Through 7 weeks we’ve witnessed spectacular PAC-12 football, and the conference as a whole is arguably the best in years. It can be argued the PAC-12 is the deepest in America with 7-9 bowl quality teams, while the SEC and Big 12 are very top-heavy. The question is, where do our beloved Bruins rank among the conferences very best?
Power rankings are non-traditional, they are not based on win-loss-tie ratios. That’s why power rankings are so interesting, it’s because they are based off the current pulse of a team.
With that being said, let’s get to the first team in this week’s PAC-12 power rankings.
1. Oregon (6-0): The jerseys, the speed, Phil Knight. The Ducks have everybody in the conference feeling green, with envy. Oregon currently ranks number 3 in the new BCS rankings and look head and shoulders above everybody in the PAC-12 thus far. They’ve played a relatively easy schedule, and for the first time in week 8 Oregon will travel to Arizona State and play their first true road game of the season. It’s a Thursday night game in Tempe that will show us what both those teams are really made of, and maybe the question will be answered, is Oregon a contender or pretender? You can’t help but be impressed with their play thus far, QB Marcus Mariota looks nothing like a freshman, and their defense has been the biggest surprise. I would be shocked if we don’t see the quack attack in the PAC-12 championship game.
2. Oregon State (5-0): Yes, you read that correctly. The Beavers are easily the most surprising team in the country this year, they’ve got wins over Wisconsin, at UCLA, at Arizona and at BYU. Starting QB Sean Mannion went down with an injury prior to the BYU game and that looked to be the end of a dream season for the Beavers. But wait, not so fast says Cody Vaz who replaced Mannion on Saturday and threw for a measly 332 yards and 3 TD’s, I hope you understand my sarcasm. After a 3-9 season last year, Mike Riley has coached the hell out of this football team, everybody has bought in and the results are showing on the field. They currently check in at #8 in the new BCS rankings and the ceiling is very high the rest of the season.
3. Stanford (4-2): The Cardinal got robbed, plain and simple. They played extremely well in South Bend versus the fighting irish and nearly pulled off the upset, that is until the refs stepped in. Even with the loss, I have Stanford at #3 in this week’s power rankings because they have the most impressive win in conference against USC. Stanford is a well oiled machine, and if you let them play their game you’re going to be in trouble. Whether you like it or not Stanford is going to run the ball, and they are going to be effective, but can you blame them? Stepfan Taylor is a workhorse, and someone you have to account for every Saturday. Stanford is currently #20 in the new BCS rankings.
4. USC (5-1): All hate aside, we have to be honest with ourselves, the Trojans have tons of talent and have clearly bounced back from a loss at The Farm. In the last two weeks, USC’s played two tough road games and came out with two victories. They started horribly in Utah and managed to keep their composure and go back home with an impressive win. Just this past weekend they played a talented Washington team on the road and hung on to their lead late to escape with a victory. In the coming weeks USC will play at Arizona, Oregon, ASU, at UCLA and Notre Dame. That is truly a daunting schedule that will teach us a lot about this football team and how good they really are. USC checks in at #10 in the new BCS rankings.
5. UCLA (5-2): Ah finally, our beloved Bruins. I have UCLA at #5 in this week’s power rankings because they bounced back at home and showed a lot of improvement after the debacle against Cal in Berkeley. The most important thing for UCLA the second half of the season is consistency, they tend to look great one week and awful the next, that has to change. UCLA is a player in the conference once again and the biggest reason for that is quarterback play, Brett Hundley has been so impressive in his freshman campaign and it allows UCLA to compete with the best. UCLA also has the best defensive line in the conference and it’s helped them out a ton this year, whenever you win the battle in the trenches good things happen. The Bruins have a chance to make this a special season if they play to their potential, but the schedule only gets more difficult from here on out. They will finish the season at ASU, at Wazzu, USC, and Stanford, do the gutty little Bruins have what it takes?
6. Arizona State (5-1): ASU’s gotten off to a fast start this season and have surprised many, but we have to be honest they’ve played a very weak schedule thus far. If they can hang with Oregon and maybe even pull of an upset than the Devils are easily a threat to win the South. However, we have to credit the job Todd Graham has done thus far, all his players have bought in only a season after they were completely lost with Dennis Erickson. Graham has the Sun Devils heading in the right direction and he should be able to recruit to ASU, because yeah, you know.
7. Arizona (3-3): I understand they are 3-3 but they might be the best 3 loss team in the entire country, Matt Scott is a stud at QB, and for the years to come Rich Rod and Scott will be very dangerous. They’ve played a difficult schedule thus far with games at Oregon and at Stanford which would most likely be 2 losses on anybody’s schedule. The next three weeks will be very interesting for the Wildcats, they will play Washington and USC at home and travel to Pasadena to play UCLA.
8. Washington (3-3): Keith Price has been nothing but a disappointing this year, I will admit I gave him a lot of preseason hype just like many others but he has not lived up to expectations thus far. I’m not calling for anybody’s head, but with a talent like Keith Price not being able to produce and not showing any development, can’t the blame be place on Coach Sarkisian? The Huskies do have a signature win against Stanford, but it was an ugly win, I’m just not to sure of UW just yet and how good or bad they really are.
9. Cal (3-4): Jeff Tedford’s seat was absolutely boiling just two weeks ago, the Bears sat at 1-4 and really looked awful. Zack Maynard became known as “Sack Maynard” because the Bears might have the worst O-Line in the conference. Since then, the Cal Bears are 2-0, with a blowout win over UCLA and a road win against Washington State. I don’t beleive Tedford should get comfortable just yet with half a season left to play, a lot of things can happen. The Bears will face rival Stanford Saturday in Berkeley.
10. Utah (2-4): Easily the conferences most disappointing team thus far, many experts had them finishing second in the South behind USC. They currently sit at 0-3 in conference, yikes. Kyle Wittingham is a very good coach defensively, but the offense has struggled mightily under 25-year old OC Brian Johnson and this was even before Jordan Wynn decided to medically retire. One bright spot has been Star Lotulelei, an absolute monster on the defensive line, he’s a future top-5 NFL draft pick and easily the best defensive player in the conference.
11. Washington State (2-5): The Cougars don’t look anything like Texas Tech why is that? It is clear the previous regime left Mike Leach absolutely nothing to work with, granted Pullman, Washington is not the easiest place to recruit. Leach was able to recruit to Lubbock, Texas so I don’t think he will have any problems, I have faith that once he gets his guys in there Wazzu will begin to make some noise in the PAC-12 North. Jeff Tuel has been extremely disappointing thus far, I thought he would excel in Leach’s “Air Raid” offense but that has not been the case.
12. Colorado (1-5): There’s really not much to say, when you are in a major conference it is inexcusable to lost to Sacramento State, no disrespect to them and you absolutely cannot lose to Fresno State by a score of 69-14. The worst part is Colorado may have played their best half of football this past Thursday against ASU and still managed to lose 51-17. Jon Embree’s seat has to be scorching hot at this point, the Buffs are bad, very bad.