A select number of media members voted on what they thought the Pac Ten Standings would reflect at the end of the 2010 season. The votes from those media members show that there is a belief that the race for first place is wide open. I agree with the notion that there are three or four teams that have a chance to win the Pac Ten Championship. The total number of points received in the vote was pretty close. Oregon received 314, USC 311, Oregon State 262, Stanford 233, Arizona 222 and Washington 209. Excluding USC, because of their probation, I think three or four teams in the conference has a legitimate shot at finishing in first place.
To win the Pac Ten a team must have one of the best QB's in the conference. Going into the 2010 season the best QB's in the league are 1. Jake Locker, 2. Nick Foles, 3. Andrew Luck and 4. Matt Barkley. Each time Washington and Arizona take the field in conference play they will have the advantage at the QB position. The advantage at the QB position for the Huskies and Wildcats will be smaller when they play Stanford and USC, but the margin will be enormous when they match-up against Washington State, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA.
A dominant defense will also help a team remain in contention for the conference title. It's possible for a team to have the 5th best QB in the Pac Ten and finish in first place if that team's defense can play lights out every week. The best defenses in the Pac Ten are 1. USC, 2. Arizona State, 3. UCLA, 4. Oregon and Arizona. Some teams in the conference will have an inexperienced QB under center. Teams like Oregon, Arizona State and Oregon will have to rely on their defense until their QB's gain some in game experience.
If a team has a new QB, a good defense and an off the charts playmaker at the skill positions they will have a shot at first place this season. There are only a few teams that meet those criteria. Those teams are Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks have RB LaMichael James, WR Jeff Maehl and true freshmen RB Lache Seastrunk. The Beavers have RB Jacquizz Rodgers and WR James Rodgers. Those players will make life easier for the first time starters at the QB position. The teams that will be in contention for the Pac Ten Championship are 1. Washington, 2. Oregon, 3. Arizona State, 4. Stanford and 5. Oregon State.