The Pac-1?: No, This Year USC Has Competition for the Conference's Top Spot
The USC Trojans showed again why they are the best team in the country over the last seven years, going into an extremely hostile environment with a freshman quarterback and defeating the Vest and Terrelle Pryor.
But what about the rest of the conference?
Will any team rise up and challenge the Trojans for the conference title?
Which team could potentially defeat the Trojans for that seemingly inevitable conference loss?
Are last year's down teams coming back up, and which teams are going down?
We will look at these questions and hope to provide some answers as we review this season through the first two weeks.
No. 10 Wazu Still Sucks
Wazu opened up 0-2, with Saturday's loss coming at the home opener against the Hawaii Warriors.
Hawaii rarely wins games on the mainland, but the Warriors came into Pullman and took care of business.
The Cougars, unlike the two other schools with the same nickname, BYU and Houston, are doomed to own the bottom of the Pac-10 and be an object of ridicule across the nation. With only one winnable game left on the schedule (SMU at Pullman next Saturday), this will be a very long season for new head coach Paul Wulff.
No. 9 Stanford Wakes From Dream and Falls Back
Stanford went across country in another must-win for the Pac-10 and looked like a powerhouse for the first half. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, questionable calls hurt Stanford's chances. Even so, Wake completely outplayed them in the second half, even though Wake won the game with two seconds to play on a Riley Skinner keeper.
Stanford looks as though they will miss a bowl game again this season. But, hey! At least there is a season-ending road trip to South Bend!
No. 8 Sun Devils Coasting
ASU started the season with two cupcakes, but now have a real challenge with a road trip to Athens, Georgia.
No. 7 Oregon Regrouping
Chip Kelly should be very happy to have escaped against Big Ten also—ran Purdue in the Ducks' home-opener. The Boilermakers gave the Ducks a tough battle.
The Ducks are not back yet, not with Utah coming next weekend for another must-win.
A loss to the Utes will make it very hard for the Ducks to get to six wins and bowl eligibility, a far cry from Oregon's expectation this season.
No. 6 The Huskies Are Coming Back
Goodbye nation's longest losing streak. Hello, Coach Sark!
After giving LSU all they could handle in UW's home-opener, the Huskies ended the nation's longest losing streak against Idaho.
Jake Locker looks good, the team looks improved, and the fans finally have something to celebrate.
With the Trojans coming to town this weekend, the Huskies can demonstrate how much improvement Sark has made on this team.
While a win against USC seems impossible, a solid performance here would help the Huskies build toward a 6-6 season and its first bowl game since 2002.
No. 5 Beavers Avoid An Upset in Vegas
In another must-win, the Beavers narrowly avoided being upset by MWC. They also ran UNLV in Las Vegas. While the Rebels are much improved, Oregon State failed to cover the spread with its end-of-game field goal. The Beavers won largely due to a very questionable defensive pass-interference call on a 3rd and very, very long. Thanks, Zebras!
This win was actually a substantial improvement for the Beavers, as the Beavers had lost their road openers the last six seasons.
With Big East champ Cincinnati coming to town, the Beavers better get it all together quickly.
No. 4 Bruins Come Up Big Against Kiffin
Slick Rick showed again that he knows how to coach and win big games, as well as shut up his would-be imitator at Tennessee. Defense came up huge for the Bruins, as they stuffed the Volunteers over and over again, as well as having a four-to-one turnover ratio.
At 2-0, UCLA looks like their decline was very short and have recovered from last season's disaster.
UCLA looks to start 4-0 before the battle with Oregon at the Rose Bowl. The only real concern is that Kevin Prince is out for at least three weeks.
UCLA looks to go bowling this year and may make it up higher on the conference rankings.
I guess Slick Rick and Norm Chow were pretty good hires after all.
LA is still a one-team town, but UCLA is on the way back up.
No. 3 Arizona Continues to Build on Solid Ground
The Wildcats ended last season on a high note, taking out BYU at the Las Vegas Bowl. They have begun the season playing solid football, taking out Central Michigan to start the season (yes, the very directional school that just beat Michigan State).
A big test comes up for Arizona this week as they travel to Iowa. A win here places the Wildcats on solid ground to challenge for the conference crown, as well as continues to establish Pac-10 superiority over the Big Ten.
Arizona looks to go bowling for the second year in a row.
No. 2 Cal Continues to Roll
Cal continues to impress this season and looks to provide a real challenge to USC.
Cal got its revenge against Maryland to start the season.
A trip to Minnesota next weekend will determine if the Bears are merely pretenders or real contenders.
Jahvid Best looks like strong contender for the Heisman.
No. 1 USC Tops Buckeyes!
USC's defense looks as good as ever, holding the Buckeyes in check throughout the game.
The offense is another issue. While RB Joe McKnight looks like he is ready to live up to his potential, QB Matt Barkley played like a freshman for much of the game.
Barkley then showed why Pete Carroll picked him to lead the Trojans. The Drive will go down in USC history, and Barkley earned his hype.
Now, USC may lose a game in conference like they have done in the past, but without a doubt, USC will finish the season again as one of the top teams in college football.
Too bad Pac-10 leaders have failed to understand that protecting the Rose Bowl by preventing a playoff has also prevented the Pac-10 from having many national championships this decade. If Pac-10 presidents really want the big TV contracts, they need to move into the 21st century.
This silliness and out-dated devotion to the Rose Bowl will continue to cost USC and the Pac-10 many more real national championships.