Pac 12 Football Power Rankings: Week Six
Pac 12 Power Rankings: Week Six
Is there any other conference that is as up and down as the Pac 12?
From week to week the conference is either overly impressive or underwhelming and mediocre. Is that just a sign of the overall competitiveness of the conference's teams or just the parity within the league? Either way it is hard to tell the actual strength of the Pac 12 from top to bottom.
The conference started off week five with an upset as the Washington Huskies beat No. 8 Stanford while the other teams in the conference failed to standout in any of their games. Some of the teams had some notable road victories with UCLA bouncing back from their first loss and Oregon State staying undefeated as they continue to be the surprise team in the conference.
There could be an argument that most of these teams should be ranked higher or lower than they are and that's always the fun part about it. Debating power rankings has become a common theme from week to week and after an especially rocky week for the Pac 12, teams can argue their placement more than ever.
Up to this point it seems that only one team has cemented themselves as serious contenders and that's the Oregon Ducks. They haven't really faced the toughest of competition up to this point but they have shown that they have the whole package with the improvement of their defense.
So without further ado here is the rankings for the Pac 12 conference heading into week six
12. Washington State Cougars
The only way the Cougars would have moved out of the cellar of the Pac 12 was if they were able to upset Oregon or at least play them closer.
Well, that did not happen.
They actually played well in the first half against the Ducks as they were only down 23-19 at the midway point. However, whatever Oregon coach Chip Kelly said to his team during the intermission quickly put an end to any notion of an upset for Mike Leach's boys.
The Cougars were run off the field as the Ducks scored three quick touchdowns to start the third and they were never able to recover.
Washington State showed resolve after their choke job last week against Colorado but they were just overmatched in this one. It doesn't get any easier this week as they face off against the other red-hot team in the conference, Oregon State
11. Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado fell back to earth after their emotional road win in Pullman last week as they lost to UCLA 42-14.
During the week the Buffs announced that they are going to start circling the UCLA and USC games in 'red' on their schedule signaling them as their new rivals in the Pac 12. They definitely aren't on par quite yet as the Bruins wore them down and their talent eventually overpowered the young players from Colorado.
As Jon Embree and company head into their bye week the biggest thing they can gain from the week off is time to heal their injured. LB Doug Rippy and FS Ray Polk have both been out with injuries while RB Christian Powell and LB Jon Major joined them in the second half against UCLA. Other players are dealing with some nagging injuries so this bye week, their first since 2010, should do wonders for Colorado's physical and mental health.
Bye weeks are important to any team and in the words of defensive lineman Will Pericak, "We need it."
10. Cal Bears
So far it has not been the season that Cal Bears fans have hoped for, especially in their first season in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
They've lost two of their three home games so far including this past weekend's defeat at the hands of Arizona State 27-17. On top of that, they are off to their worst start under head coach Jeff Tedford at 1-4.
Defense, which was their strength last year, has now become their biggest weakness.
Their pass defense is ranked as the 81st worst in the country giving up an average of 215 yards per game and it was not much better against ASU. Taylor Kelly racked up 292 yards through the air including 3 TDs. Cal's run defense isn't much better giving up an average of 172 ypg.
If you're asking for a recipe in failure all you have to do is look at Cal's defense this year and you've got it.
9. Utah Utes
Utah had a bye last week and it came at a good time. They haven't gotten off to the start they wanted to. Mostly they have been too inconsistent to really figure out if they are any good or not.
Utah will lose to Utah State one week, then upset BYU the next. Right when you think they will take off and use the upset victory as momentum they get smacked by Arizona State 37-7. You never really know which Utes team is going to show up but for the Pac 12's sake they hope the better one shows up on Thursday.
With the bye week they've had more time to prepare for their battle with USC Thursday night in Salt Lake City. It's never easy for a ranked opponent to go on the road, on a Thursday night prime time game and come away with a victory and that's what Utah is banking on. They hope to show up with their 'good' team and use the home-field crowd to their advantage.
8. Arizona Wildcats
Arizona was close to upsetting Oregon State but a late TD sealed their fate as they dropped their second consecutive game. After starting 3-0 the Wildcats lost both games to the tams from Oregon but were much more competitive against the Beavers.
The offense was not the problem this week as they piled up 545 total yards, 403 through the air and 142 on the ground, on the way to 35 points. Zona's defense on the other hand gave up a whopping 613 yards and couldn't' stop the Beavers on the ground or through the air.
