NCF Nation: Brad Budde

On Friday, the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and life as we all have known it ends.

But before we move on as a 12-team league, let's look back at the best of a 10-team league.

On Wednesday, we looked at the best players. Thursday, it's the best teams.

We've listed 12 teams because that's the new magic number (Arizona fans, see if you can guess who came in 13th).

Again, no team before 1978 -- when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 -- was considered.

1. 1991 Washington: The Huskies finished 12-0 and split the national title with Miami.

Best player: Defensive tackle Steve Emtman won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award.

Point differential: Washington outscored its foes 495-115.

Best win: Whipped Michigan 34-14 in Rose Bowl. Wolverines finished ranked sixth.

Comment: Four wins over teams that finished ranked in the final top 25, including road victories at No. 15 Nebraska and at No. 8 California. Featured one of the great defenses in college football history, yielding just 9.2 points and 67.1 rushing yards per game. Eight Huskies earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

2. 2004 USC: While the NCAA and BCS have nixed it in their own ways, the Trojans finished 13-0 and won the national title on the field.

Best player: Quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: USC outscored its foes 496-169.

Best win: Crushed Oklahoma 55-19 in the national title game.

Comment: Basically a push for dominance with 1991 Washington. Beat four teams that finished ranked in the top 25, including the bludgeoning of Oklahoma. Eight Trojans earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors.

3. 2003 USC: The Trojans finished 12-1 and split the national title with LSU. Their only loss came in triple overtime at California.

Best player: Receiver Mike Williams was a consensus All-American.

Point differential: 534-239.

Best win: The completely dominant 23-0 victory at then-No. 6 Auburn in the opener set the tone for the season -- and caused many Pac-10 fans to question how good these highly rated SEC teams really are.

Comment: The Trojans finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls but lost out playing in the BCS title game because of the computer polls. LSU fans have been thanking the computers for that glitch ever since.

4. 2005 USC: A 34-game winning streak came to an end with a nail-biting loss to Texas in the national title game. The Trojans finished 12-1.

Best player: Reggie Bush won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: 638-297.

Best win: The 34-31 win at Notre Dame -- the "Bush Push" game -- was one of the all-time greats.

Comment: Perhaps the best collection of offensive players in the history of college football: Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Jarrett, Ryan Kalil, Sam Baker and Taitusi Lutui earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors. And don't forget LenDale White, Winston Justice, Steve Smith and Dominique Byrd.

5. 1978 USC: Finished 12-1 and split national title with Alabama. Lost to Arizona State, 20-7.

Best player: Charles White was a unanimous All-American.

Point differential: 318-153

Best win: A 24-14 win over the team that "claimed" the other half of the national title.

Comment: Split national title -- coaches liked the Trojans; AP the Crimson Tide -- despite a decisive 24-14 USC at Alabama. So much for head to head.

6. 1979 USC: Finished 11-0-1 and No. 2 behind Alabama. Tied Stanford 21-21.

Best player: Charles White won the Heisman Trophy.

Point differential: 389-171

Best win: The 17-16 win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, in which White ran for a record 247 yards, including the game-winning touchdown with just more than a minute remaining.

Comment: Team featured four future College Football Hall of Famers in White, Marcus Allen, Ronnie Lot and Brad Budde. By the way, THAT undefeated, untied Alabama team was really, really good: Outscored foes 383-67. So no sour grapes on that one.

7. 2001 Oregon: The Ducks finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 in both polls. The only loss was 49-42 versus Stanford (a really, really weird game, if you recall).

Best player: Quarterback Joey Harrington finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 412-256.

Best win: A 38-16 win over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl.

Comment: The Fiesta Bowl victory caused plenty of folks to bemoan the Nebraska-Miami matchup in the BCS title game, considering Colorado had blown out Nebraska the final weekend of the regular season. As for the Stanford loss, the typically straightforward AP noted the game had "everything but aliens landing on the Autzen Stadium turf."

8. 1984 Washington: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2 behind BYU. Lost to USC ,16-7.

Best player: Defensive tackle Ron Holmes was a consensus All-American.

Point differential: 352-145

Best win: Shocked Oklahoma 28-17 in the Orange Bowl. Sooners finished ranked sixth.

Comment: A controversial season. Before the Orange Bowl, Sooners coach Barry Switzer lobbied hard for the winner to be declared the national champion. As it was, BYU won the national title after beating a bad Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. Does anyone believe BYU was better than the Huskies? No.

9. 2010 Oregon: The Ducks finished 12-1 and No. 3 in both polls, losing the national title game to Auburn.

Best player: Running back LaMichael James finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 611-243

Best win: The Ducks handed Stanford its only loss, 52-31, after trailing 21-3 early. Cardinal finished ranked No. 4.

Comment: An innovative, exciting team to watch, one that played faster than perhaps any big-time college team in history.

10. 1996 Arizona State: Finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4 in both polls. Lost Rose Bowl -- and potential national championship -- to Ohio State, 20-17.

Best player: Quarterback Jake Plummer finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 488-216

Best win: The Sun Devils trounced top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Nebraska, 19-0.

Comment: The Sun Devils lost one of the most dramatic Rose Bowls, when the swashbuckling Plummer was out-swashbuckled by Joe Germaine, who was raised in Arizona as an ASU fan.

