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2010 PAC 10 College Football Preview
USC Down - Two Teams from Oregon Up!
Odds - Analysis - Predictions
2009 saw a team other than USC take the PAC-10 for the first time in a long time. That team was Oregon. The Ducks went on to lose in the Rose Bowl to Ohio State. This year the conference will be much more competitive. In fact, the Pacific 10 is one of the most competitive conferences in college football this year. There are 6 or 7 teams with a legit chance to take top honors. Oddsmakers agree that the two teams from Oregon take top honors going in as they are the co-favorites at odds of +250. The biggest shock to us is UCLA being listed at odds of +350 making them the 3rd choice as far as the odds are concerned. With one of the toughest schedules in all of college football, we just don't see it. We'd toss UCLA.
Oregon is the top rated team from the PAC 10 as far as the National Title picture goes. They are listed at 18-1 odds at Sportsbook.com to win it all this year. 8 teams are in front of them there. 18-1 may be worth a shot if Oregon can get by without QB Masoli.
Let's take a look at the PAC-10 teams.
Oregon Ducks - Odds to win PAC 10 3/1 - What is with these Pac-10 teams getting into trouble? Ducks QB Jeremiah Masoli was kicked off the team after brought up on burglary charges. Masoli was an excellent QB and he had great potential for this season. Without him the stock of this entire team goes does. Sophomore Darron Thomas has to step in and take the starting job. The 6-3 205 lbs player has little experience. The running backs and offensive line are two of the top units in the country, respectively. Where the Ducks may get in trouble is on the defensive side of the ball. They have a strong secondary, but an undersized offensive line. Chip Kelly did well to have this team at a record of 10-3 in his first season and he has responded well to adversity in the past. Oregon has the guns for the repeat.
USC Trojans - Odds to win PAC 10 N/A - After a 9-4 record in 2009 long time head coach Pete Carroll decided to skip town. The new sheriff at USC is Lane Kiffin. Soon after his arrival the Trojans were slapped with a two-year post season ban due to violations involving Heisman winner Reggie Bush. Even with no Bowl at stake, USC would love to play spoiler for their fellow PAC-10 members. QB Matt Barkley performed admirably as a freshman and he will be even better as a sophomore. He will be a force when USC returns to normality during his senior year. The Trojans have lost some juniors and seniors that were allowed to transfer penalty free in wake of the post season ban. USC will be solid, but this isn't their year.
Arizona Wildcats - Odds to win PAC 10 5/1 - Coach Mike Stoops gets 12 starters back from last year's team that went 8-5 and got trounced in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska. The Wildcats are rejuvenated in 2010. QB Nick Foles will look to improve on last year's numbers of 2486 yards and 19 TDs. New QBs coach Frank Scelfo has had 3 QBs drafted during his tenure with Tulane. OSU transfer Willie Mobley will be an asset at DT for Arizona. The entire special teams unit returns intact and very well could be the best in the NCAA. Schedule is the key for Arizona. They will host Oregon State, USC, and Washington. They must travel to face Oregon and Stanford. We think the Wildcats will have their best season since 1998 and a great chance to make the Rose Bowl for the first time. New coordinators on both sides of the ball could be a stumbling block though.
California Golden Bears - Odds to win PAC 10 8/1 - Things didn't go as well as planned for this team last year. They ended up 8-5, but they had hopes for bigger things going into the season. RB Jahvid Best was on many Heisman watches, but he didn't exactly pan out. Best is now in the NFL and the Bears bring back 14 total starters. Coach Jeff Tedford has coached 7 RBs who now on NFL rosters. He has an excellent combination of Vereen and Deboskie-Johnson this year. Both runners have lots of potential. Veeren is a junior and he picked up exactly 1,000 yards and 12 TDs last year. With 70 combined starts on the offensive line, both runners will get excellent blocks. Games on the road against Oregon State and USC won't be easy, but the Bears have the guns to compete in the PAC-10. The pressure has been on Cal in recent years with many expecting them to compete for a National title. They wilted under that pressure. Now that the pressure is gone, we wouldn't be surprised to see this underachieving team overachieve. Might be some value at 8/1 odds.