The encouraging thing from this game for Wildcats fans is that they fell behind 17-0 but they fought back to turn it into a back-and-forth contest. Showing some fight is a good thing and is one of the positives that Rich Rodriguez can take from this game. However the schedule is daunting for Zona as their next four Pac 12 games are against ranked teams and it begins with a visit to Palo Alto to take on Stanford this weekend.
7. UCLA Bruins
After dropping their first game of the season, UCLA got just what the doctor ordered: a trip to play Colorado.
They easily took care of the Buffs 42-14 in a bounce back game and at 4-1 the Bruins are off tho their best start since 2007. Brett Hundley contributed four TDs, two passing and two rushing, while Jonathan Franklin almost broke 100 rushing yards in the first half as he finished with 111. Their defense played well limiting Colorado to just over 300 yards of total offense while forcing two turnovers.
It was just the type of game they needed to gain some confidence back. Next they travel to Cal and hope to add to the Bears' home woes while trying to stay ranked for more than a week.
6. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Sun Devils continue to be the pleasant surprise in the Pac 12 this season. If not for their lone loss on the road at Missouri, ASU might be the team everyone is talking about. For now they will continue to fly under the radar but they can use that to their advantage.
After winning at Cal they have bye week before they travel to face Colorado next Thursday night. New head coach Todd Graham has his team playing tough, disciplined football something that was lacking from the previous coaching staff. They don't commit penalties, they play a hard hitting style and they have a solid balance on offense.
If they continue to win it will be hard not to talk about the Sun Devils but they still have to prove a little more to me in order to ascend up this ranking.
5. Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal were victim to an upset last Thursday and it makes fans wonder how good they really are.
Against USC they looked great. Their defense played exceptional and had all kinds of pressure on QB Matt Barkley. Stanford's offense did just enough to get them ahead and then they ran out the clock.
On the other hand against Washington their defense showed some weaknesses and the Huskies were able to take advantage of them to beat them. Once again the Cardinal offense sputtered against a quality opponent and that seems to be their biggest weakness at this point.
The defense can only do so much without any support from the offense. We'll see if that trend continues moving forward but if it does Stanford will continue to fall down the rankings.
4. Washington Huskies
The Huskies were the team of the week solely on their upset of No. 8 Stanford. In my opinion the Cardinal were a little overrated but a win over a top ten team is still impressive.
It's hard to know how good the Huskies are. They aren't on the level of LSU but they are able to beat Stanford. What we do know is that Washington's defense is improving and it showed in their upset.
They held the Cardinal to 235 total yards and forced two turnovers. Stanford went more than 21 minutes of the first half without gaining a first down and it was due to the Huskies defense stacking the box. They dared Josh Nunes to beat them through the air and it worked to perfection.
Moving forward everyone will know if Washington is legit if they can beat Oregon this weekend.
3. Oregon State Beavers
If you've ever played the drinking game, 'never have I ever' you'll know what this next sentence means.
"Never have I ever placed Oregon State third in the Pac 12 power rankings." Well now I'd be the only one in the group that has to drink, which is fine by me.
As of right now I think the Beavers belong this high due to their three wins and the quality of each of them. Two wins over ranked opponents (Wisconsin, UCLA) and a gritty road win over a rising Arizona squad.
You can't deny the Beavers their proper respect and just say they are a fluke. They've proved they belong, now it's just a matter of how far will they continue to rise?
2. USC Trojans
USC has had a week off to move past their win over Cal and they placed their entire focus on beating Utah in Salt Lake.
Matt Barkley has not had the flashy numbers that many expected from him but he's still Matt Barkley. The thing that USC will try to avoid this week is their second loss in the Pac 12. Neither the Utes or Trojans want to add their second loss but someone will.
It will be a tough road test for USC, especially as a ranked team on the road, on a Thursday night prime time game. Regardless, I think the Trojans will continue to get better and it will show this week as they easily handle Utah.
1. Oregon Ducks
Like I said earlier, Oregon looks like the only complete team in the conference. They struggled a little bit in the first half against Washington State but regrouped at half time and put the game out of reach.
Their defense still has some issues but they will get them ironed out before the real gauntlet of Pac 12 play begins. On the other side of the ball they just need to continue what they are doing, especially on the ground. The Ducks' rushing attack averages over 300 yards a game and they average 52 points per game.
It's easy to see that Oregon is the class of the conference at this point and they will continue to prove that this week against Washington.