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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

2005 College Football Preview: Pac-10

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The Pac-10 has always been one of the most overlooked conferences in all of college football. Even though the national champion resides within its borders, the conference still yearns to get the respect that it deserves. In this article, the Pac-10 gets the red-carpet treatment. Let's take a look at the teams that will separate themselves from the rest of the "Pac."

5) Washington State (Projected Record: 7-5; League: 4-4)

I think that there will be a three-way tie for fifth-place in the Pac-10 between Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State. Luckily for the Cougars, I feel that they will own the tiebreakers. Washington State's 2004 campaign was a great example of inconsistency. They struggled against teams they should have destroyed, and played much better teams tough. They have a decent chance at a bowl game this year, and it will depend on their offensive production.

Josh Swogger and Alex Brink were both unimpressive last year and they will have to improve if the Cougars have any shot of a bowl game. The best way for them to get better is to throw to Jason Hill. He might end up being the best receiver in Cougar history. Jerome Harrison can also catch the ball, but he will do most of his damage running through and around opposing defenders. Harrison was a nice surprise for the Cougs and he should continue to solidify the running back position.

Pullman, the home of the Cougars, has always been a tough place to play, but will be even tougher this year because of Wazzu's defense. This year's squad will be led by Will Derting. Derting just might be the best linebacker in the conference. He is the "Ray Lewis" of WSU's defense and his playmaking abilities should allow for this squad to continue improving. The front seven is similar to Cal's in that it is very strong against the run. The key point of improving will be in the secondary. If Washington State's can get contributions from Wally Dada and Eric Frampton, the Cougars might win as many as eight games.

4) California (8-4; 5-3)

The 2004 California Bears had one of the most successful years in the school's history. Their 11-2 record was truly unexpected, and they also had an excellent shot of beating the Trojans last year. This year, expectations have been revised downward with the departures of Aaron Rodgers.

The good news for Bears fans is that there are two capable looking men hoping to take his place. Nate Longshore and Joe Ayoob both impressed Jeff Tedford during spring workouts. One thing is for certain, whoever comes out of camp as the primary quarterback will inherit a team with the cupboards bare at the skill positions.

I'm sure Jeff Tedford wishes his new quarterback would have the luxury to throw to Geoff McArthur and Chase Lyman. These two receivers combined for over 1,200 yards last year, and their departure leaves the Bears uncomfortably slim in that area. At running back, Marshawn Lynch as the unenviable task of replacing J.J. Arrington, one of the all-time greats. Last year, Lynch did a solid job filling in for Arrington as needed, but can he continue his success as a starter? This will be a very important question for Cal to answer.

On defense, only three of the Bears' front seven return from last year. The good news for Cal fans is that Brandon Mebane is one of them. The sophomore will star in a rejuvenated front seven that will continue to be one of the best in the country. This will take some pressure off of Jeff Tedford's offense because they won't have to put up 40 points to win. If they can average over 24, the Bears will have an excellent 2005.

3) Arizona State (8-4; 5-3)

Last season for Arizona State was a successful one. They were consistently ranked in the top 20 and defeated Purdue in the Sun Bowl. There was much reason for optimism for Dirk Koetter's team until the tragic arrest of Loren Wade for murder this spring. Loren Wade was one of my picks to really excel at running back this year. He would have given ASU many reasons to smile, but unfortunately, all he has given them is heartache.

Also, having Andrew Walter at quarterback would help, but ASU's new QB, Sam Keller, will surprise some people. He has a strong arm and understands this offense well. Another positive for Keller is that he will have Derek Hagan to throw to. Hagan is one of the top 10 receivers in the country. He is, by far, the best receiver in the country that no one has heard of. He is primed for an All-American run this year, and if Keller can be consistent, ASU's offense will be nearly as dangerous as it was last year.

