Pac 10

THE FAVORITE USC has captured two national titles and played for a third while winning six consecutive Pac-10 titles. The Trojans have questions on offense but remain stocked with NFL prospects. If they stay healthy and don't play down to an opponent, the schedule sets up a national-title run.

THE HOPEFULS Dennis Erickson quickly has turned Arizona State into a contender. Cal faltered badly last season after being ranked as high as No. 2, but Jeff Tedford's team should bounce back amid more modest expectations. Oregon will be a factor in the chase for runner-up if it can find a quarterback to replace Dennis Dixson. But none of those teams is on USC's level this year.

GAMES TO WATCH • USC vs. Ohio State, Sept. 13

• Oregon at USC, Oct. 4

• Arizona State at USC, Oct. 11

• Oregon at Cal, Nov. 1

• Cal at USC, Nov. 8

PLAYERS TO WATCH Offense | Rudy Carpenter, QB, ASU

Defense | Rey Maualuga, LB, USC

PREDICTIONS 1. USC6. Oregon State2. Arizona State7. Washington3. California8. Arizona4. Oregon9. Wash. State5. UCLA10. Stanford RUNNING BACK While USC's O.J. Simpson averaged a best-ever 164.4 yards per game in his two years, Charles White is the best back in Trojan and Pac-10 history. White ran for 5,598 yards, the fifth-most in NCAA history, from 1976-79. He prevented OU's Billy Sims from winning a second straight Heisman.

RUNNING FORWARD Joe McKnight seems well-equipped to continue the tradition at USC, aka Running Back U. McKnight is one of the most electric backs in the nation. He ran for 415 yards in the Trojans' first 12 games but 125 yards in 10 carries in a Rose Bowl win over Illinois.

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