Here are 10 "fearless" predictions in advance of the 2010 season.
1. No team will go undefeated in conference play: You may have heard this: The Pac-10 is deep with good teams but appears to lack a dominant team. It would be a fairly substantial surprise if the Pac-10 champion goes 9-0 in conference play. It's more likely the champ will win a tiebreaker with a couple of other two-loss teams.
2. A Pac-10 player will go to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony: No conference boasts as many obvious Heisman Trophy candidates: Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Washington QB Jake Locker, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Oregon RB LaMichael James, etc. One of them will emerge from the "pac" and get invited to New York for the ceremony. Who? What are we: Nostradamus?
3. The Pac-10 will go 23-8 in nonconference games: UCLA is not going to beat Texas. Arizona State's chances at Wisconsin aren't good. Arizona and Washington will be underdogs at home vs. Iowa and Nebraska, respectively. Oregon should handle Tennessee. Oregon State is going to beat either TCU or Boise State. I feel pretty good about California's chances against UC Davis. USC won't lose a nonconference game because no team outside of the Pac-10 can beat USC (it hasn't happened in the regular season since 2002). I'm not going to write a phrase about 31 games, but you can feel free to do so below.
4. Chip Kelly will provide a brief answer to many, many questions: Chip, are you worried about your QB making his second career start in front of 105,000 at Neyland Stadium? "No." Coach, tell us about your recruiting philosophy? "Speed." What are your feelings on LaMichael James' 229 yards rushing? "Good." Coach, I bet my sister I could get you to say two words. "Lose." Coach, you just won Pac-10 coach of the year for the second time in two years as Oregon's coach? "Thanks."
5. Arizona DEs Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed will combine for 18 sacks: The qualifier is both staying healthy all season, but this is the best pair of defensive ends in the Pac-10. When you scan the offensive lines in the conference, there aren't a whole lot of teams that will match them with equally capable tackles.
6. Lane Kiffin will order a turkey sandwich; controversy will ensue: Who does he think he is ordering a turkey sandwich in this economy? Turkey? He's not qualified to eat turkey! The Pilgrims ate turkey for golly-gosh sakes, and Kiffin is no Pilgrim. Isn't ordering a turkey sandwich a secondary NCAA rules violation? He hasn't earned that turkey sandwich! He didn't order a turkey sandwich: He called the counter guy a turkey and starting ordering him around. What actually happened: He got a recruiting hostess to order the turkey sandwich for him, which sounds corrupt even if it isn't. Oh, sure, Lane: That's your dream turkey sandwich, right! We have just as good turkey back here in Knoxville, I'll have you know. Did you hear: He falsely accused the turkey of being ham!
7. Arizona State's offense will be better -- and its defense worse -- than most folks think: The Sun Devils have better talent at the skill positions than many think and the offensive line -- if it can stay healthy and jell -- will be at least adequate, as will QB Steven Threet. This unit could average 25-26 or so points a game. Meanwhile, the defensive line depth has taken a couple of hits of late and, despite talent at all three levels, the fact remains that seven starters from last year's strong crew are gone.
8. Five teams will end up ranked in the final AP poll: Or at least they will deserve to be. The question will be will a 9-4 team in the Pac-10 get the respect it will deserve? As for who those teams will be, here's one: Oregon. Got to move on to No. 9 now.
9. No coach will be fired at season's end: Many pundits have dumped Arizona State's Dennis Erickson and Washington State's Paul Wulff onto the hot seat. I think both return for the 2011 season for a couple of reasons. 1. Their teams will improve enough that boosters and administrators will sense an upward trajectory; 2. In this economy, buying out a contract, even if it's not huge, is not advisable, unless your athletic department is awash in cash. Neither ASU nor WSU are.
10. The Pac-10 blog will be wrong about something: No, really. At some point this season, I will type a prediction and it will wrong. Of course, I'm being serious. Look it's happened before. Four times.