2010 College Football Preview: The Pac-10

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2010 College Football Preview: The Pac-10
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Talk about your wide open conferences.

One can make an argument for eight of the teams winning the conference title. While it does not look like any of these teams have a good shot at the National Championship, it should be fun to watch a good ol' wild west shootout for the conference crown.

Champion - Stanford

Yes, Toby Gerhart is gone, along with his 1,800 yards and 28 touchdowns, but Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has a sophomore at quarterback named Andrew Luck who is the best on the Farm since John Elway.

Luck will have some help with a four returning starters on a veteran offensive line and his top two receivers. Like most of the teams in the Pac-10 the defense is the problem.

If the Cardinal can play solid defense and the running game is effective, Luck will have a monster year and lead Stanford to the Rose Bowl.

Runner-Up - USC

Some guy named Lane Kiffin takes over as head coach of USC this season.

The Trojans were slapped with a bowl ban for the next two years so they can't play in the Rose Bowl, but hey can take home another conference crown. QB Matt Barkley leads the attack and has the usual top talent at the skill positions.

True freshman running back Dillon Baxter is the most explosive back since Reggie Bush (or at USC "he who will not be named"). USC had a down year on defense last season, but Monte Kiffin will get this defense back on track. The Trojans will be in the race for the conference crown, but all the distractions will cost them a game of two this season.

Everyone Else

Oregon

The Ducks had just as crazy an offseason as the Vols had, which makes sense that they play each other in Week 2.

Losing Jeremiah Masoli keeps Oregon down but they still have plenty of veteran talent with 18 returning starters. RB LaMichael James is a burner and the offensive line is deep and experienced.

The Ducks have a defense that is probably the most underrated in the country. Yes, the read-option gives everyone fits, but when you have a defense in the Pac-10 that stops people, that is bad news.

The game Sept. 11 on Rocky Top will determine if the Ducks are a contender.

Oregon State

Head Coach Mike Riley just keeps the Beavers rolling every year.

Oregon State always seems to start slow and they might do so again this year playing TCU and Boise State in September. However, they use that seasoning to get hot by the end of the season.

The Beavers are breaking in a new QB but he has it easy being able to hand off to quick as a hiccup Jacquizz Rogers and throw to his brother James Rogers. Look for the Beavers to be in title contention going into the civil war with Oregon at the end of the season.

Washington

Talk about a quick turnaround.

Two years ago the Huskies went 0-12 and then last year under new coach Steve Sarkisian went 5-7. This season they looking to get back to a bowl for the first time since 2002 and they have the QB to do it.

Jake Locker is an awesome talent who turned down a chance to be the top pick in the draft this year to come back to school. Locker finally has talent around him this season.

RB Chris Polk is the first freshman in school history to run for over 1,000 yards and WR Jermaine Kearse is a deep threat. Huskies will make a bowl this year and are a dark horse for the conference crown.

Arizona

Mike Stoops has successfully rebuilt Arizona playing everyone tough and getting to the Holiday Bowl last season.

It appears Stoops now has a solid base to be competitive every year and even contend. The Wildcats can contend this season with a great quarterback in Nick Foles.

This offense is one of the most versatile in the country. They can spread it out and throw with Foles and then run the jumbo package with a solid RB in Nic Grigsby. The Wildcats are thin on defense but have two of the best defensive ends in the country in Elmore and Reed.

California

The problem for Cal won't be replacing first round draft pick Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen is another in a great line of backs to have come out of Berkley.

The problems are everywhere else. Is QB Kevin Riley going to live up to expectations?

Is someone going to step up and be a solid No. 2 receiver behind Marvin Jones?

Can the defense stop people?

Can Cal stay mentally strong (the Bears were blown out five times last season)?

Jeff Tedford seems to do better when expectations are low so we will see this season.

UCLA

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel is slowly bringing UCLA back to prominence, but they need to get the offense going.

A switch to the pistol offense and some fresh talent will help UCLA improve on their 88th ranked offense from last season. The defense should be ok again and kicker Kai Forbath is automatic (We Tennessee fans know that).

Neuheisel thinks eight wins is possible. Right now I see seven.

Arizona State

The Sundevils' offense disappeared last season so coach Dennis Erickson switched to an air-raid passing attack. We will see if the change is enough to help ASU score some points.

The defense should be ok, but the offense has to get better or else Erickson might be gone by the end of the year.

Washington State

Well the Cougars can't get any worse.

No really they can't.

Last season they were 119th in total offense and 120th in total defense giving up 512 yards a game and 357 points while only scoring 80. The offensive line gave up 53 sacks last season, they should be charged with assault for letting their quarterback get hit so many times.

I don't see much joy in Pullman this season.

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