Week 7 Pac 12 Power Rankings
Week 7 Pac 12 Power Rankings
The Pac 12 title race had its first major contest this week in Palo Alto with the favored home team holding serve and solidifying their place at the top of the conference hierarchy. Elsewhere, the most explosive team in the conference exploded against one of the lower tier teams proving they are exactly who we thought they were, a darkhorse in the conference title chase took a step back and two big arms put up big numbers.
With Week 6 in the books, the conference race is shaking out and we are able to identify which teams have a real shot at contending for the Pac 12 title, which are sitting just out of reach and the programs that are just looking to build some positive momentum towards the offseason. The teams at the top continue to take care of their business while the rest of the conference attempts to regroup and make a run down the stretch. There will be upsets and opportunities to shine up and down the conference as the season goes on with a number of teams looking to take care of business and make a run at a BCS National Championship.
After the first of many marquee matchups in conference play happening in Week 6, the Pac 12 Power Rankings are getting a little less fluid. The upper tier of the conference appears to be separating themselves leaving a logjam in the middle of the pack jockeying for position to play spoiler later in the year with a few teams still stuck in the cellar.
There will be shakeups throughout the season as the Pac 12 jockeys for position amongst themselves, but for now let’s break down the Pac 12 Power Rankings heading into Week 7.
12. Cal Bears (1-4, 0-2 Pac 12)
A defense thinned by injuries only got thinner for the Cal Bears on Saturday which made it impossible to slow down the Washington State Cougars. The Bears surrendered 521yards through the air and don’t appear to have any answers defensively. Sonny Dykes can take some solace in the big play ability of his offense with Jared Goff throwing for over 500 yards on the day but the team needs to find ways to turn some of that offense into wins.
11. Colorado Buffaloes (2-2, 0-2 Pac 12)
Mike MacIntyre has seen the momentum of the Colorado Buffaloes’ early two wins to start the 2013 season evaporate as they’ve hit their conference schedule. They were completely eviscerated on Saturday by the Oregon Ducks and fell to 0-2 in conference play. Connor Wood and Paul Richardson remain a strong duo leading the offense but the Buffs need to establish some kind of running game and get more from their defense. Things aren’t going to get much easier in the short term for Colorado so something drastic will need to change in Boulder if they hope to score a few wins this season.
10. USC Trojans (3-2, 0-2 Pac 12)
The USC Trojans had the week off, giving interim head coach Ed Orgeron an opportunity to get the team regrouped after their blowout loss to ASU. Orgeron will have to get his squad on the same page for a Thursday night game at home to see if he can cure some of what has been ailing the Men of Troy so far this season. Getting Marqise Lee back on the field and healthy again after a knee injury two weeks ago will be a major boost, but Orgeron will need to find a way to get him on track along with the rest of the USC passing offense after its early funk.
9. Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 Pac 12)
After getting exposed by the Washington Huskies, Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats had a bye week to get back on track. B.J. Denker has been completely out of sorts in the passing game which has really made things difficult for running back Ka’Deem Carey. The defense looked better for a half before getting shredded late in Seattle and will have a big task ahead of them on Thursday night against a refocused USC squad looking to bounce back from their sluggish start under new management.
8. Washington State Cougars (4-2, 2-1 Pac 12)
Taking advantage of a Cal defense that was decimated with injuries, Connor Halliday led the Washington State Cougars to a prolific, though not overly efficient, outing in Berkeley. Halliday set school records for passing attempts (67) and passing yards (521) in the 44-22 romp while finding the endzone three times. WSU’s defense once again struggled to contain the passing attack, however, giving up 504 yards to Jared Goff. They will need to get back to their physical, shutdown style of the early season while continuing to improve the efficiency of their offensive attack. At 4-2, the Cougs are just two wins short of getting back to the postseason.
7. Utah Utes (3-2, 0-2)
Kyle Whittingham had his Utah Utes ready to play last Thursday against the defending Pac 12 South champion UCLA Bruins. Travis Wilson showed plenty of ability to like, though his six interceptions ultimately cost the team their shot at unseating the Bruins. Utah will need to regroup and fix their turnover issue quickly after falling to 0-2 in conference play to start the year. The Utes look like a team that is so close to contending in the Pac 12 but have some fine tuning to do before they can consistently win games in conference play.
6. Oregon State Beavers (4-1, 2-0 Pac 12)
With a bye week off, Mike Riley will have worked on getting healthier on defense and finding a consistent running game. Even if he hasn’t, though, the Oregon State Beavers still have the most prolific passer in the country in Sean Mannion and his top target Brandin Cooks to lead OSU back into the Pac 12 race. They’ve scored an early pair of conference wins already and are rounding into form as the difficultly of their schedule ramps up. They have to improve in a few key areas quickly, though, if they hope to make a serious run at a Pac 12 North title.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-2, 1-1 Pac 12)
Todd Graham was looking to get the Arizona State Sun Devils some national recognition with a big non-conference win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They came up short in Dallas as ASU shot themselves in the foot one too many times in the biggest moments of the night. Taylor Kelly threw a pair of interceptions which spelled doom for the Sun Devils’ attempts to rally. There were some things to like in the loss, such as Jaelen Strong continuing to develop into of the Pac 12’s best wide receivers, but there are many more aspects of the game that need to be addressed immediately for ASU to get back on track.
4. Washington Huskies (4-1, 1-1 Pac 12)
The Washington Huskies went toe-to-toe with the defending Pac 12 champion Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto in a top-15 slugfest between two of the conference’s best. UW came up short in the end, but it was no fault of their star players. Keith Price looks as confident and proficient as ever running the up-tempo style of the Huskies’ offensive attack in 2013 and Bishop Sankey continues to grind out yardage on the ground as well as anyone in the country. They may not have gotten the win, but they’ve placed themselves squarely in the mix for darkhorse Pac 12 contenders.
3. UCLA Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac 12)
With many of the Pac 12 South contenders stumbling early on already this season, the UCLA Bruins took their opportunity to put a strangle-hold on the division with a gutsy win over a very game Utah squad. Brett Hundley bolstered his Heisman Trophy campaign with a dynamic performance with a score through the air, on the ground and receiving. The UCLA defense showed up in a major way and led the way to the win. Jim Mora has his team playing focused football and they appear ready to take another crack at getting over the hump and winning a Pac 12 title in 2013.
2. Stanford Cardinal (5-0, 3-0 Pac 12)
While they were pushed to the brink, the Stanford Cardinal answered the challenge of a very tough Washington squad at home and maintained their course towards a showdown with Oregon to decide the Pac 12 North. Kevin Hogan struggled to really break the game open, but the Cardinal still found plenty of offense to escape with a win thanks to some opportunistic playmaking from their excellent defensive front and a breakout special teams performance from Ty Montgomery. David Shaw just continues to find ways to win and keep his team on track for a ticket to Pasadena this bowl season.
1. Oregon Ducks (5-0. 2-0 Pac 12)
Even without their most exciting player, De’Anthony Thomas, the Oregon Ducks made short work of the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder thanks to the other-worldly effort of quarterback Marcus Mariota. In less than three quarters of work, Mariota found the endzone seven times (five passing, two rushing) as he carved up the Buffs and put Oregon on the path towards an easy win. The Ducks are clicking on all cylinders and have steam-rolled their competition up to now. They’ll get tested at an all new level starting next week and we will quickly learn just how good this Oregon team can be.