On the other side of the ball, the Sun Devils must improve strongly if they have any hopes for a Pac-10 title. Jordan Hill, Jamar Williams, and Dale Robertson must give solid contributions or ASU's defense may be even worse than last year. The secondary, decimated by injury, will have to step up or the team will most definitely suffer. If ASU can apply pressure on the quarterback and cover better, the Sun Devils might end up in the top 20 again.

2) UCLA (9-3; 6-2)

In 2004, UCLA came about as close as anyone to beating USC. They outplayed the Trojans and had it not been for an interception on their final drive, the Bruins might have pulled off the most shocking upset last year. Let's take a look what UCLA brings to the table in 2005.

Drew Olson will spearhead an offense that will continue to improve. At running back, Maurice Drew will anchor a position that has strong for the Bruins for the last 10 years (Skip Hicks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and DeShaun Foster, to name a few). The receiving corps for the Bruins will be led by a tight end. Marcedes Lewis will no doubt be Olson's favorite target, and if he stays healthy, could be a first or second round draft choice. The Bruins will be hurt on offense by the departures of Manuel White and Craig Bragg, who were both selected in this year's NFL draft.

On defense, Spencer Havner and Justin London are two of the best linebackers in the country. The loss of Ben Emanuel hurts the Bruins in the secondary, but Jarrad Page will be more than ready for the task. The Bruins have their toughest matchups (Oklahoma, Arizona State, and Cal) all in the Rose Bowl this year, and if their run defense and offensive line can improve, the Bruins will give the Trojans all they can handle.

1) Southern Cal (12-1; 7-1)

Is there anyone that will argue me on this point? The Trojans come into 2006 with depth at just about every position. Matt Leinart, the Trojan quarterback, is coming back for his senior campaign after winning the Heisman last year. He will have an experienced group of receivers to throw to, including Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett.

However, the most deadly Trojan of all is Reggie Bush. I truly feel that this young man has to be the frontrunner for this year's Heisman. He can, of course, carry the ball, but he is most dangerous when he lines up as a receiver. Even the best linebackers in the Pac-10 have no shot of guarding him.

Speaking of defense, the Trojans are still solid, even with the departures Shaun Cody and Lofa Tatupu. Darnell Bing will anchor a defense that will once again be the true strength of the team. The Trojans' only Achilles heel is the continuity of the team after the loss of offensive coordinator Norm Chow and line coach Ed Orgeron. These two coaches were invaluable to the success of USC last year, and depending on the success of this campaign, they may be sorely missed.


Comments on "2005 College Football Preview: Pac-10"

On June 14, 2005, Big Kev said...

Better Listen up people Ave's got a lock on College picks. I still owe him for making me a richer man last football season. Keep it coming Smitie!
BIG KEV LATE!

On June 14, 2005, Aaron Dorn said...

Tremendous insight on the PAC-10 division. Thanx for the great article!!

On June 14, 2005, LJ said...

Maurice Drew is an overrated dude, he ain't that good.

On June 15, 2005, Cory Visser said...

You have to be joking that UCLA outplayed USC last year, only the score was close.

Fight on! Go Trojans
Cory

On June 15, 2005, Matt said...

USC's strength is going to be its offense this year, numbnuts. The defense will be good at USC, but not as good as last years, while the offense will be better.

On June 16, 2005, Avery said...

Kevin & Aaron...thanks for the great comments!!

LJ,

I don't think Drew is overrated. In fact, I think he's underrated and due for a breakout season.

Cory,

The spread on the game last year was 24, and the Bruins only lost by 5. You are going to tell me that they didn't outplay USC? Please don't let your love for the Trojans outweigh common sense.

Matt,

I don't even know why I'm responding to you, but I will anyway. I think the balance of my article talks about SC's offense, and I even highlighted Reggie Bush as well. Thanks for the compliment by the way, they do get quite a day's work.

On June 16, 2005, Kevin Beane said...

Good article, but the college football season is 11 games this year, not 12. Time to recalibrate those w-l predictions!

On June 17, 2005, Irfan said...

