The Pac-12 as we know it is preparing for one more run before UCLA and USC make their way to the Big Ten in 2024. The "Last Dance" for the league should provide fireworks with a lengthy list of contenders ready to duke it out for the title.
Caesars Sportsbook lists USC, Oregon and Washington as the favorites to take home the conference title this year. All three of those teams return experienced quarterback starters -- and Heisman hopefuls -- in Caleb Williams, Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. respectively. Utah's Cameron Rising, Colorado's Shedeur Sanders, Oregon State's DJ Uiagalelei and Washington State's Cam Ward help round out the league's talented quarterback group.
Last year was chalk at the top of the list with preseason co-favorites Utah and USC meeting in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Utes would go on to capture the title by beating the Trojans for the second time in three months. Could another rematch be on the horizon? Here's a look at the full odds from Caesars Sportsbook and some recommendations on where to allot your money:
Best bet -- Washington (+325): Do you like offense? Washington is the team for you. The Huskies return an experienced QB in Penix and have two of the best wide receivers in the country in Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan. The duo combined for 141 catches for 2,128 yards and 15 touchdowns a season ago. Fellow WR Ja'Lynn Polk is viewed as a breakout candidate after a sensational freshman season. Washington's defense, meanwhile, ranked third in the Pac-12 last season and returns Bralen Trice, Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Tuli Letuligasenoa among others. The Huskies schedule is tough with a nonconference road game against Michigan State and conference matchups with Utah, Oregon, USC and Oregon State, but the offense is built to overpower opponents and the defense should get plenty of stops.
Worst wager -- USC (+180): The Trojans return the defending Heisman Trophy winner in Caleb Williams, and if the season ended before it began, he would likely be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. USC took a massive leap last season in the first season under Lincoln Riley but the defense remains a major question mark. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch's unit ranked in the middle of the pack last season but fell apart late in the Trojans' Cotton Bowl loss to Tulane. USC also faces has a brutal conference schedule with Utah, Oregon, Washington and UCLA all on the slate. Throw in a trip to South Bend in the middle of the season to face Notre Dame and it's a tough road back to the Pac-12 title game.
Value pick -- Oregon State (+900): Coming off a 10-win season, it seems the Beavers have somehow managed to stay under the radar heading into 2023. The rebuild under Jonathan Smith has been a success thus far, and the Beavers look ready to take the next step. Oregon State looks to have addressed one of its glaring weaknesses from last year under center with the addition of former five-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei from the transfer portal. Uiagalelei can be viewed as damaged goods after a pair of underwhelming seasons at Clemson, but Smith has a chance to to unlock more his full massive potential in 2023. At Washington, Smith helped transform Jake Browning into a Heisman Trophy contender, leading to a trip to the College Football Playoff in the process.
Oregon State has one of the top running backs in the conference in Damien Martinez, and Anthony Gould is a threat as both a receiver and a returner. The Beavers defense should again be a strength after it ranked second behind Utah in total yards allowed last year. Oregon State has a tough draw to end the season with Washington and Oregon back-to-back, but the Beavers avoid a regular-season meeting with favorite USC.
Long shot -- Colorado (+6000): Few programs have been featured more in the national conversation than Colorado. Deion Sanders took the helm of the program and is in the process of overhauling what was considered one of the worst rosters in the Power 5 last year. The firebrand head coach has the No. 1 ranked transfer portal class, according to 247Sports, and secured a commitment from five-star defensive back Cormani McClain in the 2023 cycle. Like his coach, standout Travis Hunter has a chance to play on both sides of the ball. Alabama transfer linebacker Demouy Kennedy and Arkansas DB Myles Slusher will both have a chance to start right away for the Buffs defense.