HOW THEY'LL FINISH
Best offensive player
RB, Oregon State, Jr.
A two-time All-Pac-10 pick, the 5'7" Rodgers deserves plenty of Heisman buzz after rushing for 1,440 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns in '09.
Best defensive player
FS, UCLA, Jr.
A starter since his freshman year and a Thorpe Award favorite, Moore (left) picked off 10 passes in '09, the most by a Division I-A player since '03.
True freshman to watch
He was so impressive during spring drills that teammates and coach Lane Kiffin compared him with another dynamic back from San Diego: Reggie Bush.
Coach on the rise
Sarkisian has upgraded the talent considerably since taking over before last season. With 17 starters back, a winning record seems likely.
Coach on the hot seat
Wazzu's victory total decreased in his second year—from two to one—and he needs to win at least five games for fans to believe he can rebuild the program.
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Top performers from unranked teams)
LB, UCLA, Jr.
The 6'4", 255-pound Ayers scored three TDs off turnovers last year and had 14½ tackles for loss. He's one of the leading candidates for the Butkus Award.
LB, Arizona State, Soph.
After permanently taking over the middle in the fourth game of '09, Burfict finished second on the team in tackles and was the Pac-10's top defensive freshman.
QB, Arizona, Jr.
Among the Pac-10's many heralded QBs, Foles often gets lost, but his production last season (2,486 yards, 19 TDs) stacked up against anyone's.
QB, Washington, Sr.
The favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Locker has the experience and the weapons to improve upon his '09 numbers (2,800 yards, 21 TDs).
RB, Cal, Jr.
This burner from Valencia, Calif., rushed for 952 yards (5.2 per carry) and 12 TDs last season mainly as a backup to Jahvid Best, who left for the NFL.
The word of choice among Pac-10 coaches in describing the conference race? Open, as in wide open. Coaches at Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and Washington believe they can reach the Rose Bowl because USC is ineligible and Oregon and Oregon State are breaking in new starting quarterbacks. . . . Don't be surprised if Arizona State cornerback OMAR BOLDEN(below), who missed most of '09 with a knee injury, has a bounce-back year. A potential all-conference player, the 5' 10" 195-pounder was a hit in the spring, bolstering an already solid unit. . . . Don't expect UCLA to take advantage of USC's NCAA troubles this season. Switching to the new pistol offense—a variation of the shotgun, with the quarterback four yards behind center—will take time, and it remains to be seen if sophomore KEVIN PRINCE is the right man to run it. . . . The transformation of Cal's defense from passive to aggressive (the Bears hired former Arizona Cardinals coordinator CLANCY PENDERGAST) took a hit last month when CHRIS MARTIN, a freshman from Oakland whom one recruiting service ranked the top outside linebacker in the 2010 class, transferred to Florida because of the "distractions" of playing near home.
LIAM FOLEY/ICON SMI
Arizona QB Nick Foles
CHARLES BAUS/ICON SMI
CHRIS WILLIAMS/ICON SMI