Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pac-10 Pre-Season Predictions

Hello Followers. Well, since today is Media Day for the wonderful Pacific 10 Conference, it is time to follow our annual tradition of providing you with how each of the Blogfathers see the Pac-10 playing out this year.

Mind you, these are only pre-camp predictions. We will have a full run-down with detailed conference and non-conference records as September 5th draws near....



So Here....We....Go.



Sean Hawkins:
1. Cal
2. USC
3. Oregon
4. Stanford
5. Oregon State
6. Arizona
7. UCLA
8. ASU
9. UW
10.You-know-who


Remarks: Alright, I am stepping out on the ledge here, and yes, Cal is my choice for PAC-10 champion. Why? Well, several reasons. But I'm hanging my hat on 1) seriously strong, deep, effective running game, 2) supremely talented offensive and defensive lines, 3) a veteran QB in Riley, who, while not great, will be good enough to not screw it up, but most of all, 4) a REALLY good defense full of size and speed. Even with the loss of some top tacklers at linebacker, Cal's still returning eight starters, plus a defensive front might be the best it's ever been under Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley. We know DC Bob Gregory is the current king of stopping the spread offense, so they should handle the quack attack's bells-n-whistles (as they always do). Plus they get USC at home. They won't be perfect, but to me, they have the "look" this year.

Now, the king ain't totally dead. USC is still going to steamroll folks, with layers and layers of five-star talent that comes at you in droves. They have 3rd-stringers who will probably make an NFL roster someday. But remember, USC for all their greatness has had only two undefeated PAC-10 seasons during this breathtaking ownage of the PAC since the turn of the century. They lost at least one PAC-10 game in six of the last eight seasons, and in '06 and '07, they lost two conference games (and those were still really good, Rosebowl champion USC teams!). This time the inexperienced QB stubs his toe a couple of times, and unlike Oregon State unable to close the deal last year, Cal will not only beat USC, but win enough of the other ones to claim the title.

Oregon has a sexy, trendy feel about them this year, and I bet a lot of people will pick them. The schedule sets up great, as USC and Cal both come to Eugene, and over the last quarter of the season last year, they were dynamite when Jeremiah Masoli took over the QB spot. But they've lost their best pass-rusher and really one of the all-timers in Nick Reed, plus some key players in the secondary with Patrick Chung and Jarius Byrd both moving on. Oregon will hang a ton of points on the board, but the D won't be quite good enough to win the conference.

As for a darkhorse, I LOVE Stanford. It may be a bit spotty early, but Andrew Luck is going to be a big-time QB and everyone will be talking about him by the end of the season. They play a tough, physical, no-nonsense brand of football and will hit you in the mouth from kick-off to kneel down. Next to USC and probably Cal, Stanford will be the most physical team in the conference this year.

And finally, the back end of the conference should remain the same. But I will contend that both Washington schools will be much better than their '08 counterparts. UW, if they keep Locker healthy, will be in a lot of games. He still has work to do as a west coast offense passer, and I am not sold on the offensive line nor the pedestrian weapons he will have at his disposal. And no, I am not drinking the Sark Juice just yet, but they will take some real strides this year (yes, it hurts to write that). They will get off to a rough start with that first month, and whether a UW homer will admit it or not, there is always a bit of an adjustment period with a new coach/staff. It might not be pretty. But I do believe they will be on the upswing by the end of '09, and '10 could see a real move up the ladder.

And our Cougs could, potentially, be the most improved team in the whole damn conference, but the record won't reflect it. We will see a bigger, stronger, tougher football team that will take care of the football in ways that won't even resemble '08's turnover-fest. But it won't be enough to climb out of the cellar. Depth will rear it's hideous head, as it always seems to do in the most inopportune times, and we still aren't deep enough to overcome the inevitable hits to the depth chart. The in-conference schedule is as tough as I can remember, playing the best of the best on the road (USC, Cal, Oregon), plus the Apple Cup in Seattle and Notre Dame in San Antonio in a game that will feel like a road trip in every way possible.

I apologize, Coug Nation, for the non-homerish pick. But fear not. Better days are coming.


