Four weeks into the Pac-12 season, the conference doesn’t look great. Sure, the Pac-12 has two teams in the Top 10, and another two in the Top 25, but virtually every team besides Washington has looked shaky thus far. If this trend holds up, we may have ourselves a chaotic time once Pac-12 play is in force full.
In the meantime, your weekly power rankings reflect such volatility.
1. Washington Huskies (4-0)
Last week: 37-10 win at Colorado
Washington destroyed the defending Pac-12 South Champions and they weren’t even playing their best. Jake Browning and the Huskies pass attack could do nothing against the excellent Colorado defense, and though they didn’t really need to pass against the Buffs, their offensive potential is capped until they can prove capable of moving the ball through the air against good secondaries.
Next week: 9/30 vs. Oregon State (Pac-12 Networks)
2. USC Trojans (4-0)
Last week: 30-20 win at Cal
USC has struggled a bit this year as Sam Darnold is seemingly unable to tap into his magic until the second half. The Trojan defense looks fine and the rushing attack looks like it could develop into a two-headed monster, but just as everyone expected, Darnold’s polarized play has held them back from their (outrageous) preseason expectations.
Next week: 9/29 at Washington State (ESPN)
3. Washington State Cougars (4-0)
Last week: 45-7 win against Nevada
Washington State looked shaky in their triple overtime win over Boise State two weeks ago, but in their two weeks since, the Cougars have worked to shore up their defense and find consistency on offense. They have the chance to upset USC on Friday and prove themselves as legitimate Pac-12 contenders.
Next week: 9/29 vs. USC (ESPN)
4. Stanford Cardinal (2-2)
Last week: 58-34 win against UCLA
On the one hand, Stanford had less points and less yards than Air Force in their respective games against San Diego State (both teams lost to SDSU). On the second hand, Stanford’s offense (also known as Bryce Love) shredded UCLA en route to 58 points. On the third hand, UCLA’s defense is probably the worst in the conference (if not the worst in major college football) and Stanford won’t be able to pick up many wins until they have something close to a competent passing game.
Next week: 9/30 vs. Arizona State (Pac-12)
5. Utah Utes (4-0)
Last week: 30-24 win at Arizona
The Utes keep picking up grind-it-out wins, but as is wont for Utah football, injuries have caught up to them. The most notable injuries are to star defensive end Kylie Fitts and sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley. Luckily for Utah, they have last year’s starter Troy Williams ready to fill in at QB and they have a bye week to rest up before taking on Stanford.
Next week: BYE
6. California Golden Bears (3-1)
Last week: 30-20 loss against USC
Cal has probably been the most surprising team in the Pac-12 this year. They beat North Carolina and Ole Miss on the road and they gave USC a run for their money this week. Colorado probably thought of their home game against Cal as an easy win, but if the Golden Bears defense continues to be solid and the offense taps into its potential, they could be one of the better teams in the Pac-12.
Next week: 9/30 at Oregon (FS1)
7. Colorado Buffaloes (3-1)
Last week: 37-10 loss against Washington
Colorado looked capable of contending with Washington until crippling mistakes decimated their upset bid. The Buffs have a lot to figure out — what with their mediocre run defense and Steven Montez learning how to take the easy play — but if they can minimize those issues, they could still be the second best team in the Pac-12 South.
Next week: 9/30 at UCLA (ESPN2)
8. Oregon Ducks (3-1)
Last week: 37-35 loss at Arizona State
Oregon’s defense has looked abysmal early in the season — Jim Leavitt hasn’t done much and CU’s defense has been great, so maybe it wasn’t Leavitt who turned around the Buffs defense? — but until this week, it didn’t matter because the Ducks offense was averaging 56 points per game. Giving up 37 points to ASU’s offense doesn’t look good, nor does going 1-11 on third conversions against that atrocious defense.
Next week: 9/30 vs. Cal (FS1)
9. Arizona Wildcats (2-2)
Last week: 30-24 loss against Utah
Arizona finally showed their ability to pass as they were able to successfully throw away this game to the Utes. The Wildcats defense looked good and kept the game close, but without a win here, it’s looking more and more like Arizona will have to wait until basketball to see some decisive wins. (UPDATE: This was written before serious recruiting violations by Arizona were publicly announced this morning.)
