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P12 North Preview

Will the North’s recent dominance of the Pac 12 continue in 2017? A team from the North has won the Conference each of the past 8 seasons; 2008 was the last time a team (USC) from the South won the Pac 12. Washington, who broke a streak of 7 straight years of either Oregon or Stanford winning the Conference, looks to repeat as Pac 12 Champions in 2017 with a decent amount of returning experience from their College Football Playoff run. However, they did see major talent depart at Wide Receiver and in the Secondary, which may open the window for a few teams on the rise in the North. The Division race should be tight throughout the season as multiple sets of Power Ratings have Washington only 1 or 2 points ahead of both Stanford and Oregon.

Oregon will be vastly improved, but the jump to North Division Champs could be a stretch in Willie Taggart’s first season as Head Coach, but the hiring of Jim Leavitt as Defense Coordinator from Colorado instantly makes the Ducks a much better team than the 2016 version. From a scheduling standpoint, Stanford has the advantage as they host both Washington and Oregon. The Trees also return the 22nd most experienced team in the Nation, led by a superb back 7 on Defense. Stanford does draw USC early in the year, but even a loss there would not harm their Division aspirations since they would still presumably host Washington for the North.

Looking at the 3 remaining teams in the Division, only Washington State jumps out as a potential sleeper in the North as Mike Leach’s squad will get Luke Falk back at QB with a very underrated rushing attack and run defense. However, Wazzu will not have the same scheduling advantages they benefited from in 2016. The Cougars draw USC from the South, and must make road trips to Division rivals Oregon and Washington, which ultimately make their path to a Divison crown unlikely. Oregon State should see some improvement in Gary Andersen’s third year as Head Coach, but they are not a threat for a Division title. The Beavers had a chance to steal a win at Colorado State, but it all fell apart in the 2H. They should end up right around 5 wins, which is where their season win total was set. Cal introduces Justin Wilcox as their new Head Coach; his first task will be finding a QB to replace Davis Webb, who departed after a 4,000 yard season. This is the definition of Year 0 for a team that lost 20 letterman.


Washington Huskies
Opening Power Rating:       64.5
Home Field Advantage:      2.5

Date Away Home CW Line
Sep 1 Washington Rutgers RUTG +25.5
Sep 9 Montana Washington WASH -30.5
Sep 16 Fresno St. Washington WASH -31.5
Sep 23 Washington Colorado COLO +4
Sep 30 Washington Oregon St. ORST +13.5
Oct 7 California Washington WASH -22.5
Oct 14 Washington Arizona St. ASU +10.5
Oct 28 UCLA Washington WASH -10.5
Nov 4 Oregon Washington WASH -10
Nov 10 Washington Stanford STAN -3.5
Nov 18 Utah Washington WASH -14.5
Nov 25 Washington St. Washington WASH -4.5
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     9.1
CW Projected P12 Wins:      6.7
Posted Total Wins:            O 10 -155

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 70th Overall (Offense 40th, Defense 110th)

  • Washington had one of the most balanced teams in College Football in 2016 as they finished 8th in Scoring Offense and 8th in Scoring Defense. They return a lot of experience from that team that made a run to the College Football Playoff, but must replace some key departures at Corner and Receiver.

  • QB Jake Browning returns under Center after 43 total touchdowns in 2016, but did lose some weapons on the outside. Dante Pettis, also one of the best punt returners in the nation, comes back at Wide Receiver, but the Huskies must replace John Ross. Ross, the 9th overall pick in the NFL draft, had 81 catches for 1150 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Can Chico McClatcher fill in as an adequate number 2 receiver to help fill that void?

