THE FAVORITES: OREGON and USC
In a normal year, Oregon would have been the obvious favorite. This is an abnormal year with a shortened schedule and several opt-outs, so the two spots in the Pac-12 title game are more open to interpretation than most experts think. The Ducks have taken some hits with several players opting out, including offensive tackle Penei Sewell, the conference’s top NFL draft prospect. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal has been reloading with top recruiting classes, but the personnel losses are significant. Star quarterback Justin Herbert graduated to the NFL, where his talents are obvious, and five starting offensive linemen are gone with him. At the Westgate SuperBook, Oregon is the + 130 favorite, with USC the + 250 second choice. Cristobal makes shaky game-management decisions, and USC coach Clay Helton is a consistent underachiever, so pick your poison. The Ducks’ success will depend heavily on the development of redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Shough. The Trojans have an established QB in Kedon Slovis, and USC might be better defensively and have slightly more talent across the board than Oregon.