Several weeks ago, we took stock of the Pac-10 as training camps were opening around the conference. Now, with the first week of games staring us right in the face, we take another look at the Pac-10 with another power poll. BTW if you haven't seen it SBN's Pac-10 blogs also released its combine power poll thanks to Avinash's outstanding work at California Golden Blogs. That said let's move to what the frontpagers think on BN.
Several teams have had injuries, development with key players or a lack of development with other key players. Instead of taking guesses though, next time we do this power poll, we'll have actual games to take stock of as all ten teams are in actions this week.
Stat of the Week: 6- Cal's Kevin Riley has thrown for a combined six touchdowns in the Bear's last two season openers, both wins.
Game of the Week: Oregon St. vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas), 4:45 pm PDT, ESPN- In a rare sight, two top-25 teams will open the season playing each other at the gargantuan Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. TCU enters the season looking to be the non-BCS conference team that finally breaks through and plays for a title, but it will take a perfect record to do it and Oregon St. will look to end their hopes early. With Jacquizz and James Rodgers, the Beavers have the speed to give the Horned Frogs problems, but how the smaller TCU defense holds up versus the big Oregon St. offensive line will be especially interesting.
Pac-10 Power Poll
1) Arizona Wildcats (3 first place votes)- A year ago, Mike Stoops was on the hot seat. Now, his Wildcats have a chance to make it to the Rose Bowl. It's unlikely that Toledo gives Arizona too much of problem in their opener, but going on the road to start the season is always a bit of a trick. With the game on national TV, the Wildcats do have a chance to make an impression though so there is something on the line if they are dreaming big in 2010.
2) Oregon Ducks (1 first place vote)- It's a prep week for the Ducks as they welcome New Mexico to Autzen Stadium. Even without Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon has high expectations and playing the Lobos makes for a good time for LaMichael James to serve his one-game suspension. If the Ducks get through their opener, as planned, they get James back and then focus on their biggest non-conference game of the year, at Tennessee, where the Vols are tough to beat regardless of how good the team is.
3) Oregon St. Beavers (2 first place votes)- So close to winning the Pac-10 and getting that elusive Rose Bowl berth a year ago, the Beavers will set their sites on accomplishing what they just missed out on a year ago. While their opener won't matter in the race for the Rose Bowl, OSU's game versus TCU on Saturday will go a long ways to setting the tone for the season if they can get a win and as will be the case all season, it is the quarterback play that will decide Oregon St.'s fate. Can Ryan Katz do the job? The Beavers' opener and season may depend on it.
4) California Golden Bears (1 first place vote)- The last four years, Cal has opened their seasons with games against Maryland, Michigan St. and Tennessee (twice). This season, the Golden Bears open versus UC Davis so it's not quite the season early season test that they're used to. Kevin Riley has made a habit of strong starts to his season so it's expected that he'll have a big game versus Davis, but it's whether or not he can do it as the year goes on that will determine the Bears' fate.
5) Stanford Cardinal (1 first place vote)- The Toby Gerhart era in Palo Alto is over and now it's time to see how Jim Harbaugh's program does without the bruising running back. The center of attention at Stanford is still in the backfield, but now it's Andrew Luck who everyone will be watching. The darling of NFL scouts, Luck will be charged with leading the Cardinal, although it's unlikely that he feels too much pressure in Stanford's opener as they host Sacramento St.
6) USC Trojans- The talk of the college football off-season has been the Trojans and the penalties levied upon them by the NCAA so it's only fitting that USC open the college football season. It all begins on Thursday with the Trojans in Honolulu to play Hawaii, where USC crushed the Warriors a few years ago. That was before the sanctions and before Lane Kiffin took over as head coach though. USC still has talent, even if they're not as deep so what can Kiffin make of the Trojans? We get our first look on Thursday.
7) UCLA Bruins- Kevin Prince should be a very good Pac-10 quarterback, but you can only be so good from the sideline. The Bruins' quarterback is injured yet again and whether or not he can play when UCLA opens their season in Manhattan versus Kansas St. on Saturday is still up the air. What is not up in the air is that the Bruins will have to make due with a shaky offensive line that will be without three projected starters, either due to injury or suspension. With the possibility of a back-up quarterback, the Bruins will need a running game if they're to have a shot against K-State.
8) Washington Huskies- Jake Locker is the media's favorite, the NFL scouts' favorite and a favorite of just about anyone who watches football. After all, he's big, he can run, he's smart and has a big arm. Now, with more talent around him than ever before, Locker will have to prove that he's ready to go from great talent to great quarterback. It won't be an easy start for Locker or the Huskies as they hop on a plane to play always-tough BYU in Provo, Utah. Washington wants to take a big step forward this season and they get to make people take notice right from the get-go.
9) Arizona St. Sun Devils- With Arizona St. looking at a lot of losses in 2010, Sun Devil fans will get a chance to put a smile on their faces early on with a cupcake game to start the season versus Portland St. Vontaze Burfict leads a ferocious defense, but their defense was very good last year and it didn't help so much. Everything the Sun Devils hope for this season will depend on the offense's production, but all an opener versus Portland St. can do is build confidence. Week three at Wisconsin will be their first chance to prove anything.
10) Washington St. Cougars- 22 losses in two seasons doesn't leave many with high hopes and Washington St. isn't hoping for too much this season. Just a few wins would be a nice step up for the Cougars, but a trip to Oklahoma St. will make that first of a few very difficult. Jeff Tuel had a moment or two of quality last season and it will take a moment or six to get the Cougars a win in Stillwater. If they can put together a respectable performance versus the Cowboys, Washington St. will be in a good position to take games versus Montana St. and SMU in the following two weeks.