HOW THEY'LL FINISH
This is an article from the Aug. 11, 2008 issue
Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter
USC running back Stafon Johnson
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
LB, Sr., Cal
The Bears' switch to a 3--4 base defense will turn him into a speed rusher off the edge, the perfect spot for the 6'1" 238-pounder's big-play instincts.
WR, Sr., Washington St.
Clearly the Cougars' best offensive weapon, Gibson was the only wideout in the conference to average more than 100 yards receiving per game.
QB, Soph., Washington
Equally dangerous as a passer or runner, Locker is the top returning rusher in the conference (986 yards). He's big (6'3", 225) and fast.
S, Jr., Stanford
He's a tackling machine, but the Cardinal is hoping an improved run defense will keep him from having to make as many touchdown savers as he did last season.
QB, Sr., Arizona
He broke school records with 28 TDs and 3,683 passing yards in his first season in the spread—and could break them again with his top four receivers back.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Rudy Carpenter, QB, Sr., Arizona State.
Slowed by a thumb injury in '07, he's healthy, experienced (31 straight starts) and capable of improving on last year's 25 TDs.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Rey Maualuga, LB, Sr., USC.
His bone-crushing hits overshadow his pass-coverage skills and ability to make tackles from sideline to sideline.
TRUE FRESHMAN TO WATCH
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State.
At 5'7", 185, he's small, strong and fast, drawing comparisons with former UCLA star Maurice Jones-Drew. Rodgers could make an immediate impact as a situational back and kick returner.
COACH ON THE RISE
Jim Harbaugh (right), Stanford.
If he improves on the four wins he squeezed out of the talent-thin Cardinal in his first season, including an upset at USC, higher-profile programs may start calling.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT
Mike Stoops, Arizona.
The Wildcats have gone 17--29 without a winning season in his four years. It may take a bowl bid to save his job.
The major concern for UCLA is the offensive line, which is short on depth and experience. Left guard DARIUS SAVAGE is a converted defensive tackle, and right guard SCOTT GLICKSBERG moves over from tight end. Neither has started a game on the offensive line. The Bruins were counting on tackle DONOVAN EDWARDS, but the J.C. transfer chose Cal after verbally committing to UCLA.... Cal took a big hit when running back JAMES MONTGOMERY, listed No. 1 on the spring depth chart, decided to transfer. The Bears are hoping that JAHVID BEST, a speedy but somewhat slender sophomore, can be an every-down back because the ranks are thin behind him.... First-year Washington State coach PAUL WULFF may have bigger problems to clean up off the field than on it. During the past two years at least 25 Cougars have been arrested or charged with offenses that carry possible jail time, and in May the NCAA took away eight scholarships over two years because of the program's failure to meet academic standards.