Thursday, August 22, 2013
Betting on the Pac-12?
By Ted Miller
Phil Steele and Will Harris have provided ESPN.com Insiders with a "betting guide" for the 2013 season, and three Pac-12 teams earn note as potential national champions.
It won't surprise you to see Oregon and Stanford among their short list.
Oregon Ducks (17-2): The Ducks are favored by more than a touchdown in 11 of their 12 games, with the road trip to Stanford being the lone exception.
Stanford Cardinal (16-1): The Cardinal have made three straight BCS bowls and, despite a tough schedule, they return the most talented defense in the country outside of Alabama.
But Steele also is high on USC. He contends folks don't realize the talent and depth on a roster that, overall, is better than last year's overrated and disappointing crew.
USC Trojans (40-1): Last year's preseason No. 1 team is stronger and deeper at nearly every position. Plus, the schedule has them avoiding Oregon while playing Stanford at home.
Steele also likes the win-total bet with USC, listed at 9.5 victories. Remember: USC plays 13 games.
USC Trojans over 9.5 wins: Obviously the Trojans were a huge disappointment last year, becoming the first preseason No. 1 team to finish outside of the Top 25. But this year's team is stronger. Vegas currently has them favored in 10 of their games, while I have them as a favorite in 12. Another overlooked factor in this win total is that the Trojans play 13 regular-season games this year. They could lose three games and still cash in on the over.
My take: I really am fascinated with the South Division.
I feel like you can make a good case for Arizona State, UCLA and USC. The best case against the Bruins is their schedule and questionable secondary, while the Sun Devils give some pause because of their lack of a distinguishing win in 2012. USC is held back by the "Lane Kiffin is on the hot seat" talk.