25.Aug.2010 Pac-10 Predictions
1. Oregon-Opportunistic defense, team intensity, and uber confidence trickling down from the top. The QB issue isn't an issue. Remember: Justin Roper put up numbers in this offense, proving anyone can. Oh, and look at the Ducks first six games and tell me how they're not 6-0 and being hyped as a darkhorse National Title contender. Beaver fans: when you think you have enough barf bags buy one more.
2. Arizona-Other than the game @ Oregon, the schedule lines up aces. This league is still all about QB play, and Foles is the best in the conference. Arizona also sports an intriguing defense; it's loaded with high caliber JCs. Can all seven of those guys gel fast enough? Not sure, but I imagine they do to some degree. Legit contender in conference.
3. Oregon State-The Beavers have too much to overcome to win the conference. A green, sophomore QB, shaky run defense, and a remorseless schedule (forget the out of conference games, they also play 75% road games between October 9th and November 6th). The (poor) punting game, which could theoretically help mask shaky defense, isn't going to help the cause. The conference is down this year, a fact that will negate some of these problems, and the Rose Bowl motivation is omnipresent and cannot be discounted. But in the end, this is a flawed team. The Rodgers bros will their comrades to a 3rd place finish.
4. UCLA-I think I am one of the few who likes this squad. Prince improved in every game last year. The RB (Franklin) is good, and the defense has great potential with Datone Jones, Akeem Ayers, and Rahim Moore. Their special teams are rock solid. Dark horse team, and if Prince makes a quantum leap they're a conference contender.
5. USC-There are a lot of predictions that these guys are going to win the Pac-10. That is ludicrous. Coupled with the off the field turmoil, they severely downgraded at head coach and have an overrated QB. Fifth is generous and based solely on talent and reputation. The other 9 teams who were pushed around for a decade? Oh, they're going to be out for blood alright.
6. Washington-Jake Locker this, Jake Locker that. Jake Locker, sixth place.
7. Stanford-The loss of Toby Gerhart is huge. This team is not even average without him. A slow defense, an overrated QB with few weapons, and a head coach who is going to compound expectations (i.e. pressure) on his talent-starved squad by running his mouth.
8. California-The Pac-10 has become more defense oriented over the past five years, and that's been bad news for the Bears. A mediocre QB plus a new defensive coordinator should spell a down year in Berkeley.
9. Arizona State-Does anyone know what to make of this team? I sure don't. I do know that most of the players I see on paper either stink or are unknowns, and that's enough to warrant a 9th place finish in my blog.
10. Washington State-They are improving, slowly. Expect a lot of fight, improved D, and a solid ground game. The Cougs loathe being a mockery, and that just might be motivation enough to leapfrog Arizona State.