2023 PAC-12 College Football Betting Preview: Odds to Win Conference, Every Team's Win Total, Dark Horse Bets

The Conference of Champions hasn't had a team make the College Football Playoff since 2017, can this be the year with a ton of returing quarterback talent? Our expert betting preview for the PAC-12!
Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) in action during the
Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) in action during the / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The PAC-12 is consistently one of the most entertaining conferences in college football, but that hasn't translated to on-field success when compared to the national powerhouses as the the likes of USC, Utah, Oregon and more beat up on one another during a long regular season.

This year, offenses won't be the question in the PAC-12, as the league has reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams back at USC, Bo Nix at Oregon and Michael Pennix back at Washington, three of the top six choices to win the Heisman Trophy and the three favorites to win the conference.

However, the next three teams have conference title upside, including back-to-back winner Utah, upstart Oregon State with the addition of Clemson transfer quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and UCLA.

Each team has different tests throughout the season and will have issues navigating its respective schedule in order to remain on line to make the College Football Playoff, namely USC, who finishes with nine straight games, including a road trip out of conference across the country to Notre Dame.

The Trojans road Williams to the PAC-12 Championship game, but the schedule picks up in 2023, can the defense?

Here are each team in the PAC-12's win totals as well as each team's odds to win the conference before getting to our dark horse pick and champion:

PAC-12 Win Totals

  • Arizona: 4.5 (Over -176/Under +142)
  • Arizona State: 4.5 (Over 115/Under -105)
  • California: 5.5 (Over +118/Under -148)
  • Colorado: 3.5 (Over +134/Under -168)
  • Oregon: 9.5 (Over +100/Under -122)
  • Oregon State: 8.5 (Over +130/Under -160)
  • Stanford: 2.5 (Over +138/Under 172)
  • UCLA: 8.5 (Over -134/Under +110)
  • USC: 9.5 (Over -170/Under +138)
  • Utah: 8.5 (Over +104/Under -128)
  • Washington: 9.5 (Over +116/Under -142)

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

PAC-12 Conference Winner

PAC-12 Dark Horse Bet: Utah (+550)

Back-to-back champs and still the fourth choice to win the conference?

I see why many are off the Utes heading into this season as star quarterback Cam Rising is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. However, Rising is potentially going to be ready for Week 1 and will certainly be ready for conference play, which starts in Week 4 for the Utes.

This team has the best defense in the conference once again, returning more than two-thirds of production on a top 30 defense in the country, per ESPN.com. The team returns linebacker Karene Reid, who had nearly 10 tackles for loss last season, and havoc-minded defensive linemen in Jonah Eliss and Junior Tafuna, who combined for nearly 10 TFL's as well.

While there are questions about Rising's availability, the offense should be set around him. The team returns starting running back Micah Benard and Ja'Quinden Jackson, who averaged more than seven yards per carry, to flank Rising at running back whenever he is set to return. The offense last year was elite amongst a conference full of them, checking in top 10 in success rate and averaging more than five yards per carry.

Last season, Dalton Kincaid broke out for the Utes as the pass catching tight end, but his rise also came due to the fact that the team played without Brant Kuithe for most of the season, who is expected to be back after tearing his ACL early in the season.

What has made Utah so unique is its ability to complement an elite offense with an elite defense as well. While the likes of USC, Oregon, Washington and UCLA try to overwhelm teams with speed and explosive plays, Utah wins comprehensively, evident in two Utes wins over the Trojans last season.

The schedule is difficult, and the uncertainty around Rising's knee pushes Utah down the odds board, but this is the most trustworthy team in the conference.

PAC-12 Championship Pick: Oregon (+310)

USC's schedule is simply too difficult to trust them as the favorite. While the team has the future No. 1 pick in Caleb Williams, there are too many landmines along the way, especially when you look at a schedule like Oregon, who hosts USC in league play.

It's a close call between Oregon and Washington for who wins the PAC-12, but I give the slightest of edges to the Ducks, even though the team travels to Seattle in Week 7 with both teams coming off a bye.

Both teams were lopsided on offense with poor defenses, but I believe the Ducks are better equipped to improve on that side of the ball in 2023 with head coach Dan Lanning getting a second year of coaching up this defense.

The team returns nearly two-thirds of production on defense and crushed it in the portal, bringing in Alabama transfer cornerback Khyree Jackson and Jestin Jacobs, a linebacker from Iowa. The team will need to generate more of a pass rush after checking in bottom 10 nationally in tackles for loss, but there is plenty of talent for a leap to be expected.

Lastly, the team has as favorable of a schedule that you can ask for in the PAC-12, including only the aforementioned Washington game and at Utah as games that the team will be underdogs in. The team hosts USC and Oregon State in the two other high leverage games.

Oregon's offense had the team on the fringes of the College Football Playoff discussion all year in 2023, and the team returns 72% of production on that side of the ball, including Nix and running backs Buckey Irving and Noah Whittington. There's some turnover at wide receiver, but the team landed Troy's Tez Johnson, USC's Gary Bryant Jr. and Alabama's Traeshon Holden to start alongside Troy Franklin, who had nearly 900 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2023.

It's tough to call this PAC-12 race heading into the year, but with an elite offense in place in addition to a defense with upside, I'll lean with the Ducks as of now in what should be another thrilling year of football out west.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.