Pac 12 Football Power Rankings- Week Three
It was a banner week for the Pac 10 not so much for the Pac 12. If you’re a bit confused, let me explain.
The original Pac 10 teams went 9-1 in week two with the only loss coming in Washington’s blowout at the hands of the No. 3 LSU Tigers. On the other hand the two newest members to the conference, Colorado and Utah, both lost to teams they were expected to beat soundly.
Week three will mark the start of conference play, highlighted by No. 2 USC traveling to Palo Alto to take on No. 21 Stanford.
Without further ado here’s the Pac 12 football power rankings for week three.
1. USC Trojans: Last week- W 42-29 vs. Syracuse. This week- at No. 21 Stanford
It wasn’t the most impressive win for the Trojans as they had a hard time putting the Orange away. They eventually got it done with a little help from Matt Barkley’s 6 TD passes, which tied a career high. Their defense was a little suspect as they had a hard time keeping up with the no-huddle offense that Syracuse was utilizing. The Trojans will need to put up a better defensive effort if they hope to hold off the Cardinal this weekend. So far they have been middle of the pack defensively giving up an average of 19.6 points per game. I expect a bounce back effort on defense from the men of Troy as they stay undefeated.
2. Oregon Ducks: Last week- W 42-25 vs. Fresno State. This week- vs. Tennessee Tech
In week one it was the passing game led by Marcus Mariota that propelled the Ducks to their first win of the season. It was a different story in week two as the running game carried them to a gutty win over Fresno State. Led by senior running back Kenjon Barner the Ducks rushed for 366 total yards and 5 TDs. Barner himself ran for 201 of those yards and punched it into the end-zone for three scores. Dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate De’Anthony Thomas rushed for 102 yards and 2 TDs and the Ducks just continued to score. They had to hold off a late rally from the pesky Bulldogs but had control of the game from the opening kickoff. They should have no problem doing the same this week against Tenn. Tech.
3. Stanford Cardinal: Last week- W 50-13 vs. Duke. This week- vs. No. 2 USC
After a very rough opening game, one in which they struggled to beat San Jose State, it was a much easier win in week two against the Blue Devils. Quarterback Josh Nunes and the rest of the Cardinal offense found a rhythm and they picked up their play on defense forcing four turnovers to put Duke away early. They also received some help from special teams as they had a 75-yard punt return for a score to go along with three FG’s. They’ll face a much tougher test in week three as they host the No. 2 USC Trojans in a rematch of their epic OT game from last season.
4. UCLA Bruins: Last week- W 36-30 vs. No. 16 Nebraska. This week- vs. Houston
The Bruins racked up over 650 yards of total offense against the vaunted Black Shirt defense on their way to a huge upset win over the Cornhuskers. With the upset, the Bruins vaulted into the AP top 25 for the first time since 2008, debuting at No. 22. Jim Mora has whipped the Bruins into shape in his first season as the new coach and has his players brimming with confidence. Their defense came to play in the second half, holding Nebraska to only 6 points and 106 yards of total offense. Brett Hundley had another impressive day throwing for over 300 yards and 4 TDs while Jonathan Franklin had another 200 rush yard performance. Franklin is the nation’s leading rusher with 431 yards and has crept into Heisman consideration with his performance in the Bruins’ first two games.
5. Arizona Wildcats: Last week- W 59-38 vs. No. 18 Oklahoma State. This week- vs. South Carolina State
Arizona was one of the other surprising teams to win this past weekend as they took out No. 18 Oklahoma State a week after the Cowboys rung up 84 points. The Cowboys may have overlooked the Wildcats and it cost them as they were forced into four turnovers and committed 15 penalties for over 150 yards. Rich Rodriguez’s team fell behind 14-0 but then rattled off 30 unanswered to take control of the game. Running back Ka’Deem Carey had 4 TDs while quarterback Matt Scott threw for 320 yards and 2 TDs as Arizona beat a ranked opponent for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Rodriguez is still not satisfied with only putting up 59 points so he’ll expect to score more than that this week against lowly South Carolina State.
