Over the last few years the Pac-10 has been home to some great upsets. USC, California, and Oregon have all been on the brink of a top ranking when an unranked foe has beaten them, ending all possible national title hopes.
Obviously, nothing is written in stone, and games aren't played on paper. Teams are breaking in new quarterbacks, new defenses, and even new coaches. Every team in the Pac-10 has questions unanswered.
But going into the Pac-10 season, four teams seem to be above the rest: USC, California, Oregon, and Oregon State.
Hopefully, these upset predictions can help forecast what might play out in the Pac-10 this year.
5. Oregon at Arizona (Nov. 21)
Two years ago, the mighty Ducks, led by Heisman-hopeful Dennis Dixon, marched into Tucson three games away from a potential National Championship appearance.
Oregon would not only lose the game, but also Dixon to a season-ending ACL injury.
Arizona has a history of late-season upsets in Tucson.
In the 2005 season, a certain freshman by the name of Willie Tuitama, making only his second career start, led the Cats to a 52-14 blowout of top-10 ranked and undefeated UCLA.
In 2006, the Wildcats made an unsuccessful late-season bowl push by upsetting a ranked California team and then going on the road and blowing out the Ducks 37-10.
Mike Stoops' teams seem to always play well in November, which has saved Stoops' job multiple times.
The Ducks may also be overlooking the Wildcats. Two weeks after the Arizona game, the Ducks host their northern rivals in what could be a huge matchup with Pac-10 championship implications on the line.
4. Oregon State at Arizona State (Oct. 3)
In the past, the Beavers have always seemed to run out of gas in the desert heat.
In 2007, they held a 19-point advantage but fell apart and lost by double digits. In fact, the Beavers have not won in Tempe for over 40 years.
The Beavers have a terrific opportunity this year with the Rodgers brothers, a senior quarterback, and with the Sun Devils in a rebuilding stage.
But ex-Beavers coach Dennis Erickson, now at ASU, has this game highlighted on his calendar. Last year, Erickson's bunch went to Corvallis and almost pulled off a major shocker. The Beavers did win 27-25, but if not for a failed two-point conversion, the Rudy Carpenter-led Sun Devils may have walked out winners.
This year, Arizona State will be breaking a new quarterback and replacing top receiver Michael Jones, but the Sun Devils will return a strong defense.
In Erickson's first year, the Sun Devils had low expectations and finished second in the Pac-10.
After a preseason ranking and injuries derailed Erickson's second season, the Sun Devils are back and ground zero.
But that's where they want to be. They are in great position to sneak up on people, and the Beavers could be the first victim.
3. Oregon at UCLA (Oct. 10)
The Ducks had major problems putting away Rick Neuheisel's bunch last season. Now with a year of experience in his system and a strong recruiting class, Neuheisel has assembled a team worthy to be reckoned with.
UCLA will be battle tested with early season games at Tennessee and Stanford and a home match against Kansas State.
Meanwhile, the Ducks will be coming off a four-game homestand and a month of no travel.
Winning on the road is no easy thing, and the Ducks will have to adjust quickly when they emerge from the Rose Bowl tunnel and are greeted with boos.
UCLA also has a strong defense that held the Duck's quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to less than 50 yards passing in last season's contest.
2. California at Stanford (Nov. 21)
Much more will be at stake than usual when Cal and Stanford get together for their annual rivalry game.
The men in gold hope to be in Rose Bowl contention when they roll into Palo Alto, while their hosts in Cardinal will be fighting to end a bowl drought.
Stanford may have the worst attendance and quietest crowd in the Pac-10, but the Cardinal will be holding nothing back with such implications.
In 2007, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh's first season, the Cardinal upset top-ranked USC and capped off a good year with a win over California. But in 2008, Harbaugh's crew was not so lucky, as the Bears and Trojans both beat won easily.
Harbaugh is a terrific motivator, and his team has been given the nickname the "Fighting Harbaughs." Stanford plays with great discipline, and Toby Gerhart gives them a power run game.
Cal should be in for a tough one, as both teams will go after it.
1. Oregon State at USC (Oct. 24)
Will the Trojans sleep on the Beavers for a third time?
Believe it or not, the Beavers have an excellent chance and winning in Los Angeles for the first time since 1960.
The Trojans will be road weary from consecutive trips to play probable top-25 teams in Berkely and South Bend. They will also be looking ahead to a date with the Ducks at the Autzen zoo.
Due to a favorable early conference schedule, the Beavers could be sitting pretty at 5-1 or 6-0 instead of their yearly 2-3 start which most fans have come to expect. If this is the case, the Trojans probably will not overlook the Beavers.
Author's note: If both teams are undefeated, look for Gameday to make a stop.
The Beavers also match up well with the Trojans. In USC's losses in past years, turnovers have played a key part. Since Mike Riley took over the Beavers in 2004, the Beavers are in the top 10 nationally in turnovers forced. The Beavers also will be starting a senior quarterback, either Sean Canfield or Lyle Moevao, and both take good care of the football.
The Beaver defense has held USC under 30 points in the last two meetings, proving OSU can defend the potent Trojan offense. The Beavers also have the Rodgers brothers, who have had just a little bit of success against the vaunted USC defense—all four Beaver touchdowns against USC in 2008.
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