Oregon Tops Football.com Pac-12 Power Rankings
By Christopher Wuensch
Among the five teams that shifted positions in this week’s Pac-12 power rankings, UCLA is the only one not to slide or rise two spots.
Oregon State and Washington fell two spots while Arizona State and Southern California climbed in the rankings by two positions.
While the top two spots and the bottom four remain the same in this week's rankings, the middle six teams continue to scramble for position.
The Trojans might be the one team that befuddles our writers the most. Under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, resurgent USC received writers' votes as high as third overall in the conference and as low as 10th.
1. Oregon: 8-0, 5-0 Pac-12 (Last Week: 1)
Finally. Oregon vs. Stanford.
The Ducks got a week off to rest and prepare for the Cardinal on Thursday night in a game that likely will crown the Pac-12 North champion, barring a Stanford upset.
Last season, Stanford upended an Oregon team that was averaging 54.8 points per game. The undefeated Ducks are averaging 55.6 points per game entering this season's contest.
If Oregon is nervous about history repeating itself, the Ducks have a funny way of showing it. When Oregon star running back De’Anthony Thomas was asked this week if he thought Stanford can hold the Ducks to 14 points for the second year in a row, Thomas answered that Oregon should be able to put up at least 40 points on its divisional foe, according to GoDucks.com.
2. Stanford: 7-1, 5-1 (2)
It looks as if the loss by the Cardinal to Utah won’t be as damaging as had been feared — especially if Stanford can beat Oregon ... again.
Stanford finds ways to win. Last week, Kevin Hogan passed for just 88 yards against Oregon State and still won. Hogan ranks 11th in passing in the Pac-12, but is at No. 5 in passing efficiency. The lesson here? Hogan makes his throws count.
Hogan will have to be accurate against Oregon, which ranks No. 5 in the country in pass defense. Queue up running back Ty Gaffney, who has three consecutive 100-yard performances.
3. (tie) Arizona State: 6-2, 4-1 (5)
To say Arizona State is consistent is an understatement. The Sun Devils have scored 54, 53 and 55 points, respectively, in their last three games — all easy wins.
Running back Marion Grice leads the nation in scoring with 108 points — 15 points ahead of the next-closest player, Arizona State freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez.
With the nation’s top two scorers and a one-game division lead, Arizona State enters a two-game stretch that offers winnable games against Utah and Oregon State before settling the Pac-12 South against UCLA and Arizona.
3. (tie) UCLA: 6-2, 3-2 (4)
UCLA’s brutal schedule continues this week with its third road trip in four games. This week, the Bruins travel to Arizona in what many are deeming one of the biggest games in recent Wildcats history — certainly in the Rich Rodriguez era. Both squads are tied for second in the Pac-12 South. A loss will essentially drop the loser out of division contention.
The Bruins are a banged-up bunch and could potentially start three freshmen on the offensive line. Despite their inexperience, the Bruins still have quarterback Brett Hundley. With running back Jordon James nursing an ankle injury, Hundley needs just 40 yards to become the Bruins’ leading rusher.
5. (tie) Southern California: 6-3, 3-2 (7)
The Trojans tied for fifth in our polls with Oregon State, but get the tiebreaker based on the fact that USC pasted the Beavers, 31-14, last Saturday. Don’t look now, but the Trojans are right back in the race for the Pac-12 South. Hampering them is a bad loss to division front-runner Arizona State, but helping them is a win over Arizona with an upcoming showdown against UCLA on Nov. 30.
Yet another running back emerged for the Trojans last week. Javorius Allen rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns while Silas Redd added an additional 140 yards rushing in USC's win.
Expect more of the same this week when the Trojans travel to Berkeley to face California and its 88th-ranked rush defense (189.9 ypg).
5. (tie) Oregon State: 6-3, 4-2 (3)
After a six-game winning streak that saw Oregon State rocket up our rankings, the Beavers have returned to earth, courtesy of a two-game losing skid.
After passing for more than 400 yards in five of his first seven games, Sean Mannion has failed to eclipse 300 yards in either of the Beavers' losses to Stanford and USC.
Oregon State has a week off to prepare for a rough end of the schedule. It will sandwich a home game against Washington between road trips to Arizona State and rival Oregon.
7. Arizona: 6-2, 3-2 (7)
B.J. Denker’s arm is finally catching up to his legs, with the result being a more balanced Wildcats offense under the senior quarterback.
Denker rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another in Arizona’s win over California last Saturday, as the Wildcats became bowl eligible. Denker is averaging 264.2 yards passing in the Wildcats’ last four games — including three wins — after averaging just 111.2 yards passing over Arizona's first four contests.
Ka’Deem Carey’s 152-yard rushing performance kept the junior atop the national leaderboard in rushing yards per game with 153.1.
Arizona will need every one of those yards on Saturday when the Wildcats host UCLA in a matchup that will go a long way in breaking the three-team tie for second place in the Pac-12 South.
8. Washington: 5-3, 2-3 (6)
Washington’s slide down the rankings continues. Since starting the season at 4-0 and finding itself among the top 12 of the AP rankings, the Huskies have dropped three of four.
Washington is coming off a win over California and has another doormat lying in wait in Colorado this week. The Huskies will likely become bowl eligible this week, but if not, they’ll have to do so by beating UCLA and/or Oregon State. Even with three straight losses, the Huskies could still become bowl eligible by beating Washington State in its final game.
We don’t think it’ll come to that, despite Washington's slide in the rankings. Bishop Sankey got back on track last week, rushing for 241 yards against Cal. Expect more of the same against Colorado, which yields an average of 198.9 yards per game rushing to rank 97th in the nation.
9. Utah: 4-4, 1-4 (9)
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson claims that his injured hand — the one that allowed backup QB Adam Schulz to step up and lead the Utes in passing the last two weeks — is healed after a bye week. Wilson, averaging 213.2 yards per game passing this season, will need a strong throwing hand if the Utes are to upset South Division leader Arizona State this week. The Sun Devils ought to beware. Utah dropped Stanford earlier in the season at home and gave UCLA a good scare as well.
10. Washington State: 4-5, 2-4 (10)
Washington State has settled in nicely at No. 10 in our rankings, which is where we expect they’ll finish out the season.
One of the bright spots for the Cougars defense this season has been the play of Deone Bucannon. The senior safety leads the Pac-12 in tackles with 73 — 15 more than Colorado’s Addison Gillam, who is second in the conference.
The Cougars have a bye week before closing out their season against Arizona, Utah and Washington. They’ll need an upset of one of those teams to climb the rankings.
11. Colorado: 3-5, 0-5 (11)
Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau has seen his passing numbers steadily increase by an average of 30 yards each game since taking over as the Buffs’ starting quarterback four games ago. Colorado has gone 1-3 over that stretch, but a win in the final month against Washington, USC or Utah will go a long way toward restoring faith from the Buffaloes fan base.
12. California: 1-8, 0-6 (12)
The Golden Bears enter Saturday’s home tilt against USC the owners of a seven-game losing streak. They have three games left (Colorado and Stanford) for an unwelcome shot at tying the school record for most consecutive football losses with 10 straight. Their best chance at avoiding that dubious streak will come on Nov. 16 when the Golden Bears travel to Boulder, Colo., to face the lowly Buffaloes.