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Tony's Pac-10 picks


1] USC We know, we know... we fell for this same trick last year. We picked the Trojans to take it all, and then they pulled a Carson Palmer season-ending injury out of their sleeve and that was that. But this year, no injury means no way anybody else catches them.

2] OREGON We're not really sold on the Quacks finishing this high, but they do have an experienced returning QB duo and they do have a nice-looking schedule. 'Course, they'll get smacked silly in that second game against the Badgers, but after that, they should rebound nicely.

3] UW The Huskies enter another Pac-10 season over-hyped as usual -- this year, they're cursed with the Pac-10 media's pre-season pick as the champs. If Marques Tuiasosopo goes down... well, forget it. Even if he stays healthy, we see too many defensive liabilities to sustain season-long success.

4] UCLA Well, after the Bruins get up off the floor from being decked by Alabama and Michigan in two of the first three weeks of the season, we think they'll rebound -- albeit slowly.

5] WSU We picked the Cougs here last year, with the stipulation that they could go no higher. This year, they can go higher -- how much, depends on the development of the offensive line along the way. They can also go lower, but we'd be surprised to see anything lower than seventh.

6] ASU Ryan Kealy is the key to the Sun Devils' season success. It's a similar scenario to the Huskies, where if the starting QB goes down, he takes the team down in flames with him. The only difference is Kealy, with a gimpy knee, is considerably more injury-prone than Tuiasosopo.

7] OREGON STATE The Beavs have the Pac-10's easiest schedule and the most returning seniors (starting or not), but several off-field developments have left the season in limbo. Although we expect a fast start, we also expect an equally quick burnout.

8] ARIZONA The Wildcats have the conference's best offensive line and one of the wilier coyote quarterbacks in Ortege Jenkins. But Jenkins and the coaching staff have had past differences, and we're betting they're irreconcilable.

9] STANFORD The Cardinal lost potential starting QB Joe Borchard to the Chicago White Sox and with him, probably three of the first four games. They'll probably rebound later in the season as Randy Fasani gets used to conference play, but by then, it'll be too late.

10] California Da Bears are in big trouble. It's not so much that they have an anemic offense -- even with Kyle Boller at QB -- but it's also that they have the league's toughest schedule.

-- Tony C. Duarte

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