The Pac-12 is the most wide open conference in the country entering the 2020 football season, according to William Hill Sportsbook. Four teams -- two from each division -- are at +500 or better to win the conference, and there is no clear favorite like there is in three of the other four power conferences.
Eight teams are at +1800 or better to win the league, which is more than an in any other conference. And uncertainty surrounds the frontrunners as Pac-12 North favorites Oregon and Washington are both welcoming new offensive coordinators and replacing most of their offensive starters. Meanwhile, defending Pac-12 South champion Utah is replacing most of its defense.
Does that mean the league is USC's to lose? The Trojans have decent odds, but there are some intriguing plays in the league's middle tier, too. We'll break it all down below. But first, the odds to win the 2020 Pac-12 Championship Game, via William Hill.
Best Bet -- USC (+250): Oregon and USC have similar odds, so it comes down to which division favorite you trust more. USC's inconsistency under coach Clay Helton might push away some bettors, but the Trojans return more starters than Oregon. The Ducks are also breaking in a new offensive system under first-year coordinator Joe Moorhead without the benefit of spring practice. USC is getting a new defensive coordinator in Todd Orlando, but the Trojans return plenty of starters on that side of the ball, which should ease the transition. With Utah rebounding from a mass exodus of talent, the Trojans' path to the conference title game appears simpler than that of Oregon.
Worst Wager -- Utah (+500): Veteran coach Kyle Whittingham's track records suggests the Utes won't be down for long. But Utah is replacing most of its production from last season's Pac-12 South title team that faded late with a 37-15 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game and a 38-10 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. South Carolina grad transfer Jake Bentley should be able to curb the drop off from star quarterback Tyler Huntley's departure. But multi-dimensional running back Zack Moss will be hard to replace. Most daunting, however, is that Utah is losing nine starters from what was the conference's best defense for most of the season. With California, USC and Washington all on the front half of the Utes' conference schedule, a +500 price tag is just not worth it for Utah.
Value pick -- California (+1800): Cal has been on a steady rise under coach Justin Wilcox, who is entering his fourth season with enough talent to break through in a cluttered league. The Bears are projected to bring 18 starters back from an 8-5 team, including quarterback Chase Garbers, who tossed 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions last season. The 2019 season only went south when the team lost four out of five games while Garbers was out with an injury. A young defense hit its stride at the end of last season, and once Garbers came back, this looked like one of the best teams in the league as it won four of its final five games. The Bears are clearly a better value than an equally priced UCLA team that has shown little to inspire confidence -- both on the field and on the recruiting trail -- under third-year coach Chip Kelly.
Longshot -- Stanford (+3000): The Cardinal are coming off their first losing season in David Shaw's nine years as coach. But Stanford has won 10 or more games five times under his direction, and there are too many starters back for this team to flop again. Yes, the schedule is tough with games at Oregon and Washington. But at +3000, the Cardinal are a quality longshot play because of how unsettled this league appears to be and how stable Stanford has been under the second longest-tenured coach in the conference. They've been to the Pac-12 Championship Game four times in his tenure, and with some good fortune, they could return again.