  • The Offensive Line will be strong as Washington returns a future NFLer at Left Tackle in Trey Adams and an outstanding Center in Coleman Shelton. They will be blocking for one of the best Running Back tandems in the country in Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, who combined for over 2,200 yards in 2016

  • On Defense, the front 7 should have another dominant season especially against the run as 9 of the top 11 tacklers return from a season ago. The Huskies lost Elijah Qualls up front, but they won’t miss him too much on a Defensive Line that features Vita Vea and Greg Gaines. Behind Vea and Gaines, Preseason All American Azeem Victor and Kieshawn Bierria lead a scary good group of Linebackers, but keep in mind that Victor will be suspended for week 1 against Rutgers.

  • There are questions in the Secondary that lost 3 starters to the NFL from one of the nation’s best defensive backfields. The Huskies must replace both starting Cornerbacks, Kevin King and Sidney Jones, and All American Safety Budda Baker from a secondary that had 19 interceptions while only allowing 13 passing touchdowns! UW has experience at Safety with Freshman All American Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh coming back, but they are raw at Corner. The development of Byron Murphy, a freshman starting at Corner, may be the key determining factor as to how special the D can be in 2017.

X-Factor

  • Tristan Vizcaino (K/P) – Vizcaino has handled Kickoff duties for the Huskies in the past, but has had limited action as the Field Goal Kicker (he actually did once score Touchdown on a fake FG). Vizcaino took over punting duties in 2016 and was ranked in the upper tier of the Pac 12. He will now also take over as the full time Field Goal Kicker, making him one of the more important Special Teams players in the nation.

Useless Trend

  • Washington is 10-1 SU as an away favorite since 2011.

Betting Outlook

  • There’s a chance we will not know Washington’s true identity until November 4th when they host Oregon. Washington’s Strength of Schedule through October is one of the easiest in the nation. They start with Rutgers, Fresno State and Montana.

  • Their schedule is pretty favorable overall since they avoid USC, and get Utah, Oregon, and Washington State at home. However, there are some potentially tricky spots as they play 2 conference teams off a Bye Week (Arizona State, Washington State) and travel to Corvallis on the back end of consecutive road trips. I avoided Huskies preseason positions, but won’t argue if you see value in their National Championship futures.

  • The Pac 12 North should come down to a November 10th showdown with Stanford, 6 days after zipping up and down the field with Oregon. Take Stanford pk or better if you believe Shaw can get offensive production in 2017.

UW


Stanford Cardinal
Opening Power Rating:          64
Home Field Advantage:         3.8

Date Away Home CW Line
Aug 26 Stanford Rice RICE +28.5
Sep 9 Stanford USC USC -8
Sep 16 Stanford San Diego St. SDSU +6
Sep 23 UCLA Stanford STAN -11.5
Sep 30 Arizona St. Stanford STAN -16.5
Oct 7 Stanford Utah UTAH +8.5
Oct 14 Oregon Stanford STAN -11
Oct 26 Stanford Oregon St. ORST +13
Nov 4 Stanford Washington St. WSU -1
Nov 10 Washington Stanford STAN -3.5
Nov 18 California Stanford STAN -23.5
Nov 25 Notre Dame Stanford STAN -13.5
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     9.3
CW Projected P12 Wins:      6.7
Posted Total Wins:            O 8.5 -135

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 22nd Overall (Offense 38th, Defense 36th)

  • QB Keller Chryst returns after suffering a 6 month severe right knee injury in the Bowl game against North Carolina. Highly touted redshirt Freshman QB KJ Costello ran with the 1st Team Offense in fall scrimmages. He and/or fifth year Senior Ryan Burns would step in if Chryst were to re-injure his knee, but this team would not have the same potential without a healthy Chryst.

  • Stanford returns 8 starters on each side of the ball. They did lose all everything back Christian McCaffrey, but RB Bryce Love and his 4.4 speed should make McCaffrey’s departure hurt less than one might imagine.

  • Stanford’s passing game was dead last in the Pac 12 last season, mainly due to injuries and subpar Offensive Line play. Chryst has some options to work with in Wide Receiver Trent Irwin and Tight End Dalton Schultz, but he will need time to throw. The Stanford Offensive Line ranked 125th in the country last season in adjusted sack rate. This unit up front, which does return 4 of 5 starters, will be the key cog of the Trees Offense in 2017.

