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2008 Pac 10 Lookbacks/Recaps
USC WR Damian Williams
USC WR Damian Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 1, 2009


Taking a look back at every Pac 10 team's 2007 season.

2008 Pac 10 Lookbacks & Recaps

Arizona | Arizona StCalifornia | Oregon | Oregon St
Stanford | UCLA | USC | Washington | Washington St
- 2008 CFN All-Pac 10 Team | 2008 CFN Preseason All-Pac 10 Team

- 2007 Pac 10 Lookback/Recaps | 2008 Pac 10 Lookaheads


- 2009 Early Pac 10 Lookaheads

Arizona
CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5  Final Record: 8-5

Recap
: The Wildcats finally enjoyed the kind of breakthrough year that’ll give the program and head coach Mike Stoops some stability going forward. Eight wins were the most from Arizona in a decade, and beating rival Arizona State and BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl provides a headwind going into 2009. While a fifth-place finish in the Pac-10 was respectable, the ‘Cats were painfully close to clawing much higher, losing their five games by just 28 points combined.

Offensive Player of the Year:
TE Rob Gronkowski
Defensive Player of the Year: CB Devin Ross

Biggest Surprise: The pass defense. Losing three-fourths of the secondary, including Antoine Cason, to graduation was supposed to cripple this unit in 2008. Instead, Ross and S Cam Nelson were the catalysts of a Wildcat pass D that yielded just 12 touchdown passes in 13 games and was No. 14 nationally in pass efficiency defense.

Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Stanford on Oct. 11. In a season filled with tough defeats, this one probably took the biggest toll on the Wildcats. In a back-and-forth game, Arizona couldn’t hold the lead in the final quarter, allowing third-string QB Alex Loukas to engineer the game-winning drive with under a minute left.

Looking Ahead
: Who replaces Willie Tuitama at quarterback? If Matt Scott or Bryson Beirne can answer that question without much of a hitch, the Wildcats have the right mix of talent to build on last season’s success. Plus, the schedule points toward back-to-back bowl invites for the first time since 1997-1998

Arizona State
CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5   Final Record: 5-7

Recap
: Absolutely no one saw this coming. Pegged as a possible contender to USC’s throne before the season began, the Sun Devils dug a hole in September and didn’t climb out until November, when it was already too late. The program that was supposed to be a rising force in the Pac-10 suffered a false start unrelated to a catastrophic event, such as a major injury to a key player. Arizona State was just plain ineffective, especially in the trenches and at kick-starting the running game.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Rudy Carpenter
Defensive Player of the Year: S Troy Nolan

Biggest Surprise: True freshman DT Lawrence Guy. The Sun Devils knew Guy was going to be special when they signed him out of Western (Nev.) High School. They just didn’t know he’d be this good, this fast. With the size of an interior lineman and the pass rushing skills of an end, he was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 and is already on the fast track to stardom.

Biggest Disappointment: Losing at home to UNLV on Sept. 13. There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead to the big showdown with Georgia, but how does a ranked team lose at Sun Devil Stadium to the Rebels? Inexcusable. It was all downhill from there for Arizona State, which wouldn’t win again until Nov. 8.

Looking Ahead: Do not sleep on Arizona State just because it underachieved in 2008. Erickson has recruited well since arriving in Tempe, and will get back many of last year’s top performers on defense. The keys in the offseason will be to somehow solidify a shaky offensive line and develop Carpenter’s replacement at quarterback.


California
CFN Preseason Prediction: 7-5  Final Record: 9-4


Recap
: Hey, there’s no denying how much Jeff Tedford has done for Cal this decade, but he seems to have hit a wall in the quest to win a Pac-10 championship and play in the Rose Bowl. The Bears enjoyed another solid season, winning nine games and defeating Miami in the Emerald Bowl. They bounced in and out of the Top 25, pitching a perfect season in Berkeley, yet going a dismal 1-4 away from home. Tedford spent much of the year juggling between quarterbacks Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley, rarely being satisfied with the play of either.

Offensive Player of the Year
: RB Jahvid Best
Defensive Player of the Year
: LB Zack Follett

Biggest Surprise
: The defense. Usually not known for its defensive prowess, Cal made a seamless transition to the 3-4 under coordinator Bob Gregory. The next stingiest thing to USC in the Pac-10, the Bears allowed fewer than 20 points a game and were tied for third in the country in takeaways.

Biggest Disappointment
: Losing at Maryland on Sept. 13. After beating Michigan State and torching Washington State, there were whispers that this might be Tedford’s most dangerous team. Uh-uh. The Terps sent Cal plummeting back to reality with a 35-27 victory that was a little more one-sided than the score indicated.

Looking Ahead
: Even without Follett and two other starting linebackers, there’s reason to believe the defense will be every bit as good as this year’s unit. Or better. If Best can stay healthy for a dozen games, he’s an All-America candidate with a Heisman ceiling. Tedford has to coach up Riley, or whoever else gets behind center, or else he could relinquish his title as a quarterback guru.

