Pac-10 Football Kicks Off 91st Season On August 31
Aug. 22, 2006
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: All the teams in the Pac-10 jump into action over the Labor Day weekend, highlighted by an early Conference game as STANFORD opens at OREGON. Two teams get an early jump with games on Thur., Aug. 31 as ARIZONA STATE hosts local rival Northern Arizona and OREGON STATE is at home against Eastern Washington. On Sat., Sep. 2, in addition to the Stanford at Oregon contest, non-conference games find BYU at ARIZONA, Utah at UCLA and San Jose State at WASHINGTON. Three Pac-10 teams hit the road for SEC venues as CALIFORNIA is at Tennessee, USC travels to Arkansas and WASHINGTON STATE is at Auburn.
PAC-10 COACHES MEDIA TELECONFERENCES: Pac-10 head football coaches will be available on a media teleconference every tuesday during the football season. The call will be conducted every Tuesday beginning Aug. 29 through Nov. 14. Each coach is scheduled to be on the line for 10 minutes with the call starting at 10:00 a.m. PDT/MST. In addition, a taped replay will be available at 3:00 p.m. PDT/MST following the call and will be available until the next call takes place. Media members may contact the Conference office or any Pac-10 SID office to receive the media only number for both the live teleconference or the taped replay. Following is the schedule for the coaches teleconference:
10:00 a.m. - Mike Bellotti, Oregon10:10 a.m. - Walt Harris, Stanford10:20 a.m. - Mike Stoops, Arizona10:30 a.m. - Mike Riley, Oregon State10:40 a.m. - Pete Carroll, USC10:50 a.m. - Karl Dorrell, UCLA11:00 a.m. - Dirk Koetter, Arizona State11:10 a.m. - Bill Doba, Washington State11:20 a.m. - Jeff Tedford, California11:30 a.m. - Tyrone Willingham, Washington
MEDIA TAB DEFENDING CHAMPS: Three-time defending Pac-10 champion USC has been picked to win the 2006 Pacific-10 Conference football title in a preseason poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. It marks the fourth consecutive year the Trojans have been the choice to win the title, but it differs from the last two years when USC was a unanimous pick to win the title. USC garnered 18 of 29 first-place votes in the poll, but CALIFORNIA, OREGON and ARIZONA STATE also received first-place support. USC has won the last three Pac-10 titles and has two National Championships and a national runner-up finish in the last three years. The Trojans fashioned a 12-1 mark last season, with the only loss coming in a classic battle against Texas in the BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 23 of 45 previous polls, including the last six years in a row. Following are the results of the preseason media poll (points 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):
1. USC (18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 276 2. California (7) . . . . . . . . . . . 247 3. Oregon (3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 4. Arizona State (1) . . . . . . . . 204 5. UCLA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 6. Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133 7. Oregon State . . . . . . . . . . . 125 8. Washington State . . . . . . . . . . . 96 9. Stanford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 10. Washington . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
POLL NOTES: Preseason media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 23 of 45 times and has been very accurate of late in correctly identifying the Conference champ the last six years in a row. . . . While USC was a unanimous pick to win the Pac-10 the last two seasons, this year's poll with four team registering first-place votes is more typical. Prior to the last two years of unanimous support for the Trojans, at least four team received first-place votes in four of the previous five years. . . . USC topping the media poll for four straight years is the most for one institution since WASHINGTON was picked four straight years from 1990-93. The Huskies won the crown in three of those four years. . . . The rebuilding work of coach Mike Stoops at ARIZONA is being noted. Despite finishing no higher than eighth in the Conference standings the last five years, the media panel placed the Wildcats sixth in the poll. That is the highest UA has been picked in the poll since 1999, when the Cats were actually picked to win the league title coming off a 12-1 season in 1998.
PAC-10 TELEVISION: Pacific-10 Conference television partners ABC Sports, Fox Sports Net and TBS combine to provide extensive coverage of Pac-10 football in 2006. ABC will televise 14 games from Pac-10 sites over the air, while FSN will air 13 games and TBS five games to a national cable audience, giving the Pac-10 a total of 18 home games on national cable. In addition, many non-conference road games involving Pac-10 teams will be televised by a combination of ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and NBC. In addition to the Conference television packages, individual schools at times may present games on local over-the-air or cable entities.
PAC-10 BOWL ARRANGEMENTS - 2006-07: The Pac-10 has contractual arrangements to send six teams to post-season bowl games. With the NCAA going to a 12-game regular season, teams are eligible to participate in a bowl game with which their league has a contractual agreement with a 6-6 or better record.
