Week 2 was an overall success for the Pac-12 as the conference went a combined 9-3 against a difficult slate. The great team(s) looked great, the good teams played as well as expected, and the bad teams continue to be dumpster fires.
Here’s your weekly Pac-12 Power Rankings:
1. USC Trojans (2-0)
Last week: 42-24 win vs. Stanford
The USC Trojans showed that their Week 1 struggles against Western Michigan were overblown and overanalyzed. Led by the magician known as Sam Darnold, the Trojans tore up a good Stanford defense as they put up 42 points on 623 total yards. The USC defense also held their own as they shut down the Cardinal rushing attack. The scariest thing about USC is that Darnold threw two interceptions (both highlight-reel caliber), and without those, this would have even been worse of a blowout. Look for them to win by at least 50 in their next game.
Next week: 9/16 vs. Texas (FOX)
2. Washington Huskies (1-0)
Last week: 63-7 win vs. Montana
Washington destroyed FCS Montana, which is exactly what they’re expected to do. After struggling offensively against Rutgers (!) last week, UW’s offense looks like they’re figuring it out. As for the defense, the only points the Huskies allowed were on a pick-6, so it’s safe to say that they did just fine. Also, their special teams is insanely good and Dante Pettis is going to win the Heisman if he continues to have a punt return touchdown every week.
Next week: 9/9 vs. Fresno State (Pac-12 Networks)
3. Stanford Cardinal (1-1)
Last week: 42-24 loss at USC
Stanford shouldn’t be discredited for USC firing on all cylinders. Even if you have a great defense, there’s only so much you can with Darnold throwing like that, especially if he has two running backs top 100 yards. As for the Cardinal defense, they ran the ball very well against a great USC defensive line, but their passing attack isn’t nearly as effective as Stanford needs it to be if they want to contend for the Pac-12.
Next week: 9/16 at San Diego State (CBS Sports Network)
4. Colorado Buffaloes (2-0)
Last week: 37-3 win over Texas State
The Colorado Buffaloes struggled to get their offense going against Texas State, but like the week before against Colorado State, the defense (and special teams) dominated the game. The Buffs will look to improve their offensive line play and hope it propels their offense to overall improvement.
Next week: 9/16 vs. Northern Colorado (Pac-12)
5. Washington State Cougars (2-0)
Last week: 47-44 (3OT) win vs. Boise State
Washington State’s triple overtime victory over Boise State was absurd. The game was a defensive battle that included seven turnovers, three defensive touchdowns and some crazy special teams plays, just like we all expected. Backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski led a 21-point fourth quarter comeback to force overtime and the offense was just good enough to outlast the Broncos. This wasn’t the most encouraging win for the Cougars — Luke Falk looked awful, was benched, put back in, injured and benched again, for example — but it was a solid win over a very good opponent.
Next week: 9/16 vs. Oregon State (Pac-12)
6. Oregon Ducks (2-0)
Last week: 42-35 win vs. Nebraska
The Oregon Ducks didn’t have the most encouraging performance they’ve ever had, but at least they got the win. Justin Herbert and Royce Freeman looked electric as they carried the offense, but it’s difficult to say how good they really are, considering they played an abysmal opponent. As for the defense, they had four interceptions, but they were still shredded by the Huskers’ lackadaisical offense. Next week will be a more proving test for the Ducks.
Next week: 9/16 at Wyoming (CBS Sports Network)
7. Utah Utes (2-0)
Last week: 19-13 win at BYU
I’m not going to pretend I watched this game, but based on the box score, Utah looks fine. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley will have growing pains, but it helps that he can throw to Oregon transfer Darren Carrington II. Another good sign for Utah is that none of their star players been injured (yet), so they have another couple of weeks to believe in themselves.
Next week: 9/16 vs. San Jose State (ESPN2) (How is this game on ESPN2?)
8. UCLA Bruins (1-0)
Last week: 56-23 win vs. Hawai’i
UCLA looks just as polarizing as they did in their miraculous comeback against Texas A&M. Hawai’i was expected to be one of the absolute worst teams in FBS this season, and though those projections don’t seem that accurate anymore, the Rainbow Warriors ran for 281 yards and outgained UCLA 515 to 505. Josh Rosen is still incredible — he went 22/25 for 329 yards and 5 touchdowns — but that’s about it for the Bruins. I’m not sure how they’re in the Top 25, but I guess it’s good for the Pac-12 that there are 7 teams in the Top 27/28, even if one or two of those teams don’t exactly deserve it.
Next week: 9/16 at Memphis (ABC/ESPN2)
9. California Golden Bears (2-0)
Last week: 35-30 win at North Carolina
Coming off a surprising win at North Carolina, California falls in our rankings after having serious issues against FCS Weber State. The Golden Bears struggled offensively and needed a huge game from running back Patrick Laird to propel them to the win. Cal was also terrible against the pass as receiver Rashid Shaheed (an incredible name — in Arabic it means "rightly guided witness") tore up their porous coverage.
Next week: 9/16 vs. Ole Miss (ESPN)
10. Arizona Wildcats (1-1)
Last week: 19-16 loss vs. Houston
The run-heavy Arizona Wildcats are as one-dimension as any team in the Pac-12 and the Houston Cougars played around that and dominated defensively. Arizona’s defense looked strong against former 5-star quarterback recruit Josh Allen, but it wasn’t quite enough to get the home win. The Cats will bounce back this week, but it seems that if they can’t get the ground game going, they’re doomed to mediocrity.
Next week: 9/16 at UTEP (ESPN) (How the h*ck is this game on ESPN?)
11. Arizona State Sun Devils (1-1)
Last week: 30-20 loss vs. San Diego State
A week after barely beating an awful New Mexico State team, Arizona State looked just as bad as they were physically dominated by a mediocre San Diego State Aztecs. You can easily argue that the only good thing about the Sun Devils is Manny Wilkins, but he can’t seem to do anything with the ASU offensive line looking horrendous. In two games, they’ve already allowed 12 sacks and 23 tackles for loss, and that’s against defenses from the Sun Belt and Mountain West.
Next week: 9/16 at Texas Tech (FSN)
12. Oregon State Beavers (1-2)
Last week: 48-14 loss vs. Minnesota
Next week: 9/16 @ Washington State (Pac-12)