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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-10 Power Rankings

We’re still a week and a half away from the start of the season, but it’s never too early to start breaking down the teams in the Pacific 10 Conference. A few notes: Power rankings are a reflection of talent and current level of play, so power rankings might not match conference standings. With that in mind, USC is eligible to be atop the power rankings each week despite being banned from possible postseason play.

Let’s take a look at the Daily Wildcat’s preseason power rankings:

1. Oregon Ducks

2009 record: 10-3 (8-1); Preseason media poll ranking: First

The Ducks enjoyed a record-breaking season in 2009, running one of the best offenses in the nation en route to the Rose Bowl. 2010 was supposed to be an even better year in Eugene, Ore., but a string of behavioral problems — specifically the dismissal of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli — leave a few question marks. Pound for pound, though, the Ducks are the most talented team in the conference.

2. USC

2009 record: 9-4 (5-4); Preseason media poll ranking: Second

Let’s address the elephant in the room: USC is not eligible for a bowl berth, and therefore not a contender in the Pac-10 in 2010. Technically the Trojans have nothing to play for, but that won’t be the case. As usual, USC is stocked with talent and is excited to see what year two of Matt Barkley has in store. New head coach Lane Kiffin, the luckiest man in sports, has the luxury of blaming a poor season on the bowl ban but I still see the Trojans winning at least eight games.

3. Oregon State

2009 record: 8-5 (6-3); Preseason media poll ranking: Third

Oregon State was just a few minutes away from reaching the Rose Bowl, but a disappointing finish in “”The Civil War”” loss to Oregon didn’t damper an otherwise successful season. The Beavers have to break in a brand new quarterback after losing reliable Sean Canfield, but as long as the brothers Rogers — Jacquizz, a running back, and James, a wide receiver and return specialist — stay healthy, OSU’s offense should compliment its always-stout defense nicely.

4. Arizona

2009 record: 8-5 (6-3); Preseason media poll ranking: Fifth

For as many question marks as the Wildcats have on defense, the offense should be good enough to win games early in the season while the defense finds its footing. Quarterback Nick Foles is ready to lead an offense that features potential All-Pac-10 receiver Juron Criner and running back Nic Grigsby as well as a several other explosive skill players. The new faces on defense might start slowly, but no one realistically expects a Mike Stoops defense to struggle for an extended period of time.

5. Washington

2009 record: 5-7 (4-5); Preseason media poll ranking: Six

Despite a losing record in 2009, the Huskies enjoyed a giant step forward for a program that didn’t win a single game in 2008. Quarterback Jake Locker has been showered with praise all offseason but there are no signs that the fame has gotten to his head. Another year under head coach and quarterback guru Steve Sarkisian should enable Locker and a talented offense to a bowl game.

6. Stanford

2009 record: 8-5 (6-3); Preseason media poll ranking: Fourth

Stanford relied heavily on running back Toby Gerhart last season, and for good reason. The big back rumbled for 1,871 yards and 27 touchdowns last season and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Fans in Palo Alto seem to think that quarterback Andrew Luck will be able to shoulder the load this season after Gerhart’s departure to the NFL, but expecting a quarterback that threw for less than half the touchdowns his running back ran for might be unrealistic.

7. UCLA

2009 record: 7-6 (3-6); Preseason media poll ranking: Eighth

This might just be a hunch, but I think UCLA will do much better than people expect them to this season. The defense, anchored by super-talent safety Rahim Moore, should be stellar yet again this year. The offense, despite having talented recruits and brilliant offensive minds in head coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow, has struggled mightily the last two seasons. Experts predict 2011 as the year UCLA emerges, but the Bruins might sneak up on people in 2010.

8. California

2009 record: 8-5 (5-4); Preseason media poll ranking: Seventh

College football “”experts”” have predicted big seasons from California only to be let down for what seems like a decade, but now that the Bears are expected to have a mediocre season maybe they’ll surprise everyone and win the conference. Not likely. One bright spot will be running back Shane Vereen, who exploded for 952 yards and 12 touchdowns last year filling in for the injured Jahvid Best.

9. Arizona State

2009 record: 4-8 (2-7); Preseason media poll ranking: Ninth

It’s looking like it’ll be another tough year in Sun Devil land. The offense has yet to find a quarterback from a seemingly mediocre candidate pool, although Michigan-transfer Steven Threet has potential. The defense, which finished 13th overall last season, should be good again however. Keep an eye out for linebacker Vontaze Burfict — the guy is an animal.

10. Washington State

2009 record: 1-11 (0-9); Preseason media poll ranking: Tenth

The Cougars have been in the basement for the better part of this millennium and 2010 doesn’t appear to be any different. Washington State has two winnable out-of-conference games, but nine Pac-10 losses and a loss at Oklahoma State would give the Cougars another double-digit loss season. Paul Wolff took on an undesirable situation when he signed on to coach the Cougars in 2007, and despite doing a respectable job with what he has, his future in Pullman might not last much longer.

 

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