Around the NCAA

4 10 2010

SEC Sucks!

If Alabama runs through the SEC undefeated, how can you consider that the best conference in the land? There’s no way they would make it through the Pac-12 gauntlet unscathed. I have to give LSU props for scheduling like they’re a member of the Pac-12 by playing two BCS opponents in non-conference.

It also helps that Les Miles is the luckiest coach on the planet. Check out the end of the LSU game today. When they won the championship in 2007 they weren’t even the best team in the country and they got an invite to play in the BCS championship, but on their way they had an amazing game winning play against Auburn.

Here’s how the conference stacks up against the Pac-12 and by my account we have a 6-3 edge over them with three ties. This season Oregon smashed Tennessee and Colorado beat Georgia today! Even if we give Alabama the advantage over Oregon, that’s still 5-3 in favor of the Pac.

SEC Pac-12
Alabama Oregon
LSU < Arizona
Auburn < Utah
Florida Stanford
Arkansas > USC
South Carolina > UCLA
Ole Miss < Cal
Miss State < Oregon State
Kentucky < Washington
Tennessee < Arizona State
Vanderbilt Colorado
Georgia > WSU

Go Big Blue!

Rich Rodriguez is back and he has his best player since Pat White at West Virginia. Although Michigan barely escaped Indiana yesterday, Denard “Shoelace” Robinson is the most exciting player in the country and the last piece that the read-option offense has lacked. The defense will cost them a couple of games this year, but their offense can score at anytime with their big play potential. If the Heisman Trophy was awarded today he would win it. The award is supposed to go to the best player in the country, not the best player on the best team. Marc Ingram is a great player, but Alabama still would have gone undefeated without him. Toby Gerhart was the reason that Stanford was even competitive.

Hurt Locker

Last night we saw exactly why Jake locker was touted as the number one quarterback on Mel Kiper’s draft board. He led the Huskies to their first road win since 2007, dissected Monte Kiffin’s defense all night long, and finished with 410 yards of offense. All of Locker’s weapons (Chris Polk, Devin Aguilar, and Jermaine Kearse) dropped perfect passes in critical situations, but the strong-armed quarterback shook it off and continued to make plays. Whenever Sarkisian rolled Locker out of the pocket he looked unstoppable and those flashes of brilliance need to continue if the Huskies want to make a bowl game this year. The 4th and 10 play on the game winning drive was a thing of beauty and you can see other highlights here.

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NASPAQ – Pac-12 Stock Report : Week 4

1 10 2010

Someone once said “To be the best you need to beat the best” and that’s precisely what the Pac-12 did with the non-conference schedule. If anybody saw the BigTen last week you would notice that they didn’t play a single compelling game. There were no ranked teams, and zero BCS opponent on the BigTen schedule. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 has beaten top ten teams in back-to-back weeks.

On to the action!

Defensive Players Market

Starting with the defense this week, if you purchased stock in Akeem Ayers (AYER) like the Week 1 NASPAQ suggested then you should feel pretty good about yourself. He sacked Garrett Gilbert so hard that it looked like a level 5 tornado hit him which forced a fumble. Ayers later had an interception to help the Bruins upset then #7 Texas. Another Bruin that contributed the biggest momentum shift in the game was Sean Westgate (WEST). His forced fumble on special teams gave UCLA the ball at the three yard line and they were much more confident after getting on the scoreboard. Stanford’s Owen Marecic (OWEN) had a moment during the Notre Dame battle that was reminiscent of Reggie Miller scoring 6 points in 4 seconds against the Knicks. Marecic scored on a one yard dive play, but since he starts at both linebacker and fullback he was right back on the field intercepting Dayne Crist and returning it 20 yards for a defensive touchdown.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Akeem Ayers UCLA AYER ↑ 20 21% $115
Rahim Moore UCLA MOOR ↑ 10 11% $100
Vontaze Burfict ASU BURF ↑ 10 11% $95
Jurrell Casey USC CASE ↑ 5 5% $90
Mason Foster UW FOST $85
Omar Bolden ASU BOLD ↑ 10 13% $85
Mike Mohamed Cal MIKE $80
Trevin Wade Arizona WADE ↑ 5 6% $80
Brooks Reed Arizona REED ↓ 5 6% $80
Casey Matthews Oregon MATT ↑ 10 14% $80
Tony Dye UCLA DYE ↑ 10 18% $65
Richard Sherman Stanford SHER ↑ 5 10% $55
Malcolm Smith USC SMIT $50
TJ McDonald USC TJMC ↑ 15 50% $45
Cliff Harris Oregon CLIF ↑ 10 33% $40
Owen Maracic Stanford OWEN ↑ 15 75% $35
Shane Skov Stanford SKOV ↑ 10 40% $35
Michael Thomas Stanford THOM ↑ 5 25% $25
Patrick Larimore UCLA LARI ↑ 5 25% $25
DJ Holt Cal HOLT ↑ 5 25% $25