11. 2000 Washington: The Huskies finished 11-1 and ranked No. 3, their only loss coming at No. 7 Oregon. They beat Purdue 34-24 in the Rose Bowl.

Best player: Marques Tuiasosopo finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Point differential: 387-270

Best win: Beat Miami, 34-29. Hurricanes finished ranked No. 2.

Comment: This is not the most talented team on the list. In fact, some have rated the 2000 Oregon State team -- see below -- ahead of the Huskies. And based on NFL results, the Beavers were more talented than the Huskies. But head to head matters, and the win over Miami is better than anything Oregon State did.

12. 2000 Oregon State: The Beavers finished 11-1 and ranked No. 4, their only loss a 33-30 decision at Washington, which finished ranked No. 3.

Best player: Running back Ken Simonton was first-team All-Pac-10.

Best win: Beat Oregon 23-13 in Civil War. Oregon finished ranked seventh in the coaches poll.

Comment: One or two more plays at Washington, and the Beavers would have played for the national title. And they, by the way, were more talented than the Oklahoma team that did win the title. Notable Beavers: Ken Simonton, Chad Ochocinco (the Chad Johnson), T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Gibson, DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Dennis Weathersby and Eric Manning. They spanked Notre Dame 41-9 in the Fiesta Bowl.
On Friday, the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12, and life as we all have known it ends.

Kaboom!

Before we start looking forward -- oh, well, guess that's all we've been doing this offseason -- let's take a look back at the 10-team conference that started in 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8 (and Pac-8 purist grumbled about life ending as they knew it).

Today, we compile an all-time, All-Pac-10 team (No player who graduated before 1978 was considered). Thursday, we'll rank the best Pac-10 teams.

As for picking the players, you might imagine this wasn't easy. Lots of great players over the past 33 years. This list doesn't include many consensus All-Americans, national award winners and players who won multiple All-Pac-10 honors.

[+] EnlargeMatt Leinart
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesUSC's Matt Leinart is the conference's all-time leader touchdown passes.
I struggled with receiver and offensive line the most. And kicker (UCLA fans will slap their foreheads at my pick). Ten selected players already are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

NFL success wasn't a part of this measure -- just look at the QB. But there were a couple of moments -- tight end and kicker -- when it waved at me from a distance.

As for the per school tally, it should be no surprise that USC led the way with seven players. It might be a surprise that Arizona, with no Rose Bowl berths, was second with four. Neither Oregon nor Stanford have a player on the team.

Feel free to disagree. Or to post your own team.

Offense

QB Matt Leinart, USC (2005): 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. Finished third in 2005. Won two national titles; played for a third. 99 career touchdown passes is 14 more than any other quarterback in conference history.

RB Charles White, USC (1979): 1979 Heisman Trophy winner. Fourth in 1978. Pac-10's all-time leading rusher. College Football Hall of Fame.

RB Marcus Allen, USC (1981): 1981 Heisman Trophy winner. 2,427 yards rushing in 1981 is conference single-season record. College Football Hall of Fame.

WR Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2006): A two-time consensus All-American. Ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting. 41 career touchdown receptions is nine more than any wide receiver in conference history.

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State (2005): Biletnikoff winner. Consensus All-American. His 1,532 yards receiving is a conference single-season record. He also holds the single-game receiving yards record (293).

OL Jonathan Ogden, UCLA (1995): 1995 Outland Trophy winner and consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

OL Randall McDaniel, Arizona State (1987): Consensus All-American, two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

OL Brad Budde, USC (1979): Lombardi Trophy winner. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame

OL Alex Mack, California (2008): Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

OL Lincoln Kennedy, Washington (1992): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Two-time Morris Trophy winner.

TE Tony Gonzalez, California (1996): Consensus All-American. First-team All-Pac-10.

Defense

DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona State (2002): Bronko Nagurski, Lombardi Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. Set NCAA single-season sack record (24).

DT Steve Emtman, Washington (1991): Outland and Lombardi winner. Finished fourth for Heisman Trophy. Consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DT Rob Waldrop, Arizona (1993): Outland and Bronko Nagurski winner. UPI lineman of the Year. Two-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

DE Tedy Bruschi, Arizona (1995): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. Morris Trophy winner.

LB Chris Clairborne, USC (1998): Butkus Award. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

LB Ricky Hundley, Arizona (1983): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

LB Jerry Robinson, UCLA (1978): Two-time consensus All-American. Three-time first-team All-Conference. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Kenny Easley, UCLA (1980): Four-time first-team All-Conference. Three-time consensus All-American. College Football Hall of Fame.

S Ronnie Lott, USC (1980): Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. College Football Hall of Fame.

CB Antoine Cason, Arizona (2007): Thorpe Award winner. Consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

CB Mike Richardson, Arizona State (1982): Two-time consensus All-American. Two-time first-team All-Pac-10.

Specialists

P Nick Harris, California (2000): A consensus All-American in 2000, he punted a lot and was very good at it. He set NCAA records for most career punts and punting yardage.

K Jason Hansen, Washington State (1991): Consensus All-American (1989). Two-time first-team All-Pac-10. 39 career field goals of 40 or more yards and 20 of 50 or more; both Pac-10 records.

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