Thursday, July 24, 2008

How the Pac will REALLY shake down

If there's anything we know for sure, it's that Media Polls usually are never correct by December.

Trust me. As a credentialed member of that media, I know this to be fact.

Anyway, the media today released its annual predictions on how the Pacific-10 Conference will shake down. This is how it went:

1) USC
2) Arizona State
3) Oregon
4) California
6) Oregon State
7) Arizona
8) Washington
9) Stanford
10) Washington State

My biggest problem with the media poll is how retroactive it is. Media members tend to look backward way more than they look forward, basing most of what they predict on what happened last season rather than actively taking the time to examine the way their schedule shakes down, roster moves and the such.

My favorite line from the media poll is "The preseason media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 25 of 47 times and has been very accurate of late in correctly identifying the Conference champ the last eight years in a row."

Pretty nice and easy when USC has been the runaway favorite every year since 2003.

Let's not forget last season, Cal was picked #2, UCLA #3 and ASU #4. We all know how well that played out.

So, on the day that the rest of my brethren (and sistren? is that a word?) released their picks for the final Pac-10 Standings, I figured I'd make it the day that I release my official predictions for the conference and how it will all finish up.

1) USC Trojans. Despite their unsettled situation at quarterback, the Men of Troy are still clearly the class of the conference. By far, the best linebackers in the nation play at USC. If they can get through Ohio State at home (which they should), the Trojans will have to screw up badly to not go 11-1 or undefeated. ASU, Oregon and Cal all come to the Coliseum.

2) California Golden Bears. Yes, they lose DeSean Jackson. Yes, they lose Justin Forsett. But they bring back both Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley, two highly talented quarterbacks, and we all know that Jeff Tedford's QB's have collegiate success (the jury on their NFL careers is still out). Jahvid Best is a terror, Alex Mack is the best O-Lineman in the conference and having ASU and Oregon at home help out a lot. A weak non-conference slate is highlighted with a trip to Maryland.

3) Arizona State Sun Devils. There's still plenty of skepticism around the conference about the Devils' running attack without Ryan Torain as an option. While the receiving corps is among the best in the Pac, the offensive line still leaves a lot to be desired. Then there's that killer three-game stretch with Georgia at home and Cal and USC on the road back to back weeks. Still enough talent on this team to win 9 games.

4) Oregon Ducks. The nightmarish end to last season gave their young quarterbacks some much needed seasoning, which bode well in their bowl drubbing of South Florida and for this season. Boise State will come to Autzen and prove to be the Ducks biggest non-conference challenge, and Purdue on the road could prove to be a bigger problem than you would think. They're going to miss Jonathan Stewart big time, but their defense will still be stout.

5) Arizona Wildcats. Sorry, Pitchfork Nation, but I'll swallow my pride and say it: the Wildcats schedule is set up for them to be bowl eligible this year and maybe even get to the postseason for the first time since 1998. They've got the best tight end in the conference (Rob Gronkowski) and a deep O-Line. This team will give up a lot of points, but they should emerge from their NC schedule 3-0 and be able to steal at least three conference wins in addition to their seemingly yearly upset.

6) Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers entered 2007 with a quarterback controversy, and now they enter 2008 with...the same one. Will it be Sean Canfield or Lyle Moevao? They both played last season and combined for an 11/21 ratio. Yvenson Bernard's 1,214 rushing yards definitely bailed them out. They're not going to get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks and NC trips to Penn State and Utah (both potential BCS qualifiers) will get them off to a slow start. The top teams in the conference come to Oregon State though, making an upset just a bit more possible.

7) UCLA Bruins. When you're starting Osaar Rasshan down the stretch, you've got problems. When both Patrick Cowan and Ben Olson both go down during Spring Ball, you've got a nightmare. Cowan is definitely out for '08, and Olsen potential effectiveness has been called into question after breaking a bone in his foot. Unsettled at RB and their top two WR's from last season are gone. They will not win a NC game (Tennessee, at BYU and Fresno State) and I find it hard to believe this team can compete with the top four in the Pac.

8) Stanford Cardinal. I like their receivers (Richard Sherman is pretty underrated) and their running backs (Gerhart and Kimble are stout) but the defense is still porous. We definitely will not see anything close to the upset of USC that left the nation floored last October. While Jim Harbaugh has the program back in the right direction, they're still a year away from competing for bowl eligibility.

9) Washington Huskies. No team with a player as dynamic as Jake Locker will finish last in any conference. The problem is the rest of the team. No effective running back, their top returning receiver chalked up only 136 yards last year and the only defensive player worth a damn has a completely unpronounceable last name (Daniel Te'o-Neisheim). There's a significant chance they'll be 0-10 going into the Apple Cup with Oklahoma, BYU and Notre Dame on the NC docket and trips to Oregon and USC mixed in.

10) Washington State Cougars. Welcome to the Pac, Paul Wulff. Wish you had more to work with. Last year's band of overachievers squeezed out five wins. They will not come close this year with a new quarterback in Gary Rogers. Having Michael Bumpus (1,180 yards in 2007) is nice, but those numbers will drop off without Alex Brink. It's going to be a long, cold season in the Palouse.


flohtingPoint said...

For your sidebar featuring Sun Devil's in the NFL, you haven't added Sam Keller. He's now a Raider.

Mark said...

Actually, he got cut yesterday. But I do need to update that sidebar.

flohtingPoint said...

Ah man, that's too bad for Sam...