Longball:

1. USC
2. Cal
3. Oregon
4. Stanford
5. OSU
6. ASU
7. WSU
8. UA
9. UW
10. UCLA

Remarks: No way am I picking against USC until someone proves that it is actually possible to dethrone them with Carrol at the helm. However, this may be the swan song of their dominant run as the NCAA prepares to move in with a wrecking ball. WSU in the #7 spot is nothing but pure, crimson tinted optimism on steroids. I dread a 10th place finish, but from what I've seen, heard and read this team is moving dramatically in the right direction. Of course, I may have a totally different perspective after Fall camp. I expect UW to get a Sark bump with Locker back. But I doubt they start playing up to all those stars that Fetters and company dumped on them when they committed to the Dawgs. I would love to see Harbaugh make a run at a title this year, of course after a little set-back/wake up call on the Palouse September 5.


Hooty McBoob:
1. Cougs (Duh)
2. OSU (I predicted their upset over USC last year. Just so you know...)
3. USC (A third place conference finish and Sun Bowl victory in a "re-building year" - how novel.)
4. Cal (They still have that Best kid, right?)
5. UO (The Phightin' Phils will start slowly and phinish strong. This message has been brought to you by Nike.)
6. Stanford (Tough to overcome the demoralizing opening week loss to the Mighty Cougs.)
7. ASU (I couldn't name a single player on this team so don't quote me on this.)
8. UA (The veins in Stoops' neck will explode during the 2nd quarter of their 3rd game, throwing the program into disarray.)
9. UCLA (I see a second-half flop as clear as the mole on Hermie's chin.)
10. uw (Duh)

Remarks: I really don't pay enough attention to the other programs in the Pac-10 to speak to them with even the slightest bit of authority, but as for the Evergreen State, you can bet the farm on these predictions:

Cougs go worst to first and blow out Northwestern in the Rose Bowl, earning them 23 seconds of airtime on ESPN and a #24 BCS ranking.

While leaning on his trusty crutches on the sideline of another WSU Apple Cup victory, jake locker wishes he had signed a MLB contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sutra:

T1. Oregon
T1. USC
3. Oregon State
T4. Stanford
T4. California
6. Arizona
T7. Washington State
T7. UCLA
T7. Washigton
T7. Arizona State

Remarks: First of all, I love the idea that we could have a four way tie for last place in the conference that a) make us finish 7th and b) allows me to win my bet with Ted Miller while we still bring up the conference's rear (winning on a technicality is STILL winning, you know).

Its a tough race to call this year as all of the teams top and bottom have serious questionmarks. My deal is simple: IF USC or Ohio State had the type of skill position guys Oregon (RB/QB) has returning, they'd be picked to win the conference. So, this is a put-up or shut-up year for the Quackers this year because if they have the depth they say they have amassed over the years, then I think they beat USC at home and win the tie breaker as a result since both teams will have one conference L.

With regards to the others, well, I just see so much separation between the top half and the bottom half of the conference this year. And, the way that the schedule breaks, I see two conference wins being a real possibility for all of those lower division teams--although I think AZ is the most likely of those to surprise in a positive way. They are also the only team out of the bottom five that I think can become bowl eligible. But his year in particular, INJURIES or lack thereof in the pre-season will mean a whole lot--especially for the Washington schools who need just about everything to go right in order to have anything better than a 1-3 win season.

Feel free to give us your pre-season conference picks so we can look back as the season rolls along.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed on the power trio at the top and likely suckfest at the bottom. The middle is a mess and arguments can be made everywehre. Why not UCLA as a sleeper? Lots of starters back and they have recruited some good classes even under Dorrell. Didn't Neuheisel take UW to the Rose Bowl in his 2nd year?

Sean Hawkins said...

True that on tricky Ricky. He did take Lambo's talent to the Rose Bowl in his 2nd year. And what's weird is that in his first year, UW was a Stanford loss away from going to the Rose Bowl that year too! But it is an interesting idea on UCLA.