Oregon
CFN Preseason Prediction: 9-3    Final Record: 10-3


Recap: With a strong start and an even stronger finish, Oregon delivered its fourth 10-win season and a bunch of memorable moments along the way. The Ducks are going to finish the year deep into the Top 25, which is more than most expected considering the preseason question marks at quarterback. In the final three games alone, the program slapped 55 on Arizona, ended Oregon State’s Rose Bowl dreams in a rout, and blew past Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl.

Offensive Player of the Year
: RB Jeremiah Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year
: DE Nick Reed

Biggest Surprise
: QB Jeremiah Masoli. From anonymous JUCO transfer to the top of the depth chart, Masoli is well on his way to becoming a cult hero around Eugene. Playing more like a squatty fullback, he lit a fire under the Oregon offense, rumbling for more than 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,744 yards and 13 more scores. By November, he’d become the story on campus.

Biggest Disappointment
: Getting shocked by Boise State on Sept. 20. Although the loss wound up not looking so bad as the season progressed, it’s never okay to drop a home game to a WAC team. Worse, Oregon got thoroughly whipped by the Broncos and freshman QB Kellen Moore

Looking Ahead
: With a number of key parts, like Masoli and LeGarrette Blount, back from last year’s record-setting offense, Oregon will once again have the look of a Top 25 program. Making a push, however, for a Pac-10 crown will require a handful of young linemen on both sides of the ball to step up and play like veterans.

Oregon State
CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6   Final Record: 9-4


Recap
: To suggest that the 2008 season was an odd one in Corvallis is a gross understatement. The Beavers opened with a pair of ugly losses to Stanford and Penn State, won 8-of-9 to seize control of the Pac-10, and then got crushed by Oregon to miss out on a spot in the Rose Bowl. Oregon State regrouped to beat Pittsburgh, 3-0, in a Sun Bowl snoozer. All-in-all, it was a successful campaign for Mike Riley, who continues to be one of the most underrated head coaches in the country.

Offensive Player of the Year
: RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Victor Butler

Biggest Surprise
: Knocking off USC on Sept. 25. In one of the great stunners of 2008, the 1-2 Beavers shocked the Trojans as a three-touchdown underdog. They got 186 yards and two scores from Rodgers, a true freshman who’d go on to be the school’s biggest individual surprise of the year. Despite winning the rest of their games, the Trojans were never able to recover from this loss.

Biggest Disappointment
: The Civil War. You could argue that losing to Oregon with the Rose Bowl hanging in the balance was Oregon State’s biggest disappointment ever. Not only did the Beavers lose, but they were obliterated, 65-38, behind an offense that cranked out almost 700 yards of balanced offense.

Looking Ahead
: Under Riley, Oregon State has reached a point where it no longer rebuilds. They’ve reached the postseason in six of the last seven years, a trend that isn’t likely to end. Keeping the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, healthy will be a goal along with retooling a defense that loses eight starters and the entire secondary.

Stanford
CFN Preseason Prediction: 3-9  Final Record: 5-7


Recap
: Yes, progress was made in Jim Harbaugh’s second season on The Farm, but after failing on three straight tries in November to become bowl eligible, 2008 goes down as a lost opportunity. Although hopes were soaring after a 58-0 blanking of Washington State that got the program to 5-4, Stanford proceeded to lose its last three to Oregon, USC, and Cal. Making things worse, two of the team’s seven losses were of the last-second variety.

Offensive Player of the Year
: RB Toby Gerhart
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Pat Maynor

Biggest Surprise
: Gerhart. Injury-prone throughout his career, Gerhart showed what he can do when at full strength. The overall team MVP and second team All-Pac-10 selection ran for 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns on 210. His tough running along with Anthony Kimble gave the Cardinal a consistent ground game that it lacked for years.

Biggest Disappointment
: The 23-20 loss to UCLA on Oct. 18. This one really hurt and wound up keeping the Cardinal out of the postseason. Stanford appeared to take control of the game with a late Aaron Zagory field goal, but succumbed to the Bruins when Kevin Craft connected with Cory Harkey with just 10 seconds left in the game.

Looking Ahead
: Stanford is eyeing its first bowl game since 2001, which is attainable if it can continue to make the strides it did in 2008. And retain Harbaugh, whose name has been linked to more than one NFL opening. The Cardinal will have a veteran backfield unless hotshot freshman Andrew Luck can unseat Tavita Pritchard at quarterback.

UCLA
CFN Preseason Prediction: 6-6   Final Record: 4-8


Recap: Maybe that comeback win over Tennessee in the opener wasn’t such a good thing after all. The Bruins instantly raised expectations to a level that their talent base couldn’t support. UCLA just wasn’t a very good football team in Rick Neuheisel’s return to Westwood, which was put on display week after week. Saddled with a terrible situation at quarterback and insurmountable injuries to the offensive line, the Bruins won just four times all season, and not once against a team that finished over .500.

Offensive Player of the Year
: TE Ryan Moya
Defensive Player of the Year: DT Brian Price

Biggest Surprise
: The opener. It was common knowledge that UCLA was undermanned, and at the time, Tennessee was the No. 18 team in the country. The Bruins rallied in the fourth quarter, and won the game on a Kai Forbath field goal in overtime. It was the surprise—and unfortunately the high point—of the year for the program.