Defensive Units

A week after Cal was lit up for 500 yards and 52 points against Nevada, they look like the best defensive team in the conference by holding Arizona to ten points. The Bears were dominant for the first 57 minutes of the game before giving up a 51 yard pass to Juron Criner that set up the game winning score. If their offense and defense ever click during the same game they could be a great team. We’ll find out more about Oregon’s defense this week, but they looked porous against Arizona State as they gave up 600 yards of offense. The seven turnovers are an indicator that this an aggressive unit, but they may be prone to giving up big plays.

Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Oregon Defense ORED ↓ 5 3% $130
Arizona Defense ARID ↑ 10 13% $85
Utah Defense UTAD ↑ 10 14% $80
ASU Defense ASUD ↑ 15 23% $80
USC Defense USCD ↑ 10 16% $70
Stanford Defense STAD ↑ 10 16% $70
Cal Defense CALD ↑ 15 30% $65
UCLA Defense UCLD ↑ 15 30% $65
Colorado Defense COLD ↓ 10 $35
OSU Defense OSUD ↓ 5 12% $35
UW Defense UWD $35

Quarterbacks

This was an off week for our quarterbacks based on the numbers, but that could have been a result of the competition this week. Matt Barkley (BARK) has looked great in the box scores, but he could easily have thrown 10 interceptions this season. His style reminds our analysts of the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler in that he has too much confidence in his arm strength and tries to squeeze the ball in tight spots. His stock continues to rise, but we see this as a bear market after the game against Washington. Down in the desert Steven Threet (THRE) had better numbers than Nick Foles (FOLE), but their teams are headed in opposite direction. The Sun Devils have played top ten opponents each of the past two weeks and can’t seem to pull it out at the end, while Arizona has been clutch with game winning drives in their last two. Jordan Wynn (WYNN)  is back from injury and looks like he’ll be competing for top quarterback in the conference next year. The coaches across the conference should fire their recruiting coordinator’s who were in charge of his area.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Andrew Luck Stanford LUCK ↑ 5 3% $145
Nick Foles Arizona FOLE ↑ 5 8% $140
Matt Barkley USC BARK ↑ 5 4% $125
Jake Locker UW LOCK 20% $80
Kevin Riley Cal RILE ↓ 5 6% $70
Jordan Wynn Utah WYNN ↑ 10 18% $65
Tyler Hansen Col HANS $40
Darron Thomas Oregon DARR ↑ 5 16% $35
Kevin Prince UCLA PRNC ↑ 5 25% $25
Ryan Katz OSU KATZ ↓ 5 33% $20
Steven Threet ASU THRE ↓ 5 33% $10

Wide Receivers

There weren’t too many big performances this week, but Jared Karstetter of Washington State might be showing up on the IPO’s next week after his 8 receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.  Mike Williams of Arizona State had a big game against the Oregon Ducks secondary hauling in 5 receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns, but his teammate Kerry Taylor had the best catch of the weekend. James Rodgers (JROD) didn’t have much success catching the ball, but his punt return for a touchdown boosted his stock by 22% after a couple off weeks.

