USC ho-hummed their way to yet another Pac-10 title in 2009, even with another stumble in Corvallis.
Oregon opened eyes the second half of their season as JuCo transfer QB Jeremiah Masoli took Duck fans' minds off the wings on their jerseys and had them reminiscing over the days of Dennis Dixon.
California and Oregon State featured two underclassmen running backs who took the Pac-10 and local headlines by storm. JaQuizz Rodgers for OSU and Jahvid Best for Cal look to battle for the league rushing title in 2009.
Arizona was again, "juuuust a bit outside" yet handled a supposedly decent BYU team to end the season.
After that, there's a reason Arizona State, Stanford, Washington, UCLA, and Washington State weren't heard from. They really didn't do anything.
Aside from the week one shocker that saw UCLA beat what would turn out to be a less than stellar Tennessee squad, the bottom half of the Pac-10 made about as much noise as calls for a playoff system in college football.
To many, the 5-0 bowl record wasn't against worthy competition. BYU really wasn't as good as people thought.
Pittsburgh QB Bill Stull gave the game away to OSU. USC is just too good in their own backyard, I mean it's not fair! And Miami is a few years away from being legit again.
Oregon is really the only win considered to be "quality" for the Pac-10 in the 2008 bowl season, but had Dez Bryant not gotten hurt...you catch my drift.
2008 aside, here's some haves, have nots, and my outlandish predictions for the first half of the conference. (Done in alphabetical order)
Arizona Has: Arizona has been thiiiis close to something special for the past decade. Ever since the days of Dick Tomey and the "Desert Swarm" defense, Arizona has underachieved with the talent they pull in.
Arizona has made it a routine to flounder in the first half of the season and beat up on a ranked opponent in late November, finding themselves just out of the bowl picture. Is last year the exception or the beginning of a trend?
Arizona Has Not: Arizona has never made a BCS Bowl or even finished the season ranked since the BCS came into existence in 1998.
Arizona has not won or shared a conference title since 1993. (Joined the Pac-10 from the WAC in 1978)
Arizona's fans have not given up on the Wildcats. They average around 51,000 fans per game, just 4,000 short of capacity.
Cat Got My Tongue?: Arizona will drown in the Pac-10 in 2009 finishing sixth in conference and missing the post season yet again. With the Cats traveling to Oregon State, Iowa, California, Arizona State, and USC, it's possible that they could only see four wins this season (Washington State, Central Michigan, Northern Arizona, UCLA...all at home)
Arizona State Has: Arizona State has said goodbye to Rudy Carpenter, the best thing to hit Tempe since Jake Plummer.
The Sun Devils have made bowl games in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Arizona State has done well recruiting highly touted JuCo players over the past couple years.
Arizona State has one of the best stadiums in the Pac-10 if not the entire West.
Arizona State Has Not: Arizona State has not continued momentum built from a remarkable 10-win season and Holiday Bowl Bid back in 2007.
The Sun Devils have not had the stability you need to build a program. Counting Bruce Snyder's last year in 2000, Arizona State has had three different Head Coaches. Many think if Dennis Erickson has another disappointing season he will bolt for the next best thing.
Stick a Fork In 'Em: Dennis Erickson has a knack of becoming the hero and then leaving those around the program saying "what happened?" (See Washington State, Oregon State, and Idaho) DE will suffer another losing season and be out of Tempe by 2010.
California Has: California has the most exciting player in the nation in Jahvid Best.
California has the potential to fight for conference titles every year.
California Head Man Jeff Tedford will have Kevin Riley playing at a much higher level in 2009, so watch out, Pac-10.
California Has Not: California has not landed a five star recruit since 2005 when they got four. (DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, Joe Ayoob, and Desmond Bishop)
California has not won the big game when it matters.
California has not missed the post season since 2003, going 5-1 in the past five bowl games. Cal also has not had a losing season under head-man Jeff Tedford.
Gold At The End Of The Rainbow: California will need to replace key defensive players, but the return of Best and Riley should create one of the best offenses in the Pac-10.
Best runs for over 1,500 yards while Kevin Riley throws for over 4,000. California sits in first place nearly the entire season only to have it ripped out from under them. Oh well; the Holiday Bowl will be greatly appreciated.
Oregon Has: Oregon has said goodbye to Mike Belotti, the third All-Time winningest coach in Pac-10 history.
Oregon has the best dual threat QB/RB ground game in the nation with Jeremiah Masoli and LaGarrette Blount in the spread offense.
Oregon has the best facilities in the Pac-10, a huge selling point for potential recruits.
Oregon has only missed the post-season once since 1995. (2004)
Oregon Has Not: Oregon has not backed down to anyone. The Ducks' non-conference schedule over the past few years has included the likes of Oklahoma (2), Purdue, Michigan (2), Boise State (2), and Utah (2).
Oregon has not needed much help from the defense. Oregon averaged 478 yards per game and 41.9 points per game in 2008.
Oregon has not gotten as much bang for their buck with the millions upon millions that Phil Knight has dumped into the program.
It Quacks Me Up: While Oregon has the ugliest uniforms in the nation, recruits are drawn to the edgy and cool aspect of the program.
Luckily for the Ducks, the uniforms don't play the games. Oregon wins the Pac-10 and averages upwards of 50 points per game with all the big boys traveling to Autzen.
Oregon State Has: Oregon State has, year in and year out, gotten more production out of the quality of their recruits than any team in the nation.
Oregon State has consistently flopped in the early season, starting the last three seasons under .500 after the first five games.
Oregon State has failed to win a big game on the road against a non conference opponent (LSU, Cincinnati, Boise State, Louisville, Penn State)
Oregon State has the second most wins in the Pac-10 since 2006 and had their first-ever seven game PAC-10 winning streak last season before it was snapped by Oregon in the final week of the regular season.
Oregon State Has Not: The Beavers have not been in the Rose Bowl in 44 years.
The Beavers have not ranked in the top half of the Pac-10 in recruiting classes this decade. If ever.
Oregon State has not forgotten where they came from, 28 straight losing seasons before turning things around under Dennis Erickson in 1999.
The Beavers have not finished lower than third in the Pac-10 the past three years.
Can They Do It?...Gnaw: The Beavers replace eight of their 11 starters on defense from last year. The same problem they had at the beginning of last season and we know how that turned out. All Pac-10 toughies are on the road, USC, Cal, Oregon, Arizona State. Oregon State finishes the season 7-5 and slides into the Insight Bowl.
Soon to come: Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State