1. Southern California Trojans
2. Washington Huskies
Washington finished 7-5 (6-2 in the Pac-10) in 1999. The team was young and their performance last year better than expected.
Strong-armed Marques "The Warrior" Tuiasosopo compiled 2,762 yards in total offense last year.
The key will be whether the receiving corps of Chris Juergens (42 receptions last year) and Jerramy Stevens can mesh with Tuiasosopo. Maurice Shaw (440 yards rushing) takes over at tailback behind an experienced offensive line.
The defense is filled with question marks, with the strength found in a secondary led by Anthony Vontoure (six interceptions), Hakim Akbar and Curtis Williams. Washington does not play SC, though, which could work against them.
"Not playing SC's disappointing," Tuiasosopo, "they've got tradition and you always want to knock a team like that off."
"As a coach, I feel no remorse at all," Neuheisel says, tongue in cheek.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Devils return seven offensive and six defensive starters from a 6-6 (5-3 in conference) team that lost to Wake Forest in the Aloha Bowl.
"I'm not prepared to say what Ryan Kealy's future is," says coach Bruce Snyder of the injury-prone quarterback who enters the season suspended because of an off-field incident involving the law. Absent Kealy, redshirt freshman Jeff Krohn must step up. J.R. Redmond is gone, but receiver Richard Williams (37 catches) hopes somebody can get the ball to him, and tight end Todd "Golden Retriever" Heap is best in the Pac.
All-Pac-10 linebacker Adam Archuleta (111 tackles) is a star. Helping to anchor the defense is Mason Unck and Willie Daniels, along with safeties Craig Koontz and Willie Daniel, but the rest of the unit needs work.
4. UCLA Bruins
5. Oregon State Beavers
The Beavers' posted a winning (7-5) record, and a lot of key guys from their Oahu Bowl team return, led by All-Pac-10 running back Ken Simonton (1,500 yards rushing), and talented-yet-erratic quarterback Jonathan Smith. He must connect with receivers Robert Prescott, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Shawn Kintner. Veteran offensive lineman Keith DiDomenico "lost interest in football" and quit, plus "two players were suspended for off-field infractions," according to coach Dennis Erickson. Question-mark guard Jared Cornell is coming off a knee injury.
The secondary is back: Dennis Weathersby, Keith Heyward-Johnson, Ricky Walker, Terrence Carroll and Calvin Carlyle.
Senior quarterback Ortege Jenkins brings talent and experience, but some explosive talent departs. Leo Mills, Leon Callen and Larry Croom will not duplicate Trung Canidate.
Bobby Wade (30 catches) is a multi-purpose wideout, and the line has two strong players, Bruce Wiggins and Steve Grace.
"Desert Swarm" was about as effective in '99 as the Iraqi Army when Norm Schwartzkopf came calling, so losing six starters is no loss.
7. Stanford Cardinal
Coach Tyrone Willingham's Cardinal rallied from 21 down to beat USC at the Coliseum, went 7-1 in the conference, 8-4 overall, and played Wisconsin tough in the Rose Bowl. Stanford had no defense at all, and what they did have is not returning. Four All-Pac-10 offensive stars (Troy Walters, Todd Husak, Jeff Cronshagen, Mike McLaughlin) are gone. Willingham will emphasize rushing, but running back Brian Allen is not enough. Quarterback/baseball star Joe Borchard signed with the White Sox, so sophomore Chris Lewis (the best quarterback in the Southland a couple years ago at Long Beach Poly) may emerge.
8. California Gold Bears
Kyle Boller was supposed to be a star quarterback, but his 38 percent completion rate was woeful. Coach Tom Holmoe (an ex-49er) emphasizes strong defense, and that will be worth a win or two in Berkeley. First-round NFL pick Deltha O'Neal will be hard to replace at defensive back, though, but All-America candidate Andre Carter and Jacob Waasdrop are solid in the defensive line. The Bears' linebacking corp was excellent, and their replacements are unproven.
9. Washington State
Wasn't it only three years ago coach Mike Price's Ryan Leaf-led Cougars were in the Rose Bowl? They followed that up with 3-8 and 3-9 records, and enter 2000 wondering whether their quarterback will be sophomore Jason Gesser (sidelined last year) or 6-5 redshirt freshman Matt Kegel. Their receivers are gone
10. Oregon Ducks
Coach Mike Belloti's team has speed, but lacks experience from their 9-3 team which beat Minnesota in the Sun Bowl. Quarterbacks Joey Harrington and A.J. Feeley return, but on a team this young a quarterback controversy is the last thing needed. Anybody else? Punter Kurtis Doerr was Second Team All-Conference, and 6-3, 265-pound senior defensive end Saul Patu is a stud and team leader.
A special feature in this first college football issue of the 21st Century is Steven Travers' TOP TEN PROGRAMS OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
- Notre Dame
- Southern California
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Florida State
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism