Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Around the Pac-10

-Inside USC with Scott Wolf has a link up to Jeff Sagarin's preseason rankings. USC is a surprising #1, but no other Pac-10 teams are listed until Cal, UCLA, Oregon and ASU show up between 20 and 26.

-Bruin fans are excited about "Southpaw Jesus". He's the one Jesus that failed to get mentioned in Talladega Nights.

-U-Dub Dish predicts a close Washington victory over Arizona. I say Willie and the 'Cats take it.

-Sportsline has four Pac-10 players on both their first and second team All-American lists. Unfortunately, no love for Jason Hill, Lawrence Jackson or Mkristo Bruce. Cougar fans revolt! Actually, are there enough Cougar fans to start a revolt?

-Great post on Sports Illustrated's oxymoronicness (sp?) over at Sturdy Golden Blog. Evidently USC vs Cal is not a "Can't miss" Pac-10 game, but it is a "Must watch" game nationally. Thanks for clearing that up SI.

More game previews coming in the next couple of days!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Leinart to be a Dad...

I'm not one to follow the personal lives of hollywood stars...err, NFL quarterbacks like Matt Leinart, but apparently he is going to be a father. The mother is former girlfriend and USC standout women's basketball player Brynn Cameron. Cameron will redshirt and miss next season. According to the report, both individuals have the support of their families.

I can think of three people who probably aren't happy right now:

1) How pissed is Paris Hilton? I mean, she thought she had Matt all locked up, and aparently he was more interested in some college basketball player. Can't be good for her ego. Maybe Brynn will replace Nicole Richie on Paris' hit list. Stay tuned for the next E! reality show.

2) How pissed is USC women's basketball coach Mark Trahk? I can't imagine that conversation went over well. The guy is trying to build a program and now has to do it without one of his best players. This certainly brings to light a challenge unique to women's sports. Imagine if JJ Reddick couldn't have played last year because of some personal issue- you think Coach K would be happy? Of course, there's really nothing Trahk can do about it, which only makes him more upset.

3) How pissed is Leinart? Just signed his contract, finally making millions and able to live the NFL lifestyle, and this happens. Hey, maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. Maybe he really wanted this and maybe he will marry Brynn and settle down. And if that's the case, then great. But for some reason I doubt it.

Pac-10 Roundup

-Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article up about five teams who will be better and worse than you think. The Pac-10 gets some mention as Cal and ASU are both listed as being better, and sadly, USC is mentioned as being worse than you think.

-Todd McShay has a column on ESPN regarding the X-factors for the top 16 teams. No surprise that Booty and Longshore are the X-factors for USC and Cal.

-Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union Tribune, has his Pac-10 predictions posted, along with an article calling the Pac-10, minus USC, "soft as Kleenex." Upon you, Mr. Schrotenboer, I call shenanigans. You can't rely on national polls to rank conferences. The voters are historically biased. Plus, there is no context for your statements. We should see every other conference's record without their best team as well, then you can compare the Pac-10 and see where it ranks. On the other hand, the points about the bowl games and out of conference records are much more convincing. An interesting read, but incomplete. This kind of analysis wouldn't pass muster in my MBA classes. To steal a quote from this article and Mike Bellotti:

“For the Pac-10, there's no question these early preseason games and the bowl games are the opportunity to prove to the nation we're the best conference in the nation.”
Right on, Coach. Now just prove it on the field when Oklahoma comes to Autzen.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Week One Preview: Volume One

Northern Arizona vs. Arizona State

Last week was a doozy (doosie? doozie? is there a weirder word in the english language?) for quarterbacks in the Pac-10. Pete Carroll finally announced that Booty has beaten out Sanchez for the starting job, and Dirk Koetter lets Sam Keller, the guy he named the starter, transfer. Ok, so maybe Koetter has no idea how to understand and control a program and its players, but if they really were rallying behind Rudy Carpenter instead of Keller, you can’t totally blame Koetter for the disaster that was naming Carpenter the starter. Besides, Carpenter led the NCAA in QB rating last year after Keller got hurt, so it’s not like ASU is searching for answers at quarterback. They are still going to air it out, though with no more Derek Hagan, look for TE Zach Miller to have a monster year and Rudy Burgess to really bring something to the table. Keegan Herring has another year of experience under his belt and should be near the Pac-10 rushing leaders thanks to a veteran offensive line. They should have plenty of firepower for Northern Arizona on Thursday.

The Lumberjacks come into Tempe with 17 returning starters. These questions come straight from NAU’s own 2006 football outlook:

“Can NAU benefit from two I-A games to start the season? Will the offensive line be able to sustain a running attack and protect the quarterback? Who will handle the snaps throughout season? Will an impact player emerge from the running back group? Can the defense develop into a national-caliber unit? Will the Lumberjacks become a solid road team?”
Sounds like a recipe for disaster versus a top 25 team. NAU does have a veteran offensive line, but they weren't a very good rushing team last year. With an inexperienced group of running backs behind quarterback Jason Murrietta, things won't be much different against the Sun Devils. The defense returns most of their starters, but they gave up 30 points a game last year and finished last in the Big Sky. Considering that they lost to a very underwhelming Arizona team by 19 points last year, things don’t look so good for the Lumberjacks in their season opener. ASU has to be licking their chops over this one. Oh, and thay have not lost to Northern Arizona since 1938, which I doubt is going to change this year. Look for Carpenter to air it out early and often and ASU should win this one in a landslide.

Brian's Pick: ASU
Mike's Pick: ASU

Oregon State vs. Eastern Washington

Meanwhile, Oregon State starts its season with a visit from traditional powerhouse Eastern Washington. The Beavers begin this year without former walk-on and Biletnikoff Award winner Mike Hass, the most underrated receiver in the NFL Draft last April. (Sidenote: I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that he won the award last year. Not that he didn’t deserve it, but did everyone who voted forget that Samardzija played for Notre Dame? Yes, the win one for the Gipper, Rudy, Four Horsemen, Touchdown Jesus, Joe Montana Notre Dame. I’m still surprised that more people didn't vote for him, but hopefully we’ll see more attention showered on non-USC Pac-10 players this year, with the most likely target being Cal’s Marshawn Lynch.) Anyways, Yvenson Bernard exploded on the Pac-10 last year and should be free to run all over EWU’s defense on Thursday thanks to a very experienced offensive line, but the ground game won’t be OSU’s problem this year. Without Hass as a safety valve on every play, Matt Moore better hit his other options like Joe Newton if the Beavers think they can stand with USC and Cal at the top of the conference. There is no better appetizer than facing a 1-AA team that graduated its starting corners and doesn’t have much in the way of a pass rush, since its leading returning sack artist, Keith Grennan, only brought down three quarterbacks last year.

EWU’s 12 returning starters have head coach Paul Wulf “excited about the possibilities.” Save it for conference play, Coach. EWU doesn’t have the Big Sky Offensive MVP and Walter Payton Award winner Erik Meyer at QB anymore, nor do they have Big Sky Defensive MVP Joey Cwik at ILB. On top of that, they lost their four top wide receivers from last year. So to you Eastern Washington, I say, ummm, good luck? Chalk this one up to the Beavers, especially since they get to play at Reser Stadium. And if it gets close for some unforeseen reason, OSU placekicker Alexis Serna is way better than EWU’s Sheldon Weddle. In a related story, my dad could beat up your dad.

Brian's Pick: OSU
Mike's Pick: OSU

Clairvoyant Truthiness

You asked for it, nay, demanded it, so here are our fateful predictions for the 2006 Pac-10 season:

Brian's Bold Choices:

1.USC9-0
2.Cal8-1
3.ASU7-2
4.UO6-3
5.UCLA5-4
6.Arizona4-5
7.Stanford2-7
8.OSU2-7
9.WSU1-8
10.UW1-8

Territorial Cup - Arizona State
Apple Cup - Washington State
Victory Bell - USC
Civil War - Oregon
The Big Game - Cal


Mike's Marvelous Picks:

1. USC 8-1
2. Cal 7-2
3. UO 7-2
4. ASU 6-3
5. Arizona 5-4
6. Stanford 4-5
7. UCLA 3-6
8. WSU 2-7
9. OSU 2-7
10. UW 1-8

Territorial Cup - Arizona
Apple Cup - Washington State
Victory Bell - USC
Civil War - Oregon
The Big Game - Cal


Agree or disagree, leave your comments and let us know what you think!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Introductions...

Well as a new blogger it's taken me three days to conquer the first hurdle: actually writing a blog entry. I'll work on that (but no promises).

Like Brian, I am also a USC graduate, having graduated in 2005. I grew up in San Diego and have been a football fan as long as I can remember, though it wasn't until my freshman year at SC that I completely realized the greatness of the college game. While I still keep on eye on the television on Sundays, Saturdays is where the real action is.

Let's be honest about it- the Pac Ten gets no respect. It deserves more than it gets, so when Brian asked me to try this blogging thing, I decided to give it a try. More than just defending our conference, hopefully the blog will serve as a place where Pac Ten fans can discuss an always exciting conference championship race. Okay, it hasn't been that exciting for three years now, but you know what I mean. Hopefully I can add something to the blog- but don't hold your breath.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Do East Coast Fans Like Apples?

