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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Pac-10 power rankings

Posted by's Ted Miller

Pac-10 Power Rankings
1.Another dominant defense-laden team with future first-round NFL draft picks. A talented offense that appears ready to bust out at the skill positions. Even the inexperienced offensive line looks more promising than worrisome. The pieces are here for another run at the BCS title.
2.The secondary is full of playmakers, the defensive ends get after quarterbacks, the offensive line is first-rate and there a few worries at receiver and running back. The up-the-middle defense, however, is a concern, and quarterback Nate Costa needs to live up to high expectations during preseason practices.
3.The Sun Devils have fewer questions than Oregon, but their big issue is more worrisome: the offensive line. Three starters were lost to graduation and a projected starter quit the team before practices began -- and this is from a unit that gave up 55 sacks a year ago. Depending on the line, ASU could end up a top-10 team -- or a four-or-five-loss one.
4.There's uncertainty at quarterback, and an outstanding group of linebackers is flanked by a questionable secondary and defensive front. But what more likely will decided the direction of the Bears' season is avoiding the issues -- injury, chemistry, execution -- that ruined the 2007 season.
5.The guess here is Arizona will have to outscore people because of an inexperienced defense that doesn't look incredibly talented. That may be possible because quarterback Willie Tuitama and his supporting cast should be very comfortable in Year 2 of their spread offense. And the schedule is a lot easier than past seasons.
6.The Beavers boast nice stables of running backs and receivers and an experienced secondary. But they've got issues up front on both sides of the ball and a quarterback competition in which neither played well in 2007. Their track record says they'll exceed preseason expectations, but the question marks on the depth chart cancel that leap of faith.
7.The suspension this week of linebacker and 2007 leading tackler E.J. Savannah showed how thin the Huskies' margin for error is. A rebuilding defense just lost its strongest cornerstone, with Oregon, BYU and Oklahoma ahead. Sure, quarterback Jake Locker means the Huskies have a dynamic athlete leading the offense, but this team desperately needs some things to go its way so it can build confidence. Not the other way around.
8.Combine a brutal schedule and a squad laden with questions and you get a tough first season for Rick Neuheisel. The biggest issue is the offensive line, which feeds into the question of how well -- and how long -- will injury-prone quarterback Ben Olson play. On defense, the secondary is being rebuilt.
9.This was the team most tempting to move up. The Cardinal are experienced -- 16 starters back -- and are sneaky talented, particularly on defense. If a quarterback emerges, Stanford could push toward the middle of the conference, perhaps notching another major upset along the way.
10.It doesn't take that much creativity to make positive "what-if" statements for the Cougars -- what if new quarterback Gary Rogers shines in Paul Wulff's no-huddle, spread offense? What if the defense develops at all three levels? What if the Cougars stay healthy? It's just that you have to make too many.