Friday, August 10, 2007

College Football 2007 Conference Preview: Pac 10

College Football is just around the corner and today is Day 1 of The Sports Flow's big 2007 College Football preview. Today we are starting with conference previews. First up, the Pac 10.

Pac 10 Conference Preview:
This race will be a dog fight. The Pac 10, in my eyes, is the 2nd best conference in the country. 2nd place all the way down to 8th place is wide open with any other team being capable of finishing in either spot.

Predicted Order of Finish
1. USC
USC is the obvious favorite returning 17 starters. QB John David Booty returns and should only benefit with the experience back. Former WR's Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith won't be missed as much as expected with Jr. Patrick Turner and So. Vidal Hazelton back. Turner is very similar to Mike Williams and will be one of the top WR's in the conference. They can go 7 deep at RB and will have one of the best backfields in the nation. Also, the defense will be stellar returning 10 starters and should be the best LB corps with Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga, and Brian Cushing. 2. California
Cali returns a solid offense and will compete with USC once again for the Pac 10 Title. The Golden Bears will be able to light up the scoreboard with QB Nate Longshore and arguably the best WRs in the nation De'Sean Jackson back. They did lose Marshawn Lynch, but Justin Forsett is a very capable back and will produce good numbers. The defense won't be bad but will need to step up in order to top USC on November 10.

UCLA returns 20 starters and should be improved from last season. The offense returns 10 starters and will be led by QB Ben Olson and RB Chris Markey. Markey rushed for 1,107 yards last season and will be one of the RB's to keep an eye on in the Pac 10. 10 starters are also back on the defensive side, which was much improved towards the end of last season.

4. Arizona St.
The Sun Devils return 16 starters which includes QB Rudy Carpenter who passed for 2,523 yards and 23 touchdowns. RB Ryan Torain is back as well who rushed for 1,229 yards in '06. The offense is loaded but they need the defense to step up in order to finish high in the conference standings. Luckily for them the majority of their big games are at home.

5. Oregon St.
The Beavers return 15 starters which is a great start after a big '06 season with a win over USC and a bowl win over Missouri. They do lose their QB in Matt Moore, but RB Yvenson Bernard is back to give them some stability in the backfield. WR Sam Stroughter is also back and is one of the most explosive players in the conference. The defense should be there with 8 starters back. Oregon St. is back and has proved it can contend for the conference title, they just need to find a proven QB.

6. Arizona
Zona will have one of the best defenses in the conference with 10 starters back including one of the best DB's in the nation in Antoine Cason. The offense shouldn't be bad with 9 starters back; they just need more consistent play from QB Willie Tuitama, if he can do that look for the Wildcats to pull an upset or two and possibly play in a bowl game this year.

7. Oregon
A lot of people may feel Oregon should be higher but they ended last season with 4 bad losses and QB's Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf struggled dramatically in the spring. The defense needs to show they can stop the run or else the Ducks may be in for a long season.

8. Washington St.
It will be tough to replace standout WR Jason Hill, but QB Alex Brink returns. The Cougars have a tough schedule from the get go and will visit Wisconsin, USC, Arizona, Oregon, California, and rival Washington. Look for Washington St. to have about another .500 season after losing some key players.

9. Washington
I don't think Washington is that bad of a team but they have the toughest schedule in the country playing Boise St., Ohio St., USC, Oregon, Arizona, California, and rival Washington St. at home and traveling to Syracuse, UCLA, Arizona St., Oregon St., and Hawaii. Otherwise they would be a threat to make a bowl game this year. They just have too many holes to fill and too many inexperienced players.

10. Stanford
Stanford does have something to look forward too with 15 starters back, but that won't be enough to keep them out of the cellar in the Pac 10. Jim Harbaugh is a great choice to get the program back on it's feet, but it will be a few more years to get it jump started again.

Offensive Player of the Year:
De'Sean Jackson, WR- California

Defensive Player of the Year:
Rey Maualuga, LB- USC

Freshman of the Year:
Joe McKnight, ATH- USC

Coach of the Year:
Pete Carroll- USC

Games to Watch:
USC at Arizona St.
- Nov. 22

California at UCLA - Oct. 20

USC at California - Nov. 10

UCLA at Oregon St. - Sept. 29

UCLA at USC - Dec. 1

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