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Monday, July 26, 2010
Don't be surprised if... road schedules

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Third in a series of Pac-10 thoughts that might come from unusual angles (you can see what we said about 2009 road schedules here).

Don't be surprised if ... winning on the road (or not) becomes the linchpin for reaching positive expectations (or not).

Every Pac-10 team lost multiple games on the road last year, but Oregon was the only conference team that lost only one conference road game. Help me out here: Who ended up going to the Rose Bowl?

Heading into 2010, Washington is widely seen as a team ready to make a big jump. That jump will have to come on the road: The Huskies were 0-5 away from the friendly confines of Husky Stadium last fall.

Unlike 2008 -- see above -- there were plenty of important road wins last year, Stanford's shocking blowout victory at USC being the most notable. But Arizona also won at USC, Oregon State won at California -- as did USC -- Cal pulled an upset at Stanford and Oregon wouldn't have won the conference without a comeback, double-overtime win at Arizona.

As for the nonconference road schedule, the Pac-10 should at least match last year's .500 record (5-5) on the road (total doesn't include Washington State's "neutral site" game with Notre Dame in San Antonio). In fact, 8-6 makes the most sense as a prediction.

But winning on the road in conference play is what gets a team to the Rose Bowl or provides the touchstone for a quality bowl berth. Or any bowl berth.

Arizona and California only play five total road games. Everyone else plays six, other than USC, which plays seven with a 13-game schedule. Oregon State, Washington State and UCLA each play two nonconference road games.

It's not hard to finger a critical "at" here and there on each team's schedule.
With seven teams featuring veteran quarterbacks this fall, expect there to be some impressive road wins. As for the new starters? We shall see and we shall see before we get too far into October.