Tuesday, August 26, 2008

College Football Projections: Pac-10

Flying two or three hours behind the rest of the country, thus under the radar, is the Pac-10 Conference. The Pac-10 takes advantage of the location of California to spread talent throughout the West and to hold their own against the rest of the country. Actually, this conference has a great idea. When the NCAA allowed schools to add a 12th regular season game, the Pac-10 decided to make the extra game a conference game. Therefore, instead of flying a team like Tennessee-Chattanooga across the country to get waxed by a Pac-10 team for a check, the extra game becomes a tough conference game against a team like Oregon or Oregon State. This does wonders for the conference’s strength of schedule. It also determines a true champion, as every team plays every other team in the conference in a true round-robin.

Until further notice, the Pac-10 is the domain of the USC Trojans. SC has spent this decade returning to glory as a factory of championships and NFL draft picks. This season will be no different. The road to the Rose Bowl and/or the BCS Championship Game goes through the L.A. Coliseum. The Trojans will be better than every team they play, but they will stumble somewhere this season, similar to last season’s home loss to 4-8 Stanford.

Cal and Oregon will both be pretty good, but won’t have enough in the tank to finish ahead of USC. UCLA is the team to look out for in the future, but they won’t win the conference in this, the first year of the Rick Neuheisel era. Arizona will save coach Mike Stoops’ job with a bowl trip. Arizona State could finish anywhere from the middle to the top of the conference.

At the bottom of the conference, Oregon State will slip from previous years of success. However, they will not be nearly as bad as the Beavers were infamous for being in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Stanford is still building their program under Jim Harbaugh, but won’t quite get over the hump. In Seattle, an agent better get busy with buyout negotiations, because Tyrone Willingham is not long for Washington. The schedule is too tough and the team is too mediocre to save him. Across the state, Washington State will play people tough, but fall short in the win column this season.

Projected Finish:
USC 11-1, 8-1
California 9-3, 6-3
Oregon 9-3, 6-3
UCLA 7-5, 6-3
Arizona 7-5, 5-4
Arizona State 6-6, 4-5
Oregon State 4-8, 3-6
Stanford 3-9, 3-6
Washington 3-9, 3-6
Washington State 2-11, 1-8

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