I agree with you about the fact that Pac-10 will not get enough respect, even with the 2-time champs in the league. Kinda like ACC in the 90s. They had FSU, but no one could name the rest of the teams. Pac-10 is much different; we have teams that dedicate good deal of resources to their football programs. Beside the Trojans being at the top, I think Arizona will be the biggest surprise, even though they have some major holes to fill. The reputation of the Pac lies with UCLA and ASU. If we get the latter three to play up, Pac-10 is back!!!

On June 21, 2005, Grier Ross said...

A three way tie with Oregon in fifth??? Are you joking?!?

Make up your mind. You've done some good analysis of the obvious first choices this year, but you need to do your homework on the rest of the conference.

YOU WILL BE SURPRISED.

Oregon is going to be a much different team than in years past. We're going to have a tough line and pass defense. Overall, there won't be as many points put on the board against us. Our QB, Clemens, has been starting for three years now and has gained a great deal of confidence. You never know what a confident QB can do. Remember Joey. Clemens can also run the option and was our second leading rusher last year.

Go Ducks.

On June 27, 2005, Barry Marton said...

You obviously did not take into consideration that UCLA has major problems when it comes to attitude. This team has disappointed year after year. They have never recovered from the Miami loss. They will choke away atleast 2 to 3 conference games this year. This is the team that lost to Wyoming last year.

On June 27, 2005, Eric said...

Okay, we get it, you're going against the popular prognosticators by predicting a Trojan loss. We will watch and see, and I wouldn't be shocked if you turn out to be right. For you to truly claim, "See, I told you so" I think you need to name the team that you believe will unseat the current champions.

On July 15, 2005, UNIT51 said...

Oregon tied for fifth is a joke. The oregon offense has expeienced seniors all over the place. Kellen Clemens may be the 2nd best QB in the conference. Our defense will be much better and teams will not be able to put up as many yards on the secondary. After the first 2 warm up games playing Houston and Montana look for Oregon to upset fresno state. Then when they play USC we will see how good they really r. GO DUCKS

On July 16, 2005, pac 10 a real conference lol said...

its doesnt matter who wins the pac 10 all of the teams are terrible. its like a bunch of division 3 schools playing eachother. and unit51 is right oregon will not be tied for 5th they will be much much worse.so all of u have fun watchin ur terrrible teams attempt to play football.
GO BIG 12(they are a real conference)

On July 16, 2005, joeh said...

you call the two time national champs and the two teams who came closest to beating them (UCLA&CAL) div 3 teams? we all saw oklahoma in the last national championship they sure represented the big 12 proudly, they were the ones who looked like they were attempting to play football

On July 17, 2005, pac 10 a real conference lol said...

joeh you are mistaken. you think that the pac 10 is a better conference than the big 12 when last year head to head matchups, the pac 10 won 1 game and the big 12 won 3. those are the facts that truely tells you which conference is better. just cause a conference has one good team (and i agree usc is good) that doesnt make the pac 10 a good conference. The only way you could like the pac 10 football is if you enjoy terrible teams play football. And Joeh i am wondering what terrible pac 10 team are you a fan of?(i want a laugh)

GO BIG 12

On July 17, 2005, go big 12 said...

joeh you are mistaken. you think that the pac 10 is a better conference than the big 12 when last year head to head matchups, the pac 10 won 1 game and the big 12 won 3. those are the facts that truely tells you which conference is better. just cause a conference has one good team (and i agree usc is good) that doesnt make the pac 10 a good conference. The only way you could like the pac 10 football is if you enjoy terrible teams play football. And Joeh i am wondering what terrible pac 10 team are you a fan of?(i want a laugh)

GO BIG 12

On July 18, 2005, BulldogUpset said...

Making a bold prediction here, USC will lose to the best team in California this year, Fresno State.

On July 18, 2005, shawn said...

I can appreciate your point of view, however I think your doing two things.