  • The Stanford Secondary should be one of the best groups in the nation, led by a pair of superb Cornerbacks in Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder. Justin Reid return on the back end to lead a very experienced group of Safeties. This unit is as deep as any in the country since their backups gained valuable experience last year after Meeks and Holder dealt with injuries. Depth in the secondary is priceless in the PAC 12, but Stanford needs their two primary corners to stay healthy in 2017.

  • Stanford also returns all 4 starting Linebackers, although you could potentially see 4 new starters at each position. This speaks more to the depth of this unit than to the lack of ability of the returning starters. Bottom line, Stanford could potentially have one of the best back 7s in the country, which will come in handy on a weekly basis in a Conference that features a number of offenses that will spread you out.

  • Keep an eye on the Tree Special Teams, a unit that is consistently one of the best in the country. They lose McCaffrey in the return game and Kicker Conrad Ukropina. Ukropina might actually be the bigger loss as Love can help in the return game, but Stanford will now be relying on Freshmen for field goals and kickoff duties.

X-Factor

  • Harrison Phillips (DT) – The experienced Medical Redshirt Junior, who totaled 46 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2016, returns to lead a Defensive Line that could be considered the one potential weakness on this defense. If Phillips and company can have a productive year up front, this unit can overcome the loss of first round draft pick Solomon Thomas.

Useless Trend

  • Stanford is 9-3 ATS as an Underdog since 2010, which will apply in their matchup with USC on September 9th.

Betting Outlook

  • Stanford’s players do not attend classes until the last Monday in September. The Trees will have already played 4 games (2 within Conference) before the Student Athletes attend their first class. I will not look to fade Stanford in their next 3 games especially after what I saw against Rice. Yes, they now must travel back from Australia, but they will have an extra week to recover before an early season popcorn game against USC. Stanford only travels 3 times during the school year (Utah, Oregon State off a Bye Week, and Washington State).

  • The Trees have an advantageous schedule since they get Division rivals Oregon and Washington at home. Keep in mind that if they play USC in the Pac-12 Championship, it would be a rematch of their September game. USC will have a Bye Week heading into that game, which is why I ultimately just played Stanford to win the North at +250.

Trees


Oregon Ducks
Opening Power Rating:          57
Home Field Advantage:         3.5

Date Away Home CW Line
Sep 2 Southern Utah Oregon ORE -31
Sep 9 Nebraska Oregon ORE -11.5
Sep 16 Oregon Wyoming WYO +4.5
Sep 23 Oregon Arizona St. ASU +3
Sep 30 California Oregon ORE -16
Oct 7 Washington St. Oregon ORE +2
Oct 14 Oregon Stanford STAN -11
Oct 21 Oregon UCLA UCLA -2
Oct 28 Utah Oregon ORE -8
Nov 4 Oregon Washington WASH -10
Nov 18 Arizona Oregon ORE -11.5
Nov 24 Oregon St. Oregon ORE -12
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     8.6
CW Projected P12 Wins:      6.0
Posted Total Wins:            O 8 +110

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 3rd Overall (Offense 37th, Defense 3rd)

  • Willie Taggart switched coasts as he moved from South Florida to take over as Head Coach at Oregon. He filled his Defensive Coordinator position with Jim Leavitt, who worked wonders in the same role at Colorado in 2016. There are two Offensive Coordinators on the staff, Mario Cristobal and Marcus Arroyo. Raymond Woodie takes over Special Teams duties, and has been a part of Taggart’s staff at previous stops.

  • Can QB Justin Herbert take the next step? Herbert was thrown into the fire as a true freshman in 2016 in front of 4 redshirt Freshmen Offensive Linemen. That experience alone should make them all much better this year. Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense, which puts added emphasis on the Offensive Guards as it features the Running Back and a quick passing attack, will feature the electric Royce Freeman.

