In conference play is finally rolling along in the PAC-12 Conference, and while the conference may play second fiddle to the SEC, the games are just as exciting. As shown in their game against Washington State, even the most conservative team in the PAC-12, the Stanford Cardinal, can post an impressive 55 points on any given night. The North obviously runs the town though, as they house all but one of the PAC’s teams ranked in the AP Top 15, with 3 of the 5 ranked in the Top 25; The South’s single in conference win came in the USC v ASU game. Basically, because both teams were of the South, it was actually impossible for the South not to get a win. From top to bottom, though, here are your PAC-12 Power Rankings:
1. #2 Oregon
The Ducks, who play host to the most prolific offense in college football, have torn each and every opponent to shreds- and they’ve done it without former head coach Chip Kelly, who took them to the National Championship just a few years back. The Ducks not only play terrific football, but they do it with the likes of great players. QB Marcus Mariota, who leads the Heisman Race having gained 1298 yards and accounting for 14 TD’s through just four games, has lead Oregon to a 4-0 record without throwing a pick. Quite an impressive star for such a young player.
2. #5 Stanford
The Cardinal were letting this spot slip nearly into the hands of the UCLA Bruins, but a reassuring victory over WSU sealed the spot – for now. Stanford brings an interesting dynamic to the table when it comes to the PAC-12 as they play amazingly conservative and composed. This is both their biggest strength, and their potential Achilles Heel. It’s hard to picture the Cardinal pulling off a big comeback if need be, as their rhythm and play calling tends to keep them just ahead of the team on the other side of the ball. that being said, this wasn’t the case on Saturday, and thus it is only a potential flaw.To this point though, they’ve shown that doesn’t matter, as they haven’t needed a big comeback like the next team on this list did.
3. # 12 UCLA
Having gotten the benefit of the doubt in two by weeks, by moving up a spot without playing, the Bruins find themselves resting at 3-0, ranked 12th in the National AP Poll. This spot seems like the right place for the Bruins and their Heisman contending quarterback Brett Hundley, as they opened up with a dominating win over Nevada, and even though suffering a team tragedy, came back from a 21-3 deficit to beat the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. Then, in game three against a lowly New Mexico State team, the Bruins did something very difficult. As hard as it is to win after playing an unimpressive game, the Bruins pulled off this W in an impressive manner, yet they underwhelmed and played unimpressively. Weird, huh? Nonetheless, this teams propensity to explode in the second half and their never ending quest for greatness is surely going to land them somewhere positive – despite starting a bouquet of true freshmen.
4. #15 Washington
After multiple seasons of distress, the Huskies seem to have finally figured it out as they’ve climbed back onto the national radar. Earning a relatively high AP ranking, they further make the case that the PAC-12 North is the more talented chunk of the conference, but at this point, that is undisputed. With a considerably strong defense tagging along with an offense that can move this ball at whatever pace they choose, Washington is a force to be reckoned with. Stanford has got to play its A-game if it wants to win this Saturday.
5. #22 Arizona State
After tying the record for most points ever scored against USC (62), only matched by last years Oregon squad, ASU showed that they have an arsenal of play makers ranging from Taylor Kelly to Marion Grice. To make their win over SC more impressive, despite the Trojans’s recent struggles, they came into the game ranked fourth in the nation for total defense – maybe the numbers do lie, ESPN.
6. Oregon State
As wildly inconsistent as they’ve been playing, it’s hard for me to rank the Beavers anywhere outside the middle of the PAC-12. At 4-1, you would think they have capitalized on most every opportunity – but thats not the case. With only one semi-impressive win (51-48 in overtime at Utah) the inconsistency has shown both statistically and in the win/loss columns. With an easily ridiculed opening loss to Eastern Washington, the Beavers are going to have to show up all season to avoid that constant setback. Its the kind of thing you hear on Sports Center, “Yeah, they had some impressive wins, BUT THEY LOST TO EASTERN WASHINGTON!” It’ll be a point of attack all season. Not to mention they rank 2nd in the nation for passing yardage per game, but plummet to 120th when it comes to rushing; They also rank 21st in points for, but play lackluster defense allowing 31.6 PPG, 90th in the nation. This team is all over the place.
So there is the top half of the Pacific 12 Conference. Check back this week for the bottom half ranking 6 through 12.