In our inaugural The Big Preview, we laid out, game-by-game, how we think Stanford football we fare this season. We had them at 9-3 overall, and 6-3 in the conference. Now, we give you how we think the other 9 teams in the PAC-10 will do with overall and conference records, followed by bowl predictions based on the year’s new bowl affiliations and which team(s) will represent the conference in the BCS. Following the projected final standings, we give a short breakdown of each team, including wins and losses. Without further ado, here is the standings table:
- Oregon State (9-0) (10-2 overall)
- Arizona (8-1) (10-2)
- Oregon (7-2) (10-2)
- Stanford (6-3) (9-3)
- USC (4-5) (7-6)
- Washington (3-6) (4-8)
- Cal (3-6) (6-6)
- UCLA (3-6) (4-8)
- Arizona State (2-7) (4-8)
- Washington State (0-9) (2-10)
1. Oregon State (10-2, 9-0)
- The Beavers feature the Rodgers brothers on offense, and the team should put up a ton of points. In a conference where defenses take a backseat to potent offensive attacks, the ability to put up more points than any opponent is a valuable luxury. While the health of the brothers is pivotal to the team’s success, Oregon State has a legitimate chance to go undefeated in conference play and advance to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1965.
- Projected Losses: vs. Texas Christian (in Texas); at Boise State
- Key Game: vs. Oregon. The winner of this game will probably, once again, walk away with the conference championship and a ticket to Pasadena.
2. Arizona (10-2, 8-1)
- The Wildcats, previously a doormat in the PAC-10, now figures to be a legitimate contender for the league title. Quarterback Nick Foles leads an offense that, like OSU, can put up 50 against any PAC-10 team. While the defense is weak, Arizona should be one the West Coast’s best teams. The caveat to the Wildcats’ success is the long streak we have them making through the last portion of their conference schedule. After losing to Oregon State in their second PAC-10 game, we have Arizona winning out for the rest of 2010. For a time with very little history of football success, this may prove too much to handle. Don’t be surprised if they drop a winnable game, such as at Stanford or at Oregon. They very well could lose both and drop to 4th in the final conference standings.
- Projected Losses: vs. Iowa; vs. Oregon State
- Key Games: the last four games of the year. At Stanford, vs. USC, at Oregon, and vs. ASU will give Arizona its first long test, and we will know how good a team they really are. 4 of their first 5 conference games are lay-ups.
3. Oregon (10-2, 7-2)
- Uncertainty at quarterback and small offensive and defensive lines make Oregon a somewhat fragile team, at least at this point in the year. Without Masoli behind center, the Ducks are a bit of a wildcard, albeit one that has a chance to win the conference. We say they drop a couple of games and fall victim to several strong records atop the PAC-10. At this point, it seems more likely that Oregon will dramatically underachieve than win the conference and have a shot at the National Championship Game.
- Projected Losses: at Arizona; at Oregon State
- Key Game: at Oregon State. See the explanation in the Oregon State team summary above.
4. Stanford (9-3, 6-3)
- See our The Big Preview for the best breakdown of Stanford’s upcoming year.
- Projected Losses: at Oregon; vs. Arizona; vs. Oregon State
- Key Game: at Oregon. A win up north would send a statement to the conference and the country that the Cardinal are a serious Rose Bowl threat. A win versus Oregon could propel Stanford to another key victory versus Arizona on November 6.
5. USC (7-6, 4-5)
- Lane Kiffin+serious NCAA sanctions+no bowl game for the next two years=really bad news. With less motivated players and a delinquent coach, USC will take another step backward this year. Southern California high school athletes will only have USC as their de facto #1 school for so long, and troubles in Los Angeles could lead them to choose UCLA or Cal (if they stay in California at all). If USC loses one game, watch for successive weeks of losing.
- Projected Losses: vs. Washington; at Stanford; vs. Oregon; at Arizona; at Oregon State; vs. Notre Dame
- Key Game: vs. Notre Dame. A strong showing against the Irish in South Bend will set the tone for USC going into their rivalry game at UCLA and into the bowl season. The new coaching matchup between the hated Kiffin and the hated Kelly will also provide good theatre.
6. Washington (4-8, 3-6)
- Sure, the Huskies have star QB Jake Locker, but there isn’t a ton of talent around him in Seattle. In two years, Washington should be a legitimate conference title contender, but head coach Steve Sarkisian needs a couple more recruiting classes to bring Washington back to glory. While U-W is a good spoiler and could beat any team on a given Saturday (remember last year’s upset of USC) don’t expect consistency this season.
- Projected Losses: at BYU; vs. Nebraska; vs. Arizona State; vs. Oregon State; at Arizona; vs. Stanford; at Oregon; vs. UCLA
- Key Game: at BYU. A big win against the Cougars would be a great start for the Huskies, while a loss could kill their morale and lead to more losing later in the season. Whatever happens in Provo, though, don’t expect a loss the next week against Syracuse.
7. California (6-6, 3-6)
- Shane Vereen is a great athlete and an excellent college running back, but weak quarterbacking and an iffy defense could spell mediocrity for the Golden Bears. Are we partial here? Sure. However, they haven’t improved since last year, when they went 8-5 (5-4 in the PAC-10) and the conference is much stronger this year.
- Projected Losses: at Arizona; at USC; at Oregon State; vs. Oregon; vs. Stanford; vs. Washington
- Key Game: at Arizona. In their first conference game, the Bears would benefit tremendously from knocking off the good-looking Wildcats in Arizona. Will it happen? Probably not.
8. UCLA (4-8, 3-6)
- With a new offense and a fairly new coach (Rick Neuheisel), Bruin fans are espousing a lot of optimism this offseason. However, Kevin Prince is nothing more than an average quarterback and UCLA doesn’t have any proven playmakers on either side of the ball.
- Projected Losses: vs. Stanford; vs. Houston; at Texas; at Cal; at Oregon; vs. Arizona; vs. OSU; vs. USC
- Key Game: vs. USC. A nice upset of rival USC at home to end the season would be a great way for the Bruins to cap off what was an otherwise disappointing football season.
9. Arizona State (4-8, 2-7)
- Not many playmakers and an increasingly lethargic football program that appears to be continuing its momentous decline. A cupcake first two games (Portland State and Northern Arizona) will help the Sun Devils figure out their strategy and team dynamic, but they should finish as one of the PAC-10’s worst teams. We have them upsetting Washington in a battle of teams with potentials far above their actual performances.
- Projected Losses: at Wisconsin; vs. Oregon; at Oregon State; at Cal; at USC; vs. Stanford; vs. UCLA; at Arizona
- Key Game: at Cal. The Sun Devils have an outside chance at beating Berkeley in California, so an upset could push their season closing to hitting the .500 mark.
10. Washington State
- No playmakers and a tough conference. They may spoil a few teams’ conference title hopes, but don’t expect the Cougars to win more than 2 PAC-10 games. That would be a big improvement: last year they won 0.
- Projected Losses: at Oklahoma State; vs. USC; at UCLA; vs. Oregon; vs. Arizona; at Stanford; at Arizona State; vs. Cal; at Oregon State; vs. Washington
- Key Game: at Arizona State. This is WSU’s best chance to win a conference game, even though they will have to do it on the road.
Oregon State: Rose Bowl
Arizona: Orange Bowl
Oregon: Alamo Bowl
Stanford: Holiday Bowl
USC: Sun Bowl
Cal: Maaco Bowl Las Vegas