Pac-12: Pac-10 team outlook 102109

Second-half outlook: Washington State

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
5:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Washington State

Record: 1-5, 0-4

Washington State is better than it was a year ago but it isn't good enough to win games in the Pac-10. Its best hope for a conference win is probably at home against UCLA on Nov. 14 -- it might be pretty cold in Pullman that afternoon -- or in the season-ending Apple Cup, because rivalry games can be nuts (see last year). What will make the second half a success for the Cougs is at least one upset win and consistently competitive performances.

Remaining schedule: at California, Notre Dame (San Antonio), at Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State, at Washington.

Best-case scenario: Playing in snow and sub-zero temperatures, the Cougars outlast UCLA and then shock the homestanding Huskies in the Apple Cup to finish the season 3-9.

Worst-case scenario: Washington State not only finishes 1-11, the Cougars get blown out in their final six games, including an ugly performance in Husky Stadium.

Prediction: No bowl.

Second-half outlook: Washington

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
4:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Washington

Record: 3-4. 2-2

Just imagine if Washington were to beat Oregon on Saturday. Seeing that the Huskies figure to be double-digit favorites in the Apple Cup at home against Washington State, that means Steve Sarkisian's first year could feature wins over: 1,. USC; 2. bitter rival Oregon; 3. state rival Washington State. If you tossed in a bowl game, Sarkisian might get consideration for national coach of the year. Jake Locker gives the Huskies a chance in any game, but the question is whether the defense can hold up down the stretch.

Remaining schedule: Oregon, at UCLA, at Oregon State, Washington State, California

Best-case scenario: The Huskies rally for three wins over their final five games and earn a bowl berth a year after going 0-12.

Worst-case scenario: The Huskies go 1-4 down the stretch and finish 4-8.

Prediction: No bowl.

Second-half outlook: USC

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
4:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

USC Trojans

Record: 5-1, 2-1

Will Washington prove to be the only bump in the road for USC? And if USC rolls to an 11-1 record, will it play its way into the national title game? Or will we see the Trojans matched up again (sigh) with a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl? It might be more fun if the Trojans lost to Oregon on Oct. 31 and then won out and earned an at-large invitation to another BCS bowl game. It seems like a massive long shot, given the selection procedure, but just picture USC vs. Florida/Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Yummy!

Remaining schedule: Oregon State, at Oregon, at Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona

Best-case scenario: The Trojans roll through the remaining schedule, getting progressively better each week on both sides of the ball, and the rest of the top 10 throws up all over itself. Lo and behold, on Dec. 6, it's USC vs. the SEC champion in the BCS title game. In Pasadena. Huge grins break out across the Pac-10.

Worst-case scenario: The Trojans lose two games down the stretch -- including a massive upset at home against rival UCLA -- and a seven-year run of BCS bowls ends with USC in the Holiday Bowl.

Prediction: Rose Bowl.

Second-half outlook: UCLA

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
3:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

UCLA Bruins

Record: 3-3, 0-3

The tough nonconference schedule was much better for UCLA than the start to the conference slate. Still, even at 0-3 in the Pac-10, the Bruins could rally for three wins down the stretch and earn bowl eligibility. But the suddenly sagging defense is going to have to regain its toughness -- and tackling skills -- and the offense needs to find some continuity with redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Prince.

Remaining schedule: at Arizona, at Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, at USC.

Best-case scenario: The defense remembers its good and Prince starts to find his rhythm and the Bruins win four of their final six to earn a bowl berth.

Worst-case scenario: The Bruins managed to win just one more game and match last year's disappointing 4-8 finish.

Prediction: No bowl.

Second-half outlook: Stanford

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
3:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Stanford Cardinal

Record: 4-3, 3-2

Stanford is unbeaten at home this year but has struggled on the road. So the best reason to believe the Cardinal can still earn bowl eligibility is that four of their final five games are on the Farm. On the other hand, none of the games are gimmes, like a few of the early-season contests. No future foe presently has more than two losses and four are or have been ranked this season.

Remaining schedule: Arizona State, Oregon, at USC, California, Notre Dame

Best-case scenario: The Cardinal win three of their final four, including a clutch Big Game win over rival Cal, and earn their first bowl berth since 2001.

