It's a tough schedule. They play at Penn St, UCLA and Utah and then have a home schedule with USC, Cal, Arizona St and Oregon. No pushovers. Oregon St should be ok offensively as they return 7 but their defense has just about always been a question mark and once again figures to be weak. You can't expect much better than 50/50 results against the teams they face without a defense.
Arizona - Odds 20-1 The Wild Cats haven't had a winning season this decade. You can argue that now might be their best chance in years as they return their entire offense from last year, but as you can see, there is a pattern among the lower tier PAC 10 teams......no defense. When you play in a conference with so many potent offensive teams, it makes it difficult to make a case for teams like Arizona to improve.
UCLA - Odds 8-1 Looking at the Bruins schedule, it's possible to make a case for them winning 7 games before finishing the year at Arizona State and then with USC at home. This starts the Rick Neuheisel era at UCLA which has everyone excited. It's amazing the affect a coach with a proven track record can have on a team just from a confidence level point of view. It looks like another 6 or 7 win team here but don't be surprised to see Neuheisel win a game or two more than he should in his first year.
Washington - Odds 20-1 This program has had 5 straight years of anything from mediocre to just plain horrible football teams. But they do return 7 offensive starters and 6 on defense from a year ago, a year which, although they won just 4 games, there may be some bright spots. They started off last season by ripping apart Syracuse and then upsetting Boise St before losing their next 6 games. But they get a pass in couple of those games as they were up against USC and Ohio St. They managed to come within 3 of Ohio St and they almost knocked off a very strong Hawaii team to end the year. The schedule once again takes no prisoners as they have Oklahoma on their dance card this year! Look for the Huskies to improve upon last years 4 win mark, but not by much.
Washington State - Odds 40-1 The Cougars haven't topped the 6 win mark for 4 straight years, thus, a new coach this year in Paul Wuff. Looking at their schedule, it's not out of the question that this tam could start the year 4-0 if they can get by home games against Oklahoma St and Cal, and beat Portland St and Baylor, as expected. If they do that, another 3 wins along the way certainly within reach. 7 wins not an impossible goal here but don't pencil them in for a bowl game just yet.
Stanford - Odds 30-1 How do you figure this team out? I'll sum it up in one sentence. They return just about all of their key starters from a year ago, a team that, while it only won 4 games, beat USC at USC, 24-23. So, the talent is thee to win big games. It's just incredibly difficult when looking at their schedule, to get them to realistically win more than 6 games.