6. Washington Huskies: Last week- L 41-3 at LSU. This week- vs. Portland State
I wasn’t going to drop the Huskies too far after their loss to the defending SEC champion LSU Tigers. The Huskies are a good team but they were just completely overmatched last weekend giving up 41 points and 242 yards rushing. Washington could only muster 183 total yards and continuously shot themselves in the foot by committing 11 penalties. Coach Steve Sarkisian will have to regroup his team and get them ready for their bounce back game against Portland State this weekend.
7. Arizona State Sun Devils: Last week- W 45-14 vs. Illinois. This week- at Missouri
The Sun Devils racked up 510 total yards of offense, 318 through the air, as they improved to 2-0 with a win over Iliinois. Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank both got snaps at quarterback and both guys made the most of them. Kelly threw for 249 yards and a touchdown while Eubank went 5-5, 69 yds, 2 TDs and added one more TD on the ground. In their two games this season the Wildcats have outscored their opponents 108-20.
8. Oregon State Beavers: Last week- W 10-7 vs. No. 13 Wisconsin. This week- at No. 22 UCLA
The Beavers notched their biggest non-conference win in their history as they upset No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday and they did it with defense. They smothered Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball and only gave up 203 total yards, 37 on the ground. In their first game of the season Oregon State was prepared on defense and utilized an aggressive array of blitzes from all angles to disrupt the Badgers offense. It was another one of those signature upsets that people are accustomed to seeing the Beavers win year in and year out but this may have been the biggest. They get another chance for an upset this weekend against the newly ranked Bruins.
9. Utah Utes: Last week- L 27-20 at Utah State. This week- vs. No. 25 BYU.
Last week in my power rankings I said that the Utes look like the only team in the South division that could actually threaten to knock off USC. What a difference a week makes. The Utes lost starting quarterback Jordan Wynn to the same injury that ended his season last year, this one unfortunately ended his career as he announced this week he’ll no longer be playing football. Jon Hays did an ok job replacing Wynn but it wasn’t enough as the Utes lost to the Aggies for the first time since 1997. Utah will have to regroup and they don’t have much time to do it as their bitter rival BYU makes the short trip from Provo sporting their No. 25 ranking.
10. California Golden Bears: Last week- W 50-31 vs. Southern Utah. This week- at No. 12 Ohio State
The Bears got their first win in their newly renovated stadium as they were able to put away the feisty FCS Thunderbirds after a sluggish start. A week after losing to Nevada at home Cal got off to another bad start falling behind 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. It took some time but they finally took control of the game in the second quarter and was able to hold off a rally by putting up 30 points in the final frame. It won’t get any easier for Jeff Tedford and the Bears as they head to the horseshoe this week to take on No. 12 ranked Ohio State.
11. Washington State Cougars: Last week- W 24-20 vs. Eastern Washington. This week- at UNLV
Mike Leach got his first win as the Cougars’ new coach but it still wasn’t easy against FCS Eastern Washington. A week after losing to BYU, the Cougars struggled with the Eagles getting out gained 469-355. WSU’s pass defense is their biggest weakness right now and that was expected coming into this season. They gave up 379 yards on Saturday but they’ll catch a break against UNLV this week as the Rebels only average 177 yards through the air per game.
12. Colorado Buffaloes: Last week- L 30-28 vs. Sacramento State. This week- at Fresno State
Jon Embree and Colorado are searching for answers after another head-scratching loss, this time to an FCS school. It’s the second time in the last six seasons that the Buffaloes have lost to an FCS team but this one may be the worst of the two. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead by way of their power run game but then gave up 21 unanswered to fall behind. They ended up losing on a field goal as time expired to send CU to an 0-2 record and re-evaluating the depth chart. Quarterback Jordan Webb was very inconsistent missing some crucial throws so he will spilt time with Connor Wood this week at Fresno State. The lone bright spot was the play of RB Christian Powell as he rushed for 150 yards and 3 TDs.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Football writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado.