Week 5 Pac 12 Power Rankings
Week 5 Pac 12 Power Rankings
The Pac 12 conference has been putting together a strong case for being counted among the best college football conferences in the country. Each team has gone out and played some tough competition and in more instances than not have come out on top. The placement of two of the conference’s premier teams in the AP Top 5 are proof that the rest of the country is taking notice.
With the first four weeks of the college football season in the books, things are starting to shake out in the hierarchy of the Pac 12. Nothing is set in stone as even the teams at the bottom of the conference ladder have the talent and tenacity to take it to any team on any given day. That parity pushes each team hoping to come out on top of the conference at season’s end to bring their very best efforts week in and week out.
And those efforts have been great. Five of the top 10 total offense leaders in college football are quarterbacks from the Pac 12; No. 1 Jared Goff (429.7 ypg), No. 3 Sean Mannion (389.0), No. 5 Marcus Mariota (383.7), Connor Wood (376.0) and No. 9 Taylor Kelly (354.7). They aren’t too shabby on the defensive side of the ball, either, with three of the top 15 ranked teams in total defense. The conference is playing at an incredible level across the board and the level of competition is at a fevered pitch.
So as we prepare to get into the teeth of the Pac 12 schedule, we break down who is the best among the hyper-competitive programs of the conference. Without further ado, we count down the Pac 12 Power Rankings heading into Week 5.
12. Cal Bears (1-2, 0-0 Pac 12)
There are a lot of things to like about the direction of the Cal Bears under Sonny Dykes. As bright as the long term picture is, however, it isn’t helping the Bears in the short term. The roster is young, the defense is porous and the schedule is brutal. They had a week off after getting roughed up by the Ohio State Buckeyes and now have to go on the road to play the Oregon Ducks. Nothing like a tough road getting tougher.
11. Colorado Buffaloes (2-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
The Colorado Buffaloes have looked tough in two wins to start the season, already eclipsing their win total from the 2012 season. The level of competition is going to ratchet up in a hurry as the Buffs get into their conference schedule, but the return of Paul Richardson at wide receiver and the mental toughness showed so far under Mike MacIntyre will make Colorado a tough out for everyone the rest of the season.
10. Oregon State Beavers (3-1, 1-0 Pac 12)
After an emotional win against the Utah Utes to open their Pac 12 schedule, the Oregon State Beavers looked like a team that was suffering a major letdown for three quarters against the San Diego State Aztecs. Without a huge 20-point rally in the 4th quarter behind the big arm of Sean Mannion, the Beavers may have suffered another bad loss to the still winless Aztecs. Mike Riley has to get some answers for his defense and get a more complete effort for four quarters or Oregon State is going to get left behind in the Pac 12 race.
9. Utah Utes (3-1, 0-1 Pac 12)
The Utah Utes bounced back following a big letdown against Oregon State in their Pac 12 opener to handle their business against the BYU Cougars in the Holy War. Travis Wilson is emerging as one of the future stars for the Pac 12 at quarterback, making plays with his arm and his legs as he leads the Utes’ offense. Utah has been more explosive in their first four games than at any point in recent memory and will continue to get better as the team grows in the new offensive system. Teams will have to take this Utah team seriously or risk an upset.
8. Washington State Cougars (3-1, 1-0 Pac 12)
Nothing cures the ills of a slow-starting offense quite like back-to-back cupcake non-conference games. That has helped the Washington State Cougars look prolific in the last two weeks, which isn’t something you could say about this club at any point last season. Connor Halliday has thrown nine touchdown passes in the last two games after finding the endzone only once in the first two games. Turnovers are still a serious issue for the Cougs, but the positive momentum of the offense and the continued physical play of the defense will be huge for Wazzu the rest of the way this season.
7. USC Trojans (3-1, 0-1 Pac 12)
Offensive struggles crept back up for the USC Trojans this week after they appeared to have found their stride against the Boston College Eagles a week ago. But they still have one of the toughest defenses in college football and Tre Madden continues his breakout performance this season, so they were able to avoid the big upset and stay on track to get things right for a run at the Pac 12 South division title. Cody Kessler needs to open things up in the passing game more if they hope to hang with the heavyweights on their schedule, but the running game and defense will always give them a chance.
6. Arizona Wildcats (3-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
Yet to be truly tested, the Arizona Wildcats are working through some hitches before kicking off their conference schedule next week in Seattle. Ka’Deem Carey is still a dynamic playmaker out of the backfield, but the passing game has yet to get into any kind of rhythm against a truly cupcake non-conference schedule. The defense has looked better than it was in 2012, but they’ve yet to truly face a capable offense. That will change quickly and we’ll soon know just how dangerous this Wildcats team will be in the Pac 12 race.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1, 0-1 Pac 12)
While they came up short on the road at The Farm, the Arizona State Sun Devils are still a dangerous team in the Pac 12 race. They need to rebound immediately and defend their home field against the USC Trojans in a super-important Pac 12 South contest between a pair of clubs looking to avoid 0-2 starts to the conference schedule. ASU will have to regroup along the offensive and defensive line to establish some control in the trenches after getting pushed around by the Stanford Cardinal. Jaelen Strong appears to have found his rhythm with Taylor Kelly which will be key for the Sun Devils to get back on track in a hurry.
4. Washington Huskies (3-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
When you host a lower-tier FCS team as a program with aspirations of big things, you should leave no doubt about who is the better team on the field. That’s exactly what the Washington Huskies did to the visiting Idaho State Bengals on Saturday, putting the game away before the half. While there aren’t too many lessons you can take away from the Huskies’ blowout performance, Steve Sarkisian can be happy with the fact that his club didn’t sleepwalk their way through the start of the game following their impressive road win the week before. This is the most talented and mature team that Sark has had and he’s determined to get them over the top in 2013.
3. UCLA Bruins (3-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
After an emotional rally against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins returned home and handily dispatched the New Mexico State Aggies. NMSU may be one of the worst teams in FBS and the Bruins handled them that way. The Bruins have a talented roster that has been rallied around the loss of one of their own. That drive and focus could be a difference-maker as UCLA attempts to get back to the Pac 12 title game for a third straight season and finally getting that first elusive win.
2. Stanford Cardinal (3-0, 1-0 Pac 12)
With the biggest game in college football on their home field this week, the Stanford Cardinal took care of business against Arizona State. They showed an explosiveness that many people thought they may not be capable of and got their first test against a spread offense. They will have to face this same offensive attack numerous times throughout their run through the Pac 12. David Shaw got his team over their first hurdle towards defending their conference title and they look more than ready to tackle the rest as the come at them.
1. Oregon Ducks (3-0, 0-0 Pac 12)
Few teams have been as explosive or dominant in the first month of the season as the Oregon Ducks. Questions about how prolific the offense could be without Chip Kelly have been quickly put to rest with Marcus Mariota putting together a strong Heisman Trophy candidacy. The defense continues to be sneaky good and the entire team continues to get better week in and week out. They got a bye week before kicking off their Pac 12 slate against Cal in Autzen Stadium as they look to regain their spot at the top of the Pac 12 hierarchy.
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