Oregon State University's 2010 football program will crack the top 25 at the beginning of the season, most likely somewhere in the upper teens or lower 20s.
However, the PAC-10 PRESEASON MEDIA POLL-anchored by votes coming from writers, broadcasters, conference officials, and all major media outlets—predicts the Beavs to finish third in the conference. The University of Oregon Ducks and USC Trojans are predicted first and second, respectively.
According to the school's website, the poll has accurately picked the conference champion in nine of the last 10 seasons, so Oregon State will have some fate to contest.
There are plenty of signs that lead to the Beavers having the ability to buck the trend and taste the sweet stalks of the rose bush. For example, they have a Heisman Trophy candidate looking to add to his growing legacy.
Jacquizz Rodgers is expected to make the race for college football's most coveted award, a surprising one. At just 5'7", he is, of course, an underdog, which fuels his fire.
Secondly, Oregon State has re-signed head coach Mike Riley to an extension, cementing the program's foundation of success and leadership.
Perhaps the most glaring support for Oregon State's run at the Rose Bowl is the spread of first-place votes among seven of the 10 teams in the conference. Evidence suggests the experts believe there is a chance anyone could take the conference, and the Beavers received three first-place votes.
Where will Oregon State finish in the Pac-10 this season?
One of their main competitors, the USC Trojans, are currently under a Two-year postseason ban, so there's an automatic boost for everyone in the conference, and the Beavs stand a good chance of being one of the teams taking advantage.
However, Riley's system and practice regimen is quarterback-friendly, and Katz has the opportunity to progress smoothly, just as Canfield did from an unpolished newcomer to an experienced, efficient winner.
It may be too early to make a prediction, but then again, well, it isn't. I am predicting the Beavers to win the Pac-10, contradicting my earlier article predicting uncertainty (The article is located here: 2010 Oregon State Beavers Schedule and Predictions | Bleacher Report).
One thing is for sure: Nothing is for sure. With no clear juggernaut in the conference, 2010 appears to be poised for a shocking, down-to-the-wire conclusion.