Biggest Disappointment
: The Sept. 13 trip to Provo. While the Bruins weren’t expected to defeat a pretty solid BYU squad on the road, it also wasn’t supposed to get embarrassed, 59-0. Max Hall tossed a school-record seven touchdown passes, significantly setting back UCLA’s timetable for a turnaround under the new regime.

Looking Ahead
: You’d have to believe UCLA reached rock bottom in 2008. Now begins the long journey back toward respectability. It won’t happen overnight, so Neuheisel’s goals are simple: Continue to stockpile as much young talent as possible through recruiting and develop a capable quarterback to build the program around. If he does those two things, a December bowl game is within reach.

USC
CFN Preseason Prediction: 10-2   Final Record: 12-1


Recap
: One stinking bad half of football. That’s what separated the Trojans from a shot at a national championship. USC lost to Oregon State on Sept. 25 and was never able to get back into the hunt for the BCS crystal ball. Still, the Trojans went on to win their final 10 games without much of a fight, including a two-touchdown rout of Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Their top-ranked defense was so stingy, it forced observers to wonder if they were watching one of the best units of the modern era.

Offensive Player of the Year
: QB Mark Sanchez
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Rey Maualuga

Biggest Surprise: A 32-point win over Ohio State in September. The Trojans were supposed to beat the Buckeyes at home, but not this easily. After spotting the visitors a three-point lead, USC ripped off the next 35 points and held the Beanie-less Bucks to just 207 total yards and that lone first quarter field goal.

Biggest Disappointment
: Corvallis. What else, right? USC always seems to have that one game a year when it’s not playing with maximum intensity and focus. This was it. The Trojans were exposed on the inside of the defense by rookie RB Jacquizz Rodgers, and couldn’t quite climb back from a 21-0 halftime deficit. This loss would haunt them for the next two months.

Looking Ahead
: It’s Troy, where the only rebuilding that takes place is in the infrastructure of the Coliseum. Both sides of the ball will take hits, but that hasn’t stopped the program from winning the Pac-10 title the last seven years. Prepare to learn a bunch of new names, such as LB Chris Galippo and S Drew McAllister, who’ll get their chances to blossom into stars.

Washington
CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7   Final Record: 0-12

Recap: What a disaster. The Huskies had the dubious distinction of being the only team in the country to lose all of its games. Most weekends, Washington wasn’t even competitive, a situation that was exacerbated in September by a season-ending thumb injury to QB Jake Locker. For fans of the program, following the plight of head coach Tyrone Willingham took on more of a sporting feel than following the team on Saturdays. Willingham was mercifully relieved of his duties before the end of the season.

Offensive Player of the Year
: WR D’Andre Goodwin
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim

Biggest Surprise
: The rookies. Partly out of necessity, Washington got notable contributions from a bunch of true freshmen, providing a glimmer of hope for the future. WR Jermaine Kearse, TE Kavario Middleton, DE Everette Thompson, and DT Alameda Ta’amu all made positive first impressions just a few months removed from high school.

Biggest Disappointment
: The offensive line. Of course, when you go winless, just about everything qualifies as a disappointment. Topping the list would be a massive line that was supposed to be a team strength, but couldn’t pave holes for the backs and ended up finishing last in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed.

Looking Ahead
: Former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian takes over a team that has just one direction to go. He’ll have a surprising amount of young talent to work with, and the healthy return of Locker provides an instant jolt to the offense. It’s going to take time just to become competitive again, but U-Dub should be much better than the product that was on the field in 2008.

Washington State
CFN Preseason Prediction: 5-7  Final Record: 2-11


Recap
: From wire-to-wire, Washington State spent 2008 looking like a Big Sky team that did not belong in the Pac-10. It was a three-month embarrassment for the Cougars and new coach Paul Wulff, which closed the year 118th nationally in scoring offense and 118th nationally in scoring defense. There are 119 teams in the FBS. Just how bad was the team’s 2-11 record? During a seven-game losing streak in the middle of the year, Wazzu was shut out three times and outscored by an average of 53-8.

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Brandon Gibson
Defensive Player of the Year
: LB Greg Trent

Biggest Surprise
: Beating Washington in the Apple Cup. As bad as the Huskies were last fall, the Cougars were actually on an entirely different level of ineptitude. Yet, they were able to piece together a comeback win in double-overtime to salvage something positive for the outgoing senior class.

Biggest Disappointment
: The quarterbacks. At a minimum, the Cougars went into summer camp feeling as if they had a nice mix of veterans and youth under center. Strong-armed Gary Rogers, in particular, looked like he might be able to impress NFL scouts in his only year as the starter, but couldn’t stay healthy. In the end, Wazzu was forced to use four quarterbacks, who produced just six touchdown passes and 21 picks.

Looking Ahead
: Purely in terms of talent, not even Washington is further from the top of the Pac-10 than Washington State. Wulff needs to whip his kids into better shape in the offseason, while leaning a little more heavily on junior college imports. If the Cougars can avoid the Pac-10 cellar for a second straight year, mark it down as an upset.