Next week: BYE
10. UCLA Bruins (2-2)
Last week: 58-34 loss at Stanford
UCLA’s season can be summarized in one tweet:
Josh Rosen is throwing for 440 ypg, with 65% completions, 16 TD’s and 4 INT’s, 8.8 ypa.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) September 25, 2017
UCLA’s D is allowing 43.3 ppg.
The CU secondary should be able to compete with Josh Rosen and limit that offense, so hopefully the Buffs can get their offense figured out against UCLA’s atrocious defense and pull off the road win.
Next week: 9/30 vs. Colorado (ESPN2)
11. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2)
Last week: 37-35 win against Oregon
As awful as UCLA’s defense is, Arizona State’s has been almost as bad. In their three non-conference games, which included juggernaut New Mexico State, the Sun Devils allowed 38 points per game on over 500 yards per game. How they held Royce Freeman to 81 rushing yards, I have no idea. Weird stuff happens in desert, I suppose, just hopefully not when Colorado visits.
Next week: 9/30 at Stanford (Pac-12)
12. Oregon State Beavers (1-3)
Last week: BYE
We’re about to find out if the Pac-12 has a mercy rule.
Next week: 9/30 vs. Washington (Pac-12)
Wait! Don’t go yet! We have a BONUS ROUND: Pac-12 Power Rankings according to how each team ranks according to their own fans.
1. Washington Huskies
Washington fans were nervous about their run game and defensive depth before the Colorado game, but Myles Gaskin had a career-high 202 rushing yards and the Huskies defense overcame injuries to hold the Buffs to just 10 points. UW fans see their team as by far the best in the conference and they’re not wrong.
2. USC Trojans
As always, USC fans expect a lot from this team, but they can suffer through sluggish first halves if Sam Darnold continues to be a magician in the fourth quarter.
Despite a 2-2 start, UCLA fans are confident that the defense will fix itself and the Bruins will win 8 games in a row to win the Pac-12 South, then demolish Washington in the Pac-12 Championship, make the College Football Playoff, beat Alabama by 50, and finally win the National Championship when Heisman winner Josh Rosen outduels Baker Mayfield.
4. Washington State
Wazzu fans are feeling good about their 4-0 team after having put together back-to-back blowouts to ease whatever concerns arose when Cougars needed triple overtime to beat a less-than-stellar Boise State squad.
Oregon fans are a funny bunch. They thoroughly believe wins over Nebraska and Wyoming are impressive, and they (probably) blame refs and bad luck for losing to an awful Arizona State team. (Oh hey, I just went to read a game recap and they blamed refs and bad luck for losing to ASU.)
Utah fans aren’t particularly impressed after barely beating Arizona, but they’re fine with a 4-0 start and a win over BYU. They would prefer that injuries didn’t destroy their roster every season, but at least they know they’ll be able to survive.
I’m going to be honest, I’ve never met a Cal fan, nor have I ever interacted with one on Twitter. They probably exist and they’re probably impressed with how well Cal has played, so I’m just going to sneak them in at No. 7 and hope I don’t hear any smack from Cal fans, if they even exist.
8. Arizona State
ASU fans are notorious for their boisterousness and drunkenness, among other things. Many of them are stoked about beating Oregon. But they’re only No. 8 here because the more rational of the ASU community, the writers over at the superb House of Sparky blog, are quite nervous about their team’s performance and they feel fortunate to have a decent record.
Most Arizona fans are aware their team isn’t that great, but they have some semblance of optimism that the fans below them lack.
It is canon that Stanford doesn’t have any fans. Moving on.
A message to the Buffs fans who frequent Ralphie Report: Thank you for being positive and collected in the game threads and comments — compared to other CU forums, you have no idea how lucky we are to have you as readers.
12. Oregon State
Oregon State fans have lost all hope, because for them, there is no hope.