Pac-12 Football: Week 12 Predictions

18 11 2010

Week 11 delivered more exciting story lines with Cal players faking injuries like WWE superstars, Chip Kelly getting frustrated with sideline reporters, and Auburn’s Cam Newton still collecting cash payments to play at Auburn.

Cal’s marketing department had a brilliant strategy this past weekend. They convinced all the hippies in Berkeley that they were having a prop 19 rally at the stadium and when they showed up to the football game they spewed their venomous chants at the Oregon Ducks and almost guided their team to the upset. The infamous New York Jets reporter Ines Sainz is all-in on the Ducks this year and she loves the highlighter jerseys.

It’s safe to say that Arizona’s performance this year parallels the premature ejaculation that affects 25-40% of men in the United States. Getting revenge against Iowa, climbing to the top ten in the rankings, and now finding themselves on a 2 game skid in November leaves their gorgeous coeds as disappointed as they are in the bedroom.

Oregon State has been relegated to the doormat of the conference after getting thumped by Washington State this past weekend. The Cougs haven’t won a conference game since 2007 and there’s nothing more embarrassing than having the loss come on your home turf. Everybody should take home a cougar this week and show them some love.

On to the games

UCLA at Washington: This is a must win for both teams if they want to make it to a bowl game. If the faculty and fans  show up with the same energy that they’ve expressed about the parking and traffic situation on a busy Thursday in Seattle then the fans should be a factor in the game. Gore-Tex 27 – Flip Flops 20

Utah at San Diego State: Utah felt the wrath of Jesus at Notre Dame last week while San Diego State gave TCU all they could handle. Which Indian tribe will go Apacalypto on the other? Utes 28 – Aztecs 24

USC at Oregon State: Lots of double entendres when the Beavers and Trojans face off this weekend, but I’ll let your imaginations run wild with it. I’m guessing the Beavs were looking ahead to this weekend, but they love crapping on USC when they come to town. Beavers 27 – Trojans 24

Stanford at Cal: Cal fans took over Stanford’s stadium last year after upsetting them in Palo Alto, and look for them to rejoice again in Strawberry Canyon. Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks will be all over Andrew Luck and the Bears come away victorious 24 – 20

2010 Prediction Record 61-19

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Pac-12 Football Playoffs Part 2

13 10 2010

I despise the BCS system, and we’ve already showed how exciting it would be to have the Pac-12 Playoffs. If commissioner Larry Scott would flip the bird to the NCAA and start his own playoff system it would impact the rest of the country and be the first step towards overthrowing the BCS.

I would love to see the Pac-12 scrap the traditional eight or nine game conference schedule and do a full round-robin with only a single non-conference game. This would eliminate the need for the conference to come up with separate divisions or figuring out complex schedule issues.

At the end of the season we would have an eight team playoff with the first two rounds being at the higher ranked team’s home field. The championship game could either rotate annually around the geography of the conference or be played at a centralized and neutral site like Las Vegas.

Since the round-robin schedule is probably unrealistic for the next couple of years, my next favorite proposal of the divisions is on Pac12cooler.com which splits the teams by the geography zipper, but also follows the visible color spectrum.

Here’s where it gets a little confusing. The conference would have two divisions (yet to be named), but within them would be three separate pods (pictured below), California (Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC), Northwest (Oregon, OSU, Washington, WSU), Rockies (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, ASU).

Every year each team plays the other three teams within their pod, the rest of the teams in their division, and two more games from the other division, one from the two pods. Playing the teams in your pod would maintain the traditional and geographical rivalries. Pictured below is an example of Washington’s nine game schedule. The teams that they would play annually are circled, and the other games from the other pods would alternate so they never go longer than one season without playing a team.

I know that the conference is planning to have a conference championship game with the top team in the zipper divisions facing off. This has worked terribly in other conferences like the BigXII which typically has the top two teams of the conference in the same division. In the ACC and SEC it has often produced a rematch of a game earlier in the year, which doesn’t typically draw much excitement. As you can see from this image, both teams in this match up wear warm colors so wherever you see a blue it’s an empty seat.

What the conference should do is start its own playoff system. The geographical pods set it up perfectly to take the top team from the three pods and one wildcard team (the team with the next best record). Starting a four team playoff would be revolutionary in the NCAA and would take the entire country closer to a playoff system. When the conference is ready for expansion it would be easy to combine with another conference and form a six or eight team playoff. If the Pac-12 teamed up with the Big Ten (+2) here’s how it would pan out if the season ended today based on rankings.