INSTANT REPLAY: The Pac-10 enters year two of instant replay and this season all Division I-A conferences have agreed to utilize a uniform system of replay. Therefore, all games involving Pac-10 teams this season will have instant replay in place. One significant change from a year ago is a coaches challenge element. Each coach will be allowed to challenge the on-field ruling one time per game. The coach must have a team time out available to challenge a ruling. After review, if the call on the field is reversed, the team time out shall be restored. If the on-field ruling is not reversed, the time out counts as one of the three permitted the team that half. Following is a summary of instant replay in the Pac-10 in 2005:
Games utilizing instant replay: 60Number of game stoppages to review a play: 74Number of reversals: 27Average number of stoppages per game: 1.2Average length of review: 2:04Number of plays reviewed with no game stoppage: 327
PAC-10 NOTES ENTERING THE 2006 SEASON:
OUT OF OUR LEAGUE: The Pac-10 compiled a stellar 26-10 (.722) mark against outside foes in 2005. It was the league's best mark against non-conference opponents since 2001 (26-9).
Longest overall winning streak - 2 games - Arizona State and California Longest Conference-game winning streak - 23 games - USC (Pac-10 record) Longest home winning streak - 27 games - USC (Pac-10 record) Longest road winning streak - 15 games - USC
NO MORE MISSES: With the NCAA increasing the allowable number of regular season games to 12, the Pac-10 has adopted a full round-robin nine-game Conference schedule, meaning no more Conference 'misses' to potentially influence the championship race. It marks the first time since Arizona and Arizona State entered the league in 1978 that the Pac-10 will have a full round-robin schedule in football. In addition, each school will play one home and on road game against a team from the other four geographical areas of the Conference, with the traditional rival game alternating each year to determine which teams play four and which teams play five Conference home games each year.
RECORD ATTENDANCE: Pac-10 football has never been more popular as the Conference set records for both overall and average attendance in 2005. A total of 3,448,219 fans attended games at Pac-10 stadiums last year, an average of 57,470 per game. Both figures are new records of the Conference. Leading the way was USC, which became the first Pac-10 team to better more than 90,000 fans per game as an average of 90,812 jammed the L.A. Coliseum for Trojan games.pac-10 football - 8/21/06page 5
NO NEW COACHES: For the first time since 2000, there will be no new head coaches in the Pac-10.
ARIZONA: Wildcats have the most returning starters among Pac-10 teams. UA has 17 starters back, including nine coming back to a defensive unit that ranked in the upper half of the Conference in scoring defense and total defense last year. . . . Cats' first two games will be nationally televised. Opener at home against BYU will be carried by TBS, followed by road game at LSU on ESPN2. . . . Arizona lost five games by seven points or fewer last year. . . . Sophomore QB Willie Tuitama threw nine TD passes in starting the Cats' final four games last season. . . . Wildcats play four of first five games at home. . . . Junior CBs Antoine Cason and Wilfrey Fontenot have not only started all 22 games of their careers, but have played every defensive snap.
ARIZONA STATE: Sun Devils return eight starters to an offensive unit that ranked second in the nation in total offense last season at 519 yards per game and averaged 36.8 points per contest. . . . Hard to envision any team having a more accomplished quarterbacking duo than the Sun Devils. Senior Sam Keller passed for 2,165 yards and 20 TDs last year before missing the last five games with a thumb injury. Then-redshirt freshman Rudy Carpenter stepped in for Keller for the final five games and led the Devils to a 4-1 mark, passing for 2,273 yards and 17 TDs and ended up leading the nation in passing efficiency. . . . S Zach Catanese is the leading returning tackler in the Pac-10. He averaged 8.9 stops per game last season. . . . Versatile WR Rudy Burgess was the only player in the nation to accumulate more than 600 yards both rushing and receiving last year. In addition to playing wide receiver and running back, plus returning kickoffs and punts, Burgess got in a little time at cornerback in the spring.
CALIFORNIA: Golden Bears return eight starters to the defensive unit that led the Pac-10 in scoring defense last year. Included are two returning first-team All-Pac-10 selections (CB Daymeion Hughes and DT Brandon Mebane) and two returning second-teamers (MLB Desmond Bishop and DE Nu'u Tafisi). . . . Cal plans to incorporate more of a spread passing game to its already potent offense this season. . . . Bears must replace three offensive linemen, all of whom were picked in the NFL draft. . . . Bears have two of the top three returning rushers in the Pac-10. TB Marshawn Lynch rushed for 1,246 yards and 10 TDs averaging 124.6 yards per game and 6.4 yards per carry. TB Justin Forsett added 999 yards and six TDs while averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
OREGON: Duck defense led the Pac-10 with 23 interceptions last year. . . . Oregon expects a big year from soph TB Jonathan Stewart. He showed his explosiveness as a true freshman last year by bringing back two of 12 kickoff returns for touchdowns. . . . Oregon is one of three Pac-10 teams to return all five starters on the offensive line (Oregon State and Stanford are the others). Last season that group cut the team's sack total allowed to 20 from 35 the previous year. . . . Oregon is one of four teams to get first-place votes in the Pac-10 media poll. The Ducks are on the road against the other three--Arizona State, California and USC. UO's other road games are not easy either, with trips to Fresno State, Washington State and rival Oregon State.