1. Over valuing the Bruins, everyone knew they were horrible, so took the week off. To the Bruins it was there National Title game, the were lucky that game the USC considered them a practice squad...they were never that good.

2. Your devaluing the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks had alot going on last year on the Side lines, this year they come back more experienced on both sides of the ball, with the Best Highschool RB in the nation, and a New Offensive Coordinator that has BEST IN the NATION stamped to his forehead...

Let go of the California Dreaming, the Power in the Pack outside of USC is due north.

On July 18, 2005, Shawn said...

Big 12 Homers....


Yes your team won 3 games to our 1 last season. Yes your conference is decent.

Until you win as many national titles as the Pack 10 has, do not speak unless spoken to.

There is a reason the Pack 10 is the Conference of Champions. We are better football players. Athletes go to Wisconsin, Oklahoma. Sadly you backwoods southern wannabee's can't spell game plan little lone articulate one.

When you stop thinking the Wishbone is the Best offense in football (wisconsin, Colorado) or that a football should be thrown gently (Oklahoma, kansas) so that your guys who can't catch (pick your school from texas) then perhaps we will let you voice your rather insignificant oppnion. Until that day comes, or when hell freezes over (which is more likely) do not comment.

Talking trash only works when you have something to talk about. If the pac 10 is division III, and WON the National Title over the Best the Big 12 could muster, what does that make the Big 12? Perhaps a Community college, or better yet a City league team?

Go Ducks, Screw the Big 12, and God Bless the Pack 10

On July 19, 2005, chris said...

Arizona will return to the desert swarm defense of old . . . even tho stoops schemes are much diffrent than that of the old d coach of the desert swarm . . . Arizona has holes on offense but there defense will be very solid and if they can put up some points there defense will win them most of there games . . . the cats will upset many top teams in the pac 10 and as far as asu goes they will be very hard pressed to beat az any time soon mike stoops is probably one of the best coaches in the nation asu has a bunch of talent and a very bad coach !!!

On July 22, 2005, Zane Kesey said...

GREAT DISCUSSION!

The Pac 10 is wonderful for one big reason, it beats the snot out of itself! If it was full of weak teams, we would have many more national champs. I love knowing that there is no "week off" in the Pac 10 season. Just wait, soon they will all play each other each season, that will make it even tougher to have a heathy champ...but hey....it makes for fantastic football!
Oregon will get revenge...
GO DUCKS

On July 28, 2005, Aaron said...

Who do you truthfully see beating USC in the Pac 10??? 7-1? Give me a break! USC can beat the 49ers and you expect thme to lose to ASU or any other Pac 10 team let alone the whole nation! A 3-peat for them will be a walk in the park.

On August 4, 2005, Coach_Mike said...

Basically everything boils down to coaching. Without coaching even the very best athletes lose focus and become undisciplined. Cal has not had a coach since Pappy Waldorf. At last the alumni et. al. had the good sense to keep Tedford (and as much as I hate Mack Brown (and Texas) and the despicable politics that he used to rob the Golden Bears of their rightful place in the Rose Bowl I understand why he did it... for his players) A word about the Bears and Texas Tech: 1) The Bears have never ever faced that kind of offense so it was next to impossible to prepare against them 2) The Bears were hurt at their receiving corps to the extent that they would have lost to just about anybody. 3) The entire team had a horrific breakdown because of the total reversal of their national rank in SPITE of the fact that UT never even played another game (until the Rose Bow) to warrant a change in standings while CAL had played and won... It was just shameless politics exhibited by Mack, UT, and the entire BIG 12 conference. 4) Aaron Rogers had announced that he would jump to the NFL draft - and so THAT had to be a let down for the Bears offense! All these factors played a role in the destruction of CAL against TT. I personally guarantee that if CAL had to play TT every year like OK and UT ... Why, hell, they would pulverize them! Now on to SC. CAL beat SC the year before last (triple overtime and the only team to have beaten them btw… ) and barely lost to SC last year. Nuff said!

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