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Fargo’s Pac 10 Conference Football Preview

Pac Ten Preview

Matt Fargo

Matt Fargo

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Matt Fargo of Sharp Sports Advisors weighs in every year his previews for all NCAA Division 1 Football teams and conferences. It’s nearing the end of August and efore you know the games on Saturday will be here.

There have been a lot of talented teams coming out of the Pac Ten in recent years but they get no notoriety because USC is always taking center stage. The Trojans have won seven consecutive Pac Ten Championships and that says a lot for the program considering all of the good teams that have come out that conference. This year it will be no different as every team will be looking to dethrone USC but only a handful will have a shot. It seems as though every team that is on the outside looking in has some issue that could keep it from overtaking the Trojans and if any year you don’t want that, this is the one.

USC Trojans 12-1 SU, 7-6 ATS, 4-8-1 O/U

Summary: USC was arguably the most talented team and with that, the best team in the nation last season. The problem was that it lost at the wrong time and ran out of weeks to get back into the BCS Championship. The Trojans dropped from #1 to #9 after losing to Oregon St. and despite winning out, had to settle for its third straight Rose Bowl that did not have national title implications. Things will not be as easy this season as USC does not have a dependable quarterback for the first time in years and the defense took a massive hit with eight starters lost. The Trojans do not rebuild, they just reload and the talent is in place to win another title in the weaker conference this season.

Schedule: After playing San Jose St. to open the season, USC travels to Columbus to take on Ohio St. which will be one of the best early season games around. That is the first game in a span of four road contests in five games which also includes a game at Notre Dame. USC gets the Beavers at home for revenge but it must travel to both California and Oregon.

Bottom Line: This may be considered a down year for the Trojans with all of the turnover taking place but they cannot be picked to finish anywhere but first. If the quarterback position gets ironed out and there is production, USC can challenge once again for the National Championship. The defense may lack returning starters but there is still a lot of experience on that side of the ball.

 Fargo’s Big East Football Preview

Betting Forecast: USC is 11-1 ATS in non-conference games over the last three years and that will be tested at the Horseshoe. Watch the Week One chemistry against the Spartans.

California Golden Bears 9-4 SU, 9-4 ATS, 8-5 O/U

Summary: Head coach Jeff Tedford has done an amazing job to turn this program around. In seven years, he has never had a losing season and this came on the heels of a 4-18 two-year run before he entered. The Bears have won four straight bowl games but none were big time bowls and they want to move to the next level. This could be the year that finally happens as everything looks to be in place for a conference and possible National Championship run. California has one of the best running backs in the nation in Jahvid Best to go along with an experienced offense and very solid defense. In total the Bears return 15 starters and the last two times they returned at least 14 was in 2004 and 2006 and those resulted in 10-2 and 10-3 records respectively.

Schedule: After facing Maryland and Eastern Washington at home, the Bears travel to Minnesota for their final non-conference game before opening Pac Ten action on the road at Oregon. If that wasn’t bad enough, they host USC the following week so we know right away if they are contenders or not. The remainder of the schedule is far from easy but there are not many roadblocks in the way.

Bottom Line: Because the game against USC is at home, you can make an argument that California is a good sleeper pick to win the Pac Ten. I agree with that but at the same time, the Trojans are reigning champs and they deserve to be at the top of the preseason rankings. California’s season could be over early with those two tough conference openers but it could also be looking at a magical season if all goes right.

Betting Forecast: The Bears are 0-2 ATS as home underdogs the last four years and both losses came against USC. This could be the year that string is broken.

Oregon Ducks 10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS, 7-4-2 O/U

Summary: Oregon will have a new head coach roaming the sidelines for the first time in 14 years as Chip Kelly takes over for Mike Bellotti who resigned to become the Ducks athletic director. The cupboard was not left bare as Kelly does have the talent in place to make a run toward the top. Last season, expectations were not high and the Ducks finished second in the Pac Ten so now that expectations are higher, will we see the Ducks fold under the pressure? It all depends on how the first one-third of the season shakes out. Oregon finished seventh in the nation in both total offense and scoring offense last season and the unit will be potent once again. The defense needs a big improvement if Oregon is to challenge USC and California for Pac Ten supremacy.

Schedule: Despite having four home games in their first five, the Ducks schedule is far from an easy start. The road game is at Boise St. on Thursday night and they are already listed as underdogs. The next three are at home against Purdue, Utah and California none of which will be easy rides. The next two games are against Washington St. and then at UCLA which comes two weeks prior to hosting USC.

Bottom Line: Oregon has had four straight winning seasons and even with the tough schedule, it will extend that run and make it to its fifth straight bowl game as well. The Ducks have a chance in the conference because their offense should be able to go score for score with anyone and that includes USC. The amount of complete success will come down to the defense has was a dismal 82nd in the country a season ago.

Betting Forecast: Oregon has had six straight winning ATS campaigns in the Pac Ten but none better than 5-3 ATS. While I do expect another positive