Time to get prophetic: From USC to pathetic

2008-07-24T00:00:00Z Time to get prophetic: From USC to patheticBy Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 24, 2008 12:00 am  • 

LOS ANGELES — The Pac-10's football coaches and top players will arrive at the Los Angeles Airport Hilton this morning for six hours of sound bytes.

Realism is optional.

Pac-10 media day is the Stanford halftime show of press conferences: Informal, irreverent and just a little bit annoying. Coaches and players will answer questions, make predictions and tell stories — all with the goal of stoking fan interest for another season.

We want in on the fun.

Here are 10 bold guarantees — some serious, some silly — for 2008. After all, media day is no time to be rational:

1. USC will make the Rose Bowl — again. The Trojans have played in four of the last five Rose Bowls, and — given their returners and schedule — are a lock for another New Year's Day win.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh will declare USC is "bigger than the Beatles," an assertion Trojans coach Pete Carroll — the conference's resident rock critic — will laughingly dispute. Even if it is true.

2. A Sun Devil will run away with the rushing title. ASU tailback Keegan Herring is not quite J.R. Redmond-good, but he will carry the Pac-10 in an otherwise down year. Herring had 815 yards in part-time play a year ago; do not be surprised if he tops the 1,200-yard mark in 2008.

3. Oregon will unveil another uniform combination — and this one will be high-tech. The Ducks will wear uniforms and helmets made of "green-screen" material, allowing Nike to broadcast commercials directly onto the athletes during games.

That Times Square billboard is so 2001.

4. Arizona will get hung with a new nickname (like it needs one): The Desert Shield. Tackle Eben Britton and center Blake Kerley anchor an offensive line that might just be the best in the conference. If quarterback Willie Tuitama can put up big passing numbers, the line will get some much-needed respect — and maybe its own billboard.

5. Unknown quarterback Kevin Craft will lead UCLA to an upset of Tennessee in Week 1, and the Bruins will make a bowl game. What are the odds? Actually, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel probably knows.

6. Oregon State will start 1-4 — and still make a bowl game. That is because the Beavers finish as well, or better, than any program in America. Oregon State has gone 9-2 in the months of November and December over the last two seasons, its only losses coming to UCLA (2006) and USC (2007). To use a beaver term: "Dam!"

7. Stanford will pull another upset. You read it here first: The Cardinal will stun Notre Dame on Oct. 4 in South Bend, Ind. Want specifics? Sophomore kicker David Green will nail two key field goals, and the Cardinal will prevail 20-13.

8. Washington's Jake Locker will make SportsCenter's "Top Plays" eight times … and the Huskies will win four games.

9. Cal will get defensive. The Golden Bears finished seventh in the Pac-10 in total defense a year ago but return poised to lead the conference in 2008.

The reason: returners. Seven defensive starters, including Sabino High School star Cody Jones, are back for another season in Strawberry Canyon.

10. Washington State will … well, finish last. Hey, we promised bold predictions — not stupid ones.

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