At The Half: Pac-10

Most of the teams in the Pac-10 have hit the halfway point in their seasons. There have been some surprises, disappointments and great games. We take a quick look around the league.

Team of the Half: You have to go with Cal. The Bears got the monkey off their back with the win over Tennessee and then won their showdown with Oregon. The defense is still a question mark, but they seem poised to score on anyone. The USC game may be all that stands in their way of an undefeated season.

Biggest Surprise: ASU was supposed to cruise through the early part of the season, so the nod goes to Oregon. The Ducks limped to the end of last season, but have been fantastic this season. The win over Michigan was an eye opener for the Conference and they gave Cal all they could handle. They still have a big showdown with the Trojans as well, but they look legit.

Biggest Disappointment: Arizona and Oregon State get bailed out by USC. USC may go 12-1, but they still lost to Stanford. The Cardinal were supposed to finish 10th in the league and still might, but for a few weeks they are the giant killers.

Best Player: He may not lead in any one category, but no player gives opposing coaches more headaches than DeSean Jackson. Not only do you have to stop him in the passing game, but you have to kick away from him on special teams. Even when you "shut him down", the Bears score in the 40's.

Most Improved Player: Denis Dixon. Six weeks from now he may supplant Jackson, but for now he is the cog that makes one of the nation's best offenses go. He can run, pass and even run a little misdirection. Because of him the Ducks are averaging over 43 points a game.

Best Game: Cal 31, Oregon 24. The low scoring first half. The high scoring second half. The controversial finish. What is there not to enjoy?

Worst Game: Of all the upsets, none is worst then UCLA's 44-6 thrashing by Utah. It's not just that they lost to a .500 Mountain West Team, it is that they were crushed by a .500 Mountain West Team.

Some thoughts on each team at the turn:

Arizona: While just how good Arizona is was up for debate, they should be better than 2-4. There is no way they should lose to New Mexico and BYU is not as good as they were a year ago. No shame in losing to OSU, but Arizona should not get blown out of the water by the Beavs. What is worse, the offense has played well enough to win in four of the six games, but the defense has struggled. The Cats have to have a great second half, something they have not really shown an ability to do. Another losing season and it could get very interesting for the program.

Arizona State: The Devils are having a great season, but they should. They have been the better team in every game. Now they have to prove themselves in the second half, but there is no doubt Erickson is doing a great job. I still have some questions about their defense, but they have wildly surpassed my expectations in the first six games. If they can knock off Oregon, USC or Cal, a 10-win season is likely.

Cal Can call run the table? I am not sure. The defense is suspect. They've been the Pac-10s best team, and the offense is unbelievable, but I can still see them losing a shootout.

Stanford: No longer a laughing stock. While the Cardinal pulled off the upset of the year and appear that they can hang with anyone, I still think they are the 9th or 10th team in the league.

Oregon: If Bellotti can keep the team from melting down in the second half, then they appear to be a team that can win 10. Dixon is finally living up to the high school hype and there are play makers on both sides of the ball.

Oregon State: Disappointing, but interesting. They prove that quarterback play is so key in the league. Cannfield is not very good and so Oregon State is not very good. That being said, they could still take the Pac-10's sixth bowl slot.

USC: I believed USC was one of the best teams in the nation, and maybe in years. In doing that I totally ignored all of my doubts about John David Booty. I believed that he was a good, not great quarterback. He was more Matt Cassell and less Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Add to that a young, unproven receiving corps and you have a team that is still very good, but not elite.

UCLA: Karl Dorrell, welcome to the hot seat. The Bruins are having a good year, but not great. Sure they are have had to use three quarterbacks, but you can't get blown out by Utah. Expect the Bruins to finish fifth in the conference. A solid year, but maybe not good enough for the fan base that is living in USC's shadow.

Washington: Jake Locker has been a pleasant surprise. UW seems to have survived their early season schedule gauntlet. That being said, they are still a year away. Improved, but not top-6.

Washington State: Brink is really good. He has some guys to throw to, but there isn't enough talent across the board to consistently win in the conference. Add Doba to the hot seat list.

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