By David K.
The situation in the North is exactly where we left it a week ago. In the South, there has been some shuffling between the two trios of teams, but the gap between the two divisions looms larger than ever. This week, we get a slate of 5 conference match ups, while Oregon and Cal enjoy a bye week to prepare for a Thursday night matchup on the 6th.
1. Stanford (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12)
Official bye week for the Cardinal (as opposed to the unofficial ones in week 1 and 2 against SJSU and Duke). Up next? A home date with UCLA. The Cardinal may have the easiest schedule in the nation at this point.
2. Oregon (3-1, 1-0)
The Ducks took an early lead as LaMichael James racked up an impressive 288 rushing yards for the day. Arizona started to cut into the lead in the third quarter but their rally fell short thanks to the impressive offensive performance of Oregon. The Ducks’ D was less impressive, allowing Wildcats QB Nick Foles to throw for nearly 400 yards. A problem for a team that hopes to repeat as conference champs with a long shot chance at making it back to the national championship.
3. Washington (3-1, 1-0)
The first half of this game looked just about the same as the rest of Washington’s season so far. Strong offensive performance while the defense let the opposing QB seemingly throw at will. It wasn’t until the second half that the defense began to hold in key situations, holding the Bears to just 3 points and making a key last minute goal line stand to hold off Cal. QB Keith Price continues to shine, but the defense will need to show dramatic improvement if the Huskies hope to improve on last year’s 7-6 finish. Had this not been a home game, it very well could have gone the other way.
4. Cal (3-1, 0-1)
Cal’s offense was impressive early on in this game, including a record-setting 90 yard pass to score the opening TD in the game. The second half saw an offense that couldn’t finish its drives in part due to key plays by the Husky D, but also due to mistakes on their own part. In the end, despite a +2 turnover advantage, the Bears couldn’t get it done and now face a tough stretch of games against Oregon, USC and Utah.
5. Washington State (2-1, 0-0)
A week off for the Cougs to recover after a loss to San Diego State. Two very winnable games ahead for the Cougars against Colorado and UCLA, but they are both on the road. There is little room for error for a team trying to make it back to a bowl game for the first time in years and to save the job of Coach Paul Wulff.
6. Oregon State (0-3, 0-1)
An embarrassing loss for the Beavers, who are looking to secure their place at the bottom of the Pac-12. Redshirt freshman QB Sean Mannion was no more effective than benched former starter Ryan Katz in leading Oregon State to victory. Could be a long, possibly winless season for the Beavers.
1. ASU (3-1, 1-0)
Huge win for the Sun Devils pursuing the first ever Pac-12 South title. Not only did they beat one of the two likely competitors in USC, they snapped a losing streak that lasted beyond the past decade with their first win over the Trojans since Brendan and I were freshman roommates at USC, and Paul Hackett was the coach. ASU finished strong while the Trojans sputtered. Expectations were high for this year’s team, but that’s been true before for ASU, and they haven’t lived up to the hype. Maybe this year, they will. They passed a key test with this win. Saturday’s game against woeful Oregon State should be a cakewalk.
2. Utah (2-1, 0-1)
Week off for the Utes to savor a huge victory against a bitter rival and prepare for visiting Washington in their Pac-12 home opener. Could be another high-scoring affair. Utes are favored, but Washington’s offense will test the Utah defense.
3. USC (3-1, 1-1)
USC hadn’t lost to ASU since 1999. Not only did they lose, they lost big, and that was after pulling ahead by 1 in the third quarter. Embarrassing loss for the Trojans, who just couldn’t finish. A sign of the lack of post-season possibilities getting to the Trojans? Poor Kiffin coaching? Can the Trojans rebound at home against Arizona? If not, it could be a long season for the Men of Troy.
4. UCLA (2-2, 1-0)
UCLA has won two close games against terrible opponents. They also lost against a mediocre Houston team and a decent Texas. Honestly, I’ll be shocked if the Bruins get to six wins and a bowl game this year. I’d have ranked them lower if either of the other two teams below had put up a fight.
5. Colorado (1-3, 0-0)
The game in Columbus wasn’t close; the final score by Colorado came in the final minutes to make it look slightly less bad. The Buffaloes committed 9 penalties and gave up the ball twice on turnovers. Savor that week 3 win Buffaloes, it may be one of very few this season.
6. Arizona (1-3, 0-2)
Yes, Arizona has played 3 ranked opponents in a row, but they haven’t really been competitive in any of those games. They briefly pulled within 11 of Oregon on Saturday, but then the Ducks rattled off a pair of TDs to put the game out of reach. That week 1 win against hapless Northern Arizona counts for very little at this point, certainly less impressive than Colorado’s lone win. Arizona has lost 8 straight games against FBS (Division I-A) competition since starting 7-1 and rising into the Top 15 last season. Welcome to the bottom, Wildcats.