Football.com Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Four
By Christopher Wuensch
The Pac-12 has established itself as one of the nation’s preeminent conferences this season. Half of the conference’s dozen teams still haven’t swallowed the bitter taste of defeat. In fact, only one Pac-12 team (California) enters Week 5 with a sub-.500 record. Three teams jumped up a spot this week in our power rankings, including Arizona, which had a bye week. Stanford and Southern California also rose in the ranks thanks to resounding and not-so-resounding wins, respectively. The conference is so strong that team such as Oregon State and Utah won and still managed to drop in the polls.
1. OREGON 3-0, 0-0 (Last Week: No. 1, No Change)
The bye week can’t be described as “much-needed” for the Ducks. Oregon is rolling an should continue to be the Pac-12, and arguably the nation’s, top team as they enter conference play this week against California.
T2. UCLA 3-0, 0-0 (No. 2, —)
Jordon James might not have been the clear-cut choice out of the backfield to begin the season for UCLA, but he’s cemented his place as the Bruins’ starting running back. The junior rushed for a career-high 164 yards as the Bruins dismantled a hapless New Mexico State Aggies team, 59-13.
T2. STANFORD 3-0, 0-0 (No. 3, +1)
The Cardinal didn’t live up to their preseason hype in wins over Army and San Jose State to start the season, but put an emphatic stamp on their intentions of vying for the Pac-12 North crown with a convincing 42-28 win over Arizona State. They’ll face an upstart Washington State team on Saturday.
4. WASHINGTON 3-0, 0-0 (No. 4, —)
It might have been Idaho State, but Washington still cruised to a 56-0 blanking of the Bengals. Despite carrying the ball only four times, Bishop Sankey racked up 77 yards. Four rushes. Think about those numbers.
5. ARIZONA 3-0, 0-0 (No. 6, +1)
The Wildcats had a bye week, but still managed to climb a spot in our rankings, leapfrogging intrastate rival Arizona State. Arizona will get its first real test of the season, however, traveling to Seattle to face the Huskies of Washington.
6. ARIZONA STATE 2-1, 0-1 (No. 5, -1)
What was supposed to be a heavyweight title bout between the Sun Devils and Stanford turned out to be a dud as the Cardinal rolled over Arizona State. The Sun Devils put up a fight, but not until the game was well out of hand. They’ll be tested once again this week when they play host to Southern California.
7. OREGON STATE 3-1, 0-1 (No. 6, -1)
Sean Mannion had his worst statistical performance of the season, yet still managed to emerge from Week 4 as the nation’s leading passer. That is, if you consider 367 yards passing a poor performance. Don’t look now, but the Beavers have shrugged off an early-season upset to Eastern Washington and have regained their spot among the conference’s best.
T8. WASHINGTON STATE 3-1, 1-0 (No. 8, —)
The Cougars are winners of their last three games and have plenty of momentum heading into an early-season conference bout against Stanford. The Cardinal should be leery of Wazzu, which beat Southern California on the road this season. Need proof the Cougars are back? Saturday’s 42-0 shutout of Idaho was the first in the program’s history since Washington State blanked the Vandals 10 years ago.
T8. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 3-1, 0-1 (No.9, +1)
If it weren’t for the Southern California defense, USC might be much, much further down this list. The Trojans have the fourth-best defense in the nation, which flexed its muscles on Saturday in USC’s 17-14 win over Utah State. They’ll travel to Tempe to face Arizona State on Saturday. A win can go a long way toward rehabilitating the program’s season.
10. UTAH 3-1, 0-1 (No. 9, -1)
Utah won its fourth-straight game over BYU, this time hanging on for a 20-13 win over cross-state rival Brigham Young. Despite the win, the Utes slid in our rankings. We’ll get a real feel for Utah’s prowess on Saturday when they take on UCLA in a Pac-12 South battle.
11. COLORADO 2-0, 0-0 (No. 11, —)
It’s kind of hard to evaluate the Buffaloes if we haven’t seen them play. Colorado finally will get back on the gridiron on Saturday after two weeks off (the floods relegated the Buffs to the sidelines after a bye week). Paul Richardson will look to regain his national receiving lead this week when Colorado opens its Pac-12 slate against Oregon State.
12. CALIFORNIA 1-2, 0-0 (No. 12, —)
A bye week bounced California quarterback Jared Goff from atop the country’s leaderboard for passing yards. He’ll look to regain the top spot, and get the Golden Bear back to .500, on Saturday when Cal returns to the field. It won’t be easy. One of the nation’s worst defenses will square off against one of the country’s best offenses in Oregon. Expect California to remain in the ranking’s basement this time next week.
PAC-12 Players of the Week
Sean Mannion, 365 yards, 3 TDs
Sean Mannion helped orchestrate an Oregon State comeback as the Beavers scored 20-fourth quarter points to down San Diego State, 34-30. The junior finished with 365 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Beavers, who rushed for a grand total of ... wait for it ... 19 yards.
Mannion (1,604 yards through the air) now is the nation’s leading passer with 289 more yards than the next-closest quarterback — or quarterbacks: Brett Smith of Wyoming and Keith Wenning of Ball State (1,315 apiece).
Morgan Breslin, USC: 4 Tackles, 3 TFL, 2, Sacks, 2 Quarterback Hits
Southern California’s defense is among the country’s best, thanks in large part to Morgan Breslin. The senior missed the Trojans’ first game of the season, but is more than making up for lost time. Breslin registered only 4 tackles in the Trojans’ 17-14 win over Utah, but he made every one one of them count. Only one of his tackles occurred past the line of scrimmage. Otherwise, Utah State ball carriers found themselves nine yards behind where they started. His two-sack performance against the Aggies now leaves Breslin one sack short of the national leader.
Voters: John Baker, Henry McKenna and Christopher Wuensch.