All week, CougZone has been bringing you the annual Predictaganza for the Cougar football team and how the conference will stack up and while the Park Bench was a contributor to the Predictaganza (can we get some Dan Wagner for starting quarterback love?) we have some additional Pac-10 predictions for the year. Granted, these aren't some of the more traditional predictions for your conference football season but you can count on a guaranteed 100 percent accuracy rate with your standard plus or minus 75 percent accuracy rate.
The Cougar defense will not finish dead last in the NCAA
There is the old saying "it can't get any worse" usually uttered ironically in a movie right before it does get worse. In the case of the Cougars' defense, last year was really as bad as it could get. This year it seems there is greater experience on the defensive side of the ball and bigger, more physical players up front to take on the strong offensive lines in the Pac-10. Senior leaders like Kevin Kooyman and Andy Mattingly combined with up and comers Louis Bland and Brandon Jones should highlight a greatly improved defense.
Rob Gronkowski will be an All-American
Gronkowski has long been an underrated tight end playing for a long under-achieving Wildcats team. Last year against the Cougars, he ran over every defender that got in his way and his ability to get his hands on the ball is second-to-none for a tight end in the conference. There is little doubt he is the best at his position in the conference but now we have to hope the national writers get their eye on him.
Jake Locker will get hurt….again
I've never seen a legion of fans so enamored with a quarterback who has never played a full season. And every year, Locker manages to get himself hurt because of the way he plays like a linebacker at the quarterback position. By this point in his career, Locker should've been the best quarterback in the conference but a coaching change and two incomplete seasons later leaves him a signal caller with a lot left to accomplish. Just don't tell any Husky fans that.
Arizona State will finish in the bottom four
Yes, we know the Predictaganza already decreed this but it bears repeating. No more Rudy Carpenter and a huge turn over on the offense spells bad news for the Sun Devils. When their offense was operating at peak efficiency last year, they scored just 31-points against WSU in Tempe. Simply put: at home, they should've scored a lot more. Having a good defense only gets you so far in a conference that is notorious for high flying and fast offenses. Even though Oregon State has been successful in recent years with a strong defense, they've also had a decent offense in each of those years, something the Sun Devils will be seriously lacking this year.
The conference winner will be determined on October 3rd
Do I know this because I'm psychic? No. It's because I looked at Cal's schedule to find out when they play USC. I don't think the student in Berkeley could ask for a better homecoming game as the winner will very likely win the conference crown. All 73,000 attendees should lose their voices by the end of this one, the sheer volume of which will probably cause Memorial Stadium to actually collapse.
UCLA will continue to improve
How can they not when their coach has his own helicopter to shuttle him all around the greater Los Angeles area to recruit from one of the richest areas in football talent? Even Pete Carroll still gets stuck on the 405 trying to get from recruit to recruit. And Slick Rick Neuheisel is known for turning programs around and UCLA will continue their improvement trend this year. That is, until a few years from now when Rick lays down a bet on a few NCAA tourney games and ruins everything.
Oregon State might be overrated
Hard to believe that this can be said given the Beavers overachieving way the past few seasons. They still have an incredibly talented offense with Lyle Moevao and Jacquizz Rodgers on the offense. But the usually strong defense lost nine starters and it will be hard to believe the offense can hold up an unusually weak and young defense. Plus, the Beavers can't count on their biennial upset of USC at home for a little ego boost.
Oregon's uniforms will continue to get worse
For those of you who didn't think it was possible, it is. The diamond plate bright yellow and green was bad enough, but now add tropical Hawaiian wings to the shoulder pads and it just gets worse. Although Eugene is known for its tropical climate, this uniform pattern still looks like someone cut off parts of a palm tree and threw them on a jersey. Worse yet, Eugene's more solar-power loving residents have tried to smoke the shoulder pads. With 80 uni combinations, let's see what horrific, nausea inducing combos they come up with next.
The Apple Cup will be a better game
We know what you are saying - how can it be better than last year when Wazzu won in double overtime and we got to see Paul Wulff's dance steps? Well, better is relative. There is no way both sides will be as unhealthy as they were last year. The Huskies didn't even have a kicker that could walk without a limp and the Cougars were on their 32nd quarterback of the season. No matter your affiliation of schools, everyone can agree: the 2008 edition was one of the worst football games ever played. It was like watching two five-year olds fighting with left over wrapping paper tubes. But both teams will be better this year and hopefully in a lot more healthy state so the 102nd Apple Cup is a much better game than that of yesteryear.
Who Cares Pick of the Week: Who cares about this? Everyone in Seattle who did not melt earlier this week. The U-16 Miss Elam Plus piloted by hydroplane legend Dave Villwock to win the Chevrolet Cup at Seafair.
Dunderhead of the Week: Baseball legend and gambling aficionado Pete Rose was seen wearing sunglasses at Wednesday's that made him look like a very angry Elton John. This probably won't help his bid to get reinstated into baseball.
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