Team Symbol Δ Δ% Total
Juron Criner Arizona CRIN ↑ 5 7% $75
Jermaine Kearse UW JERM $65
Ronald Johnson USC ROJO ↑ 5 9% $60
James Rodgers OSU JROD ↑ 10 22% $55
Marvin Jones Cal MARV $50
Jeff Maehl Oregon JEFF ↑ 5 12% $45
Robert Woods USC WOOD ↑ 5 20% $30
Doug Baldwin Stanford BALD $25
Keenan Allen Cal KEEN ↓ 5 25% $15
DeVonte Christopher Utah DEVO ↓ 5 25% $15
Devin Aguilar UW AGUI $15

Running Backs

LaMichael James (LMJ) continues to rip off highlight reel runs to separate himself from the rest of the running backs in the conference while JacQuizz Rodgers (QUIZ) is struggling to gain yardage. The Oregon State offense needs an accurate quarterback for their pro-style offense to be effective, but Ryan Katz (KATZ)has struggled with his consistency. The Arizona State offense has impressed me with their running back by committee. It seems like every week a new player emerges with a hundred yards on the ground and this week it happened to be Deantre Lewis with 11 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. Stanford continues to be impressive in the red zone and Stepfan Taylor (STEP) looks like he’s going to be the one to carry the load for the Cardinal. We’ll see how they do this week against the Oregon defense. This matchup last year was a coming out party for Andrew Luck as the Ducks were stacking the box to stop Toby  Gerhart.

Team Symbol Δ Δ % Total
LaMichael James Oregon LMJ ↑ 10 19% $140.00
JacQuizz Rodgers OSU QUIZ ↑ 5 4% $115.00
Shane Vereen Cal VERE ↑ 5 5% $100.00
Chris Polk UW POLK $75.00
Kenjon Barner Oregon BARN ↓10 18% $35
John Franklin UCLA FRNK ↑ 10 50% $30
Nic Grigsby Arizona GRIG ↓10 28% $25.00
Allen Bradford USC BRAD ↑ 5 33% $25.00
Cam Marshall ASU MRSH ↑ 5 33% $20.00
Marc Tyler USC MARC ↑ 5 33% $20.00
Stepfan Taylor Stanford STEP ↑ 5 50% $15.00

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QB Ratings in the Pac-12

6 08 2010

I got this idea from the Bill Simmons Sportsguy podcast about rating the NFL teams with a blue-chip rating. They evaluated teams in the NFL based on a point system that Mike Lombardi came up with. I like the term “Blue Chip” because this is the preferred nomenclature for the cream of the crop high school recruits in the country. I’ll be working on my blue chip team ratings in the next couple of days, but while I was searching for the formula online I stumbled upon a QB predictor rating that ESPN uses to predict the success of quarterbacks in the NFL.

The formula takes into account three statistics: Career starts, completion percentage and touchdown-interception ratio. The theory is that experience, accuracy and production versus mistakes can provide substantive indicators for college quarterbacks.

The formula for BCS quarterbacks
(Career Starts x 0.5) + [(Career completion pct. – 60)x5] +[(Career TD/INT ratio – 2.25)x10]

I wanted to see how our Pac-10 QB’s stack up this year so I decided to plug all of their numbers into an excel chart. I added the two newest QB’s in the conference from Colorado and Utah, but I also wanted to see how our QB’s stack up against the top QB’s in the country. There’s been a lot of hype in the off-season about Jake Locker and Andrew Luck so this might be something that factors into their draft status next April.

The biggest surprise to most people will probably be Jake Locker low on this list, but I’ve seen him play at least a dozen times and despite him possessing elite athleticism he doesn’t read defenses quickly or check down as fast as other QB’s in the conference. His accuracy (58.2% in 2009) is the biggest reason that his rating is so low and will need to be above 60% this year to make the Husky offense dangerous.