OREGON STATE: Back for the Beavers is All-America PK Alexis Serna, winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top place kicker last year. Serna connected on 23-of-28 field goal attempts as a sophomore last season. . . . An unheralded sophomore entering the season in 2005, TB Yvenson Bernard ended up rushing 299 times for 1,321 yards (120.1 yards per game, ninth in the nation) and 13 TDs. . . . Should bode well for a topflight ground game as the Beavers have all five offensive line starters back for the first time since 1977. . . . Offense will get a big boost with the return of standout tight end Joe Newton from a leg injury. . . . OSU also returns starting secondary intact, although it is still a young group save senior SS Sabby Piscitelli.
STANFORD: Newly-constructed Stanford Stadium is expected to be up and running for the Cardinal home opener against Navy on Sep. 16. The new stadium will seat 50,000 spectators. . . . Seasoned fifth-year senior Trent Edwards returns at QB. Edwards completed 63% of his passes last year with 17 TDs and just seven interceptions. . . . Edwards will be helped by the return of 6-foot-7 WR Evan Moore from a hip injury. . . . Stanford was least penalized team in the Pac-10 last season. . . . Cardinal could feature brothers Udeme Udofia (OLB) and Ekom Udofia (NT) both starting on defense this year. . . . Cardinal expect LB Michael Okwo to be a top playmaker on defense this year. . . . Stanford returns all five starters on the offensive line. Card returning offensive linemen have a combined 122 career starts.
UCLA: Bruins were the comeback kids last season, making four fourth-quarter comebacks from double digits on the way to a 10-2 season. . . . UCLA has six new assistant coaches on staff for 2006, including new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, a former USC assistant who has spent the last four seasons coaching defense in the NFL. Walker will likely implement more man-to-man coverage than the Bruins have used in the past. . . . Bruins hope return to health of a number of defensive linemen, including 2004 sack leader DT Kevin Brown, will help that unit. . . . UCLA plays four of first five games at home in the Rose Bowl. This marks the 25th season the Bruins have played their home games at the fabled stadium.
USC: The Trojans return the most decorated player in the Conference this season in SE Dwayne Jarrett. Jarrett was a unanimous first-team All-America selection as a sophomore in 2005 after catching 91 balls for 1,274 yards 16 TDs. With 29 career TD receptions, Jarrett already is in fifth place on the Pac-10 career touchdown reception list and is just three short of the Pac-10 record of 32, held by Stanford's Ken Margerum (1977-80). . . . Trojans enter the season with a 27-game home winning streak and a 23-game winning streak in Pac-10 games. Both are ongoing Conference records. USC is the only team in the country that has won all of its home games the last three years. . . . Trojans lost just seven fumbles in 13 games last year. . . . The Trojans lost three offensive line starters to the NFL draft, but have more experience back than meets the eye and still figure to have a topflight line led by All-Pac-10 selections OT Sam Baker and C Ryan Kalil. . . . Trojans return six linebackers who have started games.
WASHINGTON: Huskies figure to be improved entering year-two of Tyrone Willingham's tenure as head coach. Dawgs lost three games in the final minute a year ago. . . . With fifth-year senior Isaiah Stanback returning firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, it marks the first time since 2003 that the Huskies enter the season with certainty at QB. Stanback, incidentally, finished fifth in the 100 meters at the Pac-10 track and field championships last spring. . . . Four starters and five of the top eight players must be replaced on the offensive line. . . . Return of TB Kenny James from a shoulder injury should pick up running game. . . . On the other side of the ball, Husky defense should be improved with eight starters returning, including some young defensive linemen that got valuable playing time last year. . . . Two-year starter Dashon Goldson moves from free safety to cornerback.
WASHINGTON STATE: SE Jason Hill is the only returning receiver in the Pac-10 that averaged better than 100 receiving yards per game last season. Hill had 62 receptions for 1,097 yards in 10 games in 2005 (109.7 yards per game). Included were a school-record 13 TD receptions, which raised Hill's career TD reception mark to 25, tied for 10th place on the Pac-10 career list. . . . On the other end of those passes is QB Alex Brink, who passed for 2,891 yards and 24 TDs as a soph last year. . . . Big hole to fill is running back, where departed Jerome Harrison rushed for an even 1,900 yards last season, the fifth best season in Pac-10 history. . . . Cougars led the league with 34 QB sacks last year. On the other side of the ball, WSU was Pac-10 co-leader in fewest sacks allowed with just 18. . . . Bob Robertson begins his 40th season of broadcasting WSU football on the radio this fall. . . . Cougs lost five Pac-10 games by four or fewer points last year.