I just went over to our friends at the UW Dawg Pound's and took a good look at their Pac-12 Power Ranking (post spring). I decided I would take a stab at it, staring with the North. I will eventually get to the South Division, maybe... I wasn't shocked at what I saw at UW Dawg Pound, keep in mind they see the world through purple and gold spectacles. So humor me, I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I will attempt not show my crimson and grey bias (no guarantees!!), and attempt to be as fair and balanced (sorry Fox News!) as possible. It is kind of ridiculous to make any predictions after spring ball, but oh well it will be entertaining to say the least.
PAC-12 North Power Rankings
1. Oregon Ducks
2010 Season Record: 12-1 (9-0)
Can anyone stop the green and yellow clad menace? My answer would be an emphatic, NO! Without a doubt the quack attack is the cream of the crop in the conference once again! Heisman candidate/finalist running back, LaMichael James returns along with his side kick Kenjon Barner. Quarterback Darron Thomas with another season under his belt will be better, and for a team that averaged 47 points a game last season! THAT IS FRIGHTENING! I expect a more comfortable Darron Thomas will throw the ball around more than he did last year. The only real question mark for me is the Ducks D; they were outstanding last season by the way only giving up about 18 points a game. They lost guys like Casey Matthews and Kenny Roe; can they replace those critical players that made that D so good? You could also ask if they can replace their defensive line, they lost a lot on the front line. Also my other question or concern is what is the status of the Ducks receiving corps? They lost Jeff Maehl who was a legitimate deep threat, and a hell of receiver. If duck’s defensive isn't as good as last year, not a problem! They will just drop 70 points on you, and you will never know what hit you!
2010 Record: 12-1 (8-1)
College Football’s top prospect and Mel Kiper’s man crush Andrew Luck returns to lead the Stanford attack in the inaugural Pac-12 season. I would love nothing more to gush over redshirt junior quarter back Andrew Luck, but I’m pretty sure we all know how good he is. Key losses for the Cardinal include do it all fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic, losses on the offensive line, and the top two pass catchers Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen. Their strengths are quarterback and secondary, and the weakness is their receiving corps. I didn’t forget the loss of Coach Jim Harbaugh, new Head Coach David Shaw shouldn’t have much of a problem until the Harbaugh "effect’ wears off, and Stanford will return to being their former descent run of the mill team selves. I’m not a lone, I remember Colin Cowherd saying that they (being Stanford) are only good every 10 years. That’s harsh!
Before anyone has any objections, the top two teams in the north are ahead of the crop by far. The rest of the north is going to be tight and anyone can finish 3rd or 6th. These ranking WILL change and fluxuate, so no one have any ulcers over this.
2010 Record: 7-6 (5-4)
The Dawgs open the season September 3rd against the FCS National Champions Eastern Washington Eagles and all eyes will be on QB Keith Price. Replacing Jake Locker will not be an easy feat but I think Price has a "more balanced" skill set. I remember sitting in the stands at Martin Stadium (for the Cal game) and they flashed the Oregon UW score and the scoreboard; I was flabbergasted! We all know that the Keith Price was thrust into starting position to replace a laboring Jake Locker. Price had a baptism by fire by having his first start against the Ducks, that’s a hell of a way to get your first start. He looked really good in that game at times and looked very sharp during the Husky spring game. Chris Polk is as solid of running back you can have in this conference even in the country, Polk will take some heat of Keith Price. Chris Polk could be a viable Heisman candidate, if it wasn’t for a certain running back in Eugene. The huskies showed some flashes of a physical and nasty defense especially during that stretch run to get them to the Holiday Bowl. Key returners include stud wide out Jermaine Kearse, of course Chris Polk, and his side kick Jesse Callier. Intriguing newcomers include wide receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. I really like the running back tandem of Polk and Callier, they Huskies have a two headed monster back there potentially. Key losses: Jake Locker Cameron Elisara, Mason Foster, Victor Aiyewa, and Nate Williams. Like my beloved Cougs the question is defense, I guess we will find out in the fall.
2010 Record: 5-7 (3-6)
Cal as usual started off well and faltered down the stretch, I’m trying to be mean Bear fans! Kevin Reilly graduated may be either a good thing or bad thing for the program. I get the feeling that Reily was neither revered or despise, but rather tolerated. I get the whole Alex Brink vibe from the Cal faithful that Coug fans undeservedly feel toward the former Cougar QB. Cal has to replace QB Kevin Reilly, RB Shane Vereen. LB Mike Mohamed, DE Cameron Jordan. Cal still has a good offensive line, and a good batch of talented wide outs like Marvin Jones. I remember Cal’s defensive line embarrassing the Cougs last year and despite Cameron Jordan getting drafted they still are strong at the D line as well. The biggest question marks are who is going to start at QB for the Golden Bears, and how are they going to score?
5. Washington State Cougars
2010 Record: 2-10 (1-8)
I know what you’re thinking, stupid blind Cougar fan what the hell are you smoking? Sorry, I really didn’t mean to make any ganja jokes. Let me plead my case, the key piece for the Cougs isn’t quarterback Jeff Tuel, or freshman all-American wide receiver Marquees Wilson. It’s on the opposite side of the ball, how will WSU’s front 7 match up against the rest of conference? Surprises at linebacker like freshmen C.J. Mizell, and Sekope Kaufusi were very exciting ones. Defensive End Travis Long had a solid season despite playing with one arm. The Cougar secondary is young but not inexperienced, Deone Buccanon who looks like a potential All-Conference safety. Nolan Washington, Damante Horton, and Tyree Toomer seem up to task in stopping other teams passing attacks. The last five or six years have been far cry from what has been seen in the past. WSU used to be known as DB U names like Erik Coleman, Marcus Trufant, Jason David, Lamont Thompson, just to name a few. Defensive line should be improved as well with a healthy Travis Long, and some much needed depth. Cougar’s strength: Passing offense with QB Jef Tuel and a luxury of depth of very talented receivers. Weakness/Biggest Concern: How will the defense hold up and will they be able to stop teams from gashing them on the ground, like last year. We don’t need to be reminded how certain games from last year could have resulted in victories if the Cougar D pinned back their ears and stopped teams rushing attack in key situations. Consistency will be imperative! Are these the same Cougars that played against Oregon, OSU, UW? Or are they the Montana State game Cougars? Good example would be stinker of game that was the Cal game.
6. Oregon State Beavers
2010 Record: 5-7 (4-5)
Oregon State lost star RB Jaquizz Rodgers and a Pac-10 QB’s worst nightmare Stephen Paea to the NFL, but one Rodger’s brother still remains. James Rodgers will be a focal point in Oregon States offense next season along with speedster receiver Marcus Wheaton The problem for James is can he recover from that nasy injury he sustained last season. The biggest question mark for the Beavs is who is going to replace Jaquizz? This isn’t the first time that OSU has had to replace an all-conference running back, just ask Ken Simonton Steven Jackson. Junior QB Ryan Katz returns after the injury he sustained in Civil War. Without a solid running game to take pressure of Ryan Katz, I’m not sure how OSU’s offense is going to do against its Pac-12 foes. Coach Riley always seems to get the most out of his teams so I’m not saying the Beavers will be terrible, but don’t expect a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Schedules courtesy of ESPN.com