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PAC TEN Football

pac10- 2009 PAC TEN FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Since Pete Carroll showed up to lead the Trojans, the Pac Ten has been the domain of USC football.  There have been two National Championships, seven straight conference titles and annual representation in the first round of the NFL Draft.  Over the last few seasons, however, despite perennial top five rankings, Carroll has been unable to protect his young charges from the stubbed toe during Pac Ten regular season play that costs them a berth in the BCS title game.  Last year, it was Oregon State that derailed the championship express.  This year, it’ll be Cal providing the roadblock with reinforcement from the Oregon Ducks.  That’s right; it’s time for the Trojans to take a back seat in their own league.

The Pac Ten is, without question, the most underrated league in the nation every year.  Probably because so many voters in the national polls are based east of the Mississippi and don’t watch the  many conference games that start after 11 PM EST.  It is for that reason that those of us with sleep disorders that do catch their games flash a knowing smile during bowl season when the Pac Ten perennially dominates its competition.  Yet, come the following pre season, there sit the same overrated Big Ten and ACC teams at the top of the polls while the Pac Ten gets short changed.  You’d think someone would finally notice.  Until they do, though, you’ll make a killing in your office Bowl Pool by keeping an eye on the action out west.

1) CALIFORNIAThe Bears return 17 starters from a 9-4 team as well as offensive tackle Mike Tepper, who lost last season to injury. He should bolster a terrific ground attack led by junior Jahvid Best, who ran for almost 1,600 yards in ’08. Two studs at defensive end, Tyson Alula and Cameron Jordan, highlight the front of Cal’s 3-4 defense.  Out in the flats, Syd’Quan Thompson heads a strong secondary as the finest corner in the nation.  With the USC matchup scheduled for Berkeley, the Bears will be playing in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

2) USCFavored by many to win the conference, USC will have too many new parts to avoid an early season upset.  Sophomore Aaron Corp will battle freshman Matt Barkley for the starting job at QB while the defensive coordinator must replace six starters who’ll be playing on Sundays this fall.  All American safety Taylor Mays will lead the inexperienced unit as it tries to navigate a schedule that has the Trojans on the road for 6 of the first 9 weeks; including matchups with Ohio State, Cal, Oregon, Arizona State and Notre Dame.

3)OREGON- After coming into last year’s pre season camp as the fifth string QB, Jeremiah Masoli enters the ’09 campaign as the unquestioned starter. His run/pass versatility makes him a perfect fit for Oregon’s spread offense; as evidenced by their 41 PPG output in ’08.  RB LaGarrette Blount ran for 1,000 YDS and 17 TD last season despite being a part timer and will enjoy a larger role this year.  His biggest challenge may be running behind an inexperienced offensive line. USC and Cal will each have to visit the Ducks this fall, giving them a leg up in the conference race.  And you know they’ll be the loop’s best dressed.

4) ARIZONA- Head Coach Mike Stoops may have assembled the best defense in the conference.  A no name group, it’s unlikely that many will be singled out for individual honors but they go two-deep at most positions.  The Wildcats’ big star is TE Rob Gronkowski, who’s got WR hands on an OT body.  He’ll benefit from a strong and versatile backfield as well.

5) OREGON STATE– Tailback Jacquizz Rodgers is the reigning Pac Ten offensive player of the year.  He and his brother James, the Beavers’ all purpose WR, will have to carry a huge load to counter an extremely inexperienced defense which features two new corners; not a recipe for success in this conference. QB Lyle Moevao, recovering from shoulder surgery, will battle Sean Canfield for the starting job.

6) UCLA– Despite the addition of offensive guru, Norm Chow, to the coaching staff last year, the Bruins managed a mere 17 PPG.  They’ll have to do much better if they hope to climb out of the league’s second division.   A strong recruiting class will help but much will be expected from redshirt freshman QB Kevin Prince.  A strong defense led by DT Brian Price and CB Alterraun Verner will keep UCLA close, but the offense must produce.

7) ARIZONA STATE–  The Sun Devils return 15 starters and will rely on their defense for any success as their offensive line is a big problem.  DE Dexter Davis, LB Mike Nixon and CB Omar Bolden are ASU’s defensive stars who will be expected to carry the load.  On the other side of the ball, however, new QB Danny Sullivan will make use of a talented group of receivers led by Chris McGaha.  That is, if the OL gives him enough time.