Pac-12 Ranking BigTen
Northwest #1 Oregon #1 Ohio State
Rockies #2 Utah #2 Nebraska
California #3 Stanford #3 Michigan State
Wildcard #4 Oregon State #4 Iowa

Here’s how the match ups would stack up

 

I’ll do a series to figure out how the games of the Pac-12 vs BigTen playoff would play out, but here are the early lines.

#1 Oregon vs #4 Iowa – (Ducks -13)

#1 Ohio State vs #4 Oregon State (Ohio State -7)

#2 Utah vs #3 Michigan State (Utah -3)

#2 Nebraska vs #3 Stanford (Nebraska -4.5)

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NASPAQ – Pac-12 Stock Report : Week 3

23 09 2010

On Separation Saturday the Pac-12 split the four games against ranked opponents with  Arizona State losing by a point at Wisconsin, the Dawgs getting a beat down like they were facing Michael Vick, and two big upset performances out of Arizona and UCLA. Two teams (USC & Oregon State) couldn’t cover the spread against inferior opponents, and Cal had their annual national television audience letdown against Nevada. Playboy also came out with their Girls of the Pac-10 edition and it’s a must get. Leader of the Pac’s official girl is now Rachel Lorraine of UCLA (pictured below).

Quarterbacks

Let’s jump right into our competitive positional markets with the quarterbacks. In case you haven’t already heard, Jake Locker (LUCK) had a miserable day and was outplayed by a freshman on his home turf. He’s apparently unaware of the Under Armour commercials or protecting the house, and his stock is down 20% because of it. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Andrew Luck (LUCK) who had the speedy Chris Owusu back at wide receiver to help him complete 17 of 23 passes and four touchdowns. His numbers were identical to his week 1 stats except he had 100 less yards. Nick Foles (FOLE) was the runner up for top QB performance this week and saw his stock go up 8% with an impressive win over Iowa. His interception for a pick-six hurt his stock, but he still topped out at $135 this week.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Andrew Luck Stanford LUCK ↑ 15 12% $140
Nick Foles Arizona FOLE ↑ 10 8% $135
Matt Barkley USC BARK $120
Jake Locker UW LOCK ↓20 20% $80
Kevin Riley Cal RILE ↓10 11% $85
Jordan Wynn Utah WYNN $55
Tyler Hansen Col HANS ↑ 10 25% $40
Darron Thomas Oregon DARR ↑ 5 20% $30
Kevin Prince UCLA PRNC ↑ 5 33% $20
Ryan Katz OSU KATZ ↑ 5 33% $20

Wide Receivers

Most of the wide receivers saw a decrease in their receptions this week, but their stocks continued to rise. Juron Criner (CRIN) had to leave the Arizona game with turf toe, but still managed a 46 yard touchdown reception. Robert Woods (WOOD)only had 4 receptions, but his 97 yard punt return for a touchdown increased his stock by $10. James Rodgers (JROD) only had 5 receptions for 22 yards, Jake Locker couldn’t get the ball to Jermaine Kearse (JERM), and Ronald Johnson (ROJO) only caught three balls, but all three finished with a touchdown. My horn needs to be tooted as I left James Rodgers off of the pre-season All-Pac-10 Team, because I predicted his numbers would drop.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Juron Criner Arizona CRIN ↑ 5 7% $70
Jermaine Kearse UW JERM ↑ 5 7% $70
Ronald Johnson USC ROJO ↑ 5 10% $55
Marvin Jones Cal MARV ↑ 10 25% $50
James Rodgers OSU JROD ↓10 18% $45
Jeff Maehl Oregon MAEL ↑ 10 33% $40
Doug Baldwin Stanford BALD ↑ 5 25% $30
DeVonte Christopher Utah DEVO ↑ 5 25% $25
Robert Woods USC WOOD ↑ 10 66% $25
Keenan Allen Cal KEEN ↓10 33% $20
David Ausberry USC BERY $15
Devin Aguilar UW AGUI ↓10 40% $15

Running Backs

The nation already knows that the Pac-12 is the Conference of Quarterbacks, but the running backs are quickly becoming the best in college football. LaMichael James (LMJ) and Shane Vereen (VERE) saw a $20 bump in their stocks with 200+ yard performances. Vereen had multiple highlight reel runs and LMJ has speed like the Twilight vampires. We had some great running from the LA schools starting with Allen Bradford (BRAD) finally breaking through with his 12 carries for 131 yards and a 56 yard touchdown. Not to be outplayed by his cross-town rival, Johnathan Franklink (FRNK) of UCLA looks to be the man to take the SuperSoaker offense to pistol status after his 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. His stock IPO’d this week at $20.

