By David K.
The rankings are going to be a little different from here on out. The split format hasn’t been all that interesting given only 6 teams in each division and limited movement between groups of teams. I’m going to start doing a 1-12 ranking from here on out, divisional rankings are easy to draw from that and I think this will give more to discuss/disagree about. So without further ado:
1. Stanford (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12)
LW: 1 North
A bit of a slow start for the Cardinals against an improved Washington State team, but it was a blowout by games end. Stanford becomes the first bowl eligible team for the Pac-12. Expect Oregon to join them this weekend, and Washington and ASU the following week.
2. Oregon (5-1, 3-0)
LW: 2 North
Not only were the Ducks ok without star running back LaMichael James, turns out they didn’t need starting QB Darron Thomas either, who was injured in the early second half of the game on Saturday. True freshman back up Bryan Bennett led the Ducks on four scoring drives from that point on to secure the 41-27 win. Maybe that money they’ve been playing to steer recruits to Eugene has been worth it after all!
3. Washington (5-1, 3-0)
LW: 3 North
The score for the Huskies win over Colorado was an impressive 52-24 and it could easily have been a lot bigger after head coach Stever Sarkisian and the Huskies coasted to the finish for an entire quarter, with backup QB Nick Montana in starting with the last drive of the 3rd quarter. Washington has become a bit of a dark horse candidate to take the Pac-12 North. If they can upset Stanford on the road this weekend don’t be surprised if they don’t run the table from here on out. Thats a big if though.
4. ASU (5-2, 3-1)
LW: 1 South
Arizona State had a chance to make a statement against Oregon on Saturday but fell far short. The second half defensive collapse against a depleted (but still potent) Oregon offense showed that the power in the Pac-12 is in the North this year. The Sun Devil’s continue to be their own worst enemy with sloppy play and unneccesary and ill-timed penalties killing game changing opportunities. ASU may have used its agressive, contentious style to get where it is but its not going to get much further without cleaning up its act.
5. USC (5-1, 3-1)
LW: 2 South
USC rolled over Cal in this one, holding the Bears scoreless in the first half and to only 9 points for the whole game. Expect a better game from the opponent this week in the annual match up against Notre Dame. Despite comments by USC AD Pat Haden that the players don’t treat this rivalry as important as in years past, players have come out to claim they do indeed feel the intensity. We’ll see if they can bring it this weekend and #OccupyNotreDameStadium.
6. Utah (3-3, 0-3)
LW: 4 South
I’m jumping the Utes back over the Bruins based on a quality win at Pittsburgh and the fact that the Utes three conference losses come against the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ranked teams above. The Utes could easily go 6-0 over the remaining schedule since they don’t play Oregon or Stanford. Barring a complete collapse I expect the Ute’s to be bowl eligible by seasons end, probably much sooner. That said I think the next four teams are largely interchangeable at this point.
7. UCLA (3-3, 2-1)
LW: 3 South
A must win game for the Bruins tonight against a reeling Arizona. Lose this one and Rick Neuheisal almost certainly finds himself in the unemployment line alongside former Wildcats head coach Mike Stoops. Win and the Bruins have a real shot at making a bowl game and keep Slick Rick around for another year. I’m picking fUCLA for the win tonight.
8. Washington State (3-3, 1-2)
LW: 5 North
WSU continues to show improvement, hanging with Stanford for a half is impressive, but they have a long way to go as evidenced by the second half performance. A must (and should) win for the Cougs against Oregon State this weekend, they have a much tougher road to the post-season than either Utah or UCLA. Oregon, ASU, Washington, and Utah are all still to come, even Cal might not be a win for the Cougs. That last minute loss to UCLA really hurt.
9. Cal (3-3, 0-3)
LW: 4 North
I continue to wonder how long Jeff Tedford will hang on to his job. Yes he showed some success with the Bears in the past, but that good will has to be wearing thin, especially after the woeful performance last Thursday. Five turnovers and a non-existent running game had the Bears looking more like Cubs. A win against newcomer Utah would certainly help things for the Bears who have a very winable slate over the next four weeks, but given their play of late it looks pretty loseable too.
10. Oregon State (1-5, 1-2)
LW: 6 North
There is a pretty clear line between the top 5 and the middle 4 in the Pac, and another clear line between the middle 4 and the bottom 3. For now, Oregon with their one conference win sits precariously atop this bottom trio. A huge missed opportunity at home versus BYU. Perhaps 1 or 2 more wins on the schedule for the Beavers but a 1-11 season looms large for the current Pac-12 North doormats.
11. Colorado (1-6, 0-3)
LW: 5 South
Following a pounding by Stanford the Buffs headed to Seattle where they suffered another big defeat at the hands of fellow Rick Nueheisal abuse victims Washington. As I said last week the Buffs will be 1-9 when Arizona comes to town for the fight for the bottom of the Pac-12 South.
12. Arizona (1-5, 0-4)
LW: 6 South
The good news for the Wildcats? They didn’t lose last week. The bad news? Its only because they didn’t play. Nick Foles is about the only positive you’ll find on this team and his skill probably won’t be enough to will Arizona to victory tonight, even against a mediocre UCLA team.