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2006 Pac-10 Preview

The Wild, Wild West Wide Open After USC’s Talent Turnover

If there was ever a chance to surpass a vulnerable Southern Cal team, 2006 is the year. No more Reggie Bush. No more Matt Leinart. No more Conference dominance? After the loss of its back-to-back Heisman winners and 12 position starters, USC and Pete Carroll will have their work cut out for them if they want to be the first Pac-10 team to win at least a share of five consecutive Pac-10 titles. Despite all the personnel loses, don’t feel so bad for this team just yet. For the third straight year Carroll has put together No.1 recruiting classes, so the talent is there. It is the lack of experience, however, that could be the biggest factor in not getting the results this powerhouse program has come to expect.

While USC fine-tunes new starters for both its quarterback and running back positions, several other Pac-10 programs are ready to step in and take the lead in ’06. California can use either sophomore Nate Longshore or senior Joe Ayoob to for its starting signal caller, while running backs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett form one of the best duos in the country. Arizona State has two exceptional gunslingers to choose from in Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter. Either is capable of dominating in the Sun Devil offense. It is just a preference of youth or experience.

Another young and fiery team up for the Pac-10 title resides in the great northwest. Oregon may have lost valuable experience from seniors Kellen Clemens and Terrence Whitehead, but what this team lacks in experience, they make up with explosive athleticism. A pair of junior quarterbacks in Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf will most likely share snaps as they did when Clemens went down last year. Sophomore Jonathan Stewart is ready for a breakout year in the backfield, while the receiving partnership of Cameron Colvin and James Finley is physically gifted and ready for key roles.

USC will still be the favorite until they show they can be beaten and will likely find itself in the top 15 all year. However, a three-loss season could be a possibility and would be the first since Carroll’s inaugural campaign in 2001. Cal, Arizona State, and Oregon all have enough talent to overthrow the defending champs. While a Four-team race is likely, the dark horse of the Conference is the Arizona Wildcats. The third year under Mike Stoops should finally see a much-improved team and possibly a bowl Game. Led by sophomore standout Willie Tuitama at quarterback, 2006 will see much bigger strides from its 3-8 record in ’05. Stoops has brought his Oklahoma defensive mindset to the offensively focused Pac-10. His defense will be the defining factor in the Wildcats’ season, notably the secondary, home one of the best in the nation.

PAC 10 FOOTBALL Schedule – 2006

Thursday, August 31
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
Eastern Washington at Oregon State

Saturday, September 2
BYU at Arizona
California at Tennessee
Stanford at Oregon
Utah at UCLA
USC at Arkansas
San Jose State at Washington
Washington State at Auburn

Thursday, September 7
Oregon State at Boise State

Saturday, September 9
Arizona at LSU
Nevada at Arizona State
Minnesota at California
Oregon at Fresno State
Stanford at San Jose State
Rice at UCLA
Washington at Oklahoma
Idaho at Washington State

Saturday, September 16
Stephen F. Austin at Arizona
Arizona State at Colorado
Portland State at California
Oklahoma at Oregon
Navy at Stanford
Nebraska at USC
Fresno State at Washington
Baylor at Washington State (in Seattle)

Saturday, September 23
USC at Arizona
Arizona State at California
Oregon vs. TBD
Idaho at Oregon State
Washington State at Stanford
UCLA at Washington

Saturday, September 30
Washington at Arizona
Oregon at Arizona State
California at Oregon State
Stanford at UCLA
USC at Washington State

Saturday, October 7
Arizona at UCLA
Oregon at California
Washington State at Oregon State
Stanford at Notre Dame
Washington at USC

Saturday, October 14
Arizona at Stanford
Arizona State at USC
California at Washington State
UCLA at Oregon
Oregon State at Washington

Saturday, October 21
Oregon State at Arizona
Stanford at Arizona State
Washington at California
Oregon at Washington State
UCLA at Notre Dame

Saturday, October 28
Arizona State at Washington
USC at Oregon State
Washington State at UCLA

Saturday, November 4
Arizona at Washington State
Arizona State at Oregon State
UCLA at California
Washington at Oregon
USC at Stanford

Saturday, November 11
California at Arizona
Washington State at Arizona State
Oregon at USC
Oregon State at UCLA
Stanford at Washington

Saturday, November 18
Arizona at Oregon
UCLA at Arizona State
California at USC
Washingtonat Washington State

Saturday, November 25
Arizona State at Arizona
Oregon at Oregon State
Notre Dame at USC

Saturday, December 2
Stanford at California

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