Team Symbol Δ Δ % Total
JacQuizz Rodgers OSU QUIZ ↑ 5 4% $125
LaMichael James Oregon LMJ ↑ 20 19% $125
Shane Vereen Cal VERE ↑ 20 26% $95
Chris Polk UW POLK ↓ 5 6% $75
Kenjon Barner Oregon BARN ↓10 18% $45
Nic Grigsby Arizona GRIG ↓10 28% $35
Allen Bradford USC BRAD ↑ 5 33% $20
Cam Marshall ASU MRSH ↓ 5 25% $15
Marc Tyler USC MARC ↓ 5 25% $15

IPO’s

We had some standout performances  on the defensive side of the ball with Patrick Larimore (LARI) being the Leader of the Pac. Larimore was named the Nagurskie National Defensive Player of the week after recording 11 tackles (10 of which were solo), a forced fumble, and a pass breakup in UCLA’s upset of the Houston Cougars. While Cal was getting pistol-whipped by Nevada, DJ Holt (HOLT) notched 16 tackles forced a fumble. Rumor has it that he is the cousin of famous Arrested Development star Steve Holt so watch for him on the Berkeley campus doing something like this. Dwight Roberson (ROBE) also had a sweet 16 tackles for the Oregon State Beavers with their victory over  Louisville. Jordan Wynn’s backup – Terrance Cain (CAIN), was almost perfect by throwing 20 for 23 as the Utes knocked off UNLV. He’s proving that he might be the best backup quarterback in the conference.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Johnathan Franklin UCLA FRNK $20
Patrick Larimore UCLA LARI $20
DJ Holt Cal HOLT $20
James Washington Arizona WASH $20
Dwight Roberson OSU ROBE $20
Steven Threet ASU THREE $15
Terrance Cain UTAH CAIN $15
Tyler Gaffney Stanford GAFF $10
Stepfan Tylor Stanford STEP $10

Don’t Be So Defensive

Players Market

Our analysts thought before the season that teams could avoid directing their plays around Akeem Ayers (AYER), but his big play potential is ubiquitous. He should have scored on his 77 yard interception return but he gets style points for breaking Case Keenum’s ankles (or knee).  Mason Foster had 14 tackles and forced a fumble against Nebraska, but Taylor Martinez told him to hit the weights on his way to an 80 yard touchdown run. Foster is #40 and the guy that misses the tackle on the play. Brooks Reed (REED) may look like a blonde version of the WWE wrestling icon Undertaker, but it translated perfectly when he buried Ricky Stanzi on four consecutive plays to end their chances of a comeback. His pressure off the edge has led to James Washington (WASH) ascension to the conference’s sack leader through three games.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Akeem Ayers UCLA AYER ↑ 10 11% $95
Rahim Moore UCLA MOOR ↑ 10 12% $90
Mason Foster UW FOST ↑ 5 6% $85
Jurrell Casey USC CASE ↑ 5 6% $85
Vontaze Burfict ASU BURF ↑ 5 6% $85
Brooks Reed Arizona REED ↑ 10 13% $85
Mike Mohamed Cal MIKE $80
Omar Bolden ASU BOLD ↑ 10 15% $75
Trevin Wade Arizona WADE ↑ 10 15% $75
Tony Dye UCLA DYE $55
Malcolm Smith USC SMIT ↓ 5 $50
Richard Sherman Stanford SHER $45
TJ McDonald USC TJMC ↑ 5 20% $30
Cliff Harris Oregon CLIF ↑ 5 20% $30
Michael Thomas Stanford THOM ↑ 5 33% $20

Unit Market

Oregon is #1 in the nation in scoring and total defense, but even scarier is the that all of the reps their younger players receive in blowouts make them a deeper unit each game. Cal and UW were absolutely rocked in their blowout losses, and USC did just enough to eek out the win. Nickell Robey and TJ McDonald are looking very promising in the secondary for the Trojans, but the team as a unit is still undisciplined. UCLA has proven that it has the best secondary in the conference by shutting down Case Keenum and Andrew Luck in back-to-back weeks, but they need to get stronger up front with all of the great running backs in the Pac-12. Oregon State was unable to avoid the slow start this year after losing their first game and they have an even tougher test this week when they travel to face Boise State on the Smurf Turf. A strong defensive performance is exactly what the Beavers will need to give the offense a chance.

Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Oregon Defense ORED ↑ 10 8% $135
Arizona Defense ARID ↑ 10 15% $75
Utah Defense UTAD ↑ 5 7% $70
ASU Defense ASUD ↑ 5 8% $65
USC Defense USCD $60
Stanford Defense STAD ↑ 10 20% $60
UCLA Defense UCLD ↑ 15 37% $55
Cal Defense CALD ↓ 10 16% $50
OSU Defense OSUD $40
Colorado Defense COLD ↑ 5 16% $35
UW Defense UWD ↓ 10 22% $35

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Pac-12 – Week 3 Players of the Week

21 09 2010

My prediction record took a beating this week with a 9-3 record overall, but the conference’s image received some crushing blows when Cal got pistol whipped by Nevada and Washington got corn-holed at home by Nebraska. Luckily I found this picture of a gorgeous prostitute from Nebraska who exchanges sexual acts for football tickets.

Players of the Week

Despite the embarrassment of Cal’s loss to Nevada, Shane Vereen was a bright spot for the Bears. The Junior running back hadn’t played much in the first two games with Cal having both games in hand by halftime, but Vereen had some moments that reminded fans of another Cal legend – Jahvid Best, with his jukes, broken tackles and great burst. He finished the night with 19 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

Those numbers would normally be good enough to be the top running back of the week, but LaMichael James was a one-upper with his 227 yards on just 14 carries and two touchdowns. We still don’t know if Darron Thomas can throw the ball, but they might not need to if they keep putting up rushing numbers like they have been (564 yards rushing vs Portland State).

The Leader of the Pac MVP this week belongs to Andrew Luck of Stanford. He continues to improve his decision making and shows great touch on his long ball. He went 17 of 23 with 4 touchdowns and also added a 52 yard touchdown run that made Wake Forest look like a pee wee football team. Chris Owusu played in his first game this season and caught 3 passes for 65 yards and 2 TD’s. My only problem with Stanford this week is that their school colors are Cardinal and White, which makes the opposite of their school colors Blue and Black. They should burn the black jerseys, but coach Harbaugh thinks his team looks tough in them.

The Week 3 Juggy Award belongs to Nick Foles of the Arizona Wildcats for his up and down play. He was managing the game efficiently until he threw the ball to Broderick Binns for a pick-six play to tie the game up at 27 all. Foles wasn’t fazed by the error and went right over the top for a 38 yard gain on the next play to put Arizona in position for the go-ahead score. It looks like the Wildcats are finally getting over the hump and getting some national recognition with the #14 ranking in both polls.

Bust of the Week

As I’ve previously documented, I thought that Jake Locker was the third best quarterback in the Pac-12, but Mel Kiper had him pegged as the #1 QB on his draft board since the off-season. While I don’t claim to know as much as Mel, you don’t need a gallon of gel in your hair to see that Locker’s draft stock is falling faster than Mel Gibson’s popularity amongst women’s rights groups. His 4 of 20 for 71 yards and 2INT’s is one of the worst games of the decade and a lot of it was poor decision making by the QB. The Huskies now have to go 5-4 in Pac-10 play to make a bowl game and they have road trips at USC, Oregon, Cal, and Arizona. Locker is the only player to ever receive the Bust of the Week award twice in the same season and it’s only week 3…

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Pac-12 Week 3 Predictions

17 09 2010

The Pac-12 now boasts seven ranked teams in the two polls, but even more impressive is the fortitude to schedule four other ranked opponents (#8 Nebraska, #9 Iowa, #11 Wisconsin, #23 Houston) in addition to the playing the most difficult of all BCS conference schedules.

