PAC-10 Media Poll
In 2006, USC fell just short of returning to the BCS title game for a third straight year when UCLA sprung a 13-9 upset on the final weekend of the regular season. Going into that final weekend, the Trojans were in 2nd-place of the BCS Standings, ahead of Michigan and Florida.
Now, the computer gives USC the best chance of capturing the
2007 championship, edging out LSU by 3.56 points. It marks the third straight season that the computer has inserted USC in the title game, and the second time in that span that it has forecasted the Trojans as the top team in the nation. The computer correctly predicted that USC and Texas would meet for the title in 2005.
Southern California is a double-digit favorite in every game
except the November 6 visit to California when it draws an 8.42-point nod. The Trojans are an 11.56-point pick at home in the season finale with crosstown rival UCLA.
But it's the Bruins, not Cal, that the computer favors for second in the PAC-10 race. Aside from USC, the toughest conference tasks for UCLA are its road trips to Oregon State and Arizona. Six of UCLA's last seven regular season losses have come on the road.
California gets USC at home but goes to Pasadena to battle the
Bruins. After opening last season with a disappointing showing at Tennessee, the Golden Bears will get to avenge that 35-18 loss when the Volunteers come to Berkeley to kick-off the 2007 season.
Oregon State looks a little shaky as the No. 4 pick when you
inspect a schedule that holds visits to Arizona State, California, USC, Washington State and Oregon. The Beavers are favored by just under four points when they visit the Sun Devils. Their edge over Oregon in the Civil War is by eight-tenths of a point.
The three teams that follow Oregon State are all forecasted to
complete their PAC-10 schedules with identical 4-5 records. No more than 3.17 power points separate Arizona State, Arizona and Oregon.
The Wildcats have to visit three of the projected four best teams in the conference - USC, Cal and Oregon. Their forecasted victories are on the visit to Washington, and the home games against Washington State, Stanford and Oregon.
Arizona State welcomes Dennis Erickson, who returns to the conference where he previously headed the Oregon State program from 1999-2002. Dirk Koetter was dismissed despite leading the school to a bowl game for the third straight season. However, the last two seasons produced records of 7-6 and 8-5 amid higher expectations.
The Sun Devils have a brutal four-game stretch from October 27
to November 22 that features California, Oregon, UCLA and USC in consecutive weeks. A trip to Oregon State also doesn't bode well.
Oregon has an excellent shot at improving on the computer's projection of a 6-6 season. The Ducks have spreads of fewer than 3 points on three of their projected losses. Two of those games are at home (California and Oregon State) and the other is at Arizona.
Washington State, Washington and Stanford are expected to repeat last year's order of finish from 8th through 10th.
The Cougars' 4-8 forecast includes an underdog spread listing
of just 0.13 at home to Arizona, but they only get a 2.74-point edge in the Apple Cup at Washington.
The Huskies' dismal 2-11 forecast allows for wins at Syracuse
and Stanford. Washington's best shot for nabbing another victory will come at home against Washington State.
Stanford begins the Jim Harbaugh era as a 26.38-point home underdog to UCLA. The computer's winless forecast gives The Cardinal its best shots at victory in home games with San Jose State (+7.68) and Washington (+5.94).
Harbaugh was the head coach at 1-AA San Diego for the last three seasons, leading the Toreros to a 29-6 record while going 27-2 over his last 29 games. The former Michigan star quarterback played 15 seasons in the NFL. Walt Harris was fired by The Cardinal on December 4 after just two seasons. Harris was 6-17 at Stanford, including a 1-11 mark last year.