Pac 12 Power Rankings Week 9
Week 9 Pac 12 Power Rankings
It was another exciting week of action in the Pac 12 in Week 8 that helped to sort out the contenders for the conference title while bringing us no closer to certainty about who would prevail. Five teams now have one loss or fewer in conference play, creating a logjam of contenders for the two spots in the title game at the end of the season. The stage has been set for a very exciting home stretch.
But some teams won’t be involved in that excitement. The Cal Bears continue to wallow at the bottom of the Pac 12 standings and suffered another blowout loss. The Colorado Buffaloes got a dominant win over an FCS school but still have some work to do to find their first conference win. The Washington State Cougars got out-classed on the road, attrition seems to be taking its toll on the USC Trojans and the Utah Utes could not maintain their momentum from last week. The Washington Huskies look like a team that’s run out of gas on the 2013 season while the Arizona Wildcats may finally be finding their offensive rhythm.
All of these programs find themselves in the rear-view of the teams at the top of the conference race. The Arizona State Sun Devils staked their claim this week in a major way, the Oregon State Beavers remain one of the hottest teams in the country and the UCLA Bruins remain in the mix despite their first misstep of the season. The marquee matchup still seems set to happen November 7 between the Stanford Cardinal, who returned to form this week, and the Oregon Ducks, who continue to roll, with major Pac 12 implications on the line.
The conference race is shaping up to be a good one this November, but all of that will shake itself out in due time. For now, let’s count down the Pac 12 Power Rankings for Week 9.
12. Cal Bears (1-6, 0-4 Pac 12)
Another week, another tough loss for Cal. The Bears' defense continues to be one of the worst in the country and the offense is struggling to keep pace. Sonny Dykes needs something to click for his porous defense or he's in for a long final month of the season. They will be heavy underdogs the rest of the way, even against Colorado on the road, and need to find some kind of spark to get that first conference win via upset.
11. Colorado Buffaloes (3-3, 0-3 Pac 12)
While replacing the Fresno State Bulldogs with FCS Charleston Southern won't do much for Colorado's strength of schedule, it did provide them with a nice win for a new starting quarterback. Sefo Liufauo stepped in as the starter and led the Buffs with 198 yards passing and a touchdown in his debut and completed 70 percent of his passes. Paul Richardson remains very good, catching eight passes for 122 yards and a score and the running game even got involved, led by Michael Adkins II and his 137-yard, four-touchdown performance. Can they translate it to success against Pac 12 opponents?
10. USC Trojans (4-3, 1-2 Pac 12)
It proved difficult for USC to maintain the energy level they showcased in Ed Orgeron's debut a week ago this week on the road against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as they started running out of players to put on the field. Marqise Lee re-injured his knee, Silas Redd went missing in the second half and the Trojans failed to score a single point in the after halftime despite starting multiple drives in Notre Dame territory. They snapped a five-game winning streak in South Bend and return home with little more than questions and bruises to show for it.
9. Washington State Cougars (4-4, 2-3 Pac 12)
The good news: WSU forced the first mistakes out of Marcus Mariota this season when they stripped him twice, returning one for a touchdown. The bad news: the rest of the game didn't go nearly as well. The Cougars' defense was overwhelmed, particularly in the second half, and the offense coughed up the ball five times, including four interceptions from Connor Halliday. While Halliday set a career-best with 557 yards passing on the night, he needed an NCAA-record 89 passing attempts to get it and the Cougars rushed for just two yards on 12 carries as a team. WSU remains just two wins away from bowl eligibility.
8. Washington Huskies (4-3, 1-3 Pac 12)
After back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Stanford and Oregon, Washington came out in Tempe like a team that didn't have anything left in the tank. Bishop Sankey, who entered the game leading the nation in rushing yards per game, gained just 22 yards on 13 carries as UW finished the game with negative-5 yards rushing as a team. The defense, which had been playing pretty well before their matchup with Oregon, got ripped to shreds by ASU as the Huskies got blown off the field. After looking like a team that was sure to get past the seven-win glass ceiling this season early, the Huskies now look like a team that will be fortunate to get to seven wins if this is all they have for games the rest of the way.
7. Utah Utes (4-3, 1-3 Pac 12)
After shocking the world with their win over Stanford last week, the Utes came out and had a huge emotional letdown in Tucson this week. Losing quarterback Travis Wilson to a hand injury didn't help matters but it was the defense's inability to contain the Arizona running game that ultimately did them in. Utah now sits two games back in the Pac 12 South race and doesn't look like it is going to built off its signature win over Stanford this season.
6. Arizona Wildcats (4-2, 1-2 Pac 12)
When you've got Ka'Deem Carey running the ball for you, you've always got a chance to win. Carey put the Wildcats on his back on Saturday, rushing a school-record 40 times for 236 yards and sealed the win for Arizona with a 44-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes to play. B.J. Denker added some nice balance to the offense, adding three touchdowns of his own, as Arizona appears to be trending up as we head into the final month of the season.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1 Pac 12)
There are statement wins and then there's what Arizona State did to Washington on Saturday. ASU stifled the high-powered UW attack, including bottling up the leading rusher in the nation to just 22 yards. Meanwhile, Marion Grice continued to be a scoring machine, finding the endzone three times as he rushed for 158 yards on 21 carries and caught four passes for 37 yards. Taylor Kelly found a nice rhythm himself, adding four total touchdowns in the blowout at home.
4. Oregon State Beavers (6-1, 4-0 Pac 12)
Another day, another couple of records in the books for Sean Mannion. This week, he tied the Oregon State record for touchdowns in a season with a nation-leading 29 tosses (with five game still to go) and increased his national-best yards per game average with another 481 yards through the air. Brandin Cooks set a career-high with 232 yards receiving on 13 catches and scored a pair of touchdowns, one receiving and one rushing. The Oregon State defense seems to continue to improve (thankfully) and the Beavers are a dangerous team as they head down the home stretch.
3. UCLA Bruins (5-1, 2-1 Pac 12)
Coming into the game, UCLA looked like one of the hottest offensive teams in the country. Nothing puts an end to that quicker, however, than playing a focused Stanford squad on The Farm. Brett Hundley threw for just 192 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions as the Bruins' offense got absolutely smothered. The defense was ground into a pulp by the physical Stanford running game as the Bruins' simply were out-muscled all day long. They're still in the thick of the Pac 12 South race, however, and needs to regroup in a hurry to get back on track for a Pac 12 title game appearance.
2. Stanford Cardinal (6-1, 4-1 Pac 12)
In the two weeks leading up to this game, Stanford was looking very un-Stanford. They got back to basics against UCLA, however, running the ball 50 times on the day and playing shut-down defense as they pounded out a physical win. They were able to right the ship one week after stepping into a trap game in Salt Lake City and recaptured that physically imposing swagger that won them the Pac 12 title in 2012. They are still chasing Oregon and Oregon State in the Pac 12 North but will have their shot at getting back in the title game with huge matchups in November.
1. Oregon Ducks (7-0, 4-0 Pac 12)
Another week, another 719 yards of offense from Oregon. Despite turning the ball over three times in the game (after turning it over three times in the first six games total), Oregon rolled to comfortable win. Mariota continues to put together a Heisman Trophy resume, racking up 394 total yards of offense and three touchdowns in just over three quarters of work. Byron Marshall has taken to the primary back role quite nicely as well, racking up a career-high 192 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Ducks are rolling and they've been doing it without their most dangerous offensive weapon, De'Anthony Thomas. When they get to full strength, there may not be anybody that can slow down these Ducks.