  • Oregon did lose speedster Devon Allen, and 2016 leading receiver Darren Carrington, who was dismissed from the team and subsequently scooped up by Utah. The Ducks do return Wide Receiver Charles Nelson, but will need to find other options on the outside from a very inexperienced group of receivers.

  • The Oregon Defense was horrendous last season, but they do return 12 of their top 13 tacklers, and now have one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the nation at the helm. This unit should make enormous strides as a result, and should get a major boost when Defensive Lineman Scott Pagano can play. Pagano, who was at Clemson the previous 3 seasons, decided to transfer in the offseason to Oregon to be closer to his home in Hawaii. Keep an eye on his progress as he recovers from foot surgery as he seems to be out of his boot, but still only practicing with the injured players.

  • The Oregon Special Teams should be strong with Charles Nelson in the return game and Aidan Schneider handling the kicking work.

X-Factor

  • Troy Dye (LB) – Leavitt moved Dye outside to lead his Defense in 2017. The true Sophomore Linebacker earned a spot on the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) freshman All-America team after he finished 2016 with 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

Useless Trend

  • Overs are 11-2 in the last 13 Oregon home games.

Betting Outlook

  • I have Oregon as a projected favorite in 8 games, 5 of them by double digits. The coin flips are UCLA and Washington State, which give this Ducks team a realistic chance of 10 wins; therefore, I invested in their season win total** Over 7.5.**

  • The current game of the year is Washington State +2.5 against the Ducks. If you believe some teams just have other figured out (Kansas/TCU), then Wazzu covering against the Ducks in 7 straight fits that mold.

  • Oregon will have some added intrigue in a a number of games this season as Oregon State has a former Ducks RB, Utah has the 2016 leading Ducks WR, and Oregon hired their Defensive Coordinator away from Colorado.

Ducks


Washington St Cougars
Opening Power Rating:          62.5
Home Field Advantage:         2.4

Date Away Home CW Line
Sep 2 Montana St. Washington St. WSU -33
Sep 9 Boise St. Washington St. WSU -11.5
Sep 16 Oregon St. Washington St. WSU -16.5
Sep 23 Nevada Washington St. WSU -25
Sep 29 USC Washington St. WSU +4
Oct 7 Washington St. Oregon ORE +2
Oct 13 Washington St. California CAL +16
Oct 21 Colorado Washington St. WSU -6.5
Oct 28 Washington St. Arizona ARIZ +11.5
Nov 4 Stanford Washington St. WSU -1
Nov 11 Washington St. Utah UTAH +7
Nov 25 Washington St. Washington WASH -4.5
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     8.8
CW Projected P12 Wins:      5.9
Posted Total Wins:            O 7.5 -130

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 43rd Overall (Offense 54th, Defense 41st)

  • QB Luke Falk returns under center, and should easily exceed 4,000 yards once again despite losing 2 of his top 3 Wide Receivers from a season ago.

  • Falk also has the luxury of having one of the most underrated rushing offenses in the Conference. Wazzu returns its top 3 backs from a season ago in James Williams, Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks.

  • The Offensive Line loses two starters, but should still be one of the best units in the country, led by All American Guard Cody O’connell. Additionally, Wazzu returns both Offensive Tackles, who PFF ranked as the 2 most efficient pass blockers in the country in 2016.

  • The two most underrated aspects of the 2016 Cougars were the rushing offense and the rushing defense. The run defense should be solid again as Wazzu returns 9 of their top 10 tacklers from 2016. Conversely, the pass defense, which was ranked outside of the top 100 in 2016, needs to improve in 2017 or it will be a long year in a conference full of explosive passing offenses. The secondary is at least fairly experienced although they will miss Shalom Luani, now with the Raiders, at Safety.

  • The Linebackers are the core strength of the Defense, and Hercules Mata’afa is a star up front on the Defensive Line. However, Mata’afa will need help in generating more QB pressure to help out the secondary. They must get more than 20 sacks this season.

