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OSU and UO are hard to pin down

National publications have no consensus about Beavers, Ducks
by: Otto Greule Jr., One thing the national publications all agree on: OSU’s Alexis Serna is the second-best kicker in the nation.

Wouldn't you know it? Opinions are like earlobes - everybody has them - and what they're saying about Oregon and Oregon State football this fall in the national periodicals goes from, well, Rush Limbaugh to Al Franken.

The Portland Tribune's sampling includes a half-dozen preseason magazines, which are unanimous that Oregon will finish in the upper half of the Pac-10 race this season - though anywhere from second to fifth.

Oregon State is a different story. One magazine picks the Beavers as one of the nation's surprise teams and second in the conference, going so far as to predict an upset over Southern Cal. A couple of publications forecast an eighth-place finish, and no bowl appearance, for the men in orange. The others see it somewhere in between.

Southern Cal is the consensus choice to successfully defend its Pac-10 championship, though everyone agrees it won't be easy. One mag predicts California will knock the Trojans from their high horse and win the league.

The results, and a few tidbits from each publication:

The Sporting News

Pac-10 finish: 1. Southern Cal 2. California 3. Oregon 4. Arizona State 5. UCLA 8. Oregon State

National rankings: Oregon 23rd, Oregon State 61st

All-America picks: OSU's Alexis Serna, second-team kicker

All Pac-10 first team: Serna, OSU offensive guard Roy Schuening, OSU tailback Yvenson Bernard, OSU safety Sabby Piscitelli

All Pac-10 second team: OSU tight end Joe Newton, UO offensive tackle Max Unger, OSU offensive guard Jeremy Perry, UO center Enoka Lucas, UO defensive end Matt Toeaina, UO safety J.D. Nelson, UO kicker Paul Martinez

National individual rankings: Serna, No. 2 kicker; Nelson, No. 5 free safety; Lucas, No. 7 center; Martinez, No. 8 kicker; Piscitelli, No. 11 strong safety; Schuening, No. 12 offensive guard; Bernard, No. 14 running back; Newton, No. 16 tight end

Tidbits: Serna is listed as one of the three best in the nation for a game-winning kick. … Oregon's offensive line is ranked No. 8, Oregon State's is rated No. 10. … Oklahoma at Oregon (Sept. 16) is one of the nation's gotta-see games. … UO safety Patrick Chung is the Pac-10's most underrated player. … Oregon has the Pac-10's best pregame atmosphere. … Oregon State has the Pac-10's best homefield advantage. … UO's James Finley has the Pac-10's surest hands … OSU's Mike Riley is one of coaches on the hot seat.

Street and Smith's

Pac-10 finish: 1. California 2. Southern Cal 3. Arizona State 4. Oregon 5. Oregon State

National ranking: Oregon 24th

All-America picks: Serna, second-team kicker; Lucas third-team center; Nelson, third-team safety

All Pac-10 first team: Serna, Piscitelli, Nelson, Lucas, UO tailback Jonathan Stewart

On the Ducks: 'Jonathan Stewart is more than the face of the Oregon Ducks this season … the 5-11 Stewart … is Oregon football this season. His talent and potential mirror the team's talent and potential.'

Tidbits: Oregon State linebacker Joey LaRocque is listed as one of the nation's top junior college transfers.

CBS Sportsline

Pac-10 finish: 1. Southern Cal 2. Oregon 3. California 4. UCLA 5. Arizona State 6. Oregon State

National rankings: Oregon 10th, Oregon State 33rd

All-America picks: Serna second team (every magazine has Colorado's Mason Crosby ahead of him)

On the Ducks: 'The Ducks don't have an All-American at quarterback, but the combination of Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf should be enough to maintain a high-scoring pace …. If not for their archrivals in Los Angeles, the Quack Attack might be thinking BCS this season.' (Uh, archrivals in Los Angeles?).

On the Beavers: 'The Beavers have a few very nice pieces in RB Yvenson Bernard and DB Sabby Piscitelli … if the Beavers can resolve their quarterback issues, look out for this offense. … cut out mistakes, and Oregon State appears among those ready to battle for a top-tier bowl.'

Bowl matchups: Oregon vs. Rutgers in the Sun, Oregon State vs. Maryland in the Emerald.

The Gold Sheet

Pac-10 finish: 1. Southern Cal 2. California 3. Arizona State 4. Oregon 5. Arizona 8. Oregon State

On the Ducks: 'Dixon should lead the Duck offense just fine, but lots of patchwork to fill gaps. … we'll bet if Oscar de la Renta watches college football, he'd wince at the sight of the Oregon Ducks. Any fashion designer worth his salt must gnash his teeth when looking at some of the garish costumes that have adorned the Ducks lately. … With Oregon's likely toughest Pac-10 dates on the road, matching last year's success might be a tall order, especially with a rebuilt defense. Nonetheless, the Ducks will score and provide good viewing.'

On the Beavers: 'Schizophrenic Beavers have to break a lot of bad habits if they want to get back to 'bowling.' … The Beavers are truly the Pac-10's wild card this season. Much depends upon how much the defense will be bolstered by the juco influx, which regional scouts insist could have as much impact as Dennis Erickson's memorable JC haul of 2000. But if QB (Matt) Moore continues in his '05 self-destruct mode, all bowl bets are off.'

ATS Consultants

Pac-10 finish: 1. Southern Cal 2. Oregon State 3. California 4. Arizona State 5. Oregon

National ranking: Oregon State 15th

All Pac-10 first team: Serna, Bernard, Lucas

National individual rankings: Serna, No. 2 kicker; Newton, No. 5 tight end; Nelson, No. 9 in secondary

National position rankings: Oregon State, both No. 4 and 6 offensive line (obviously, the magazine meant for Oregon to be one or the other); Oregon No. 10 special teams

Pac-10 position rankings: Oregon State No. 1 offensive line, Oregon State No. 3 secondary, Oregon No. 1 special teams

Recruiting class rankings: Oregon State 31st, Oregon 61st

On the Beavers: 'QB Moore will cut down on the interceptions and TB Bernard will run for 1,500-plus yards. Overall improvement will come from a tougher defense and manageable schedule. … the Beavers will upset the mighty Trojans and should win 10 games.'

Bowl matchups: Oregon State vs. Colorado in the Holiday, Oregon vs. North Carolina in the Emerald

Tidbits: This magazine calls OSU over SC on Oct. 28 as one of the biggest upsets of the year. It picks the Beavers as the nation's No. 2 surprise team (behind Arkansas) with a 10-3 record. … It picks the Ducks as the nation's No. 7 disappointing team with a 7-5 record. … John Reese (20) and Joe Halahuni (25) are among the nation's top 25 tight end recruits … Riley ranks 14th among 'hot seat coaches' category.

Insiders

Pac-10 finish: 1. Southern Cal 2. California 3. Arizona State 4. Oregon 5. Washington State 7. Oregon State

National ranking: Oregon 25th

All-America picks: Serna second team, Stewart third-team all-purpose back

All Pac-10 first team: Bernard, Serna, Perry, Lucas, Nelson, Piscitelli

On the Ducks: 'The Ducks have a difficult road slate and will likely dress as the underdog when they match up with Oklahoma for the third time in 25 months. Although the team is loaded with impressive athletes, the defense will inevitably be less disruptive. We wouldn't be surprised if (Oregon) loses six games.'

On the Beavers: 'We don't pretend to have a good handle on the Beavers. It likely bodes well that they meet their toughest league opponents in Corvallis, but this is a team that strikes us as fragile.'

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