#25 Cal at Nevada: The Bears have the number one defense in the country and The Wolfpack have the number one offense. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t faced a front seven as good as the Bears in his entire career, but Cameron Jordan and Kendrick Payne will try to introduce themselves in the backfield. My guess is that the defense prevails. Bears 34 – Wolfpack 27

#18 USC at Minnesota: Lane Kiffin left the defense at home in his first game, he left the offense in Hawaii for game 2, could there be a special teams disaster on the horizon? Trojans 38 – Golden Gophers 20

#23 Houston at UCLA: The Bruins might be facing Houston without their Heisman candidate – Case Keenum, who suffered a concussion last week. If he’s unable to play the Bruins might get their first win behind a strong defensive performance. I’m guessing that Keenum plays. Cougars 24 – UCLA 19

Arizona State at #11 Wisconsin: The Sun Devils won’t have a chance if they can’t stop the 255lb running back known as John Clay. ASU is one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the conference, but they will need to minimize the penalties to keep the game within reach. Badgers 30 – Sun Devils 13

#8 Nebraska at Washington: The Cornhuskers freshman quarterback – Taylor Martinez, looks like a Jake Locker clone with the ability to make plays when they break down. The Husky defense will struggle to stop the running game, but if their offense gets rolling they will stay in the game. Dawgs 27 – Huskers 24

Wake Forest at #19 Stanford, 8:15: Stanford wants redemption after they lost a game in the final minutes at Wake Forest last year. Andrew Luck struggled against the talented UCLA secondary, but Wake Forest won’t be able to match the Pac-10 speed. Cardinal 34 – Demon Deacons 17

Portland State at #5 Oregon: The Oregon offense should keep on rolling and this game might be an opportunity to get a lot of reps out of Darron Thomas. Ducks 52 – Vikings 10

Louisville at #25 Oregon State: The Rodgers Brothers should put on a show against an inferior opponent, but this could be a statement game for new Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, former defensive coordinator of the Florida Gators. Oregon State wants to bounce back after their loss against TCU. Expect Ryan Katz to improve from his 9 of 25 performance in week one. Beavers 34 – Cardinals 14

#9 Iowa at #24Arizona: Arizona will attempt to spread out the Iowa defense and get their play makers in space. Iowa’s DE Adrian Clayborne leads arguably the best defensive line in the country and will likely shut down the Wildcat running game. I think Arizona plays with a chip on their shoulder and the secondary comes up with a big play late.  Wildcats 27 – Hawkeyes 23

#14 Utah at New Mexico: New Mexico is still recovering from the beat down that Oregon put on them, the Utes cruise in this one 37 – 14.

Hawaii at Colorado: The Buffaloes were cooked into bison burgers in Berkeley last week, but the benefits of the loss are learning where you can improve. Hawaii is not nearly as good on the road. Buffs 33 – Rainbows 24

2010 Prediction Record 20-1

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Pac-12 Week 2 Predictions

10 09 2010

Started off pretty well last week with a 9-1 record, but Jake Locker let me down as the Huskies were held scoreless in the second half against BYU. Lots of good games this week and one conference game with Stanford traveling to UCLA.

Colorado at Cal: The newest member of the Pac-12 should receive some rookie hazing as Cal looks to impose its offensive firepower at the skill positions. Look for Shane Vereen to run in the 150 yard range and the Kevin Riley to Keenan Allen connection to continue. Our special guest from The Office – Dwight Schrute, picked the score this week. Bears 34 – Buffs 23

Stanford at UCLA: The new UCLA pistol offense looked like a SuperSoaker last week and Stanford has a QB with a cannon for an arm. Andrew Luck will be facing the top secondary in the conference, but his offensive line should give him plenty of time against a young Bruin front seven. Stanford 31 – UCLA 23
Virginia at USC: Lane Kiffin has seen better tackling in Pee Wee football and he sent a message to his players this week. Look for them to come out more aggressive and wrapping up when they tackle. The NASPAQ report shows that the USC defense hit the market bottom this week and many of our analysts see it as a bull market moving forward. USC 45 – Virginia 14
North Arizona at Arizona State: The Sun Devils are on the cupcake diet and facing their second FCS team this season. Steven Threet benefited from a lot of explosive plays out of Cameron Marshall against Portland State. Look for them to have some longer drives this week. Sun Devils 34 – Lumberjacks 10

Oregon at Tennessee: Darron Thomas’ first road game with 105,000 orange clad cousins cheering against him will be a lot easier with the James and Barner in the backfield. Justin Wilcox out-schemed Chip Kelly last year when he was Boise State’s Defensive Coordinator, but the young Tennessee defense won’t have the same discipline of the Broncos. Ducks 34 – Vols 20

