2006 PAC 10 Conference Preview
The Arizona State Sun Devils, who finished their 2005 college football season 4-4 in Pacific Ten conference play, are seeking to be much improved for their 2006 campaign. The Sun Devils have one of the most heated quarterback battles in the country going on during camp. Sam Keller, the Arizona State quarterback in 2005, will be competing against his replacement when he got hurt, Rudy Carpenter. While both of these quarterbacks will be very worthy leaders, the team will not be very successful if their defense does not step it up big time from 2005.
The Arizona Wildcats, under Coach Mike Stoops, look to be much improved from their 3-8 mark in 2005. Coach Stoops says the team is in much better shape going into their 2006 campaign and looks to be a player in the Pac 10 race. The Wildcats loss 5 games last year by 7 points or less, if the team can learn to pull out the games they are used to losing, then Arizona can very well make a charge in 2006.
The California Golden Bears, which ended the 2005 season a disappointing 8-4 after their strong start, look to build upon their strong offense. The Bears went out and hired a new offensive coordinator in Mike Dunbar, and hope that his expertise can get the Bears offense back to where it was in 2004, when they came within one touchdown of beating USC and a chance at a National Championship. Whether the starting quarterback is Joe Ayoob or Nate Longshore, they are sure to be in a system with a large capacity to succeed.
The Oregon Ducks, which finished 2005 with an impressive 10-2 mark under Coach Mike Bellotti, are looking to get this year what they couldn’t get last year…a BCS birth. The Ducks finished with a disappointing 17-14 loss to Oklahoma last year in the Holiday Bowl, and are looking to bounce back strong in 2006. The Ducks return 15 starters, including quarterbacks Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf. Therefore, anything less than a BCS game for this squad will be a disappointment.
The Oregon State Beavers, after finishing the 2005 NCAA football season with a 5-6 record and a disappointing 56-14 loss to in state rival Oregon, are trying to rebound and earn themselves a spot into a bowl game. If the Beavers can give opponents a heavy dose of tailback Yvenson Bernard and quarterback Matt Moore can orchestrate the offense more effectively and more efficiently, the Beavers can have a very successful 2006season and earn the right to play in a bowl game.
Most teams would be lucky to finish in the top 25 after losing two Heisman trophy finalists and the best backfield in the country. But the USC Trojans aren’t most teams. The Trojans, after losing one of the most exciting National Championships ever, will look to reload in 2006 and try to win another title under Coach Peter Carroll. As long as Dwayne Jarrett can have another dynamite year at the wide out, and USC’s studs can stay out of trouble, there is no reason the Trojans should not be thinking National Championship in 2006.
The Stanford Cardinal, heading into its second college football season under Coach Walt Harris, look to improve on their 5-6 mark from a year ago. The Cardinal will stick with senior quarterback Trent Edwards, who has had an in injury plagued career and has yet to lead the offense with any sort of consistency. The Cardinal have to improve all across the board, and if they fail to do so, it is sure to be another long season for Coach Harris.
The UCLA Bruins go into the 2006 season with a lot of promise but also a lot of question marks. With returning quarterback Ben Olson running the show the Bruins offense is sure to impress. The big question that stumped the Bruins all of last year and will continue to this year will be the defense. If the Bruins do not find a way to stop opposing offenses, this will be a mediocre season for a team packed with talent.
The Washington Huskies, who finished 2005 with a dismal 2-9 mark, will look to improve greatly under second year coach Tyrone Willingham. The Huskies will undoubtedly improve that mark this year, the question is by how much. The Huskies return 14 starters across the board, and if this maturity can make up for the lack of talent, then the Huskies may be able to get back to respectability in ’06.
The Washington State Cougars, who were a woeful 1-7 in Pacific 10 play in ’05, will need to greatly improve if they want to be a player in the conference. The bright spot for the Cougars is that five of their seven losses were by four points or less. A 4-7 mark could have very easily been 9-2. If the Cougars can find a way to win the games that they are used to losing, they can have a very successful college football season in 2006