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Best bets include Utah, WSU, Cal

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Best bets include Utah, WSU, Cal

Oddsmakers recently published 2022 win totals for every team in the Power Five. For better or worse, the Pac-12 was allocated plenty of room for upside surprises.

Only five teams in the conference received an OVER / UNDER total that would produce a winning record if the high side were attained.

We suspect the depth will prove better than expected, but the cynicism is not unreasonable given the Pac-12’s overall performance last year and the relative paucity of cupcake opponents on non-conference schedules.

UCLA is a clear favorite to sweep its non-conference schedule, but the Bruins are all alone in that regard.

Our assessment is below…

Notes:

– Totals published by FanDuel and are for the regular-season games only.

– Teams listed in order of projected totals (and then alphabetically)

USC
Projected win total: 9.5
Home games (seven): Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Washington State, Cal, Colorado
Road games (five): Stanford, Oregon State, Utah, Arizona, UCLA
Our pick: UNDER 9.5
Comment: The Trojans have the talent and the schedule (no Oregon, no Washington) to hit double digits, but is that the more likely outcome? Not in our view. There are too many unknowns with the defensive line and secondary – the units critical to getting off the field on third down in the fourth quarter of close games.

Oregon
Projected win total: 8.5
Home games (six): BYU, Eastern Washington, Stanford, UCLA, Washington, Utah
Road / neutral games (six): Georgia (neutral), Washington State, Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State
Our pick: UNDER 8.5
Comment: The source of our skepticism is a combination of Georgia and the Ducks’ home schedule, which is loaded with challenges (BYU certainly isn’t a gimme; nor is Stanford given the history of that series). That one-two punch serves to reduce Oregon’s margin for error in the five league road games.

UCLA
Projected win total: 8.5
Home games (eight): Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama, Washington, Utah, Stanford, Arizona, USC
Road games (four): Colorado, Oregon, Arizona State, Cal
Our pick: OVER 8.5
Comment: A friendlier schedule does not exist, anywhere. The Bruins have eight home games and the softest non-conference lineup imaginable. (Not entirely their fault: Michigan canceled a series.) We can not help but wonder: Will missing WSU and OSU, while playing Washington and Oregon, work to UCLA’s benefit.

Utah
Projected win total: 8.5
Home games (six): Southern Utah, San Diego State, Oregon State, USC, Arizona, Stanford
Road games (six): Florida, Arizona State, UCLA, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado
Our pick: OVER 8.5
Comment: The Hotline believes Utah will win the Week One showdown in The Swamp and follow up with victories over Southern Utah and San Diego State to secure a 3-0 non-conference record. From there, the Utes would need just six Pac-12 wins to hit the OVER. That should not be problematic.

Washington
Projected win total: 7.5
Home games (seven): Kent State, Portland State, Michigan State, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State, Colorado
Road games (five): UCLA, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Washington State
Our pick: UNDER 7.5
Comment: So many winnable home games, and yet we’re skeptical UW can hit the trifecta needed to reach the eight-win mark. The Huskies must 1) win the homes games they’re expected to win, spirit 2) beat Michigan State and win one road game, or 3) win two road games. Frankly, all three scenarios seem fraught.

Arizona State
Projected win total: 5.5
Home games (six): NAU, Eastern Michigan, Utah, Washington, UCLA, Oregon State
Road games (six): Oklahoma State, Colorado, Stanford, Washington State, USC, Arizona
Our pick: OVER 5.5
Comment: The math is more favorable than all the personnel changes might suggest. With NAU and EMU on the schedule, the Sun Devils need four conference wins to hit the OVER. (We’re assuming a loss at Oklahoma State). Combine Washington and OSU at home with Colorado, Stanford and Arizona on the road, and it’s awfully close.

Cal
Projected win total: 5.5
Home games (seven): UC Davis, UNLV, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA
Road games (five): Notre Dame, Washington State, Colorado, USC, Oregon State
Our pick: OVER 5.5
Comment: Here’s a case of the cross-division schedule dictating our assessment of the win total. The Bears miss Utah and Arizona State and instead face Arizona at home and Colorado on the road. We’re counting both as victories. Add UC Davis and UNLV to get four wins, and Cal would need just two of the remaining eight.

Oregon State
Projected win total: 5.5
Home games (seven): Boise State, Montana State, USC, Washington State, Colorado, Cal, Oregon
Road games (five): Fresno State, Utah, Stanford, Washington, Arizona State
Our pick: OVER 5.5
Comment: It all hinges on the Boise State and Fresno State games – the Beavers must earn at least a split in order to hit the OVER (and become bowl-eligible). If they get swept by the Mountain West tandem, the path to six wins turns exceedingly difficult. Easy to envision both games being in doubt in the final minutes.

Washington State
Projected win total: 5.5
Home games (seven): Idaho, Colorado State, Oregon, Cal, Utah, Arizona State, Washington
Road gams (five): Wisconsin, USC, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona
Our pick: OVER 5.5
Comment: The Cougars clearing their victory bar stands as one of the best bets on the Pac-12 board. They have a veteran team that starts a quality quarterback, plays seven home games and should win two non-conference matchups (Colorado State was 3-9 last year.) And WSU only needs to finish .500 for the OVER? Yes, please.

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