The Citadel at Arizona: The Citadel forced four interceptions last week against a team I’ve never heard of (Chowan), but they didn’t have to face Nick Foles. Arizona will be looking to fine tune their offense before Iowa visits next week, Foles throws for 300 yards and Criner gets another TD. The Arizona University 55 – The Citadel 7

Syracuse at Washington: Nobody needs a strong performance this week more than Jake Locker. The Huskies played much better at home last year and expect that trend to continue. Chris Polk should eclipse the 100 yard mark for the first time this season as the Huskies cruise. Dawgs 31 – Orange 20

UNLV at Utah: I loved watching this Utah team knock off Pitt last week in overtime and without tooting my horn too much, my prediction was spot on. The NASPAQ shows that Jordan Wynn stock is growing strong. Utes 41 – UNLV 17

Montana State at Washington State: The Cougars are about to get their first win of the season as Jeff Tuel throws for 300 yards in this game. Cougars 34 – Bobcats 20


2010 Prediction record 9-1

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Pac-10 Conference Predictions

6 07 2010

After almost a week without a new post, I have finally completed the conference predictions. I didn’t include the newest members of the conference, and didn’t account for them in the rankings for each unit that you’ll see at the end of each team. I looked at every team’s schedule and posted which games that I predict them to lose. I ranked the offenses, defenses, and schedules of the teams to determine how they will finish the season. The schedule rankings were more heavily weighted towards conference schedules, but Oregon St took a big drop because their non-conference schedule includes two top five teams.

Offensive Rankings Defensive Rankings Schedule Ranking
  1. Washington
  2. Oregon
  3. Oregon St
  4. Cal
  5. Arizona
  6. USC
  7. Stanford
  8. UCLA
  9. Washington St
  10. Arizona St
  1. Oregon
  2. USC
  3. Oregon St
  4. Cal
  5. ASU
  6. UCLA
  7. Arizona
  8. Washington
  9. Stanford
  10. Washington St
  1. WSU
  2. USC
  3. Arizona
  4. Stanford
  5. UCLA
  6. Oregon
  7. Cal
  8. ASU
  9. Oregon St
  10. Washington

1. USC

The Trojans don’t have the explosive offense or dominant defense of their ’04 or ’05 teams, but they still have the deepest roster in the conference to go along with a favorable schedule. They get Oregon at home and they face Oregon St much later in the season (week 11) than the last two times they traveled to Corvallis. I’m projecting their game with the Beavers to be a loss, because the Trojans haven’t won there since 2004. The next most difficult match up will be against Arizona on the road. The Wildcats beat USC last year in LA, and the spread offense will give the Trojans young secondary a problem. Washington and Stanford could also pose a problem with strong QB play.

Projected Record- 11-2 (edited 7/15 to reflect a 13 game schedule)

Projected Losses- @ Arizona, @Oregon St

Tossup games- Stanford, Oregon, Washington

Offensive rank- #5, Defensive rank- #2, Schedule rank- #2, Total points- 9

2. Oregon

The loss of Jeremiah Masoli will really hurt this team offensively, which in turn will hurt them defensively. There were many times when Masoli extended plays with his legs and picked up first downs for Oregon, most notably in the Civil War on a 4th and 6 to keep the ball away from Oregon St and clinch the game. Masoli’s 668 yards rushing ranked second on the team and his threat of running the ball created opportunities in the spread-option offense for LaMichael James. Oregon will not have that luxury with Nate Costa, but he might be a better passer than Masoli who was average at best. If Oregon is going to compete for the Pac-12 championship this year it will need to have strong play from the QB position, because he’s not going to get much help from their average wide receiving corps and little depth. The running back depth will probably be better with blue-chip freshman Lache Seastrunk, but his running style is similar to LMJ.  Kenny Rowe led the conference in sacks last year and he has two solid linebackers behind him in Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger. This is a very aggressive defense and they miss a lot of tackles because of it, which led to their free safety John Boyett leading the team in tackles last year. The problem for Oregon is that they will be facing their top 3 opponents on the road this year in USC, OSU, and Cal where  Jeff Tedford has never lost to Oregon at home.

