Last year a newly expanded PAC 12 saw two teams (Stanford and Oregon) from its newly minted North Division dominate the conference. Yes, USC held its own out of the South, but the Trojans probationary limitations prohibited them from competing for the conference title. Thus, Oregon and Stanford ran away and hid from their division brethren and the Ducks routed stand in UCLA 49-31 in the conference championship game. The latest 2012 PAC 12 North Division Odds and Picks expect Oregon, to, once again, win the division. The Ducks are a 2-5 favorite ($250 to win $100) to top the North standings while California, last year’s fourth place finisher, is a second pick at 9-2 odds ($100 to win $450).
2012 Pac 12 North Division Picks
Oregon Ducks (2-5): Chip Kelly has yet to win fewer than 10 games since taking over the Oregon program in 2009, and, based upon the talent level in Eugene, it appears as though that streak will hit four years. The Ducks did lose 11 starters, including LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, in the offseason, but with 61 lettermen returning, the team has enough experience to deal with customary college football attrition. Oregon still has plenty of explosive playmakers in the likes of De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner and Kelly is a master at putting points on the scoreboard.
Stanford Cardinal (10-1): Most expect a big step back from Stanford this season due to the loss of Andrew Luck, but the Cardinal are still loaded with talent. Thirteen starters and 61 lettermen return from last year’s 11-2 team. While the offense, which also lost its top three receivers and two road graders in offensive linemen David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, figures to take a step back, the defensive front seven may be the best in the PAC 12.
California Golden Bears (9-2): Cal rebounded from a disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2010 by winning seven games and earning a Holiday Bowl appearance opposite Texas last season. The Bears bring back only 11 starters, but they do have 50 lettermen back on campus as well as all the pieces for an explosive offense. Quarterback Zach Maynard, running back Isi Sofele, and wide receiver Keenan Allen were all standout performers last year and they should be potent enough to make Cal a North contender in 2012.
Oregon State Beavers (10-1): Head Coach Mike Riley, who has compiled an impressive 5-1 bowl record in his time at Oregon State, suffered through his worst season ever in Corvallis last year as his Beavers finished up a 3-9. All the pieces are in place for Oregon State to do an about face in 2012, though, as the starting quarterback, top two rushers, leading receiver, and four of the top five tacklers from 2011 all return. Expect the Beavers to be a far more competitive bunch in this season.
Washington Huskies (5-1): Steve Sarkisian has done a nice job since taking over at Washington in 2009, recording 19 wins in three seasons (program won just 12 from 2004 to 2008), but the Huskies are still not on equal footing with the division’s elite teams. With Keith Price still under center, Washington has a chance to put up some nice offensive numbers, but the defense has a lot of work to do after allowing 35.9 points per game last season.
Washington State Cougars (12-1): The always entertaining Mike Leach takes over a downtrodden Washington State program; however, there are reasons for optimism in Pullman. In addition to Leach, who garnered 84 wins at Texas Tech, the team brings back 14 starters and 44 lettermen from a squad that won four games in 2011 (its most since 2007). The Cougars are nowhere near winning the North Division, but their opposition should take notice of them in 2012.
Odds to Win the 2012 Pac 12 North Division:
Oregon Ducks 2-5 ($250 to win $100)
California Golden Bears 9-2 ($100 to win $450)
Washington Huskies 5-1 ($100 to win $500)
Stanford Cardinal 10-1 ($100 to win $1000)
Oregon State Beavers 10-1 ($100 to win $1000)
Washington State Cougars 12-1 ($100 to win $1200)
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