Saw over on Conquest Chronicles that College Football News has their top NCAA football players list out. Guess who placed the most players in the top 50 with ten? The Pac-10 baby!! So how do you east coasters like them apples? The Big 12 had nine, while the SEC and Big Ten both had eight players in the top 50. Ahh, the shockingly refreshing taste of validation. It’s even better than an ice cold Sierra Mist.

Over on ESPN (I may sound like an ESPN shill right now because I keep referencing them, but I’m really not. I swear. No, really.), Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach debate which conference is the best. Schlabach ranks the SEC first and the Pac-10 second. Ok, he has his opinion. Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida - it’s a pretty good conference. I don’t know if they are better than the Pac-10 top to bottom, but at least it looks like ESPN.com is having less and less of an east coast bias and that, like Borat says, “is nice.”

Then we take a look at Mr. Maisel’s half of the column. He has the Big 12 first and the Pac-10 fifth. I’m sorry, what?! Fifth place! As in four spots behind first, fifth place? He ranks the ACC fourth and even says that they are “the leader among conferences in mystery teams,” and he singles out both FSU and Miami. So you’re telling me that the two “best” teams in the conference have major questions marks, the conference routinely fields two or three other teams that have no business even being in Division I, and they’re ranked ahead of the Pac-10?? Give me a break.

He thinks that “the rest of the teams might be gaining on USC.” So we have the premier program in the country and perennial national champion contender in our conference, which has in turn elevated the competition in the rest of the Pac-10 to the point that they are approaching a championship level, and yet the Pac-10 is worse than a conference headlined by three-loss teams, who he has referenced as riddles wrapped in mysteries inside enigmas, not to mention the perpetual tomato can that is Duke. I think Ivan pays less attention to the Pac-10 than Bobby Bowden does to FSU when he’s sleeping through practice. Doesn’t anyone in the media realize that there are no doormat programs in the Pac-10, unlike every other conference? Unbelievable. And just when I thought ESPN and I were making some progress.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Road to the BCS

ESPN's Bruce Feldman has ranked West Virginia as having the easiest road to the BCS title game this season. The Pac-10 gets a little bump, as he also lists the Beavers as having the eighth easiest path, though he had this to say about OSU’s home games vs USC, UO and Cal: “they'll probably get beat by a combined 75 points.” Ok, I get that he's just ranking the schedules, but if you’re going to get blown out in all your tough games, doesn’t that pretty much eliminate every part of “easy?”

ESPN Pre-Season All-American Team

Ivan Maisel has his pre-season All-Americans up over at ESPN and the Pac-10 placed four players on the list:

Zach Miller, TE - ASU
Ryan Kalil, C - USC
Lawrence Jackson, DE - USC
Daymeion Hughes, CB - Cal

I am a little surprised that Calvin Johnson made the list and Dwayne Jarrett didn't. Granted Johnson is crazy talented and may be drafted before Jarrett, but Chan Gailey is still planning on having Reggie Ball start at quarterback. If you think Ball is going to be breaking out of his three year slump any day now, Paris Hilton also wants you to know she's celibate. Unsurprisingly, the SEC doesn’t place a single player on offense, and manage only two on defense, the same as the Pac-10. The breakdown by conference (and ND) is below:

8 - Big Ten
6 - Big 12
4 - Pac-10
3 - Notre Dame
2 - SEC
1 - ACC
1 - Big East

On another note, I’ve recruited another college football fan to help with the blog. So you should all be hearing more from Mike soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Greetings

Hola, fellow football fans. My name is Brian and I am an '04 USC grad (Fight On!) who loves college football. I have lived in Oregon and California my whole life, so I am a native Pac-10er. And rather than stand on a soapbox only extolling the virtues of my Trojans, I'll be talking about the Pac-10 as a whole.

Like many of you out there, I do not enjoy the disrespect that the Pac-10 receives nationally, by both the media and other college football viewers (Yes SEC fan, that includes you). So we give up a lot of points. Big deal. It's not just the best teams that matter. A high scoring WSU/Arizona game is imminently more watchable than a smashmouth Baylor/Kansas game. I'll take the dregs of the Pac-10 against any other conference's bottom feeders, seven days a week.

We have a big opening weekend ahead, as we'll be battling three SEC opponents next Saturday. I'm hoping for a sweep, but only time will tell. My previews will be upcoming, so be on the lookout and thanks for visiting!