Pac-12: Heather Dinich

Opening the mailbag: Best Pac-10 games and conference rankings

July, 10, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

You are all notable to me.

To the mail.

Vizzle from Eugene, Ore., writes: Give me your top five games to watch this season in the PAC which ones you are going to attend, and where you will be dining before and after you watch them? Another thought... your Eugene dining experience really needs to be enriched by somebody who actually knows how to eat in Eugene.

Ted Miller: My boss, Keyser Söze, keeps it a secret where he's going to send me until the Sunday before the game, so I don't know where I'm going yet.

But my top-five Pac-10 games?

How about: 1. USC at Cal; 2. USC at Oregon; 3. Cal at Oregon; 4. Oregon State at Oregon; 5. Oregon State at USC.

As for restaurant recommendations, feel free to give me suggestions.

Jerome from Oakland writes: My question is in regards to the USC defense. How come sports writers say that USC only has 2 returning starters on defense? Correct me if I am wrong, but E. Griffen, C. Tupou, A. Spicer M. Morgan, T. Mays, J. Pinkard, S. Wright, W. Harris and K. Thomas all started 1 game or more or saw significant playing time (That's 9 players). So why the huge concern over losing the talent, when technically the talent is still there on defense just as much as it is on offense

Ted Miller: It's three starters back: Taylor Mays, Christian Tupou and Josh Pinkard. Those three started at least six games, the general definition of a returning starter.

Everson Griffen started three games -- he lost his job after the Oregon State game; as did Averell Spicer. Feel free to connect the dots there. Michael Morgan has one career start. Shareece Wright started the first two games last year before getting hurt. Nick Holt told me last fall he was the Trojans' best cover corner, so feel free to upgrade his status. Safety Will Harris started five games last year, but he'll likely back Pinkard at strong safety. Cornerback Kevin Thomas started two games last year and two games in 2006.

I get your drift, though. USC is not going to send out a bunch of clueless guys on defense. But when you look at the list of guys who are gone, it's hard to imagine a completely seamless transition.

Matt from Missoula, Mont., writes: You've said that you think Oregon would have been 2nd in the SEC last year (a claim that, as an Oregon fan, I find dubious unless you're only looking at the last third of the season), and the Pac-10 went 5-0 in bowl games last year. Yet your colleague ACC blogger Heather Dinich posted that the Pac-10 was the fourth best conference in the nation last year--after the ACC, and presumably the SEC and Big-12. I'm hoping to start a fight a between you and Heather. Can I count on you to avenge this outrageous case of east coast bias?

Ted Miller: Good point about the final third of the season. Did you, however, watch the SEC's official No. 2 team in the Sugar Bowl?

As for Heather: She runs marathons. She doesn't ramble on TV like I do. She has a margarita machine in her home. I will not mess with Heather.

Debating conference rankings is mostly an exercise in PR, selective statistics and trash talk. It's not an exact science. I'd rank the Pac-10 No. 3 in 2008, but I think ACC football also is underrated -- see the NFL draft numbers -- in large part because of this peculiar period when both Miami and Florida State are still working to regain their traction.

But please don't tell Heather I ranked the Pac-10 ahead of the ACC in 2008. She might make me ... go jogging or something.

Michael from Los Angeles writes: After reading the article about USC not winning it all last year, you must admit that this is said year in and year out. Recently history suggests USC will lose 1 game. That is rather a safe assumption - even coming from a USC alum like me. However, there is a rather intriguing factor that I believe USC will be the 8th in a row Pac-10 champions of 2009: Other teams cannot follow through in the Pac-10

Ted Miller: First, I didn't say USC won't win its eighth consecutive Pac-10 title this year. In fact, I admitted that I'd picked USC to win the title again.

What I did say -- and believe -- is that USC is more vulnerable than past years, based on a number of factors, including player and coach turnover and scheduling.

Marcus from Eugene, Ore., writes: I was watching SportsNation today, and I was completely blown away when they ranked the conferences according to strength. The Nation put the PAC 10 4th, behind the Big 10, Big 12, and SEC respectively. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the two powerhouses of the Big 10 last year (OSU, Penn State) met up with USC and got destroyed, the PAC 10 went 5-0 in their bowl games and finished with 3 teams in the top 25 (USC, Oregon, Oregon State) and two others received votes (Cal, Arizona). The Big 10 went 1-5 in bowls I believe, and finished with 4 teams in the top 25 (PSU OSU Iowa and MSU) and no one else EVEN CLOSE. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Ted Miller: I'd rank the Pac-10 third behind the SEC and the Big 12, but I think the Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC are comparable and really not that far behind the SEC and Big 12.

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Saturday, 11/1