Projected Record- 9-3

Projected losses @Cal, @USC, @OSU

Tossup games: Arizona, Stanford

Offense Rank- #2, Defense Rank- #1, Schedule rank-#6, Total Points – 9

3. Arizona

Nick Foles and Juron Criner will form one of the top QB-WR tandems in the conference, but the Wildcats depth at WR took a hit when Deleshaun Dean violated the team’s gun policy and felt he needed to protect his pancakes at all costs. Arizona will face a tough test when Iowa travels to Tuscon in week three of the season. The strength of the Arizona defense will be at defensive end, but their lack of experience at defensive tackle and linebacker could create problems for the Arizona secondary.  Arizona was a descent road team last year beating OSU & USC, but they should have beaten Washington and were in a position to beat Cal if it weren’t for two once-in-a-lifetime plays (videos linked). I see them struggling against Stanford and Washington if they’re not able to pressure their QB’s. A lack of defensive experience is going to be the Achilles heel of this team in 2010.

Projected Record 8-4

Projected Losses Iowa, @Stanford, @Oregon, Washington

Tossup games USC, Cal, OSU

Offensive rank-#5,  Defensive rank- #7, Schedule rank-#3, Total points – 15

4. Cal

The Golden Bears were Pac-10 champions  in 2006, but this team has been an enigma ever since. Jeff Tedford was supposed to be one of the premier quarterback coaches in the nation, but four years into the Kevin Riley project has the guru still searching for answers. The Bears had significant turnover in their coaching staff this off-season losing their Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory and letting go of Special Teams Coach Pete Alamar. Despite the lack of consistency at QB, and an offensive line that gave up 31 sacks a year ago, the Bears have some weapons at their disposal. Mike Mohamed led the conference in tackles last year, and Cameron Jordan is one of the top defensive lineman in the conference. Cal landed the top outside linebacker recruit of 2010 in Chris Martin and he’s expected to be the weapon off the edge that they’ve lacked since Zack Follett’s departure to the NFL. Shane Vareen quietly had a productive 950 yards and 12 TD’s a year ago, but look for his numbers to go up as he’s slated to be the starter all season.  Mel Kiper has ranked Anthony Milleras the number one tight end in the country among juniors and Marvin Jones was Kevin Riley’s favorite target a year ago at WR. The Bears get Oregon and Washington at home, but they have to travel to travel to USC, Arizona, and Oregon St.

Projected Record 9-3

Projected Losses @USC, @Arizona, @OSU

Tossup games: Oregon, Washington, Stanford

Offensive rank #4, Defensive rank #4, Schedule rank #7, Total points – 15

5. Oregon St

For six consecutive years the Beavers have lost at least 2 of their first four games and 2010 won’t be any different when they face Boise St and TCU in the first three weeks of the season. The Beavers have the top two play makers in the conference in the Rodgers brothers, but there will be a significant drop-off at QB after losing first team All-Pac 10 member Sean Canfield. I’m expecting Jacquizz to see more carries at running back, but teams will be looking to stack the line against the Beavers to beat them with the pass. Although this is a great year to be breaking in a new QB with lots of unsettled secondaries in the conference, Oregon St also had trouble protecting their QB last year giving up 29 sacks. They return four starters on the offensive line, but there’s a big difference in their run and pass blocking capabilities. Inexperienced quarterbacks are more prone to turning the ball over if they are uncomfortable in the pocket, and it could be a real problem for the Beavers. They face the top two opponents in the conference in Oregon and USC at home, and even with projections of beating both of them I still see this team struggling on the road to finish with three conference losses.

Projected Record: 7-5

Projected Losses: @TCU, @Boise St, @Arizona, @Washington @Stanford

Tossup games: USC, Oregon

Offensive rank#3, Defensive rank #3, Schedule rank #9, Total points – 15

6. Washington

Jake Locker is going to be the leader of 11 returning starters on offense, but unless he can suit up on defense the Huskies are going to have a hard time winning on the road. All of the pieces are in place offensively with one of the best tandems in the country at wide receiver in Devin Aguilar & Jermaine Kearse, a solid tight end in Kavario Middleton, and a capable weapon at running back in Chris Polk – all protected by an offensive line that accounts for 88 career starts. As good as the offense is going to be, the defense might be as equally bad. Mason Foster has great instincts at LB which led to 3 interceptions, six 6 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 2009, but other than that the cupboard is sparse in terms of depth and talent. Even worse for the Huskies is their brutal road schedule that includes trips to the better team in every region – Oregon, USC, Cal, and Arizona. They will have an opportunity to gain some hype early with a game against a preseason top 10 team Nebraska, but a loss will certainly damage their confidence going forward.

