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Mr. Pac-10 Previews the 2008 Season

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Aug 27, 2008


Collegefootballnews' Matthew Smith picks every Pac-10 game and compares his picks to all the experts'.

Individual Team Capsules:
Arizona / Arizona St Cal / Stanford Oregon / Oregon St UCLA / USC Washington / Washington St

FORMAT OF PREVIW CHART:

Away Home MrPacTen Athlon CFN ...
TEAM 1 TEAM 2 TEAM 1 TEAM 2 TEAM 2 ...
TEAM 3 TEAM 4 TEAM 3 TEAM 3 TEAM 4 ...

Sourcesnotes:
ATHLON predictions from the Athlon preseason preview publication
CFN predictions from cfn.scout.com, article here
SI predictions from cnnsi.com, article here
HAIRE predictions from Tom Haire, uscfootball.com, article here
CFP predictions from collegefootballpoll.com, article here
CHS predictions from coacheshotseat.com, article here
AZC predictions from azcentral.com, article here
FORUM predictions from a public picking contest on the CFN forum; each game's pick is the forum consensus, details here

A couple of notes:
As always I am only comparing in-conference predictions; there are a lot of teams that I don't know about, and it can be difficult to pick non-conference games, especially early in the year, so I choose to pass those over in my comparisons
Athlon and FORUM have tossup picks; I treat these as half a win and half a loss for each team when compiling final records.
CNNSI and AZC pick records only and not individual games.

Away Home MrPacTen Athlon CFN Haire Forum CFP CHS CNNSI AZC
Wash UO UO UO UO UO UO UO UO
OS Stan Stan OS Stan OS OS OS
Stan ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU
Cal WSU Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal
Ariz UCLA Ariz UCLA Ariz UCLA UCLA UCLA
UO WSU WSU UO UO UO UO UO UO
USC OS USC USC USC USC USC USC OS
Stan Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash
Wash Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz Wash
ASU Cal ASU ASU Cal Cal Cal ASU Cal
UO USC UO USC USC USC USC USC
WSU UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA
Ariz Stan Stan Ariz Stan Ariz Stan Ariz Ariz
ASU USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
UCLA UO UO UO UO UO UO UO UO
WSU OS OS OS OS OS OS OS
Cal Ariz Cal Ariz Cal Cal Cal Cal
OS Wash Wash Wash Wash OS OS OS Wash
Stan UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA
USC WSU USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
USC Ariz Ariz USC Ariz USC USC USC USC
UO ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU UO ASU
UCLA Cal Cal UCLA Cal Cal Cal Cal
ASU OS OS ASU OS ASU ASU OS OS
UO Cal Cal UO UO Cal UO UO Cal
WSU Stan Stan Stan Stan Stan Stan Stan
Wash USC USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
Ariz WSU WSU Ariz WSU Ariz Ariz WSU
ASU Wash ASU ASU Wash ASU ASU ASU ASU
Cal USC USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
Stan UO UO UO UO UO UO UO UO
OS UCLA OS UCLA UCLA OS UCLA OS OS
Ariz UO UO UO UO UO UO UO UO
WSU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU
Cal OS OS Cal OS OS OS OS
USC Stan USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
UCLA Wash UCLA UCLA Wash Wash Wash UCLA Wash
OS Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz Ariz OS OS OS
Stan Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal
Wash WSU Wash WSU WSU WSU Wash
UCLA ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU ASU
UO OS OS UO OS UO UO OS
ASU Ariz ASU ASU Ariz ASU ASU ASU
Wash Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal
USC UCLA USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
Projected Wins
Ariz 0 4 5.5 4 6 1.5 3 1 3 5
ASU 0 7 7.5 5 6 7.0 6 6 7 7
Cal 0 6 5.0 4 7 6.5 5 7 5 5
UO 0 5 8.0 6 6 6.5 8 5 5 6
OS 0 5 1.0 5 4 5.0 7 8 6 4
Stan 0 3 1.0 2 2 2.0 1 1 3 2
UCLA 0 3 5.0 5 2 4.0 4 3 4 3
USC 0 7 8.0 8 9 9.0 9 8 8 8
Wash 0 3 2.5 4 2 2.5 1 5 3 3
WSU 0 2 1.5 2 1 1.0 1 1 1 1
. 0 45 45.0 45 45 45.0 45 45 45 44

Projected Non-Conference Results

Arizona:
vs Idaho: W
vs Toledo: W
@ New Mexico: W

ASU:
vs NAU: W
vs UNLV: W
vs Georgia: W

Cal:
vs Mich St: W
@ Maryland: L
vs Colorado St: W

Oregon:
vs Utah St: W
@ Purdue: W
vs Boise St: W

Oregon St:
@ Penn St: L
vs Hawaii: W
@ Utah: L

Stanford
@ TCU: W
vs San Jose State: W
@ Notre Dame: L

UCLA:
vs Tennessee: L
@ BYU: L
vs Fresno St: L

USC:
@ Virginia: W
vs Ohio St: L
vs Notre Dame: W

Washington:
vs BYU: W
vs Oklahoma: L
vs Notre Dame: L

Washington St:
vs Oklahoma St: W
@ Baylor: L
vs Portland St: W
@ Hawaii: W

Quick team-by-team notes

Arizona:
It's now or never for a program that has gone nowhere under coach Stoops. A non-conference cakewalk means that even if they aren't particularly good, they should still find their way into a bowl game.
Biggest Games:
@ New Mexico, @ UCLA, vs Washington, @ Stanford:
The first two wins should be a breeze, and with a pretty cushy stretch here as well, 5-1 needs to happen. If they can do that, they'll find a win somewhere down the line to at least reach six. If they're 4-2 or worse, things start to get very dicey.

