We move onto the next round of conference predictions and analysis, and this round includes the Pac-10 and the WAC. These two high octane leagues both have a potential undefeated team in their ranks. Unlike the Big East and C-USA, there is definitely a favorite to take home these league titles. We will see if that is what happens soon enough. Here is my take.
PROJECTED PAC TEN FINAL STANDINGS
1. Southern Cal
4. Oregon St.
6. Arizona St.
10. Washington St.
Is it possible to pick against USC winning the Pac-10 title. If they win this year, it will be eight straight. Barkley, Corp, even Mustain; does it really matter who ends up leading the train. With all the talent 2 and 3 deep at every position; USC plans for national titles, Pac-10 championships are a given. USC does tend to stub their toe in one league game a year. This years best bets are Oregon and Cal. The Ducks have to adjust to new Head coach Chip Kelly, but with QB Masoli and RB Blount returning, they have plenty of firepower. Cal should contend and Jahvid Best will have a great year, but QB play will have to improve for the Bears to take the next step. Oregon St. who tripped up USC last year will be good again, just not sure how good. Rick Neuheisel has made alot of noise about UCLA reclaiming Los Angeles. he needs to back some of that up this year. They will be carried by their defense. Both Arizona and Arizona State both must replace their QB’s. Each returns alot on defense, but will need the new offensive leaders to learn fast to make bowl games. Jim Harbaugh has made Stanford a much tougher team to deal with; but it still doesn’t feel as though they can break through and go 5-4 in conference. The state of Washington is in sad college football shape, but days seem brighter at UW with new coach Steve Sarkisian and QB Jake Locker.
Bowl Teams: USC, Cal, Oregon, UCLA, Oregon St., Arizona St., Arizona.
Offensive MVP: LeGarrette Blount, RB Oregon
Sharing time with Jeremiah Johnson last season, Blount still accounted for 1.002 yards and a school record 17 rushing TD’s. Now that it’s all him, I expect huge output.
Defensive MVP: Taylor Mays, FS USC
He is considered a potential top ten NFL pick and is the the team leader both on the field and off for a very stingy Trojan defense.
Team most likely to do way better or worse than I predicted:
UCLA. I have UCLA finishing fifth and going to a semi decent bowl. All this is predicated on the QB play from Kevin Prince being alot better than what the Bruins got last year. If it isn’t, then who knows how far they could fall in the standings.
Best TE in the league: Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
He is a 6’6″ 265 lb specimen that has caught 16 TD passes in his Wildcat career. He’ll probably be the most important player on the Arizona offense.
Best Coordinator: Mark Banker, DC Oregon State
With less than the top recruits in the country, Banker always seems to put a quality product on the field. And lets face it, no one has defensed USC better over the past 3 years then Oregon St.
PROJECTED WAC FINAL STANDINGS
1. Boise St.
3. Fresno St.
4. Louisiana Tech
5. San Jose St.
7. New Mexico St.
9. Utah St.
Boise St. is an absolute force in WAC football. They reload every year, and this is no exception. They could go undefeated again. I don’t expect so with games against Oregon and at Fresno, Tulsa, and Hawaii. I think they’ll slip up once , but still take home the WAC title. Nevada, with their tough to stop Pistol offense is my choice for runner-up. Fresno State’s fans are getting a little tired of being also-rans in the WAC. Coach Pat Hill will feel the heat if they don’t contend this year. Louisiana Tech is coming off a bowl bid and returns 15 starters, so they could be dangerous. Coach Dick Tomey needs an offensive infusion of talent to get the San Jose St. Spartans bowling again. They just don’t have enough to compete with the top. Hawaii is always dangerous at home, but in year two post June Jones you can already see the excitement waning. New Mexico State won’t put up ungodly passing numbers under new coach DeWayne Walker, but they will be better. Idaho and Utah St….. I’m not sure why they play football.
Bowl Teams: Boise St., Nevada, Fresno St., Louisiana Tech
Offensive MVP: Colin Kaepernick, QB Nevada
Nevada scores a ton of points, mainly because of the dual threat abilities of junior QB Kaepernick. He will look to improve on Nevada’s 37 pts a game from last year.
Defensive MVP: Ben Jacobs, LB Fresno St.
The middle linebacker anchors the Bulldogs defense. He led the team in tackles with 113 last season. He will be a main reason if Fresno can leapfrog Nevada or Boise this year.
Team most likely to be way better or worse than I predicted:
Hawaii. I see them becoming stale on offense and losing too much talent on defense. But with their incredible home field advantage the schedule is kind this year, bringing both Boise and Fresno to Honolulu. If they can take either of those games they could force their way into a fourth straight bowl.
Best TE in the league: Dennis Morris , Louisiana Tech
Morris is perfect for Tech’s ball control offense. At 270 lbs he blocks well and provides an excellent red zone target.
Best Coordinator: Chris Klenakis, OC Nevada
I know that much of the Pistol has to be attributed to Head Coach Chris Ault, but Klenakis still has to implement it. He did that well enough to account for 37 pts and 508 yards a game last season, good enough for the 5th ranked offense in the country.
Next up is the…………. Big 12 and Sun Belt