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2010 Pac-10 Preseason Power Rankings

Posted on August 21, 2010 by Dean Hybl

LaMichael James and Oregon will look to retain their place at the top of the Pac-10.

With perennial conference champion USC serving a two-year bowl ban and defending conference champ Oregon looking to overcome the loss of their starting quarterback, the Pac-10 conference is up for grabs as others look to capitalize on potential weaknesses at the top of the league.

1. Oregon – With nine starters returning on offense and eight on defense, the defending league champion Ducks look poised for another big season. The dismissal of starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli probably will keep Oregon from competing for a national championship, but the Ducks are still the favorite to claim a second straight conference title. The team still includes two quarterbacks with big-time experience in Darron Thomas and Nate Costa, but they are both a slight step down from Masoli. Sophomore LaMichael James rushed for 1,546 yards last season and is one of the best running backs in the conference. Defensively, the Ducks allowed 24 points per game in 2009 and appear to have enough solid performers returning to improve those numbers this season.

Who Is The Best Team In The Pac-10?

  • Oregon Ducks (48%, 12 Votes)
  • California Golden Bears (16%, 4 Votes)
  • Stanford Cardinal (16%, 4 Votes)
  • Oregon State Beavers (12%, 3 Votes)
  • Arizona Wildcats (4%, 1 Votes)
  • USC Trojans (4%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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2. Oregon State – Last season the regular season finale between Oregon and Oregon State decided the conference championship and history could repeat itself in 2010. The Oregon State Beavers return eight offensive starters and seven on defense from a squad that finished 8-5 a year ago. The Beavers will be breaking in a new starting quarterback in 2010, but the job will be a little easier for either Ryan Katz or Peter Lalich because of the presence of running back Jacquizz Rodgers (1,440 yards rushing) and receiver James Rodgers (91 rec., 1034 yards).  The Beavers also return four offensive line starters. Defensively, the Beavers struggled at times last season, but return a number of key players, including three starters in the secondary.

3. Southern California – A disappointing 2009 season, coaching change and NCAA sanctions have suddenly created a chink in the armor at USC. The Trojans appear to still have enough talent to be the best team in the conference, but without a bowl game to play for, it may be tough for the Trojans to stay focused throughout the entire season. Quarterback Matt Barkley should be better in his second season under center. Running back Allen Bradford and fullback Stanley Havili give the Trojans a solid backfield, but they must replace key receivers. The defense struggled at times last season and returns only five starters. New head coach Lane Kiffin is coaching his third team in three years and has only registered one winning season (7-6 last season at Tennessee) in his career, so he still has to prove that he is worthy of such high profile jobs.

With no bowl game to play for, it will be a challenge for USC quarterback Matt Barkley and his team to stay focused throughout the season.

4. Arizona – After making big strides a year ago, the Arizona Wildcats appear poised to contend for the Pac-10 title in 2010. The offense returns most of their top skill players including running backs Keola Antolin (637 yards) and Nic Grisby (567 yards), quarterback Nick Foles (2,486 yards, 19 TD) and receiver Juron Criner (45 rec., 582 yards). Defensively, Arizona took a step backwards last season allowing 23.9 points per game and return only four starters.

5. Stanford – After an exciting 2009 season in which they finished with an 8-5 record with all their losses by 10 points or less, the Stanford Cardinal have the talent returning to contend for a conference title. The loss of running back Tony Gerhart will be challenging to overcome, but sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck could develop into one of the best quarterbacks in college football. The return of leading receivers Ryan Whalen (57 rec., 926 yards) and Chris Owusu (37 rec., 682 yards) and four offensive linemen should help the Cardinal continue to score at a rate near the 35 points they averaged a year ago. Defensively, Stanford allowed 26.5 points per game a year ago, but it was the fewest points they allowed since 2004.

6. California – Under head coach Jeff Tedford the California Golden Bears are guaranteed to be in the hunt for the Pac-10 title, but in the end they annually fall short of the championship. With quarterback Kevin Riley and leading running back Shane Vereen both returning, the Golden Bears should get their per game scoring average back over 30 points per game (something they have done 5 of the last 7 years) after averaging 29.1 points per game a year ago. The trouble for California is on defense where they allowed 25.3 points per contest last season and return only six starters.

7. UCLA – In their third season under the guidance of head coach Rick Neuheisel it would not be unrealistic to expect the UCLA Bruins to make major strides in 2010. The Bruins finished with a 7-6 mark in 2009 and return eight offensive starters and 13 overall. After having an up-and-down freshman campaign, sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince should make significant strides. That will be important as the Bruins look to improve on their 22 points per game from a year ago. Defensively, the Bruins return five starters from a unit that allowed 21.2 points per game and gave up more than 30 points only once in 2009. The biggest challenge for the Bruins will be a schedule that includes non-conference games at Kansas State and Texas and an early conference game against Stanford.

Jake Locker and Washington will look to continue their upward move after winning five games in 2009.

8. Washington – The Washington Huskies made great strides a year ago going from winless in 2008 to five victories in 2009. With 18 starters returning and one of the early favorites to be the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft in quarterback Jake Locker, things are expected to be even better for the Huskies in 2010. The offense made huge strides last season with Locker tossing 21 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. Sophomore running back Chris Polk gained 1,113 yards a year ago and junior wide receiver Jermaine Kearse caught 50 passes for 866 yards. The defense allowed 12 fewer points per game than in 2008, but still gave up 26 points per contest.

9. Arizona State – In his fourth season at the helm and following consecutive losing seasons you would expect Dennis Erickson to have the Arizona State Sun Devils moving forward in 2010, but it will be a tough challenge. Returning only nine starters from a team that went 4-8 could sometimes be a good thing. However, the Sun Devils will be without their starting quarterback, leading rusher and top receiver from a year ago. The defense was solid last season allowing only 22 points per game, but returns only five starters.

10. Washington State – It could be another long season for the Washington State Cougars. After posting only one win a year ago, the Cougars return 15 starters. Offensively they averaged 12 points per game for the second straight season and must make some improvement in 2010. After splitting time a year ago, Jeff Tuel and Marshall Lobbestael will again battle for the starting spot. The defense must improve on the 38.5 points they allowed per game a year ago.

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