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2010 Pac-10 conference report

Pac-10 Conference Report
Can Oregon win without Jeremiah Masoli? Will USC bounce back under Lane Kiffin? Is Arizona a sleeper threat? SI.com's 2010 conference reports continue with Stewart Mandel's Pac-10 breakdown.
 
How They'll Finish
 
 ConferenceOverall
Oregon 7-210-2
Oregon St.7-28-4
Arizona6-39-3
USC6-310-3
Washington5-48-4
 
 ConferenceOverall
Stanford5-47-5
UCLA4-56-6
Cal3-66-6
Arizona St.2-74-8
Washington St.0-91-11
 
Offensive MVP
 
RB
Jacquizz Rodgers
2009 Season Stats: 1,440 rush yards, 21 TDs, 78 receptions, 522 yards
2010 Projected Stats: 1,658 rush yards, 24 TDs, 72 receptions, 501 yards
There's no overstating the diminutive junior's impact and versatility. Quizz put together another workmanlike season on the ground (seven 100-plus yard games) in 2009 while also becoming a receiving threat, catching at least seven balls in five games. With Oregon State breaking in young quarterback Ryan Katz, coach Mike Riley will likely lean on Rodgers even more heavily in both areas, paving the way for a potential Heisman run.
GALLERY: Rodgers headlines SI.com's All-Pac-10 Team
 
Defensive MVP
 
DE
Kenny Rowe
2009 Season Stats: 11.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss
2010 Projected Stats: 14 sacks, 20 tackles for loss
The undersized Rowe (6-foot-3, 231 pounds) emerged as the Pac-10's most ferocious pass-rusher last season, culminating with his Defensive MVP performance in the Rose Bowl when he sacked Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor three times. Prior to that, his second-half pressure against Oregon State's Sean Canfield helped turn momentum in the Ducks' title-clinching Civil War win. Rowe, a senior, is one of eight returning starters from the conference's fourth-ranked defense in 2009.
 
Impact Freshman
 
RB
Dillon Baxter
High School Stats: 261 carries, 2,984 yards, 50 TDs
2010 Projected Stats: 115 carries, 708 yards, 7 TDs
Baxter enrolled in time for spring practice and immediately drew comparisons to former USC star Reggie Bush by showing off lethal cuts and breakaway speed. Baxter likely won't unseat veterans Allen Bradford and C .J. Gable from the get go, but he'll definitely be in the mix, likely seeing more touches as the season progresses. Trojans receivers Robert Woods and Kyle Prater could be early contributors as well.
VIDEO: Success for Lane Kiffin, USC in 2010?
 
Coach On The Hot Seat
 
Dennis Erickson
Last Season: 4-8 (2-7 Pac-10)
Career at Arizona State: 19-18 (three seasons)
AD Lisa Love thought she'd hit a home run when she landed the two-time national champion, but so far the well-traveled Erickson has been a disappointment. Following an 8-0 start in his first season, the Sun Devils have gone just 11-18. ASU has ample talent on defense but will need a host of transfers to boost last year's anemic offense in order to get back into the upper half of the conference. A third straight losing season would be tough for the 63-year-old coach to survive.
 
Three Key Nonconference Games
 
Oregon State vs. TCU
Saturday, September 4
7:45 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Rodgers brothers return to their home state to play this challenging opener at Cowboys Stadium -- then meet Boise State three weeks later. Yikes.
 
Nebraska at Washington
Saturday, September 18
3:30 p.m ET (ABC)
Steve Sarkisian and Jake Locker could go a long way toward recapturing UW's long-lost glory by upsetting a prestigious and likely preseason top 10 foe.
 
Notre Dame at USC
Saturday, November 27
8 p.m. ET (TBD)
With new coaches (Brian Kelly and Lane Kiffin) at both schools, it's hard to say where these teams will stand come late November, but their rivalry always garners attention.
 
Three Key Conference Games
 
Oregon at USC
Saturday, October 30
8 p.m. ET (ABC)
In what could be a defining game in the conference-title race, the Trojans will be seeking revenge for last year's 47-20 Ducks drubbing in Eugene.
 
Arizona at Stanford
Saturday, November 6
TBD
If the Wildcats hope to get over the hump and contend for a title, they need to start winning road games like this. (They lost at Washington and Cal last season.)
MANDEL: Arizona among teams with BCS sleeper potential
 
Oregon at Oregon State
Saturday, December 4
TBD
The always heated Civil War has decided the Rose Bowl fate of one or both teams each of the past two seasons, and this year's could well do the same.
VIDEO: Will Civil War again decide Pac-10 race?
 
Did You Know?
 
Nine of the 10 league teams return at least one quarterback who has started a game, with Oregon State the lone exception.
Arizona State went 4-8 last season despite producing the nation's 13th-ranked defense (297.6 yards per game). All 12 teams ahead of the Sun Devils won at least eight games.
USC gave up at least 35 points three times last season, a benchmark Trojans opponents had reached twice in the previous eight seasons.
 
Pac-10 Video Preview
Top Contenders
Source: SI
SI.com breaks down why Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona and USC look like top Pac-10 contenders in 2010.
 

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