2022 PAC-12 Football Preview, Best Bets: Can Stanford Go to First Bowl Game Since 2018?

Sep 25, 2021; Stanford, California, USA;  Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw runs out with the
Sep 25, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw runs out with the / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The PAC-12 has a ton of turnover heading into 2022, so how should we evaluate this when betting into the season win total market?

Washington State hopes that interim head coach from last season Jake Dickert can take advantage of his first full season on the job with a top transfer quarterback in Cameron Ward after surging to a bowl game last season. Meanwhile, over in Stanford, David Shaw is desperate to get his team back to bowl eligibility, is 2022 the year with potential first round NFL Draft pick Tanner McKee at quarterback?

Here are a pair of win totals I'm playing in the PAC-12!

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

For all of Reed's college football plays, follow his betstamp @rw33

Washington State OVER 5.5 Wins (+105)

One of the first win total bets I made this season, I'm buying all the Washington State stock I can find, including a flier on the Cougs at 45-1 to win the PAC-12.

After some turmoil around the team last season ending with Nick Rolovich's dismal, the team rallied around the defensive coordinator Dickert to go 3-2 and snag a bowl berth. Now, he is turning the offense over to Incarnate Word head coach Eric Morris, who comes in with star quarterback Cam Ward to ignite this offense that was middling in 2021.

Ward passed for 6,908 yards and 71 touchdowns in two seasons at QB while tossing only 14 interceptions. He is the game breaking talent that can change the trajectory of a program.

There is a low amount of returning production on the roster with some changes, but I'm buying the upside of Ward and the incoming coaching staff. Morris has his guy at QB, and Dickert brought in Brian Ward from Nevada, who built a havoc driven defense that was top 20 in sacks last season.

This team is going to lean on transfers on defense as well, as Ward brought safety Jordan Lee and Daiyan Henley with him from Reno.

The schedule breaks their way as well as the Cougs project to be favorites at home against Idaho, Colorado State and Cal. The team also draws Stanford and Arizona as winnable road games.

Sure the team goes to USC, but they also draw Utah, Arizona State and Washington in Pullman as possible upset opportunities.

This is still sitting at + money and I'm on the Cougars as one of the surprise teams of the 2022 seaosn with Ward's high ceiling.

PICK: Washington State OVER 5.5 Wins (+105)

Stanford UNDER 4.5 Wins (-140)

There's a premimum to fade the Cardinal, but it will pay off by the end of the season.

Stanford has not cleared the four win mark since 2018 and I don't envision it going much better in 2022. While the team brings back a ton of returning production from what was one of the youngest teams in college football last season, I still don't see a bowl contender.

McKee is drawing NFL chatter due to his size (6'6") and accuracy (65%), but I still can't back a team that was one of the worst defenses in college football last season, 110th in yards per play and 126th in success rate. The defense couldn't stop the run and the offense couldn't keep up behind an inexperienced offensive line.

I believe returning production (83%) may be skewing preseason projections for Stanford, who has lost its luster under 12th year head coach David Shaw.

The team has one one of the most difficult schedules in the country, projected as a favorite in one game (Week 1 home for FCS Colgate). The team doesn't get Arizona or Colorado, the easier opponents in PAC-12 play, either, as the next most winnable games are home for Oregon State and Washington State then at Cal. All are projected coin flips.

It also doesn't help that following a home game against USC in Week 2, the team has a bye. So, from September 24th to November 26th there will be no extra time off for a team that doesn't have the depth to hold up against this schedule that features road games at Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame, UCLA and Utah.

PICK: Stanford UNDER 4.5 Wins (-140)