EUGENE, Ore. - With the Pac-12 dividing the conference into two six team divisions, the West coast will have a big-time Conference Championship game for the first time in history.
While many believe Oregon will win the new North division, there are some who think a team from the Bay Area has what it takes this year to dethrone the Ducks.
To the Cardinal advantage, this year's meeting between Oregon and Stanford is in Palo Alto. Sports Illustrated calls the Oregon-Stanford showdown the biggest games in college football this year.
For the Cardinal, expectations are high despite the departure of energetic head coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers. Former offensive coordinator David Shaw is now the man in charge, and he remains paired up with all-everything quarterback Andrew Luck, who considered jumping to the NFL as well.
In Seattle, the Huskies are well into the post-Jake Locker era at the University of Washington. Redshirt sophomore Keith Price beat out redshirt freshman Nick Montana for the job in the spring, and another solid season is expected from head coach Steve Sarkisian's squad after last year's Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska.
The Cal Bears have more questions than answers coming off last year's 5-7 season, most notably at quarterback. Transfer Zach Maynard is battling with Brock Mansion and Allan Bridgeford for the starting job. Head coach Jeff Tedford would love to improve on last seasons offensive production, which ranked 73 in the nation at just 26 points per game.
In Pullman, there's a quiet confidence amongst the Cougars at Washington State. Despite the fact that Paul Wulff has just five wins in three seasons, the coach believes that junior quarterback Jeff Tuel and company will surprise a few people in 2011.