Top 10 Games of the 2010 Pac-10 Season
After a thrilling 2009 season which wasn’t decided until the very last game, the Pac-10 looks to be just as exciting in 2010. There is no clear cut favorite to win the conference year, meaning it should be an exciting year for Pac-10 football.
This conference was full of off-season storylines including the legal troubles at Oregon, the sanctions at USC, the additions of Utah and Colorado, and the Heisman hopes of Andrew Luck and Jake Locker. While off-season stories and hype are exciting, they do not compare to the excitement that will fill college football fans on September 2nd, when the season gets underway.
These ten games will be important factors in determining how the conference is perceived nationally as well as who will represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl.
10. Nebraska @ Washington (Saturday September 18)
This game will be crucial for the Heisman chances of Washington quarterback Jake Locker. If Locker wants to even be in the Heisman discussion, he will need to have big numbers and impressive games to make up for the fact that Washington will not be a top five team. Locker will have a prime opportunity to impress Heisman voters if he can have a big game and lead his team to victory against a top ten team. Should the Huskies find a way to pull out a win, it would also go a long way for conference prestige.
9. Oregon @ Tennessee (Saturday September 11)
Anytime there is an opportunity to beat an SEC team at home, the opposing team needs to take advantage. Tennessee may not be Alabama or Florida, but Oregon has an opportunity to make a statement. This game is early in the year so the Ducks will be able to show the country they have moved on from Masoli and are ready to compete for a Pac-10 title or even a national title. The SEC is undoubtedly the best conference in the country so a win here would go a long way towards Oregon’s strength of schedule as well as the Pac-10’s credibility.
8. Iowa @ Arizona (Saturday September 18)
Arizona has been a team on the rise in the Pac-10. While Iowa was an 11 win team a year ago and was one game away from playing in the Rose Bowl. Both teams will have veterans at quarterback, Stanzi for Iowa and Foles for Arizona. The Wildcats have shown they can play with just about anyone as they usually surprise and upset a team every year. The Wildcats are not quite ready to contend for the Pac-10 title, but the Zona Zoo is a tough place to place and Iowa may just be the latest top-ten team to fall in the desert heat.
7. Arizona @ Oregon (Friday November 26)
This is a rematch of what was the best Pac-10 game of 2009. Although Oregon will be favored and will be at home this game is intriguing because both teams will be looking for revenge. Arizona will look to avenge the heartbreaking double overtime loss in which their fans prematurely stormed the field and were then forced to climb back to their seats and Oregon will be looking for revenge because of the way the Arizona fans handled the loss, by throwing objects at the Oregon cheerleaders. These are two very good football teams, but in the end Oregon is better, faster, and playing with the best home-field advantage in the conference.
6. Stanford @ Oregon (Saturday October 2)
The Stanford Cardinal were the only Pac-10 team to beat Oregon last season. This is a different Stanford team as they will rely on Andrew Luck more because of the absence of Toby Gerhart. The Ducks and their fans have not forgotten what happened last year and will be looking to make sure Stanford knows who the defending conference champion is.
5. USC @ Stanford (Saturday October 9)
USC is a very proud program with a ton of tradition. They do not like to be shown up and they will remember the 55 points Stanford hung on them last year at the Coliseum. USC is not eligible to go to the postseason this year, but they still have a lot to play for. Matt Barkley and his teammates will remember how embarrassing that game was and make sure Stanford is equally embarrassed in front of their home fans.
4. Oregon State vs. TCU (Cowboy Stadium) (Saturday September 4)
Oregon State has by far the toughest non-conference schedule of anyone in the conference. They begin their season at Cowboy Stadium against TCU in what will be the Rodgers brothers’ first game back in Texas since joining the Beavers. Both these teams need to win this game and Jacquizz Rodgers needs to have a big game on national television to help his Heisman campaign. Oregon State needs this game because they have been a team on the rise, but they have faltered in big games the past few years. A win against TCU would help reverse the trend. The Horned Frogs need this game because a big non-conference win will improve their BCS ranking later in the season and a loss would virtually eliminate them from any hopes of a national championship.
3. Oregon State @ Boise State (Saturday September 25)
If Boise State beats Virginia Tech to open the year, the Broncos’ game against Oregon State instantly becomes the most important game for the Broncos. With a preseason top-five ranking, the Broncos are primed to become the first non-automatic qualifying school to reach the BCS title game, if they finish the season undefeated. Other than Virginia Tech, Oregon State is the only team with a legitimate shot at ruining the Broncos title hopes. If Boise beats the Hokies, this game could decide whether or not Boise finally gets its chance to play for a national championship.
2. Oregon @ USC (Saturday October 30)
Another team who embarrassed USC last year was the Oregon Ducks. Oregon thrashed USC 47-20 on Halloween and as the game ended, the play by play announcer said, and “There is a new king in the Pac-10.” The Trojans will come into this game with the intent to show Oregon they slipped up last year but they are still the best team in the conference. The Ducks, who have not won in Los Angeles in a few years, will be trying to show USC they are the new kings and they need to be knocked off their thrown because they will not give it up.
1. Oregon @ Oregon State (Saturday December 4)
The Civil War has had Rose Bowl implications each of the past two years and it looks like it may happen for a third year in a row. Beaver fans are hoping Oregon State can finally get over the hump and beat the hated Ducks, while Oregon fans would love nothing more than to crush Oregon State’s Rose Bowl hopes for the third straight year. Oregon is the preseason favorite to win the conference, but Mike Riley always has his team ready to compete. The Beavers will be a good team this year and are likely to challenge the Ducks for the top spot in the conference.