In the first week of college football the Pac 12 conference went 8-3. There were some impressive performances and then there were some ugly losses. Looking at the games as a whole, the top teams performed the way they were expected to.
Heading into week two, the Pac 12 will once again be tested as some of the members will play the other top teams in the country.
Here are the Pac 12 football power rankings heading into week two:
1. USC Trojans: Last week- W 49-10 vs. Hawaii. This week- at Syracuse
Talk about starting off the year with a bang. The Trojans kicked off their highly anticipated 2012 season with a 75-yard TD on their first play from scrimmage and they went on to blow out Hawaii. They looked good all around but their stars really came to play. QB Matt Barkley kicked off his Heisman campaign by going 22-38, 372 yards and 4 TD. Wide Receiver Marquise Lee had a career day on offense as well as on special teams. He caught 10 passes for 197 and 1 TD as well as taking a 100-yard kick return to the house. It was smooth sailing all around for the Trojans but going on the road to the Carrier Dome won’t be a cake-walk, especially when every team is gunning for you.
2. Oregon Ducks: Last week- W 57-34 vs. Arkansas State. This week- vs. Fresno State
The score against Ark. St. looks a lot closer than it actually was as the starters were gone from the game late in the second quarter after jumping out to a 50-3 lead. Redshirt freshmen quarterback Marcus Mari-O-ta (get the pronounciation right!) impressed in his debut. He looked poised, he looked accurate and he looked very comfortable leading the up-tempo Oregon offense. Dark-horse Heisman trophy candidate De’Anthony Thomas touched the ball seven times and scored 3 TDs, two through the air and one on the ground while totaling 119 yards of offense. Their defense looked a little suspect at times but I think they were just working the kinks out.
3. Utah Utes: Last week- W 41-0 vs. Northern Colorado. This week- at Utah State
They started out a little slow against UNC but then they kicked it in gear and cruised to an easy 41-0 victory. They were tied 0-0 at the end of the first before leading 21-0 at halftime as their offense took some time to get going. QB Jordan Wynn was slow to get acclimated to playing again after missing the final nine games last season with a shoulder injury but eventually caught on and finished 19-27, 200 yds and 2 TD. The Utes rode their stellar defense that never allowed UNC to cross mid-field and held them to 114 total yards for the game. Utah looks to be the only team in the South division that can compete with USC after week one.
4. Washington Huskies: Last week- W 21-12 vs. San Diego State. This week- at No. 3 LSU
The last time we saw the Huskies they were giving up 67 points to Baylor in their bowl game. They squared off against a much weaker opponent in their 2012 season opener where they raced out to an early lead then held on to win 21-12 against SDSU. Their defense under new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox looked much improved only allowing 12 points, forcing three turnovers and scoring their first defensive touchdown since 2010. The offense was well balanced led by QB Kevin Prince who finished 25-35, 222 yds and 1 TD. Washington will face a much tougher test this week as they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 3 ranked LSU Tigers.
5. Stanford Cardinal: Last week- W 20-17 vs. San Jose State. This week- vs. Duke
In their first game post Andrew Luck the Cardinal escaped a scare and squeaked out a three-point win over the Spartans. Josh Nunes struggled to move the offense in his first start but RB Stefan Taylor saved them as he ran for 116 yards and one touchdown. One of the main concerns for the Cardinal was their ineffectiveness on third down finishing 2 of 13. They will need to improve that moving forward. As for the defense, SJSU was able to move the ball methodically at times and even out-gained the Cardinal in total yards 288-280. It will obviously take some time for Stanford to get it together post-Luck but luckily they have a matchup with lowly Duke next week in order to continue to get better.
6. UCLA Bruins: Last week- W 49-24 at Rice. This week- vs. No. 17 Nebraska
UCLA amassed 348 yards on the ground, led by Jonathan Franklin’s 214 yards and 3 TDs, on their way to a 49-24 win in their opener. They ran through the porous Rice defense with ease and it started from the first snap. Redshirt freshmen QB Brett Hundley scampered for a 72-yard TD run on their very first play of the year and they never looked back. In total they racked up 651 yards of offense in Jim Mora’s coaching debut but their defense still gave up 24 points to a lowly Rice team and that is cause for concern moving forward. The defense will have to improve in a hurry with a matchup looming against No. 17 Nebraska next week.
7. Arizona Wildcats: Last week- W-OT 24-17 vs.Toledo. This week- vs. No. 19 Oklahoma State
The Wildcats looked sloppy on their way to a close victory over Toledo in Rich Rodriguez’s debut. They had two touchdowns called back because of penalties, turned the ball over three times and missed two close field goals, one as time ran out in regulation. QB Matt Scott threw for 387 yards and two scores as the Wildcats racked up 624 yards of total offense. RB Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 147 yards on 20 carries including a 73-yard touchdown in the third quarter. It seems as if Arizona won’t have much trouble moving the ball this year but they will have to overcome their mental mistakes in order to keep up in the conference.
8. California Golden Bears: Last week- L 31-24 vs. Nevada. This week- vs. Southern Utah
What started out as a festive afternoon with the re-opening of Memorial Stadium quickly turned into a disappointing start for the Cal Bears. Their offense struggled to move the ball while their usually stingy defense had a hard time containing Nevada’s pistol offense. QB Zach Maynard served a three-series punishment after missing a tutoring session earlier this summer only to enter the game already down 14-0. Cal never led as Nevada had three scoring drives in the second half to hold off any comeback attempt.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils: Last week- W 63-6 vs. Northern Arizona. This week- vs. Illinois
Todd Graham made his coaching debut with an easy win over NAU. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 42-0 lead by halftime by way of five TDs on the ground while forcing three turnovers. QB Taylor Kelly was efficient in his debut going 15-19, 247 yards and 1 TD. ASU ran all over the Lumberjacks as they amassed 305 rushing yards and 7 TDs. The defense was tough as they knocked out NAU’s QB and leading rusher in the first half.
10. Washington State Cougars: Last week- L 30-6 at BYU. This week- vs. Eastern Washington
There was a lot of hype surrounding Mike Leach’s debut but the Cougars fell flat on their face, losing on the road to a tough BYU squad. WSU couldn’t do anything on the ground, rushing for -5 yards and became one-dimensional which was no problem for BYU to defend. Jeff Tuel threw 2 INTs and Washington State only crossed midfield six times while entering the red zone only once. On the other side of the ball BYU moved it up and down the field with ease, especially through the air. Leach and co. will have a chance to redeem themselves next week in his home debut against Eastern Washington.
11. Oregon State Beavers: Last week- vs. Nicholls State (Postponed). This week- vs. No. 12 Wisconsin
12. Colorado Buffaloes: Last week- L 22-17 vs. Colorado State. This week- vs. Sacramento State
It was not the start Jon Embree and the rest of the Colorado team was looking for as they sputtered to a 22-17 loss against rival Colorado State. The Buffs could not get anything going on the ground only rushing for 58 yards. QB Jordan Webb was constantly being pressured and was roughed up several times from sacks and hits as he threw the ball. They did lead 14-3 in the second quarter and it looked like they might win it easily but then a muffed punt on their own 20 late in the quarter led to a CSU TD on the very next play giving the Rams momentum going into halftime. Colorado needed these early wins if they wanted to meet their goal of returning to a bowl game but that may be out of reach now.
Previous Week Rankings: Week One
David LaRose is one of the featured College Football writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado.