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Pac-10 overview

Can last year's Pac-thetic 10 regroup in 2000?

By Ted Miller, Special to CNNSI.com

Carson Palmer A healthy Carson Palmer will be key for the Trojans. David Taylor/Allsport

Projected Order of Finish
1. USC
2. Washington
3. UCLA
4. Oregon
5. Arizona State
6. Arizona
7. Oregon State
8. Stanford
9. California
10. Washington State

Top Storylines

After an abysmal 1999 season with a 1-4 bowl record and only one ranked team (Oregon), the conference has fallen out of the nation's elite. USC has the talent and Washington the quarterback to change that. But expectations in the conference often go splat. Pac-10 media predicted last preseason Arizona, USC, UCLA and Arizona State would capture the top four spots; none but Arizona State ended up there when the smoke cleared. But no one outside the West cared because the out-of-conference performances were nothing less than embarrassing.

The non-conference slate should be telling again in 2000. USC returns 10 on defense and will have a healthy Carson Palmer at quarterback, but the first two games are against Penn State and Colorado. Washington and quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, the conference's only Heisman hopeful, have Miami and Colorado in their first three contests. UCLA has Michigan and Alabama; Oregon pays a visit to Wisconsin; Arizona has Ohio State; Stanford will play host to Texas. If things don't go well, the top Pac-10 teams could once again end up barely sniffing the national polls.

Where They'll Be for the Holidays
BCS Blessed Dot-Com Doomed Confined to Couch
USC Washington
UCLA
Oregon
Arizona State
Arizona
Oregon State
Stanford
California
Washington State

Best of All Worlds
Quarterback
Washington
Marques Tuiasosopo
Running Back
Oregon State
Ken Simonton, Patrick McCall
Ends
UCLA
Freddie Mitchell, Brian Poli-Dixon
Offensive Line
Washington
T Elliott Silvers, G Dominic Daste, C Kyle Benn, G Matt Fraize, T Chad Ward
Defensive Line
USC
Ennis Davis, Ryan Nielsen
Linebackers
USC
Sultan Abdul-Malik, Zeke Moreno, Markus Steele
Secondary
Oregon State
Dennis Weathersby, K. Heyward-Johnson, Terrence Carroll, Calvin Carlyle
Special Teams
Washington
John Anderson, Ryan Fleming, Paul Arnold
Coaching
Oregon
Mike Bellotti, defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford

Status Report
Set to Go Skygliding
UCLA
The talent is there to transform a 4-7 1999 campaign into a fluke.
Set to Go Cliffdiving
Stanford
Lost four first-team All-Pac-10 players on offense; defense still poor.
About to Step Up
Maurice Morris, RB, Oregon
Top JUCO back will try to fill Reuben Droughns' cleats.
Hasn't Stepped Up Yet
Sultan McCullough, RB, USC
Supposedly the conference's fastest back, McCullough had one touchdown last year.

Schedules
Brutal Schedule
UCLA
Ridiculous. Top-five teams Alabama and Michigan; at Washington and Oregon; misses doormat Washington State.
Breather Schedule
Oregon State
Opens with Eastern Washington, New Mexico and San Diego State; faces USC, Stanford and Oregon at home. Misses Arizona State.

Mark Your Calendar
USC vs. Penn State, Aug. 27
Penn State bludgeoned Arizona in last year's opener. A USC victory would restore conference pride.
Miami at Washington, Sept. 9
Matchup of 1991 co-national champs who both suffered under NCAA sanctions later in the decade. Winner returns to the hunt.
USC at UCLA, Nov. 18
The battle for L.A. should mean something this year after the Trojans ended an eight-year drought in 1999.

Ted Miller covers the Pac-10 for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and will write a weekly CNNSI.com conference insider this season.


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