Can everyone smell that? No, I'm not talking about the Indian place around the corner (although they have some killer chicken curry). College football is here, and it starts tomorrow with none other than former Pac-10 powerhouse USC opening on the beautiful island of Oahu. That's right, I'll be settling in with a frosty beverage and the television on to being the ritual of never leaving the couch for about four months.
The season is only a day away, and without hesitation, there are things I know are going to happen and others than won't. So that means it's time for the Third Annual Palouse Park Bench Fearless Pac-10 Football Predictions, sponsored by Brent Musberger's hairpiece.
Washington State Will Not Finish Last: Call me an eternal optimist but the defense has improved enough from last season and with the offense not far behind, they will squeak out a win. This team physically looks like a Pac-10 squad for the first time in years and head coach Paul Wulff has gotten rid of the problem players; making it easier for him to keep the team focused. The only issue is their truly winnable games are on the road (at UCLA, at ASU) with a couple ones at home where they have a decent shot (vs. Cal, vs. Washington) But for Washington State not to finish last, some one else has to, which brings me to my next point…..
Arizona State Will Finish Last: Former Michigan, Arkansas and current ASU quarterback Steven Threet has traveled the country looking for a program he can play in. It seems Threet always has a bag packed in case he needs to leave so my confidence in his ability to run the offense is minimal. While their defense still looks relatively stout, their offense looks like it could be totally anemic breaking in a new quarterback who can't stay in one place for longer than 9 months.
Jake Locker Will Not Win The Heisman: Look, I'm not saying this because I don't like the Huskies. I think Locker is a tremendous talent who, barring some catastrophic injury will be a top five pick in next year's NFL Draft. Simply put though, Washington is not going to win enough games to vault Locker into the national spotlight over others who are similarly as good. The likeliest winner of the Heisman will be Boise State's Kellen Moore who certainly deserves it. Boise State is already getting plenty of national attention (as their ranking of third in the AP poll certainly indicates) so Locker's uphill climb is likely bigger than most think.
Oregon State, As Always, Will Be Better Than Advertised: You can set you watch to this every year much like Todd McShay being wrong about….everything. The Rodgers brothers will keep defenses worried through the ground and the air and the Beaver defense will be excellent as always, especially with Stephen Paea up front. Head coach Mike Riley might just be the most underrated coach in the country but something tells me he's just fine with that.
California Will Be Merely Average: Sure, Shane Vereen is a great running back. The problem is Kevin Riley is the most inconsistent starting quarterback since Chad Pennington and his entire career. One week the guy can't miss, the next he couldn't hit a slow moving giraffe on a wide open crossing route; but he can inexplicably hit the players in the other jerseys. Also working against the Golden Bears is their back loaded schedule. They have games at USC, at Washington State and at Oregon State and even though their last 3 games are home, they aren't cupcakes: Oregon, Stanford and Washington.
This Is Jim Harbaugh's Last Season At Stanford: Harbaugh is a darling (in a much more manly way) of college football coaching. He's been responsible for the remarkable turn around of Cardinal football program and is recruiting better than just about anyone could've anticipated. But a major college program will fire their coach (Michigan) and their fans (my very unhappy grandfather and aunt) will want a proven coach who isn't of questionable character (like Rich Rodriguez). The winningest program in NCAA history will make Harbaugh an offer he can't refuse and when he takes it, I won't think any less of him.
(Yippee for the first week of picks!)
Arizona should win this game. But beware the lower conference team on the road.
Nick Foles Express 38, I Have No Jokes About Toledo, 17
ASU needs to destroy Portland State to settle some doubts about their offense. We'll see if they do it.
Desert Devils 48, We're Responsible For Half The Injuries To WSU QB's 7
More cupcakes! Cal should eat it!
The Jack Nicklauses 56, I Stopped In Davis For The In-N-Out 14
From the "If We Don't Win The Fans Will Burn The Stadium Down" department
University of Phil Knight 63, Crazy New Mexicans 6
A "neutral" site game at Jerry Jones' Sultan of Brunei-esque palace in Dallas (bonus points for rhyming) proves too tough a test against a good Horned Frogs team.
French Love To Eat Us 31, Dag and Norberts 24
Can we please cut it out with the cupcakes? Although in all fairness, it makes my record better too.
Evergreen Trees 48, Sac State 6
A good road test for the Trojans in a tropical paradise as Hawaii continues to struggle without June Jones.
We Aren't The Guys From That 300 Movie 41, Aloha Also Means We Stink 14
Kevin Prince may or may not be ready to go but I don't think it makes a difference here.
'Octagon of Doom' Football Style 28, Just Call Us The Bears 10
I hate doing this. I really do. Please forgive me.
Montlake Muttonheads 31, Provo: Where Fun Goes To Die 24
And now, the Cougar pick: For as much as this team has improved, they still have work to do. For as much as Oklahoma State has lost, they're still a good team, especially in the running game, which the Cougars have not been able to stop for the last two seasons. Expect heavy doses on the ground from the Cowboys but for WSU to take a big step forward in this game with an improved offense and better defense.
Oklahoma State 24, Washington State 10
+++++++sponsored by Greg Davis Sports Photography+++++++++
The 2010 athletic season is here…and you know what that means…It's time for a whole new season of Cougar Athletics! Football, soccer and volleyball, just to name a few, are preparing for their 2010 seasons. If you need "game action" photographs for your newspaper, magazine, web site, blog, etc., then Greg Davis Sports Photography should be your choice for all things "Cougar" and "Pac-10 Conference"! Coverage for specific athletes or upcoming events is also available. Check out the images from games, practices and events from last season, and be sure to come back often for uploads from all of this season's action.