But that 2000 UW team had a really good oline, their running game was effective when it mattered and they could engineer those long, clock-eating drives, and that Tui kid brought them back, time and again. They weren't overpowering overall, but they just found ways to get it done. I don't see a very good oline, running game or a stud QB @ UCLA? Ricky caught lightning in a bottle in 2000 but it seems like a stretch that will happen this year.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sutra, you suck and I don't care what you have to say.

I'm with Longball on this one. Those are some great picks... GO COUGS!

Brian said...

1. USC
2. Cal
3. Oregon
4. OSU
5. Stanford
6. ASU
7. Zona
8. UCLA
9. WSU
10. UW

Agree with the teams on top, Cal, Oregon and USC are all going to be very good.

Until someone knocks USC off the top, I'm gonna put my money on them.

Cal will have a great D and Best will be a Heisman candidate. Riley is underrated because of that scramble he tried a couple years ago when the time ran out on him.

Oregon should have the best offense in the conference and one of the best in the country, their D lost alot of talent to the NFL though.

OSU has an average QB but the speed and talent at the skill positions make them an explosive offense. The D is very opportunistic and always plays with a chip on their shoulders. The coaching staff might be the best at playcalling in the conference.

The rest could be a jumble of average to below average teams.

Stanford has a really good running game but serious question marks in the pass game. The defense is physical and tough but not talented enough to make them top tier.

ASU took a huge step back last year. I don't see them getting back into the Pac-10 title hunt yet this year because I don't think they have the talent yet. Dennis Erikson will have them back in contention next year though.

UA lost Tuitama, who was the leader of their offense. How will his replacement do? Stoops hasn't lived up to the hype of his name since being hired and therefore hasn't impressed me thus far.

I'm not drinking the Neuheisel kool-aid. This school always seems to get big name recruits that do nothing. Obviously injuries (especially at QB) have hurt them badly the last couple years, but still, I'm not buying into the UCLA hype. There's really nothing about this team that makes me think they will be good.

We all know how bad our Cougs were last year... I don't wanna get into it. My heart won't let me rank them 10th, although they likely will finish there. There are just so many areas that need so much drastic improvement, it's unrealistic to expect more than 4 wins (2 conference) at best this season.

UW dead last. I'm not buying the Sarkisian hype at all. Bottom line, he's a rookie head coach. He's got the best running QB in the conference (maybe the nation) but the worst passing QB in the conference. And Sark's trying to turn him into a pocket passer. The other positions are similar to us in that they're young and need much improvement. Locker will keep them close in games by using his feet, but his physical running style makes me doubt that he can finish the season. Once he goes down, the season completely unravels.

WSU91 said...

2 cents prediction:

USC
California
Oregon State
Oregon
UCLA
Arizona
Stanford
Washington
Arizona State
Washington State

USC will stub their toe sometime in October, when they get bored and forget to take somebody seriously, but 8-1 will still win the conference.

Form 2-4 I think it's a toss-up, as is 5-7, and 8-10, but I think it segregates into those three levels of teams plus USC.

'03CouveCoug said...

Elite
1. USC
2. Cal
3. UO

Bowl-Eligible
4. OSU
5. ASU
6. Stanford

Also-rans
7. UA
8. UCLA
9. UW
10. WSU


Like others have already said, I’m not picking anyone but USC until someone knocks them off. Cal seems to have the best shot at dethroning the Trojans, but I think the loss of their entire LB corps will have a serious effect on their defensive prowess, especially early in the season. Lots of people on the Quack bandwagon, citing their potentially prolific offense as a reason for them to supplant USC at the top…I’m not buying. Their O-line lost 3/5s of their starters from last year, included in that group is current Seahawk Max Unger. And the center position, while vital to every effective offensive line, is even more important to the spread-option. They’re going to miss Unger’s abilities early and often.

Oregon State lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball and they continue to have question marks at QB, but Mike Riley and company aren’t the best staff in the conference for no reason. They have the uncanny ability to make diamonds out of coal, especially as the season wares on. I have no doubt they’ll continue to do that this season. The Sun Devils look to have a very athletic defense, which will keep them in every game. Unfortunately, their inexperience at QB and still questionable offensive line will keep them from contending for a title. The Cardinal continue their assault on the top of the standings but fall short due to a very pedestrian defensive back 7 (their D Line will be scary, though!) and also because of a freshman QB, of course.