Arizona St:
With a questionable offensive line and a big slate of road games, this probably won't be ASU's year to make it to the top. But second place and a Holiday Bowl berth or better are very much within reach.
Biggest Games:
vs Georgia, @ Cal, vs Oregon, @ Arizona
It would be great if they could knock off USC, but more realistically, Georgia has to be the big circle game for them. If they can take that, split Cal and Oregon and avoid any other losses, they'll be in great shape for, say, a Fiesta Bowl berth. But a late season trip to Tucson could undo everything if they're not careful; this series has been very close of late and losing this one would really hurt them.

Cal:
This should be a good team, even if the luster has started to wear off of the Tedford mystique. With home games against ASU and Oregon, they're in very good position to make some noise in the league.
Biggest Games:
vs Michigan St, @ Maryland, vs ASU, vs Oregon
After the way they struggled at the end of last year, the Bears really need to start off hot. If they can do that, the two home games against ASU and Oregon will determine whether or not the November trip to USC will be meaningful or just a chance to play spoiler.

Oregon:
The offense has lost a bit too much to think that they'll make a serious run at the league title, but this is still a very dangerous team that is capable of beating anyone when they're playing well. Expect an upset somewhere along the way.
Biggest Games:
@ Purdue, @ USC, @ ASU, @ Cal
The fact that they've got four big games on the road makes things pretty tough for this group. Still, Purdue is winnable, and I think the Ducks take one of the other three.

Oregon St:
You don't know, I don't know, heck I don't even think Mike Riley knows what to make of this team.
Biggest Games:
@ Stanford, @ Penn St, vs Washington St, @ Washington
Their first three non-USC league games will be very important for establishing confidence, as will the test at Penn State, a game which they are very unlikely to win, but which they can build on if they can stay competitive.

Stanford:
They've got plenty of experience. If they can stay healthy (which seems to never happen) they could surprise; otherwise it'll be another long year with the occassional piece of good news.
Biggest Games:
vs Oregon St, @ TCU, @ Washington, @ Notre Dame
At this point, this team needs to accumulate wins and stay healthy. Each one of these games is a challenge, but none of them are close to impossible. 0-4 would be terrible, 1-3 would be bad, 2-2 would be good, and 3-1 would put them in great position to make a serious bowl run.

UCLA:
Unless Slick Rick can pull a rabbit out of his hat this is going to be a long and trying rebuilding year for the Bruins.
Biggest Games:
vs Tennessee, vs Arizona, vs Washington St, vs Stanford
These are the first four games where they'll have a reasonable chance to win. Tennessee is a very big reach, but teams often stumble in opening weekend cross-country trips, so it's not impossible. The other three are doable; if they can hit 2-2 in these four it would be a solid step forward. 3-1 would mean that year one is a lot better than anyone could have reasonable anticipated.

USC:
As always, they're very good, and as always, they're the league favorite. They're a bit more vulnerable than usual, but they'll still be very tough to get off their perch.
Biggest Games:
vs Ohio St, vs ASU, vs Cal, vs Notre Dame
Honestly, Oregon ought to make the list too, but I'm capping it at four games per team. With all four of these at home, it's clear to see how well the schedule breaks for USC, but these games will be very challenging. The non-conference ones are probably the most important; Ohio St will be the game that says whether or not USC can challenge for a national title, and Notre Dame will be the late-season game where USC can try and separate themselves from the rest of the pack if they're still in the race.

Washington:
Jake Locker needs to stay healthy, someone else needs to step up on offense, and the defense needs to improve, or Willingham is looking for a new job.
Biggest Games:
@ Oregon, vs BYU, vs Notre Dame, @ Washington St
The week one game at Autzen will be a great chance to steal a big win from a team reeling from injury woes, while week two will be a good chance to get a name win against a team that lacks a defense and tends to struggle in early season road contests. After that, the number of wins will matter more than any specific games, though if they can find a way to sweep Notre Dame and Wazzu, even 5-7 might well be enough to save Ty's job.

Washington St.:
No one seems to think this team is any good, but they're a bit better than most people realize. They'll be a tough out from time to time, and they'll catch someone napping.
Biggest Games:
vs Oklahoma St, vs Cal, vs Oregon, vs Washington
This team isn't good enough to hit 7-6 and go to a bowl game. That said, they're capable of scoring some upsets and getting a big moment or two to give some life to a rebuilding year. The first three games listed are early season contests against teams that may need some time to gel, which make them ideal upset opportunities. And, of course, the Apple Cup is as always the biggest game of the year for Cougar football. Winning that can make all the difference in the world, especially if they can knock Willingham out of a job at the same time.

Mr Pac-10's 2008 Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com