The top Pac-10 football teams of all-time

Jul 1, 2011, 3:38 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm

Led by head coach Pete Carroll, the USC Trojans dominated the Pac-10 in the 2000’s (AP Photo)

By Michael Simeona

For the first time since 1978, the Pacific-10 conference is no more. At the stroke of midnight the Pac-10 instantly merged into the Pac-12 conference with the additions of Utah and Colorado.

With the landscape of the conference forever changed with the inception of two separate north and south divisions, along with a conference championship football game, the Pac-12 has already evolved into the west coast’s preeminent power conference.

Phil Steele, author of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, joined Friday’s Brock & Salk show to discuss the top football teams in the 33-year history of the conference. Here are the top five teams in Pac-10 history, as told by Steele:

5. 2005 USC Trojans (Season vacated; lost to Texas in title game)

The USC Trojans had to vacate their 2004 and 2005 seasons, after RB Reggie Bush was found to have received improper benefits from an agent. (AP Photo)

Led by Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, the Trojans entered the 2005 season as the favorites to win their second consecutive national championship. Though they would eventually lose to the Vince Young-led Texas Longhorns in the BCS National Championship game, they would face much harsher criticism after Bush was investigated for receiving improper benefits that led to their entire ’05 season being vacated.

Steele: “They lost the big game against Texas. They were being compared to one of the greatest teams of all-time.”

4. 2010 Oregon Ducks (12-1; lost to Auburn in title game)

Chip Kelly’s spread option attack led the Ducks all the way to the BCS National Championship game for the first time in school history. Running back LaMichael James led an explosive Oregon offense, finishing third in the Heisman Trophy race after rushing for 1,682 yards druing the regular season. Steele: “I was very impessed, the fact that they outscored teams by 28.3 points per game, outgained [opponents] by 185 yards per game. They only had two close games all year. That 15-13 game against Cal, and then the national title game loss.”

3. 2003 USC Trojans (12-1; co-National Champions)

In one of the most controversial finishes in college football history, the USC Trojans were named the Associated Press National Champions after they were denied a spot in the BCS National Championship game. Despite finishing with a 12-1 record, the Trojans were denied a spot in the title game based off the computer projections of the BCS, causing protests from Trojan fans alike.

Steele: “Got to love the defense. They only gave up 60 yards per game rushing on 1.8 yards per carry.”

2. 2004 USC Trojans (11-0; National Championship vacated)

The Trojans entered the 2004 season determined after sharing a national title with the LSU Tigers in 2003. Quarterback Matt Leinart won the Heisman Trophy, while teammate Reggie Bush finished fifth in the voting. Their 55-19 victory over Oklahoma clinched their second consecutive national championship, but was later vacated because of Bush received improper benefits from an agent.

Steele: “I look at the entire season and if there were games that were even close – that was one negative factor on their part, but they won them all. They were number one all season, and then they thrashed Oklahoma 55-14.”

Don James_small
Don James led the 1991 UW Huskies to a co-national championship after winning the Rose Bowl. (AP)

1. 1991 Washington Huskies (12-0; co-National Champions)

The Huskies of 1991 was arguably the best team in school history, after splitting a national championship with the Miami Hurricanes. Led by Outland Trophy winning DT Steve Emtman, the Huskies defense was regarded as one of the most dominant teams in college football history.

Steele: “They had one close game all season long, and that was the seven-point win at #7 Cal. They were +31.6 points per game on the season, +229 yards per game [total offense], and by far the best defense of any of those teams.”

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The top Pac-10 football teams of all-time