PAC-12 College Football Betting Preview: Fade the Hype with Oregon State

Our college football betting preview continues with an look at one win total over and under to bet in the PAC-12.
Oregon State Spring Football Game
Oregon State Spring Football Game / Ali Gradischer/GettyImages

The PAC-12 has been one of the most exciting conferences in college football due to exciting offenses and chaotic results.

Last season, the team that played spoiler in the PAC-12 was Oregon State, who far out performed expectations in 2022, winning 10 games despite a win total of 5.5 last season! The team returns several key contributors at running back and hit the portal to add Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to enhance the team's passing game in a change of scenery.

The team enters with a win total of 8.5 in 2023, is the massive jump warranted for a program on the rise under Jonathan Smith since he took over in 2018?

What about a coach who has been in the PAC-12 for a similar amount of time, but is trending in the wrong direction, Cal's Justin Wilcox? The Golden Bears are off a dismal campaign that saw the defense fall to the bottom of the conference as the offense couldn't keep up.

With the hiring of former Texas State head coach and former Offensive Coordinator in Berkley Jake Spavital, the hope is that he can reignite an offense under TCU transfer Sam Jackson V?

Here are two win totals I'm playing in the PAC-12 in 2023.

Oregon State UNDER 8.5 Wins (-135)

This is a massive jump in expectations for the Beavers, who go from a bowl eligibility hopeful to a near-10 win team. There is reason for that after 10 wins and the fact that three of the four toughest games on the schedule come in Corvallis, where the team is 17-12 straight up under Smith and 10-1 as a home favorite against the spread. Oregon State will host Utah, UCLA and Washington at home before finishing the season at rival Oregon.

However, I can't help but think this is a massive overreaction in price due to last season. The team may get an upgrade to a competent quarterback in Uiagalelei, but he has proven to be more of a game manager than anything, leading a Clemson offense that was outside the top 50 in EPA/Play last year. While the top two running backs return in Damien Martienz and Deshaun Fenwick to help shoulder the load, the defense is going to take a big step back.

The Beavers had zero pass rush last season, generating only 16 sacks on the year, a bottom 10 mark, but had one of the best secondaries in the country, allowing opponents to complete less than 58% of passes and posted a top 20 mark in terms of EPA/Pass. However, the team loses two NFL cornerbacks in Alex Austin and Rejzohn Wright. Overall only 52% returns on the defensive side of the ball, per

Oregon State's run-first offense is a great scheme to back as underdogs. The team plays at a slow pace and tries to grind games to a halt with on the ground. However, that isn't as strong of a recipe as a favorite expected to win plenty of games.

Teams that see its win total jump multiple games after blowing past expectations the year prior is a team I'm always looking to fade, and I'm not that much a believer in a Uiagalelei raising the ceiling of the offense.

While the team's toughest games come at home, the team has tricky matchups on the road at Washington State, Cal, Arizona and even Colorado. This is too steep of a jump in expectations not to play against.

Cal OVER 4.5 Wins (-150)

This could be the final stand for Wilcox in Berkley, and I love the last gasp effort he is attempting, bringing back Spavital and landing Jackson in the transfer portal.

Jackson is a dual-threat former four star recruit who couldn't get past Max Duggan or Chandler Morris on the depth chart. Now he lands with Spavital's wide-open offense and will hopefully beat out fellow transfer Ben Finley for the job..

Jackson gives the offense some upside next to Jayden Ott, who couldn't get unleashed last season in the Golden Bars' antiquated offense under former OC Bill Musgrave. I believe the change in scheme will have the team playing closer to the level of PAC-12 teams are over the past few years.

On defense, the team fell off a cliff production wise, but Wilcox will hope that a mix of transfers like David Reese, a former four-star recruit, can blend well with a defense that returns 79% of production. The team needs to generate some havoc after generating only 19 sacks and ranking bottom third in the country in terms of success rate.

The schedule looks daunting, but looking at the context of games, the team has opportunities to play spoiler in the PAC-12 race and help get over this win total and flirt with going to a bowl.

The Golden Bears are favored over a touchdown at North Texas in the opening game and also get an FCS foe in Idaho in Week 3. The team hosts Auburn at home in a definite underdog spot, but PAC-12 is full of advantageous spots.

  • @ Washington, Huskies coming off a cross-country road trip to Michigan State and plays at Arizona the following week.
  • Oregon State, who travels to Cal sandwiched between Utah and UCLA.
  • Utah, who is coming off a bye but plays at USC the following week.
  • USC, who is in the midst of this stretch: @ Notre Dame, Utah, @ Cal, Washington; further, Cal coming off a bye.
  • @ Oregon, who plays Cal sandwiched between at Utah and USC.
  • @ UCLA, who plays @ USC the week before)

The team has relative toss ups against Arizona State and Washington State at home and at Stanford, but I'm expecting plenty of upset opportunities along the way for Jackson and this Cal offense.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.