8) STANFORD– Tough times for Head Coach Jim Harbaugh as even significant improvement may not translate into more wins in this tough league.  He’s got 16 starters returning but, like most Pac Ten teams, he’s got a question at QB.  Redshirt frosh, Andrew Luck, will get the opening day nod and rely heavily on RB Toby Gerhart; a strong inside runner lacking breakaway speed.   The Cardinal will have trouble putting points on the board.

9) WASHINGTON– The fact that 16 starters are returning may be the Huskies’ biggest problem after an 0-12 debacle in ’08.  New Head Coach, Steve Sarkisian, will be forced to bank on his only offensive asset, QB Jake Locker, if he’s to have any success.  Sarkisian runs a pro set, however, which could nullify Locker’s excellent running ability.  Unfortunately, Washington is at least two good recruiting classes away from contention.

10) WASHINGTON STATE– The Cougars surrendered a mind boggling 570 PPG last season and aren’t expecting many reinforcements.

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PAC TEN FOOTBALL 2009 SCHEDULES

ARIZONA

09/05/09     Central Michigan
09/12/09     Northern Arizona
09/19/09     at Iowa
09/26/09     at Oregon State
10/10/09     at Washington
10/17/09     Stanford
10/24/09     UCLA
11/07/09     Washington State
11/14/09     at California Berkeley
11/21/09     Oregon
11/28/09     at Arizona State
12/05/09     at USC

ARIZONA STATE

09/05/09     Idaho State
09/19/09     Louisiana-Monroe
09/26/09     at Georgia
10/03/09     Oregon State
10/10/09     at Washington State
10/17/09     Washington
10/24/09     at Stanford
10/31/09     California
11/07/09     USC
11/14/09     at Oregon
11/21/09     at UCLA
11/28/09     Arizona

CALIFORNIA

09/05/09     Maryland
09/12/09     Eastern Washington
09/19/09     at Minnesota
09/26/09     at Oregon
10/03/09     USC
10/17/09     at UCLA
10/24/09     Washington State
10/31/09     at Arizona State
11/07/09     Oregon State
11/14/09     Arizona
11/21/09     at Stanford
12/05/09     at Washington

OREGON

09/03/09     at Boise State
09/12/09     Purdue
09/19/09     Utah
09/26/09     California
10/03/09     Washington State
10/10/09     at UCLA
10/24/09     at Washington
10/31/09     USC
11/07/09     at Stanford
11/14/09     Arizona State
11/21/09     at Arizona
12/03/09     Oregon State

OREGON STATE

09/05/09     Portland State
09/12/09     at UNLV
09/19/09     Cincinnati
09/26/09     Arizona
10/03/09     at Arizona State
10/10/09     Stanford
10/24/09     at USC
10/31/09     UCLA
11/07/09     at California  Berkeley
11/14/09     Washington
11/21/09     at Washington State
12/03/09     at Oregon

STANFORD

09/05/09     at Washington State
09/12/09     at Wake Forest
09/19/09     San Jose State
09/26/09     Washington
10/03/09     UCLA
10/10/09     at Oregon State
10/17/09     at Arizona
10/24/09     Arizona State
11/07/09     Oregon
11/14/09     USC
11/21/09     California
11/28/09     Notre Dame

UCLA

09/05/09     San Diego State
09/12/09     at Tennessee
09/19/09     Kansas State
10/03/09     at Stanford
10/10/09     Oregon
10/17/09     California
10/24/09     at Arizona
10/31/09     at Oregon State
11/07/09     Washington
11/14/09     at Washington State
11/21/09     Arizona State
11/28/09     at USC

USC

09/05/09     San Jose State
09/12/09     at Ohio State
09/19/09     at Washington
09/26/09     Washington State
10/03/09     at California
10/17/09     at Notre Dame
10/24/09     Oregon State
10/31/09     at Oregon
11/07/09     at Arizona State
11/14/09     Stanford
11/28/09     UCLA
12/05/09     Arizona

WASHINGTON

09/05/09     LSU
09/12/09     Idaho
09/19/09     USC
09/26/09     at Stanford
10/03/09     at Notre Dame
10/10/09     Arizona
10/17/09     at Arizona State
10/24/09     Oregon
11/07/09     at UCLA
11/14/09     at Oregon State
11/28/09     Washington State
12/05/09     California

WASHINGTON STATE

09/05/09     Stanford
09/12/09     Hawai’i
09/19/09     Southern Methodist
09/26/09     at USC
10/03/09     at Oregon
10/10/09     Arizona State
10/24/09     at California Berkeley
10/31/09     Notre Dame
11/07/09     at Arizona
11/14/09     UCLA
11/21/09     Oregon State
11/28/09     at Washington


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