Oregon State Beavers - Odds to win PAC 10 3/1 - This team looked great towards the end of 2009 reaching #13 in the polls, but the wheels fell off in the last two games. They lost a shootout against rival Oregon with a bid to the Rose Bowl on the line. They were then rocked in the Las Vegas Bowl by BYU. 15 combined starters back means that OSU has a chance to rekindle some of last years success and build on it. The offense will revolve around junior RB Jacquizz "Quiz" Rodgers. He picked up 1,502 yards and 21 TDs as a sophomore. The offensive line is strong and will create holes for Rodgers. The defensive line looks VERY strong thanks to DT Stephen Paea. Coach Mike Riley typically outperforms projections. We think the Beavers have the potential to win the Pacific 10. If they want to do so winning games on the road against Arizona and Stanford will be pivotal. 4 of their 5 losses last year could have gone either way. Things need to improve defensively, but the talent is there.
Stanford Cardinal - Odds to win PAC 10 8/1 - Jim Harbaugh's team did well to finish 8-5 last year. They played Oklahoma well, but fell short in the Sun Bowl. The Cardinal return 8 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters. QB is a very strong aspect of this team. Andrew Luck looks like a monster and is only a sophomore. The 6-4 234 lbs will see his numbers sky rocket this year. He has the best offensive line in the PAC-10 protecting him. The WR corps look strong with Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Ryan Whalen, Chris Owusu, and and Coby Fleener. The running backs are solid with Stepfan Taylor taking over for Toby Gehart. The defense is just as good as the offense at Stanford. The defensive line looks to be the best that it has been in almost 10 years, and the DBs also look great. The LBs are loaded with talent. Tough road games against Oregon and California will be pivotal for Stanford. They will almost assuredly have back to back winning seasons for the first time since the 1990s. Stanford is a perfect example of a well coached, fundamentally sound football team that will be in every game they play.
Washington Huskies - Odds to win PAC 10 5/1 - 2009 certainly wasn't a banner year at 3-9, but this team has come a long way under Coach Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies bring back 17 combined starters, including Heisman candidate QB Jake Locker. He passed for 2800 yards last year and rushed for another 577. He tossed 21 TDs and 11 INTs. His stats were more impressive considering his surrounding cast. The offensive line will show signs of improvement. If they really move up then Washington can compete for top honors in the PAC-10. The WR corps is strong for Washington. They return WR Jermaine Kearse who caught 8 TDs while gaining over 800 yards last year. The Huskies will be one of the most improved teams in the NCAA. Look for them to make bowl play for the first time since 2002. This could be a now or never team. With 9 returning offensive starters and with Jake Locker at the helm for one last time, they need to take advantage of their talent. But they will have to close the gap on some of those big losses, 34-14 to Stanford, 43-19 to Oregon, 48-21 to Oregon State. Large losses like that generally suggest that the gap is to large to close in just one year.
UCLA Bruins - Odds to win PAC 10 3.5/1 - This team did well to finish 7-6 last year and win the EagleBank Bowl over Temple. They will seek to improve on that success in 2010. Schedule could put a damper on that. The Bruins have arguably the strongest schedule in the NCAA. They must play Kansas State, Texas, and Houston out of conference, and they will travel to face Oregon, California, and Washington. Despite returning 8 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters the Bruins may not improve on last years win total. With most "good" teams, you can take a look at their schedules and isolate 5 or 6 wins prior to the season, going game by game. With UCLA however, that's difficult to do. Washington looks like their easiest game and we know it will be far from easy. Very surprised to see UCLA listed at +350 making them the 2nd choice in the PAC 10. Are we missing something?
Arizona State Sun Devils - Odds to win PAC 10 12/1 - With only 9 combined starters returning its hard to imagine the Sun Devils improving on last years record of 4-8. Tough road games against Oregon State, Washington, California, USC, and Arizona will subdue their chances of winning the Pac-10. If there's any bright spot at all it's the fact that they weren't really blown out last season. In fact their scoring average was 22-21 and included close losses to USC, Cal and Arizona. But when you lose your final 6 games, something has to give. Dennis Erickson is in trouble if this team doesn't win 6 games.
Washington State Cougars - Odds to win PAC 10 25/1 - It seems like an eternity has passed since this team won the Holiday Bowl over Texas in 2003. They finished 1-11 last year. We see little reason to believe that things will change in 2010. Add a couple more wins to the season total, but that's about it.
So there you have it, our take on the Pacific 10 in college football for 2010. We like Oregon State's chances to build on last year's success and take top honors in this highly contentious conference.
The odds listed above are an average from several
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