Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
Defensive End :: UCLA
A converted linebacker, he finished last season with 12 1/2 sacks, more than any other returning player in the country. The senior is a speed rusher who patterns his game after that of the Miami Dolphins' Jason Taylor.
Quarterback :: Oregon
He missed summer workouts to play minor league baseball in the Atlanta Braves' system. Although he has been inconsistent in his first three seasons, he has the arm—and the legs—to make the offense dangerous.
Quarterback :: Washington
The Huskies are turning the offense over to the redshirt freshman, who was an area high school star. Locker has the talent to handle the job, but he faces a murderous early schedule that includes Boise State, Ohio State and USC.
Running Back :: Arizona State
A junior college transfer, Torain was a pleasant surprise for the Sun Devils in 2006. He rushed for 1,229 yards and seven touchdowns despite not moving into the starting lineup until the fifth game of the season.
Defensive Tackle :: Stanford
He blossomed into a fine run-stopper as a redshirt freshman last season, and now he'll be the anchor of the Cardinal's otherwise suspect defense. His brother, Udeme, a senior, will line up next to him at left end or at linebacker.
Best Offensive Player
John David Booty :: QB :: USC
His Rose Bowl performance (391 passing yards, four TDs) indicates the senior is capable of carrying the offense.
Best Defensive Player
Antoine Cason :: CB :: Arizona
Though often unnoticed because the Wildcats have been mediocre, the 6-foot senior is among the premier corners in the country.
True Freshman to Watch
Everson Griffen :: DE :: USC
The 6' 3" 265-pounder has tailback speed and should get playing time on a defense intent on forcing more turnovers.
Coach on the Rise
Jeff Tedford :: Cal
Now in his sixth season, the offensive mastermind was signed to a four-year extension in early 2007 to help fend off interested NFL teams.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Mike Stoops :: Arizona
A 12–22 record isn't what the Wildcats envisioned when Bob's little brother arrived from Oklahoma in 2004.
The Beavers have 17 returning starters, including a hidden gem in wideout Sammie Stroughter. If one of their inexperienced quarterbacks comes through, they'll be tough.
Jay Norvell, the quarterbacks coach at Nebraska for the past three seasons, replaces Jim Svoboda as UCLA's offensive coordinator. Norvell is the fifth coach to fill the position for the Bruins in six years.... Arizona's offense was so bad last year (16.6 points per game) that the Wildcats have installed an entirely new spread attack for highly touted quarterback Willie Tuitama. The junior will call signals for new offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, who came to Tucson after seven years at Texas Tech.... If USC has a weakness, it could be in the placekicking department. Junior David Buehler, who has one career field goal, is the leading candidate for the job.... Cal lost six starters on defense, but the Bears have a player to build around in junior linebacker Zack Follett, who led the team with 5 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss in 2006. Follett was the only nonstarter in the Pac-10 to earn all-conference honors last year. . . . Stanford suffered a major blow on the defensive line when sophomore tackle Sione Fua decided to leave for a two-year Mormon mission. -- Phil Taylor