Looking more closely at Andrew Luck’s rating, you can see that his 56% completion percentage from 2009 needs improvement. For the most part he was consistent, but in the two games that Toby Gerhart struggled to run the ball (Cal & Oregon St) he went 22-60 for 36% completion percentage in losing efforts. I’ve already stated in my conference projections that I think he will have a more difficult time passing the ball this year, but I still think he’s the best quarterback in the conference.

Here are the other top quarterbacks in the country with Greg McElroy being the Leader of the Pac with a great passing percentage and TD/INT ratio. I used his career stats, but his completion percentage in garbage time in 2007 and 2008 inflated his numbers almost five percent. Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State and Christian Ponder of Florida State have 22 starts a piece to go along with solid, but unspectacular completion percentages and TD/INT ratios, but they have better numbers than some of the Pac-10 quarterbacks. Ryan Mallett being at the bottom of this list came as a surprise to me, because he’s regarded as the third best quarterback in the country behind Locker and Luck.

As you can see from this chart, only Nick Foles of Arizona stacks up well with the other top quarterbacks in the country, but Andrew Luck and Jordan Wynn of Utah are right on the cusp. There’s going to be some exciting football to be played in the conference this year with strong quarterbacks and uncertainties in multiple secondaries.

Here’s what some notable NFL players  rated heading into the draft

cores of First-Round Quarterbacks, 1997-2008
Group I: Strong likelihood of success
Player School Draft year Score
Matt Leinart USC 2006 64.04
Philip Rivers NC State 2004 48.44
Tim Couch Kentucky 1999 47.64
Alex Smith Utah 2005 44.88
Aaron Rodgers California 2005 40.58
Peyton Manning Tennessee 1998 39.47
Jason Campbell Auburn 2005 38.75
Byron Leftwich Marshall 2003 36.39
Ben Roethlisberger Miami (Ohio) 2004 33.85
Chad Pennington Marshall 2000 33.53
Daunte Culpepper Central Florida 1999 30.00
David Carr Fresno State 2002 23.97
Joe Flacco Delaware 2008 23.92
Eli Manning Ole Miss 2004 23.14
Donovan McNabb Syracuse 1999 21.62
Group II: Hit-or-Miss
Player School Draft year Score
Brady Quinn Notre Dame 2007 18.93
JaMarcus Russell LSU 2007 18.64
Rex Grossman Florida 2003 18.39
Vince Young Texas 2006 18.21
Carson Palmer USC 2003 16.35
Matt Ryan Boston College 2008 9.14
Patrick Ramsey Tulane 2002 9.06
J.P. Losman Tulane 2004 7.86
Jay Cutler Vanderbilt 2006 2.39
Group III: Busts
Player School Draft year Score
Akili Smith Oregon 1999 0.00
Cade McNown UCLA 1999 -6.41
Joey Harrington Oregon 2002 -6.85
Michael Vick Virginia Tech 2001 -11.32
Ryan Leaf Washington St. 1998 -16.92
Jim Druckenmiller Virginia Tech 1997 -20.25
Kyle Boller California 2003 -50.67

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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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Middle of the Pac

20 06 2010

This part of the conference is completely interchangeable, but for the sake of the imaginary conference playoffs that are to follow the rankings, we must have order.

#8 Arizona Wildcats

Returning Starters – Offense 9, Defense 4, punter/kicker 2

Strength – Defensive End – Ricky Elmore tied for the conference lead in sacks at 11.5 and Brooks Reed has 10.5 career sacks. The Wildcats will need them to pressure the QB with the departure of all three starting LB’s.

Weakness – Linebacker – This is a complete unknown for this team and after researching their depth chart I’m pretty sure the coaches just used a random name generator to fill out the depth chart. Arizona is relying on a couple of JUCO transfers to come in and compete for playing time, which is never a good sign.

#7 Stanford Cardinal

Returning Starters Offense 8, Defense 7, punter/kicker 2

Strength – A little Luck – Mel Kiper already has Andrew Luck as the #2 player on his big board, and for good reason. Luck is a cerebral passer with great accuracy and descent arm strength.