The Wildcats regress with the loss of Tuitama at QB and a suspect defensive backfield. UCLA still has a mediocre O Line at best, not to mention no answers at QB. It’ll be tough for Norm Chow to design a scheme that overcomes a lack of Bruin talent. Speaking of lack of talent, no matter what the Montlake hype machine is saying, the mutts are still suffering from a serious case. Jakey-poo can’t block or catch for himself (that’s assuming he can even make it through the entire season) and the puppy defense was almost as bad as ours last year…and that’s saying something!

'03CouveCoug said...

Finally, our beloved Cougs…I believe that I’m on record several times on this blog of writing that this team will be leaps-and-bounds better than last season. However, it probably doesn’t translate to but a couple more wins. The nice thing is that I don’t think we’ll be humiliated multiple times like last year, often being in games well into the second half. The lines continue to develop, particularly the O Line as they adjust to and begin to take advantage of opposing defenses using the no-huddle. Lobbestael takes the reigns out of fall camp and proves that he’s the QB of the future. Turnovers are much more limited this season as Ocho Rojo gets more comfortable. He also gets a reasonable amount of relief from the RBs, with Montgomery getting the bulk of the carries. Anderson and Forzani show flashes of the deep threats that they can become, and Karstetter becomes a reliable possession receiver. Skylar Stormo becomes a fan favorite at TE, much like our old buddy Jed.

On defense, our LBs lead the way. Mattingly has a comeback player of the year type effort and gives this unit a nasty edge. The D Line makes great improvement, unfortunately, that means stale-mates at the line of scrimmage instead of getting blown off the line 3 yards like last year. The DBs see a lot of youth play, I think that redshirt freshman Simmons and true freshman Washington both get a lot of PT at the corners. The safeties are the anchor of the defensive backfield, with Hicks leading the team in interceptions, and probably tackles as well, unfortunately. Chima emerges as a team leader and will take considerable responsibility into his senior season next year. The defense will play aggressively and risk getting burned deep in favor of hawking the ball within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately, we’ll need to blitz to get pressure on passing downs.

The special teams continue to improve and show just how important field position is to winning football games. Reid Forrest ends up being one of our few All-Pac 10 candidates. Nico Grasu is a reliable, but not game changing PK.

All of this translates into 4 wins, 2 early vs. Hawaii and SMU and two late vs. UCLA and UW. Wulff proves that he’s got the program moving in the right direction with this on-the-field improvement and some impressive verbal commitments in the fall.

There, I’m officially on record for EVERYTHING!

Hooty McBoob said...

Geez - don't you people work?!

'03CouveCoug said...

I do...but I was bored and on my last break! Sorry for the diatribe.

Pete's Tweets said...

Who on earth is the sutra with his 4way tie for 7th? What a joke. Is that even possible given the round robin scheduling? And Cal to win the crap-10 hawk, are you serious? They are all flash and dash and nothing else. You drank the Cal Cool-aid didn't ya. Don't fall for it. They are a bunch of pussys who will retreat to their cushy berkley liar as soon as USC kicks them in the balls. Trojans roll again. And courve coug wow dude you need to start a blog or something. That is serious effort you put up in comments. Keep rockin it Cougies,

danesh imran said...

I definitely have to go with Sean’s picks 1-8. Based on principle and the fact that they haven’t won a game since Bush was in office, the Dawgs have to be at the bottom of barrel by default.

Cal is definitely a great pick at the top, especially with Jahvid Best; I can definitely see him making a run for the Heisman this year.

Oregon has a legitimate chance to make a run at USC, but the opener at Boise State will be the ultimate litmus test as to whether they’re contenders or pretenders.

I’m going to be at the Boise State opener as well as the Cal game at Minnesota (why not catch a conference game while visiting the father-in-law, especially at UM’s brand new stadium?), and I’ll share the pictures with anyone interested.

Also, I will be at the Arizona game when the Cougs visit, will definitely be taking a lot of pics!

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Great takes, all around.

PT: Yes, its possible for a four way tie. Its also possible for a three way tie, as well as a five way tie.

