Southern California, the all everything team with amazing speed and an abundance of depth in all the positions is the number one team in the nation. Only one team, on October 1, 2005 has a chance to upset the Trojans. That one team is Arizona State and that is a long shot.
2005 Predicted Order of Finish
1. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Defending national champions have return quarterback matt Leinart and running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White (1,000-yard rusher) along with wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett with wide open arms. This array of offensive personnel will be impossible to stop. The defense did not fare as well on returning stars and may be the only weakness of this team.
2. ARIZONA STATE
Sam Keller will take over the quarterback duties and with a strong previous showing for the Sun Devils. In leading Arizona State to victory over Purdue in last year’s bowl appearance, Sam had stellar performance. Their will be many receivers that are capable of being stars in their own right. These include perhaps one of the best receiving one-two receiving combos in the nation in wide receiver Derek Hagan and tight end Zach Miller. There may be a problem with defense.
Quarterback Kellen Clemens and the spread offense will be giving their opposition a new headache to handle. Throw in the outstanding abilities and talents of Terrance White, the defenses will be thrown off balance. Newcomer Derrick Jones, with his blazing speed will also add something new to the mix. The defense is solid and is anchored by Devan Long and Haloti Ngata.
Quarterback is one of the unsettled positions for the Bears. Junior-college transfer Joe Ayoob will be competing against Nathan Longshore for the leadership of the team. The other outstanding back is Marshawn Lynch, who was impressive at spring training.
If quarterback Drew Olson (coming off a knee injury) is ready to start the season, the Bruins will be one of the most entertaining teams in the Pac-10. Olsen will have running back Maurice Drew and tight end Marcedes Lewis to go to. There will also be wide receivers Brandon Breazell, Marcus Everett, and Junior Taylor. Drew will be looking to have his second straight 1,000-yard season.
6. WASHINGTON STATE
Senior running back Jerome Harrison and wide receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus should have a “break out" season. Quarterback will remain unsettled and may affect the showing of the running back and wide receivers. Josh Swogger and Alex Brink will compete for the quarterback position.
After finishing 114th in the nation in rushing, the Trojans will run the West Coast offensive in 2005. Considering the talent level of the Trojans, this will be a tall ordrer and may not be filled. Possible quarterback would be Trent Edwards with T. C. Ostrander available to step in if he drops the ball.
8. OREGON STATE
Talent is thin for the Beavers this year. Wide receiver Mike Hass is ready to catch the ball, but it is uncertain who will throw it to him. Will it be Ryan Gunderson or UCLA transfer Matt Moore? Defense has no returning horses.
With an awful minus-19 in turnover ratio for 2004, the team will have to learn how to hold on to the ball before their game on Sept 24 with Notre Dame. The Huskies are at least two years away from reversing their downward trend.
Where is the talent? If there is any, now is the time to step forward. The Wildcats will have to run the ball and it will be hard for them to win, because they will start out at the low end of the score. Without any passing attack, it will be impossible to win to many games. Syndric Steptoe is young and inexperience at receiver. Defense has too many unknown qualities to list.
Garth Belkins is the senior sports writer for 365SportsNews.com