Football.com's Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Two
By Christopher Wuensch
What a difference a week makes. The Huskies hype machine must be gearing up. Washington leap-frogged UCLA for the conference’s No. 3 spot — despite the fact that both teams had bye weeks. California got the win last week, but slipped to No. 12 in our rankings. There have even been some whispers among us that the conference’s worst team right now could be — dare we say it — none other than the Trojans of Southern California.
Week 1 Power Rankings
1. OREGON 2-0, 0-0 (Last Week: No. 1, No Change)
The No. 2 Ducks weathered their longest road trip in nearly three decades and dispatched Virginia on their own turf with relative ease. Any chink in Alabama’s armor and first-year Ducks’ coach Mark Helfrich might just have the No. 1 team in the nation. Saturday’s home tilt against Tennessee should provide a nice barometer as to where Oregon stands against the SEC.
2. STANFORD 1-0, 0-0 (No. 2, —)
Stanford didn’t blow the doors off of San Jose State, but they did what they needed to stop the pass-happy attack of David Fales and the Spartans. Tyler Gaffney’s 104-yard, two-touchdown day on the ground has to be a welcome sight as Kevin Hogan finds his groove.
3. WASHINGTON 1-0, 0-0 (No. 4, +1)
Washington got us all amped up for Huskies football with a 38-6 pasting of No. 19 Boise State, then … bam! Bye week. The Huskies will try to regain that momentum with a road trip to face off against Illinois. Washington racked up 592 yards in its opening win over the Broncos — and that was without NFL-bound tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (1,396 yard/2 TDs in 2012), who returns from a suspension this week.
4. UCLA 1-0, 0-0 (No. 3, -1)
The No. 16 Bruins stand pat as our top team in the South Division. But they’ll be tested this week with a road trip to corn country to square off against No. 23 Nebraska. It’s been a heavy-hearted week in Westwood. You can’t blame the Bruins for playing flat after the death of a teammate earlier this week, but we think they’ll play inspired.
5. ARIZONA STATE 1-0, 0-0 (No. 6, +1)
The first score on Saturday between Arizona State and Wisconsin will be the first on either team’s defense this season. Wisconsin has rolled to easy wins over Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech by a combined 93-0 in the opening weeks. The Sun Devils trounced Sacramento State in their opener behind five first-half touchdown passes by Taylor Kelly.
6. ARIZONA 2-0, 0-0 (No. 7, +1)
Rich Rodriguez might have figured out a formula for winning: rush for more than 300 yards as a team and have safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant return an interception for a touchdown. The Wildcats have accomplished both in their first two wins over Northern Arizona and Nevada-Las Vegas.
7. WASHINGTON STATE 1-1, 1-0 (No. 10, +3)
Washington State is the biggest jumper in the rankings this week, and with good reason. Saturday’s upset of Southern California re-enforced what some of us already believed: Mike Leach just might be one heck of a coach. The Cougars’s held USC quarterbacks to just 54 yards — with exactly half of them going to Heisman hopeful Marqise Lee. Can you say “first-place Cougars?”
8. OREGON STATE 1-1, 0-0 (No. 8, -)
Oregon State let its fans breathe a sigh of relief by grinding out a win over Hawaii. Beavers Nation could feel the knot in the pit of their stomachs by halftime and the game knotted at 14. Oregon State clamped down on defense, however, and shut out the Rainbow Warriors in the second half. The win didn’t impress us enough to move them either up or down.
9. UTAH 2-0, 0-0 (No. 9, -)
Hard to imagine that an undefeated team with a 70-7 win on its résumé is ranked as low as ninth, but, well, here we are. The stats don’t necessarily support the Utes as neither an offensive nor a defensive juggernaut. Lots of credit should be heaped on Utah’s special teams. The Utes are No. 2 in the Pac-12 in both punt return (18.0 yard average) and punting (41.1 yard average). Field position is everything.
10. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 1-1, 0-1 (No. 5, -5)
Oh how the mighty have fallen — at least for now. The Trojans’ run of NFL-caliber quarterbacks appears to be ending with the Max Wittek/Cody Kessler era. Thankfully, the Trojans have the No. 11 defense in the country and the Boston College Eagles coming to town with their 83rd overall offense.
11. COLORADO 2-0, 0-0 (No. 12, +1)
Colorado has the No. 1 receiver in the nation in Paul Richardson and the No. 5 passer in Connor Wood. The defense will get its first real test against a Derek Carr-led Fresno State team that’s averaging 46.5 ppg this season.
12. CALIFORNIA 1-1, 0-0 (No. 11, -1)
Pass much? Jared Goff leads the nation in passing yards with 141 more than runner-up Sean Mannion of Oregon State. But Goff is 60th in the nation in passing efficiency. The disparity, among other youth-oriented flaws, lands the Golden Bears in the basement this week. The potential to rise is there, but we’re going to have to see more consistency first.
Voters: John Baker, Colin Huber, Henry McKenna, Alex Schultz and Christopher Wuensch