Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Pac-10: Midseason Power Rankings

The Pac-10 is still as muddled as it was at the beginning of the season, but there are some things taking shape. Southern Cal remains ahead of the PAC, but Oregon State proved they are not unbeatable. UCLA has defied expectations by being even worse than anyone could have predicted, but still not as bad as the Huskies or Washington State. Arizona has yet to beat anyone of substance while Oregon, California and Arizona State continue to dabble in mediocrity. Meanwhile, Oregon State and Stanford have proven to be the grittiest teams in the conference, playing far better than anyone expected.

1.  USC
Talent, depth and great coaching = Rose Bowl. The Trojans proved last weekend that when they are motivated, they are nye unbeatable. There upset loss in Corvallis guaranteed they won't overlook anyone again this season. If they run the table and look impressive doing so, they may even find themselves back in the hunt for the BCS championship. Next: Arizona State

2. Cal
Incredibly, this team finds itself in good position to challenge USC. After losing RB Jahvid Best with a dislocated elbow, the Bears have gutted out two wins on the arm of long lost quarterback Nate Longshore and the toughness of one the league's best defenses. Next: Bye

3. Oregon
The Ducks still haven't found their identidy as a team. It's hard to blame them with the carousel of quarterbacks they've been forced to play with, but there is no excuse for the rotten play of their overrated defense that was supposed to be the strength of team. Still, they have a ton of talent and are formidable when they have things rolling. Next: UCLA

4. Arizona
Impressive but untested. The Wildcats are averaging 43 points a game, but have yet to beat anyone of consequence. This will continue for another week as they face Stanford this weekend. I would have much nicer things to say about Arizona if not for their pathetic loss to New Mexico. Next: at Stanford

5. Oregon State
The Beavers have proven to be the league's biggest surprise.  After two humiliating losses to start the year, the Beavers have rejuvenated their season with monumental upset of USC and nearly beating the No. 15 Utah Utes in Salt Lake City.  With their toughest games at home, their seems little doubt Oregon State will go bowling.  Next: Washington State

6. Arizona State
By far the biggest disappointment of the season so far. Ranked No. 15 after two weeks and expected to compete for the conference crown, the Sun Devils suffered an embarassing defeat at the hands lowly UNLV before getting beat up by Georgia and losing their third in a row to Cal. The biggest reason for this collapse appears to be ASU's inability to mount any kind of running game. Dennis Erickson must right the ship now befor things get out of hand. Easier said than done with Rudy Carpenter doubtful and a trip to Los Angeles this weekend. Next: at USC

7. Stanford
Jim Harbaugh appears to be getting to most out of the talent he has at Stanford. The Cardinal is a more competative team, even in their losses, than they have been since Tyrone Willingham left in 2002. Harbaugh has his team believing which means there may be another upset or two on the schedule. Next: Arizona

The Bruins huge upset over Tennessee to start the season had many of us believing Rick Neuheisal was good enough to overcome only a handful of returning starters and the loss of their top two quarterbacks out with season ending injuries. The Bruins have since returned to Earth as they got smacked by BYU, Arizona, and Fresno State. Another year or two and Neuheisal will have this team humming. Until then, the Bruins will enjoy the distinction as worst Pac-10 team outside the state of Washington. Next: at Oregon

9. Washington
Jake Locker was the heart and soul of this team. With him gone, the Huskies are lost and should start preparing now for the Apple Cup because any win before then will be a miracle. Next: Bye

10. Washington State
What has happened to this program? Only six years removed from a Rose Bowl and 5 years from a Holiday Bowl victory over Texas, this program is in a tailspin. The task before new head coach Paul Wulff is daunting. There is startling lack of talent, so much so that the Cougars wouldn't even be competative in the WAC or Mountain West. In fact, things are so bad that Wulff is holding open tryouts at quarterback because of all the injuries to scholarship players. Hey coach, Vince Papale called and thinks you're reaching. Next: at Oregon State

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