Win totals are starting to trickle out from the oddsmakers this week, and our series of analysis via the win totals at FanDuel continues with a look at the Pac-12. The way-too-early rankings and many offseason prediction pieces have noted that the league is without one true frontrunner, but these totals take it a step further with every number falling below double digits at the time of this publishing.
Washington has the highest win total at 9.5, but even that total is juiced to the under (-130) on the price. Utah is next in line at 9 and both Oregon and Washington State have win totals of 8.5. The rest of the league is currently carrying a win total of 8 or less, according to FanDuel.
So unless one of these teams exceeds its win total and finishes the regular season with 11 or 12 wins, the Pac-12 will miss the College Football Playoff for the third straight year.
For those uninitiated on "prices," minus-odds of -120 mean you'd have to wager $120 to win $100, while plus-odds (+120) means wagering $100 would win you $120. An "EVEN" price would result in a $100 payout for a $100 wager.
|7 wins: Year 2 with Kevin Sumlin brings expectations of a bowl game from the fans and the oddsmakers. Because of a season-opening trip to Hawaii in Week Zero, the Wildcats will have the advantage of three off weeks during the season. Two of those are going to come before the end of September -- usually a late-season bye can be helpful for injuries -- but it's going to give the group some time to get settled before Pac-12 play kicks off. The cross-division draw is tough with Washington coming to Tucson plus road trips to Stanford and Oregon, so whether Arizona hits 8 wins depends on where you think they stack up in the Pac-12 South. This number seems right and I do think Sumlin and the Wildcats will be bowling, but I'm more push-under than push-over, guessing that 6 or 7 wins is far more likely than 8 or more. Over -108, Under -108
|7.5 wins: After cashing in with ease on Herm Edwards going over 4.5 wins in Year 1, I'm going to jump on the other side of the market correction here in 2019. Losing both Manny Wilkins and N'Keal Harry on the offensive side of the ball is worth at least one win to the total in my book, so while I remain optimistic about Edwards and the overall outlook of the program it's tough to feel good about this year's squad winning more games than it did a year ago. It's a steep price, but six or seven wins is far more likely than eight or more. Over +125, Under -145
|6 wins: In just two years, Justin Wilcox has transformed Cal into one of the most steady defensive teams in the Pac-12. Given the personnel changeover from the Sonny Dykes Air Raid era, turning a defense-optional group into one of the 15 best units in the country is worth noting. But it was also a total about-face as the Bears returned to the postseason last year, led by their defense while the offense struggled with execution and consistency. I'm betting on an incremental increase in offensive production and more great defensive play, thinking push-over more than push-under with this six win total. Over -102, Under -114
|4.5 wins: Year 1 for Mel Tucker doesn't seem to be loaded with high expectations, but this number is way too low. The Buffs don't have dozens of blue chippers like the rosters Tucker worked with at Alabama and Georgia, but wide receiver Laviska Shenault is one of the most electrifying game-breakers in college football and Steven Montez is a three-year starter who can make the offense hum. Nonconference games against Colorado State and Air Force are probably what swings this total -- I'm counting the highly-anticipated Nebraska game as a loss, for now -- and will count on Tucker to get the defense in shape to win at least three conference games. Over -108, Under -108
|8.5 wins: Justin Herbert is a future pro quarterback talent that on name alone will keep the Ducks significant throughout the season on a national level, but Oregon fans are more concerned with seeing a return to Pac-12 title contention than securing a high NFL Draft spot for the star signal-caller. This number is lower than you might think for a conference title contender because the schedule is absolutely brutal. There's the season opener against Auburn and a trio of Pac-12 road games against Stanford, Washington and USC lining up as possible losses. Then there's last year's disappointing defeat to Arizona suggesting that an unexpected loss could be lurking anywhere. I like the plus-value here on the under and will line up with 8-4 as my prediction. Over -165, Under +140
|2.5 wins: Woof, what a tough number for Oregon State fans to see on the board for Year 2 with former Beavers quarterback Jonathan Smith running the show. The rebuilding effort has always been a challenge that's going to require some patience for all involved, but a second straight 2-10 season is going to be tough to endure. If improvement is going to be incremental and not necessarily reflected in the standings, the Beavers could start with more competitive performances in Corvallis, where they lost the Homecoming game to Cal 49-7 and fell to Oregon 55-15 in the Civil War. Over +130, Under -155
|6.5 wins: David Shaw has won 82 games in eight seasons as head coach of the Cardinal and has seven more regular season victories in every single one of those years. Even the "down years" of 2014 (8-5) and 2018 (9-4) -- the only years a David Shaw-coached Stanford team hasn't finished in the top-20 of the final polls -- would surpass this win total. I will blindly take the over and refuse to believe such dramatic regression is on the horizon. Over -108, Under -108
|5.5 wins: Where are the wins coming from? UCLA starts the year at Cincinnati, where it will likely be an underdog, then has to play San Diego State and Oklahoma to round out the nonconference schedule. After that, Pac-12 play starts with back-to-back road games against Washington State and Arizona, with the Wildcats getting those two September off weeks to prepare for Chip Kelly's offense. Oregon State and Colorado, both at home, are the most likely wins on the schedule and after that it's tough to string together four more potential victories in order to feel good about the over. Over -108, Under -108
|6.5 wins: I would not take this pick at its current price, but I do believe strongly that USC can subvert these expectations of disaster in 2019. Graham Harrell can be the secret sauce for sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels and the wide receiver room is so talented that the Air Raid should make the Trojans offense among the most explosive in the country. Seven or eight wins might not be enough to secure Clay Helton's future as head coach in L.A., but for now, it's enough to hit the over on the win total. Over -120, Under +100
|9 wins: The door opened for Utah in the Pac-12 South and now the Utes are not only entering 2019 as the reigning outright division champions, but the favorites to repeat and return to the conference title game. There's a new offensive coordinator in Andy Ludwig but tons of returning experience on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. Nine wins is a good number, suggesting 3-0 in nonconference play and a 6-3 conference record. I don't see any home losses on the schedule and certainly don't see more than three conference losses, so with a push-over feeling I'll lay the steep price. Over -130, Under +110
|9.5 wins: Here we go with the big question for the Pac-12 in 2019: will Washington, or another contender yet to be named, make a run at the College Football Playoff? After going 32-9 in conference play over the last three years, it's possible if not likely that the Huskies could win the Pac-12 again while going under this win total and missing the playoff. Jacob Eason brings intrigue, but until he's out on the field, it's yet to be determined if he's an upgrade from Jake Browning. While the defense has been consistently stellar at UW, there is the issue of replacing multiple NFL Draft picks. But with USC, Utah, Oregon and Washington State all coming to Seattle, I like the schedule breakdown for 10 wins in 2019. Over +110, Under -130
|8.5 wins: Many assumed last year would be a step back for Mike Leach and then he provided the template for Gardner Minshew to become a Heisman Trophy dark horse. At this point, there is a certain level of consistency that we are going to assume for all of these Leach-coached teams once his program is entrenched, and it's right around that 7 or 8-win mark. After exceeding expectations in 2018, I'll jump on the other side for the snap-back, even if it's going to come at a steep price. Over +115, Under -135