X-Factor

  • Tavares Martin (WR) – Leach’s system always produces gaudy numbers for Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers. Martin, the leading returning receiver after the departures of starting Wide Receivers River Cracraft and Gabe Marks, should be Falk’s primary target in 2017. Look for his 2016 output of 728 yards and 7 TD’s to increase dramatically in the upcoming season.

Useless Trend

  • Wazzu is 3-18 straight up as a Home Underdog since 2010. This will apply to their game with USC on September 29th.

Betting Outlook

  • Leach has lost to an FCS school in consecutive years to start the season so why not Montana State and the points? With Boise on deck, I can’t imagine Leach keeps his foot on the gas so +34 looks tempting.

  • I avoided Washington State futures as a result of their brutal schedule. The Cougars start the year with 5 straight home games, which could offer a chance to build a lot of momentum. However, that means Wazzu only has 2 home games after the month of September, so no futures can be placed. However, there are spots for upsets including USC, Colorado, and Stanford as all 3 teams visit Pullman on back to back travel.

  • I will look to fade Washington State when they travel to Oregon. The Cougars play USC the week before, and Oregon should be extra motivated to exact revenge from a 51-33 beatdown in 2016.

  • The Apple Cup has not been kind to the Cougars in recent years. Wazzu has lost 4 straight in the series to their in-state rival, all by double digits.

Wazzu


Oregon St Beavers
Opening Power Rating:          48.5
Home Field Advantage:         2.7

Date Away Home CW Line
Aug 26 Oregon St. Colorado St. CSUP -4.5
Sep 2 Portland St. Oregon St. ORST -29
Sep 9 Minnesota Oregon St. ORST +3.5
Sep 16 Oregon St. Washington St. WSU -16.5
Sep 30 Washington Oregon St. ORST +13.5
Oct 7 Oregon St. USC USC -23.5
Oct 14 Colorado Oregon St. ORST +7.5
Oct 26 Stanford Oregon St. ORST +13
Nov 4 Oregon St. California CAL +2
Nov 11 Oregon St. Arizona ARIZ -2.5
Nov 18 Arizona St. Oregon St. ORST +0.5
Nov 24 Oregon St. Oregon ORE -12
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     4.3
CW Projected P12 Wins:      2.6
Posted Total Wins:            O 5 -115

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 40th Overall (Offense 36th, Defense 70th)

  • The strength of the Offense sits in the backfield as RB Ryan Null is a workhorse that could approach 1,500 yards in 2017. The only reason he might not get to 1,500 is because of the outstanding Running Back depth the Beavers have with Artavis Pierce, Thomas Tyner, and Trevorris Johnson. This group will be even more productive if a reshuffled Offensive Line comes together.

  • Jake Luton will take over at QB looking to bring some life to a passing attack that was anemic last season. Isaiah Hodgins has potential on the outside at Wide Receiver, but keep an eye on Tight End Noah Togiai, who should be one of Luton’s favorite targets in 2017. Keep an eye on the status of Wide Receiver Seth Collins, who is still out with a finger injury.

  • The Defense has some pieces to work with on each level in DE Titus Failauga, ILB Manase Hungalu and Freshman All American CB Xavier Crawford, but this Defense just doesn’t have the overall depth and talent to stop any of the elite Offenses in the Pac 12.

X-Factor

  • Jake Luton (QB) – The Junior College Transfer was named the starter in Camp and showed flashes against Colorado State. The 6’7 QB had one start at Idaho before transferring to Ventura Community College. Last year, he was named a Junior College All American after finishing the season with a 40:15 touchdown to interception ratio, and adding 6 rushing touchdowns. Oregon State could really use a reliable passing attack to provide balance for a solid rushing attack.

Useless Trend

  • The Beavers are 7-2-1 to the Under after a bye week since 2011.

