By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Let's cut the suspense: Arizona will go to Pasadena, but it will not be easy. The rest of the conference is a little more complicated, but after much deliberation, this is how the season will play out. Teams' predicted final records and conference records are in parentheses.
1. Arizona (10-1, 8-0). The Wildcats will win their final four games to be the first undefeated and untied team in conference play to go to the Rose Bowl since 1991. Arizona will be tested, however Ä Oregon could be close and Southern Cal probably will be. But in the end, it boils down to the law of averages, and it is simply Arizona's turn to spend New Year's in Pasadena. Besides, this will let Sports Illustrated decide once and for all who their No. 1 team is Ä Arizona, the "old" No.
1, or Penn State, their "new" No. 1.
2. Washington State (9-2, 7-1). Like Arizona in 1992. A great defense but an offense that bears a striking resemblance to Salman Rushdie: both spend a lot of time in hiding. Not the most attractive bowl team, but wins over USC and Washington will give the Cougars the Pacific 10 Conference's coalition spot.
3. Oregon (8-4, 6-2). It does not matter where the Ducks finish, their victories over USC and Washington are a tribute to coach Rick Brooks and his whole team, both of whom most everyone picked to finish last in the conference. After coming back to reality with a loss to Arizona, the Ducks will sweep their final three games. Brooks gets Pac-10 coach of the year, and Oregon gets a much deserved Freedom Bowl bid for their third-place finish.
4. USC (7-4, 5-3). For the third straight year, the Trojans' season will be finished by the time the apple drops in Times Square. Consecutive losses to Washington State and Arizona will end head coach John Robinson's hopes of taking Troy back to the Rose Bowl, but wins over UCLA and Notre Dame (join the club) will earn this team a spot in the Alamo Bowl.
Because there are 10 teams in the Pac-10, the final six will still be ranked, although they range from bad to ineligible.
5. California (4-7, 3-5). UCLA linebacker Donnie Edwards shattered Cal's season when he broke quarterback Dave Barr's left clavicle. Enter backup Kerry McGonigal. Six quarters and one touchdown later, exit McGonigal and enter sophomore Pat Barnes, who mopped up in the Golden Bears 61-0 loss to USC. The worst part is, Cal has not even started the tough part of their schedule. Consecutive games against Washington State, Arizona and Washington should bring the Golden Bears' season to a slow, painful end.
6. Arizona State (3-8, 3-5). A hard luck team decimated by injuries, but it is debatable whether the talent was there to begin with. Another disappointing season in Tempe could be salvaged by a victory over Arizona, but it will not happen.
7. Stanford (3-6-2, 1-6-1). All the Cardinal has to do is win their final four games to go to a bowl, and it does not take a genius to figure out that their defense will have to take them there. The question arises of how many yards Napoleon Kaufman will run for when he realizes Stanford does not have a defense.
8. Oregon State (3-8, 1-7). This was supposed to be the year the Beavers made their mark in the conference, but until they can pull out a close game, Oregon State is just a college version of the Arizona Cardinals.
9. UCLA (2-8-1, 1-7). J.J. Stokes or not, the Bruins will be shut out from the win column in the Pac-10 Ä oh, wait, UCLA plays Stanford this weekend.
10.Washington (8-3, 5-3). Kaufman will get the Heisman Trophy, but what was supposed to be the Huskies dream season soured quickly after Oregon upset them last weekend. But it does not matter, because Probation U. still has to spend two more months paying its debt to the Pac-10 for a series of violations.
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