Now, to your question: what is the most likely? First of all, if you look back at previous standings you will see that three way ties are a relatively frequent occurrence--particularly when teams go 5-4, 4-5 or 3-6 (or the near equivalent with an 8 game slate). And, because I think that there's a big difference between top and bottom (which NO ONE else seems to agree with), I do think that logjams at both the top and bottom are quite possible.

That said, the most probable scenario for me before I looked at the schedule and match-ups was to think that UCLA, UW, and WSU would tie with 2 conference wins a piece. But, when I went to see how that could reasonably play out in the schedule, ASU had to basically implode--which I think they could depending on what happens to them in the first third or so of the season.

All in all, I've been saying all along that I think UCLA is a 4-8 redux that could threaten the Washington Schools for the cellar. I also think both Washington schools have an upside of about 2 conference wins each. The problem is what to do with ASU. As I will detail next week and as I noted during the fishwraps, I think their tilt with us in October is a MAJOR swing game for both schools.If they lose that game, then they are right there at the bottom.

Like I said, I'll give my take on our upcoming schedule and season next week.

P.S. Couve Coug: Twelve carma chameleons for you: Great stinkin' takes.

'03CouveCoug said...

Sutra: Thanks for the props...looking forward to your prognostications!

BendORCoug said...

I don't know this year's conference well enough to pick 1-10 with any kind of authority, but I'm certain of one thing: the media's projected order of finish is never quite right. A couple teams will flop, a couple teams will surprise and the final standing will be different than what the media predicted... and at least with the Cougs, we can only beat expectations!

(All that said, Cougs will tie for 6th with the Arizonas.)

Lucas said...

Gentlemen, keep up the good work. This blog is my first stop on the internet each morning and the last one stop before I go to bed.

I think those of us who follow it religiously are all diehard Cougs. I know that myself and maybe one or two of my fellow classmates can get lumped into that category. Hell, two of us sat over a case of Coors Light a few weeks back and popped on Legends of the Palouse III: Learning to Bowl. And bawled our eyes out over it. Something I could never see my UW friends doing over their program.

I am hoping for a little Cougar magic, and think we can eek out three to five wins; which I would be extremely satisfied with. Hawai'i, SMU, UCLA, ASU, Stanford and UW. I would be shocked if we earned a victory from a program not in the above mentioned.

Currently playing my first season on NCAA Football 10. The first season I played last year I went 4-9, which was fairly accurate for the way the Cougs played last year. I currently have victories over Hawaii, SMU, ASU, and Cal. Couple of interesting notes, UW beat LSU in the season opener, and Cal is 0-the conference slate thus far.

I would love for the blog to host the tailgate on Labor Day Weekend vs Stanford. Keep us posted.

One final question/thought.

Which season was more painful for you guys.

2005, when we won one conference game (UW), after multiple heartbreakers (Cal fake punt, ASU taking the tying FG off the board to go for it after a penality, Stanford and OSU when we Dawged It, and blowing the Oregon game in the waning minutes on a bomb to Jordan Kent)?

Or last year? When the only games we were competitive in were UW and Portland State?

I think it was 2005 for me, as I attended every game, home and away, except for Nevada and USC.

Lucas said...

Apologies, the first half of my post. I began typing it thinking I was on the 1000th Post comments sectionn. Then I saw in the comments field that people were predicting the conference and so I wanted to add my two cents.

I apologize for all the sentimental stuff being on this post :)

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Lucas:

Thanks for trumping most of my write-up for next week.

Anyhow, on one hand, I agree with you: the 2005 1-7 season was just stinking brutal--seeing a team that was so prolific not be able to get a stop or a late game drive.

But last year, we weren't even fun to watch until the last two games. And honestly, even the Apple Cup wasn't fun until the last four or five minutes.

So, I'm going to have to say that last year took the Cake.

Great question and take, though man.

Lucas said...

Haha, did I spoil an upcoming post? Apologies. I also forgot to mention the UCLA debacle. We'd won like four straight in the series, and were up 28-0 behind the handywork of our boy Jerome. Only to blow it in OT to Maurice J-D.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My8wmiAFjgs

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