Pac 12 Futures & Best Bets: Value on Washington to Win the Conference, College Football Futures Friday

We’re counting down the weeks till the start of the college football season here at Lineups, and there will be plenty of preseason content to hold you over until then. In this article, you can find an analysis of the current betting odds for the Washington Huskies in the Pac 12. Let’s get to work.

washington huskies

2023 Pac 12 Best Bets: Value on the Washington Huskies

The Pac 12 was a fascinating conference in 2022 as USC led the way with an 8-1 record in conference play. Meanwhile, three teams – Washington, Oregon, and Utah – earned 7-2 records in conference play. Utah ultimately bested USC in the Pac 12 championship game.

Based on the current betting odds, we should expect another close race in the conference this season – the quartet of USC, Oregon, Washington, and Utah are priced +550 or shorter to win the Pac 12.

In Kalen DeBoer’s first season as the Washington head coach, he completely turned the program around – they went from 4-8 overall to 11-2. I believe there’s value in betting on Washington to maintain that successful record and climb to the top of the mountain in the Pac 12. Let’s dive in.

Continuity Building in Seattle

Washington is looking for its new identity after a highly successful run under Chris Petersen that included three seasons of double digit wins in six years and a trip to the College Football Playoff. It seems that they’ve found their man in Kalen DeBoer.

DeBoer, who led Fresno State to a nine-win season in 2021, quickly established a new culture in Seattle, winning 11 games with a Huskies team picked by the media to finish just sixth in the conference. DeBoer also brings back Ryan Grubb, his offensive coordinator, and co-defensive coordinators William Inge and Chuck Morrell.

In addition to the coaching continuity, Washington leads the FBS in net returning production according to Action. Save for three offensive line starters who will need to be replaced (more on that in a moment), the team brings back virtually its entire starting lineup from last season.

Michael Penix Jr. for Heisman?

While Michael Penix Jr. was at Indiana, he showed flashes of high-level upside but was severely hampered by injuries – he played in just 20 games in four years with the Hoosiers. However, DeBoer knew all about Penix’s upside as his former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Bloomington.

Finally healthy for the first time in 2023, Penix had 4,641 passing yards which led all Power Five quarterbacks. Penix also ranked eighth among qualified Power Five quarterbacks in PFF passing grade.

Perhaps even more importantly, he took care of the ball – he threw just eight interceptions and had the fourth-lowest turnover-worthy play rate among qualified Power Five quarterbacks per PFF.

While Caleb Williams looks poised to win back to back Heisman trophies, Penix has as good a chance as anyone else in the mix this season. I’m betting 0.5 units on him to win the award at +1600 odds on DraftKings.

Penix’s Supporting Cast

The Huskies boast an elite supporting cast that further bolsters Penix as a Heisman candidate. It starts with Rome Odunze, a potential first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft who led the Pac 12 in total EPA gained when targeted last season. Odunze finished last year with 75 catches for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns.

Don’t forget about Jalen McMillan, as well, who had 1,098 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season. McMillan will get NFL buzz of his own this season. Add in Ja’lynn Polk and tight end Jack Westover, and the Huskies return their top four pass catchers from last season.

Washington’s offensive line was elite last season as they ranked first in tackles for loss allowed and second in sacks allowed. The returning production isn’t quite there, though, as the team’s three starting interior offensive linemen from last year are off to the NFL. However, tackles Tony Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten return with all-conference upside.

The three projected starters on the interior are all redshirt juniors and former four-star recruits, so there’s enough talent and experience to suggest that the Huskies shouldn’t experience a major drop off in their blocking this season.

What About the Defense?

Washington’s pass defense struggled at times last season as replacing two top 50 NFL picks in Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon proved difficult. However, there’s plenty of optimism for the secondary.

Misahel Powell should be set for an excellent season after filling the team’s “HUSKY” position incredibly well – he’s capable of playing all over the defense. Oklahoma State transfer Jabbar Muhammad also provides versatility and speed in the form of 71 tackles and 12 pass breakups over the last two years.

The Huskies’ front seven could be elite this season. Edefuan Ulofoshio returns after missing nearly all of last season with an injury. He was PFF’s highest graded P5 linebacker in 2020. He’s joined by USC transfer Ralen Goforth and Alphonzo Tuputala who led the team with 6.5 TFLs last year.

The pass rush also gets a major boost with the return of future NFL players Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui. As they’ll be doing on Sundays in the future, those two are expected to provide a major boost for the team’s pass rush and third down viability.

The Huskies were outside the top 80 in success rate, points per opportunity, and FEI on defense last year. We’re not going to be talking about a defensive powerhouse in Seattle this season, but nevertheless, marginal improvement could push this team towards a conference title.

Washington Huskies Schedule Takeaways

In discussing Washington’s 2023 season, it’s important to get the context of the layout of the schedule. The Huskies start off with three non-conference games where they will be double-digit favorites – they face Boise State and Tulsa at home before hitting the road to play Michigan State.

Washington also benefits from facing Oregon, one of the top projected teams in the Pac 12, at home off of their bye week. They also face Utah, the two-time reigning Pac 12 champions, at home. The Utes are a bit of a question mark with major turnover in the secondary and quarterback Cam Rising rehabbing a torn ACL.

The biggest potential pitfall for Washington is arguably a road game against a ruthless Oregon State team on the heels of a two-week stretch of games at USC and at home against Utah. However, there’s plenty of cushion with there being arguably five conference games where the Huskies could be 20+ point favorites.

Summary – the Case for the Huskies

The Huskies’ offense hummed in Kalen DeBoer’s first year in Seattle as they ranked fifth in FEI, fourth in success rate, and second in points per opportunity. While the interior offensive line will undergo some transition, the team returns both starting offensive tackles, its top four pass-catchers, and a Heisman candidate at quarterback.

The defense also brings back arguably the best pass-rushing duo in the conference and an elite trio of linebackers. While there are questions about the secondary, it isn’t difficult to envision this defense trending up in the second year of the current coaching staff.

DeBoer is building a real contender in the Pacific Northwest, and I believe it will show in the team’s results this season. I’m personally betting 2 units on the Huskies to win over 9.5 games at +120 odds, 1 unit on them to win the Pac 12 at +400 odds, and 0.5 units on Penix to win the Heisman at +1600 odds.

I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

Hot Betting News Stories