Heisman Hopeful: Jahvid Best, California, Jr., RB
Best could be the nation's most explosive player. He is the strongest Heisman Trophy candidate on the West Coast after making seven runs of at least 60 yards last season. If Best finds open field, he will eventually find the end zone just about every time.
Looking Down on the Rest: USC, who else? The Trojans have a great chance to win an eighth straight Pac-10 title. Nine starters are back on offense, and USC has six capable tailbacks. But can new QB Matt Barkley be consistent?
On the Rise: After finishing 4-8 in 2008, it's a safe bet UCLA will improve in Coach Rick Neuheisel's second year. The Bruins need to fix the running game, which accounted for just 82.8 yards per game last season.
On the Decline: The Wildcats must fill the void left by QB Willie Tuitama, a four-year starter. Expect parity in the league; only 13 votes separated No. 8 Arizona and No. 5 Arizona State in the preseason media poll.
Game of the Year: USC at California, Oct. 1.
This is always a must-see matchup, but with Jahvid Best and an outstanding defense, the Golden Bears have a realistic chance to upend the Trojans. The only question is whether California's passing game is up to the challenge.