This has to be Oregon State’s year in the Pacific 10 conference. 2010 will be the first time since 2000-01 that there is no true conference favorite and it is safe to say that each team has major questions to answer. Amid the chaos, someone will have to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl and I truly believe the Beavers are the team.
USC has talent, but their two year bowl ban reduces the Men of Troy to the role of spoiler. Oregon had National Title aspirations, but former quarterback Jeremiah Masoli dashed those hopes with his team imposed suspension following his arrest earlier in the year. Stanford lost Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and his incredible game changing ability. Cal lost two first round draft picks (RB Jahvid Best and DT Tyson Alualu) and while they return a majority of starters, their history of folding towards the end of seasons makes them suspect. Arizona State and Washington State have improved in recent seasons, but do not have enough horses to match up with the upper echelon teams in the league. UCLA is an enigma as they have recruited extremely well recently and have two dynamic coaches in Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow. Their defense is opportunistic and ranked fourth in allowed points per game. The questions revolve around a nearly non existent running game and health of their offensive line. Washington has improved quickly and Jake Locker is being discussed as the potential first pick in the 2011 NFL draft. While the Huskies should be bowl bound this year, I do not believe they have enough parts to truly challenge for a league title. The Arizona Wildcats return an explosive offense led by QB Nick Foles, but four returning starters on defense is a cause for concern.
That brings us to Oregon State. Now that 7th round draft pick Sean Canfield is off to the pros, it is true that the orange and black will have to break in a new starting signal caller. As with the Oregon Ducks, few teams offer the opportunity to ease in a new quarterback with such an amazing supporting cast. I admit, that OSU can enter the start of Pac-10 play with a 1-3 record (@TCU and Boise State, host Louisville) but those three games will work to the Beavs advantage. It allows Coach Mike Riley to determine how effective Ryan Katz or Peter Lalich will be leading the team. Those games while important in BCS rankings will not hinder an Oregon State march to Pasadena in 2011. Remember all Mike Riley and company have to do is finish with a better record in league play than their counterparts.
Oregon State plays USC, California and Oregon at home this year. Reser Stadium will be a buzz and provide a true home-field advantage. After two seasons of seeing the Ducks crush their Rose Bowl dreams, OSU WILL finally exorcise their demons! The following is how I see the Pac-10 standings at the end of the year. Bowl teams are marked with a (*)
1 Oregon State * (Rose)
3 Oregon* (Holiday)
5 Stanford* (Alamo)
6 Washington* (Poinsettia)
7 California*(Kraft Fight Hunger)
8 UCLA* (Las Vegas)
9 Arizona State
10 Washington State
About the Author
Written by Sergio Paredes
Sergio Paredes is a Sports Information Director for a K-12 school in Los Angeles, California. An avid football, basketball and baseball fan, he enjoys following the Texas Longhorns, Oregon State Beavers, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.