Projected record: 8-4

Projected losses: Nebraska, @USC, @Oregon, @Cal,

Tossup games: @Arizona, Stanford, OSU

Offensive rank #1, Defensive rank #8, Schedule rank #10, Total points – 19

7. Stanford

Stanford’s had the second best offensive line in the nation by only giving up 8 sacks all year. Part of the reason for low sack totals has to do with the success they had running the ball (537 attempts), so they only threw 313 passes all year. That luxury is gone now that Gerhart is playing on Sundays, so I’m expecting that total to go up. The guys behind Gerhart might be quicker, but they are not going to wear down opposing defenses and Andrew Luck will be the primary weapon that defensive coordinators will try to stop. The strong offensive line will help, but I’m expecting some drop-off in the offense this year. The defense has switched to a 3-4 in the off-season, but they lack the right personnel to be good this year. They have a strong linebacker corps led by Shane Skov, but they don’t have the big defensive lineman to hold the blocks and create opportunities for them. It will take a couple years of recruiting to get the right pieces in place for this defense as their crosstown rival Cal is finding out. The Cardinal were 2nd to last in the Pac-10 defense last year giving up 402 yards per game, and it could be even worse this year without a strong running game to burn the clock. The Cardinal get USC at home, but have to play Oregon and Washington on the road.

Projected record: 6-6

Projected losses: @Notre Dame, USC, @Oregon, @Washington, @Cal, @UCLA

Tossup games: Arizona, ASU

Offensive rank #7, Defensive rank #9, Schedule rank #4, Total points – 20

8. UCLA

Coach Rick Neuheisel is coming off his best recruiting class since arriving in LA, but when you’re expecting freshman to make a big impact on your team, you’re in trouble. UCLA has a combined 92 career starts on the offensive line, but they gave up 28 sacks last year so the talent on the line is as big of a question mark as every other position on this team. The Bruins have two preseason All-Americans with linebacker Akeem Ayers and safety Rahim Moore, but I’m expecting their production to decrease with Brian Price going on to the NFL. Neuheisel brought in two blue-chip guys on the defensive line in Owa Odighuizuwa (try saying that five times fast) and Cameron Marsh, but it won’t be enough to take over games or compensate for their lack of offense. UCLA also faces a tough schedule with Kansas St, Texas, and Houston before they start conference play. The young guys will either gain quality experience or have their confidence shot in the process.

Projected record: 4-8

Projected losses: Houston, @Texas, @Cal, @Oregon, Arizona, Oregon St, @Washington, USC

Tossup games: ASU, WSU, Kansas St

Offensive rank #8, Defensive rank #6, Schedule rank #7, Total points -21

9. Arizona St

It was only three years ago that Arizona St was competing for the conference championship, but they are 9-15 since 2007 and are riding a six game losing streak into 2010. The offensive line has been a major problem for this team in the past three years and one of the main reasons they averaged only 22.3 ppg in 2010. The Sun Devils only welcome back three starters on offense and could be even worse than last year, their defense should be salty and will be led by the All-American Vontaze Burfict at MLB. They only return four starters, but they have are solid at defensive end and have proven the ability to stop the run. The schedule has them facing the best team of every region on the road (USC, Cal, Oregon, Washington), but they weren’t likely to beat them anyway so all of their home games become winnable. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them post a winning record at home, but for now we’ve got them pegged at 3-9.

Projected Record: 3-9

Projected losses: @Wisconsin, Oregon, @Oregon St, @Washington, @Cal, @USC, Stanford, Arizona, UCLA

Tossup games: WSU, Stanford, UCLA

Offensive rank #10, Defensive rank #5, Schedule rank #8, Total points – 23

10. Washington St

The good news for Washington St is that they face the best team from every region at home (Oregon, Cal, USC, Arizona) the bad news is that they won’t be able to win any of them. The Cougars only have a couple chances to get a conference win, and it will have to be against UCLA or ASU on the road. They have two capable QB’s in Jeff Tuel or Marshall Lobbestael, and I’m expecting both of them to play this year based on the 53 sacks they gave up a year ago. This is the deepest team that Paul Wulff has fielded since he’s been here, but they are still a couple years away from making some noise in the conference.

Projected record: 2-10

Projected wins: Montana St, SMU

Tossup games: ASU, UCLA

Offensive rank # 9, Defensive rank #10, Schedule rank #1 Total points – 20

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