Summer is here, and that means football season is upon us. A summer tradition unlike any other — grinding out research for football futures. I’ll have a series of my favorite NCAA Football futures releasing all the way up until the start of the season in late August.
Washington was set to play in the PAC-12 title game last season, but COVID-19 prevented the Huskies from actually playing in the game. However, a lot of this success should carry into the 2021 season, and this team should improve and be a realistic threat to at least contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff — Washington is Phil Steele’s No. 1 surprise team this season, which is something we discussed in the Unreasonable Odds podcast. Phil had the Huskies as his top surprise team in 2016, and they did indeed crack the CFP. Phil’s last No. 1 surprise team from the PAC-12 was Utah in 2019, which finished the regular season 11-1 and ranked No. 5 in the nation heading into the PAC-12 Championship.
Why such confidence in Washington this particular season, though? The Huskies have the perfect combination of returning talent and a schedule that they can plow through. Ten starters will return for this squad on offense, and another eight return for Jimmy Lake’s defense. Washington should be able to run the ball down opposing team’s throats, with a veteran offensive line to go with multiple experienced players at both RB and QB (if an injury or QB change winds up coming into play). As mentioned on defense, passing teams in the PAC-12 should really struggle to move the ball, as Washington should have one of the best secondaries in the country.
Moving onto the schedule, there’s a chance the Huskies close as a favorite in all 12 games this season. While DraftKings Sportsbook has Washington at even money on the moneyline for a road game at Michigan and home game against Oregon, those are essentially pick’em games, and I expect the line to move in Washington’s favor.
Outside of Michigan, which is a game I’ll be backing the Huskies, the only other real road test comes at Stanford. The Oregon game being at home should be massive, and I truly believe Washington is the better team in that matchup. The Arizona State game is also at home, meaning Washington’s two biggest conference games will be played at Husky Stadium — which becomes much more meaningful with games back at full capacity, and the Huskies having one of the most hostile environments in college football.
As you’ll notice while going through the schedule, Washington avoids PAC-12 matchups against both USC and Utah — both teams with win totals set at 8.5 in the South Division. I expect the Huskies to finish the regular season with double-digit wins and easily cash us this win total. That also means Washington is worth a look at +130 to win the PAC-12 North and +350 to win the PAC-12 title game.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
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