Weakness – Running Back – The three guys that backed up Gerhart last year combined for 497 yards rushing and 5TD’s, but there’s bound to be a drop off losing the Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Year. They have a strong offensive led by Chase Beeler who was 2nd team All-Pac 10.

#6 Washington Huskies

Returning Starters – Offense 9, Defense 7, punter/kicker 2

Strength – QB – Jake Locker made tremendous strides under first year coach Steve Sarkisian and with that same progression this year he’s likely to end up a top 10 draft pick.

Weakness – Defense – This team’s best defense will be its offense. Their top two defenders, Donald Butler and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim were both selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft #79 and #86 overall respectively.  They are particularly weak in the front seven, but the one bright spot is their defensive coordinator, Nick Holt, who provides comic relief with his roid-rages on the sidelines every game.

#5 Cal Bears

Returning Starters – Offense 8, Defense 6, punter/kicker 2

Strength – Mike & Mych- Mike Mohamed and Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks was leading the nation in tackles three games into the season before he suffered a shoulder injury, and Mohamed led the conference in tackles last year at 111. These two should be one of the top tackling tandems in the Pac-12 this year.

Weakness – Secondary – Maybe Kevin Riley would display more consistency if he was playing his games against the Cal secondary every week. This unit finished 111th in the nation in total pass defense giving up 266 yards per game. The Bears will need to replace two starters in the secondary including their two-time All-Pac 10 CB Syd Thompson. Three secondary positions remain unfilled heading into the Fall.

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Fantasy Fútbol

15 06 2010
While watching the England vs USA soccer match yesterday and the lack of action also known as Fútbol, I started thinking about how these guys would fit in with real American sports like football. I saw a couple guys that could make an impact in the Pac-12.

Landon Donovan would have to play quaterback in the league. He chose eHarmony over match.com to find the right team, because he liked their commercials better. The algorithm calculated that he would be a perfect match to get the UCLA revolver offense firing (pun intended). I know what you’re thinking “they don’t even use their hands in soccer, so how’s his arm?” The man has intangibles that make Tim Tebow jealous.  He’s a general on the field and makes all of his teammates better. Despite his receding hairline he’s a descent athlete, and he’ll need every bit of his athleticism with the porous UCLA offensive line. Just like his time on the LA Galaxy, Donovan will play well, but fail to make a post-season bowl game as he threw for 1,800 yards 10TD’s and 8INT’s , 750 yards rushing and 9TD’s.

Another guy that would make an instant impact is Wayne Rooney. Think miniature version of Toby Gerhart on the Furd. He’s quicker than he is fast, and he’s got the attitude to punish would-be tacklers. Coach Harbough keeps telling him to run out of bounds, but he didn’t get on the squad for his wits and continues to meet linebackers head on. The best part is watching the crazy English fans at Stanford games decked out in their soccer flags and scarves. The Stanford band loved their sense of fashion and made them honorary members. Rooney came in and had an amazing freshman year behind a strong passing offense led by Andrew Luck.  He ripped of 1,100 yards rushing with 12 td’s that came in the form of four hat tricks games.

Christiano Ronaldo always wanted to play in the Pac-12 and was considered the top WR prospect in Europe. He contemplated being a part of one of the spread offenses in the conference, but Lane Kiffin made a big splash hauling in Ronaldo as part of his 2011 recruiting class. Lane promised him a bigger house and more money than Reggie Bush and when he saw the SC coeds it was blonde frosting on the cake. Ronaldo and his QB Matt Barkley had trouble getting on the same page with some off-field issues. Barkley was courting the country singer Taylor Swift, but Ronaldo convinced her that he was the more competent lover.  Barkley refused to throw Ronaldo the ball until he stopped dating Swift which didn’t happen until the 4th game of the season. The tenuous relationship between the two was finally repaired by the UCLA game when the duo accounted for 132 yards on 12 receptions  and two TD’s. Ronaldo finshed the year with 37 receptions for 518 yards and 5 TD’s,  one punt return for a TD. [tweetmeme source=”Pac12Conference” only_single=false]