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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Pac-10 blogger vs. SportsNation

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Ladies and gentlemen of SportsNation, I'm just a Pac-10 blogger. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes when I get notes in my mailbag, I wonder: 'Did little demons get inside and type them?' I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know: When you participate in a SportsNation poll on the Pac-10, I'm going to comment on it, particularly after doing a Pac-10 spring wrap-up.

Five questions, your take (so far). And mine.

Which team will challenge USC for the Pac-10 title? (6,117 votes)

My take: Disagree

My guess is your vote reflects the difference at quarterback between Oregon and California. The Ducks have Jeremiah Masoli, who runs over hapless defenders and leads an offense that often seemed unstoppable last year. The Bears have Kevin Riley, who can't seem to convince Jeff Tedford he's the man to run the Bears' offense. Fair enough. But after that, Cal has far fewer questions than the Ducks, particularly on both lines. That's why I'm not just seeing the Bears as a challenger to USC. I'm still contemplating whether they might deserve to be picked to win the whole chimichanga.

Who will be the starting quarterback for USC at the end of the season? (5,385 votes)

My take: Disagree

Disclaimer: I didn't get to go to USC's spring practices this year, so I didn't get mesmerized by Barkley's 'Matt Stafford Who?' arm. What I do know is Corp has two HUGE advantages: 1. he doesn't make mistakes -- see just one interception all of spring; 2. he's fast. Not just quarterback fast -- fast, fast. I'm imagining that ability to 1. avoid bad plays; 2. turn bad plays into good plays (any USC fans recall a fella by the name of Vince Young?) will earn Corp the job.

Which team is more improved from last season? (5,448 votes)

My take: Agree

Washington had better players than the Cougars last year and the Huskies get just about everyone back, including quarterback Jake Locker and linebacker E.J. Savannah, who were injured and suspended, respectively. Meanwhile, the Cougars lost a lot of guys, including some of their best players, such as receiver Brandon Gibson, linebacker Greg Trent, tight end Devin Frischknecht, etc. WSU won the Apple Cup because it played with more heart and focus, while Washington's players were too busy rolling their eyes at Tyrone Willingham. New coach Steve Sarkisian will inject some spirit into the Huskies, and that, plus the best talent an 0-12 team ever welcomed back the following season, should bolster the Huskies' W-L ledger.

Who will start at quarterback for Oregon State? (4,839 votes)

My take: Disagree

Hey, don't just take my word for it. Paul Buker, who knows all things Beaver, chided the Pac-10 blog for describing Canfield's lead as "slight." And the Pac-10 blog probably deserved it. Canfield has always been the more talented passer. Moevao was the scrapper with great leadership skills. It seems that Canfield learned a lot watching Moevao work the huddle and his teammates. Moreover, Moevao is coming back with a surgically repaired shoulder. Canfield can tell him that isn't always easy to do (see last year).

Which team has the conference's best rushing attack? (5,305 votes)

My take: Disagree

Gosh. Er. Hello. Yeah ... Oregon fans, feel free to slap your foreheads here.

Yes, Oregon, which ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing last year (280 yards per game) and No. 6 last year (252 yards per game) -- No. 1 both years in the Pac-10 by wide margins, of course -- is not listed.

So, yeah, I disagree. Oregon has the conference's best rushing attack.

Still, heading into 2009, it will be interesting to see if the Ducks will again run as well with a rebuilt offensive line. With the Beavers also working on issues up front, USC and California may end up pushing the Ducks for the rushing title.