Worst-case scenario: The Cardinal finish the season with a seven-game slide due to a defense that can't stop anyone.

Prediction: Emerald Bowl.

Second-half outlook: Oregon State

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
2:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon State Beavers

Record: 4-2, 2-1

So, is Oregon State good now? If they're repeating the pattern of the previous three seasons, yes. The measure of the Beavers going forward after they competed five games the previous three seasons? 22-3. That suggests a 5-1 finish isn't out of the question. Of course, past performance doesn't guarantee future results -- just look at your 401K -- and the schedule ahead is more demanding than the schedule behind.

Remaining schedule: at USC, UCLA, at California, Washington, at Washington State, at Oregon

Best-case scenario: The Beavers win five of their last six games and finish ranked in the top-25 for a fourth consecutive seasons, only this time they finish in the top-15.

Worst-case scenario: The Beavers just earn bowl eligibility with a 6-6 record.

Prediction: Las Vegas Bowl.

Second-half outlook: Oregon

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
1:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon Ducks

Record: 5-1, 3-0

There's enough evidence to believe that the opener against Boise State was a fluke -- see five quality wins since then. But how far can the Ducks go? They've overcome the injury bug so far, but Ducks fans surely see parallels between now and 2007. Also: it's not just going to be about USC on Halloween night. It's going to be about mustering maximum focus in every game because that's the only way a team can produce a special season.

Remaining schedule: at Washington, USC, at Stanford, Arizona State, at Arizona, Oregon State.

Best-case scenario: The planets align perfectly -- which, curiously, requires a Boise State loss -- and 11-1 Oregon meets the SEC champion for the national title in Pasadena.

Worst-case scenario: The injuries pile up, including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, and the Ducks meander home and end up in a mid-level bowl, losing to rivals Washington and Oregon State along the way.

Prediction: Fiesta Bowl.

Second-half outlook: California

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
12:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

California Bears

Record: 4-2. 1-2

Who the heck are these California Bears? In four wins, they've looked pretty darn good. In two losses, they've looked pretty darn bad. The schedule down the stretch is favorable. Cal could still exit the regular season nationally ranked and near the top of the conference and headed to a quality bowl game. Or they could meander home to mediocrity.

Remaining schedule: Washington State, at Arizona State, Oregon State, Arizona, at Stanford, at Washington

Best-case scenario: The Bears become the elite team that looked like they were in the preseason and roll unscathed through their remaining schedule.

Worst-case scenario: The Bears act Jekyll and Hyde all year and barely attain bowl eligibility.

Prediction: Holiday Bowl.

Second-half outlook: Arizona State

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
11:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona State

Record: 4-2. 2-1

Arizona State has a very good defense, but its bowl hopes likely lie with its offense, which has been mediocre-to-bad this season. Will senior Danny Sullivan continue to gain confidence and hold onto his job? Or will Dennis Erickson turn to freshman Brock Osweiler? The key may be as much with the offensive line, which needs to get and stay healthy, as with the quarterbacks.

Remaining schedule: at Stanford, California, USC, at Oregon, at UCLA, Arizona

Best-case scenario: The Sun Devils win four of six down the stretch and earn a solid bowl berth.

Worst-case scenario: The schedule gets tougher and the offense gets worse, leaving the Sun Devils with a losing record and a finish in the bottom third of the conference.

Prediction: Poinsettia Bowl.

Second-half outlook: Arizona

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
10:47
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Arizona

Record: 4-2. 2-1

Arizona has the right quarterback in Nick Foles. Now, can its defense get healthy and regain its mojo? The key is how the Wildcats do over the final four games: three road games and dates with Oregon and USC. No matter how things play out -- positively or negatively -- there will be a rueful backwards glance at the strange, controversial loss at Washington.

Remaining schedule: UCLA, Washington State, at California, Oregon, at Arizona State, at USC

Best-case scenario: The Wildcats win the games they should and notch a major upset (or two) down the stretch to finish 9-3, which earns them a berth in the Holiday Bowl.

Worst-case scenario: The Wildcats lose their final four and end up in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Prediction: Sun Bowl.

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