Betting Outlook

  • Take a look at Oregon State ATS on September 2nd against Portland State. The Vikings, known for FBS upsets, lost a lot of talent throughout their roster. The Vikings will make the 2 hour bus trip to Corvallis for their 2nd consecutive road game after they hung tough at BYU. Expect an experienced Beavers team to take out a lot of their week 0 frustrations in their home opener on the overmatched Vikings.

Beavs


California Bears
Opening Power Rating:          44.5
Home Field Advantage:         1.9

Date Away Home CW Line
Sep 2 California North Carolina UNC -14
Sep 9 Weber St. California CAL -24
Sep 16 Ole Miss California CAL +3
Sep 23 USC California CAL +22.5
Sep 30 California Oregon ORE -16
Oct 7 California Washington WASH -22.5
Oct 13 Washington St. California CAL +16
Oct 21 Arizona California CAL +2.5
Oct 28 California Colorado COLO -16
Nov 4 Oregon St. California CAL +2
Nov 18 California Stanford STAN -23.5
Nov 24 California UCLA UCLA -14.5
Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site

CW Projected Total Wins:     2.7
CW Projected P12 Wins:      1.9
Posted Total Wins:            O 3.5 +110

Offseason Notes

  • Returning Production: S&P+ 82nd Overall (Offense 111th, Defense 18th)

  • Justin Wilcox, who has no Head Coaching experience, replaces Sonny Dykes as the new Head Coach in Berkeley. Wilcox has held a few prominent Defensive Coordinator roles, including at Washington, Cal and, most recently, Wisconsin.

  • Wilcox hired Beau Baldwin, who left his post as the Head Coach at Eastern Washington, as the new Bears Offensive Coordinator. Tim DeRuyter, former Fresno Head Coach, also joins Wilcox’s staff as the new Defensive Coordinator.

  • Cal will have a new QB under Center as Ross Bowers takes over for the departed Davis Webb. Cal also lost their top rusher (Khalfani Muhammad) and top receiver (Chad Hansen). Muhammad, who was drafted by the Titans, also contributed on Special Teams as a returner. The Bears do return 5 of their other top 7 Wide Receivers, including Freshman All American Demetris Robertson, who should be one of the more electric receivers in the Pac 12.

  • Not only did Cal lose their Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Starting Quarterback, Leading Rusher, and Leading Receiver, they also only return 25 Offensive Line starts, 126th in the Nation. It is a complete rebuilding year for the Offense.

  • The Cal Defense will be transitioning to a 3-4 Defense this season under Deyruter, which will hopefully help them generate pressure and defend the run, two areas they were horrendous in last year. The Bears were the 2nd worst run Defense in FBS in 2016. The Defense does return 9 of 11 starters, led by Defensive End James Looney

  • Cal must find someone to replace Muhammad as their return man, but the Bears will at least have the benefit of a reliable Kicker as Matt Anderson hit 22-26 Field Goals and all 51 Extra Points a season ago

X-Factor

  • Tre Watson (RB) – Watson, one of the few Seniors on a very inexperienced Offensive depth chart, accumulated 720 yards and 4 TD’s on the ground, and 241 yards and 4 TD’s through the air. He joins Vic Enwere in a backfield that should be pretty solid in a much more balanced offensive attack now that Sonny Dykes is gone.

Useless Trend

  • The Cal Over is 21-4 since 2009 in all Non-Conference games.

Betting Outlook

  • Cal has a ridiculously difficult schedule. They start with an early kickoff across the country at UNC, a game in which I will surprisingly lookUnder. After getting a break at home against Weber State, they will play Ole Miss, USC, at Oregon, at Washington, and Washington State in succession. That is not ideal for an inexperienced team dealing with staff and roster turnover.

  • In my opinion, the number of games Cal can realistically win is limited to the FCS game against Weber State, Arizona, and Oregon State, which is why I saw value in Cal Season Win Total Under 3.5

Cal


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