Pac-10 Outlook: Week 1

We’re going to start doing a look around the Pac-10 every week.  This will include something like a review of last weeks games, a preview of this weeks games, and possible power rankings.  Being that this is the first week, there isn’t much to review aside from injuries and lineup news.  Since Matthew basically did that yesterday, I won’t go much into it.  What I’m trying to say is this Pac-10 report will be shorter than the other ones.  On to the first week!

Arizona: The Wildcats play at Toledo this Friday night.  Toledo is probably better than what a football team from Toledo should be.  If that made any sense to you, congratulations.  In other words, they aren’t that bad.  They had a 5-7 record last year and return 12 starters.  They scored 54 points against Colorado at home last year.  With all that being said, Arizona shouldn’t have much of a problem with them.  Nick Foles and Nic Grigsby should put up a ton of yards and points.  Arizona could have a top 3 offense in the conference, but their defense is suspect.

Arizona State: ASU picked the Steven Threet to lead their high-powered (sarcasm) offense and now he has to face the vaunted Portland State defense in week one (also, sarcasm).  The Sun Devils start off their season against two FCS schools.  That is a joke but I guess it’s not something to get riled up about since only one of those games count towards their bowl game.  Arizona State will dominate the Pilots.  But, it will be interesting to see how Threet will do compared to backup Brock Osweiler.  Both will play and if Threet doesn’t come out very strong the quarterback race could be back on.  See, even in these terrible games there’s something to watch for.  Thank God for football!

Cal: After their terrible finish last year, Cal is somewhat of a mystery.  They’re talented, no doubt, but will it be good enough to challenge for the top spot in the Pac?  I’m guessing no, but I’m hardly ever right.  They start off with UC Davis.  Yeah… Umm…  I can’t think of a reason to watch this terrible game unless you’re a Bear fan or like to see how many yards Shane Vereen can rush for in one half.  That actually could be halfway interesting.

Oregon: Darren Thomas takes the reins as the Ducks QB.  This was a good choice by the Ducks I think.  I’ve never been impressed by Nate Costa and Darren Thomas seems to fit their offense a little better.  It’s easy to forget that Costa was at Oregon before Kelly was so he wasn’t exactly recruited for that offense.  Now, we have to wait and see just how effectively he can run the *ucks offense.  He should have a soft landing this week, as Oregon plays New Mexico.  As my friend Garrett says, “Everyone’s a Lobo.”  I will be this week.  The real question in this game is, does anyone in New Mexico watch football?  I’m guessing no.

Oregon State: Aha!  A good game!  The Beavs head down to Dallas to take on TCU.  As far as non-BCS schools go, TCU is my favorite.  That’s not saying much because I don’t like any of them.  Hopefully, Mike Riley has OSU ready to play and they beat up on the Horned Frogs.  I don’t really think this will happen.  Although, I look at the Beavers and always end up asking myself, “Why aren’t more people picking them to win the Pac-10?”  They have 2 of the top 10 play-makers in the country.  They’re always good on defense.  I agree with Matthew, they are my second favorite Pac-10 team.

Stanford: Stanford plays Sacramento State on Saturday.  Another lame game.  Stanford should score around 40 by halftime and then sit golden boy, Andrew Luck, for the 2nd half.  It will be interesting to see who emerges at tailback for the Cardinal.  Stepfan Taylor is the starter and is more of a speed back than the backup Jeremy Stewart.  They also get a chance to break in their new defense on a weak opponent.

UCLA: UCLA had a terrible Fall Camp as far as injuries go.  They lost 3 offensive lineman and were already thin there.  Keith Prince is hurting and questionable for the first game.  The Bruins play Kansas State this week and we’ll get to see how good (or bad) they are.  If UCLA doesn’t win this one, they could easily start 0-4 (with Stanford, Houston, and Texas on the horizon).  A couple weeks ago I would have said the Bruins would win this easily, now I have my doubts.  This will be one of the more intriguing games on Saturday, in my opinion.

USC: USC kicks off the Pac-10 football season Thursday night at Hawaii.  The (Rainbow) Warriors aren’t very good and will get rolled by the Trojans.  But hey, football!  It will be interesting to see how if USC comes out with fire or lackluster after a terrible off-season.  I’m guessing that they come out really strong against Hawaii because they’re probably ready to just go out and play football.  I will be interested in seeing how physical they are since they didn’t tackle much during Fall Camp.

Wazzu: The Cougs prepare to get hammered by Oklahoma State in Stillwater this weekend.  They could keep things close for a while.  They did a little bit last year against the Cowboys and Oklahoma State shouldn’t be as good this year.  It could be a somewhat interesting game for a while.  In truth, I don’t think the Cougars stand a chance and will probably get blown out but I was trying to be nice.  They could surprise this first game.  Maybe they really have improved this off-season unlike last year.

Pac-10 Power Rankings after the jump  These Rankings don’t necessarily reflect where I think the teams we’ll end up.  It’s just a weekly ranking based on the teams current momentum and recent results.

1.  Oregon- As sad as I am to say this, the Ducks will be here until they do something stupid.  Which could be this week.  It’ll be interesting to see Thomas.  This spot is there’s to lose.
2.  USC- The Trojans probably have the most talent but they don’t have a lot going for them right now.  There depth is down, they couldn’t have a very physical camp, and what exactly do they have to play for?  I’m really close to putting them at number 3.
3.  OSU- The Beavers deserve the second spot, or maybe the first, but that brutal schedule!  Having to play that with a new quarterback is what keeps them from moving up.
4.  UW- It’s hard not to wonder if there is something magical is on the brink for our dawgs.  It really does feel like everything is breaking just right but I realize this is kind of a dumb statement when they haven’t played a game yet.  I think the game against BYU will be the most telling of any Pac-10 game this week.
5.  Stanford- Stanford could be as high as 2 on the list.  But, I think people underestimate just how great Gerhart was.  I’m also not completely sold on Luck.  We’ll see, but not for another week because them playing Sacramento State tells us nothing except that Sacramento State sucks and is getting a good paycheck from playing Stanford.
6.  Arizona- Potentially awesome offense, we’ll see about the defense.  Could be anywhere from 3-7 on my list.
7.  Cal- Another team that could be as high as 3rd.  As you can tell, I don’t think there’s a ton of difference in between 4 and 7 right now.  And, I expect one of the top 3 to fall off in some capacity.  Cal just has more questions than any of those other teams right now.
8.  ASU- ASU is 9th in most lists, probably for good reason.  They haven’t done anything to make me think they’ll be good.  Their defense will be good though and I’ve heard defense wins games.
9.  UCLA- UCLA has way too much talent to be this low but losing 3 offensive lineman and potentially having a quarterback out moves them down a spot or two.  This team is really interesting.
10.  WSU- If you can put up a valid argument about putting the Cougs anywhere but here, please tell me.  Really, I’d like to hear it.  I just don’t see a lot of hope for them even though some people seem to.

We’ll be back with a preview of BYU, some predictions and more as the week goes on.  Football is back!  We don’t have to talk about the Mariners as much anymore!  Woohoo!

Andrew

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