Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 5

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Emma Lantos/File

NORTH DIVISON

No. 1: Stanford (4-0, 2-0)

The Cardinal are still sitting pretty at the top of the Pac-12 with a spotless record, and Andrew Luck has gotten so bored playing quarterback that he spotted at wideout in a 45-19 win over UCLA. Even after losing linebacker Shayne Skov for the season, there’s almost no way this team loses to anyone other than Oregon.

— Jack Wang

No. 2: Oregon (3-1, 1-0)

The Ducks, currently ranked No. 9 in the country, had a bye week after crushing Arizona, 56-31, on Sept. 24. They host Cal in a nationally-televised game on Thursday night at 6 p.m.

Surely the Bears will hope the week off cooled down LaMichael James. After rushing for a school-record 288 yards against the Wildcats, Oregon’s tailback is all over the national leader board for rushing — he’s fifth in total rushing yards (613) and second in yards per carry (9.4).

Since their season opening loss to No. 1 LSU, the Ducks have scored at least 56 points in each game. Then again, their offense was equally spectacular going into last year’s matchup with Cal. And we all remember how that turned out.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 3: Washington (4-1, 2-0)

With their 31-14 victory over Utah, the Huskies solidified themselves not only as the third best team in the Pac-12 North but also perhaps as the third best team in the Pac-12.

Up 10-7 at the half on Saturday, Washington scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. The Huskies quarterback-running back combo is among the best in the nation. Keith Price added to his touchdown total by throwing three; that puts him second in the country with 17 touchdown passes on the season. Chris Polk rushed for 189 yards on 29 carries and now ranks sixth in the country with 611 yards on the season.

The Huskies are still not ranked, but garnered 37 votes in the AP poll. They’ll likely have to wait a bit longer; they have a bye this week and host Colorado the following week.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 4: Cal (3-1, 0-1)

The spotlight has certainly been on the Cal football team before, but the Bears enter an unusual part of their schedule that is also its most difficult. Back-to-back Thursday sessions at Oregon and at home against USC are high-profile tilts that will give the Bears their first major national exposure of the season.

In what should be a loud, raucous affair at Autzen Stadium this coming Thursday, the Bears and Ducks are both coming off of bye weeks which means that they should at least be prepared. Cal’s penchant for allowing long-yardage plays doesn’t appear to bode well, but we all remember how admirably the front seven played last season in stopping Oregon running back LaMichael James.

— Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 5: Washington State (3-1, 1-0)

You may not have heard of it, but Lobbestael to Wilson is rapidly becoming one of the conference’s top passing combinations. Marshall Lobbestael wasn’t even supposed to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback this season (that was supposed to be the highly regarded Jeff Tuel), but the backup has filled in seamlessly. And Marquess Wilson, out of highway stop Tulare, Calif., has been his best target. The two have connected for five touchdowns already this year and three of them have been for 63, 78 and 80 yards.

In their conference opener last weekend, the Cougars completed a stunning comeback in Boulder which was capped off by Lobbestael tossing Wilson a 63-yard TD pass to go ahead 31-27 with 1:24 left.

The Cougars look like the most vastly improved team in the conference, and their high-flying offense is a large reason for their success.

— Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 6: Oregon State (0-4, 0-2)

The Beavers are still the only winless team in the Pac-12, and that just about sums up their disaster of a season. After seeing winning seasons in six out of the last eight years, Oregon State’s ignominious start is the worst since the 1996 squad dropped its first five, but a loss against visiting Arizona on Saturday would tie that mark. Mike Riley isn’t on the hot seat yet — he’s seen too much success in his native Corvallis to be canned for one season — but this is a precipitous fall no one really expected.

— Jack Wang

SOUTH DIVISON

No. 1: Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)

The No. 22 Sun Devils actually had some difficulty dispatching lowly Oregon State on Saturday. The Beavers took a 13-0 lead before Arizona State stormed back to win the game, 35-20, in Tempe. The Sun Devils had four turnovers, including three Brock Osweiler interceptions; Oregon State, however, had five turnovers.

If Arizona State can defeat division foe Utah next week, it looks like smooth sailing. The Sun Devils probably won’t beat Oregon the following week — then again, who knows? — but every other game on the schedule is more than winnable for the Pac-12 North favorites.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 2: USC (4-1, 2-1)

Matt Barkley threw for a school-record 468 yards in a 48-41 gun show of a win over Arizona. This would be more impressive if Arizona wasn’t surrendering 503.6 yards of offense per game. The 582 yards the Trojans rang up wasn’t even the highest the Wildcats gave up this season. Oklahoma State gets that honor at 594, and Stanford isn’t far behind USC with 567; both the Cowboys and the Cardinal did it with more balanced attacks.

Los Angeles’ football monopoly is far from over, but its purveyor is slipping. Defensive guru Monte Kiffin was supposed to help rejuvenate the unit, but the Trojans are ranked 67th in the nation after finishing 2010 — the assistant coach’s first year on campus — down at 83rd. Against Arizona, they allowed 554 yards and 37 first downs.

USC’s turnover margin, curiously, is tied with Oregon State for the worst in the conference: Both are coughing the ball up exactly once more per game than their opponents.

— Jack Wang

No. 3: Utah (2-2, 0-2)

Things are about to get ugly for the Utes. Utah’s next three weeks are composed of a visit from Arizona State, likely the best team in the division, a cross-country road trip to Pitt, which just ripped through then-No. 16 South Florida and a jaunt to San Francisco to take on Cal, a middling Pac-12 team that can nevertheless hold down its home stadium. All three have competent running attacks; the Utes’ defense was just trampled by Washington tailback Chris Polk for 189 yards.

The boys from Salt Lake City will also enter this stretch without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, sidelined two to three weeks with an injured shoulder.

— Jack Wang

No. 4: Arizona (1-4, 0-2)

I doubt that anybody envisioned Arizona-Oregon State as a game that featured two teams whose records combine for a 1-8 tally, but at this point in the season, these are your cellar dwellers. Quarterback Nick Foles still looks like one of the top signal-callers in the conference, but the defense can’t seem to stop anybody.

Corvallis is usually a difficult place to win, but both Sacramento State and UCLA have picked up Ws in the Emerald State. Look for Arizona to get somewhat back on track this weekend.

Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 5: Colorado (1-4, 0-1)

Head coach Jon Embree is not happy and things do not look like they will be getting any easier. After blowing a 10-point lead with 3:03 remaining against Washington State in Boulder, the Buffs are frustrated and now have to travel to take on No. 7 Stanford this weekend in Palo Alto.

Embree lashed out after Saturday’s loss about his team’s inability to finish games and challenged his players to step up. We’ll have to see what they can do to stop Andrew Luck this weekend.

— Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 6: UCLA (2-3, 1-1)

The Bruins didn’t stand much of a chance against No. 6 Stanford on Saturday, but fared surprisingly well. By faring well, I mean they weren’t shut out. In fact, UCLA actually scored three times. Though Jeff Locke missed two of three extra points.

The Bruins have some talent on offense. Johnathan Franklin rushed for nearly 100 yards, and receiver Nelson Rosario used his 6-foot-5 frame to grab eight catches for 83 yards. The squad only had three penalties as a whole for just 25 yards.

UCLA has a winnable game next week against Washington State. Who knows, with a win over the Cougars, maybe that will give the program enough momentum to upset one-dimensional Arizona two weeks later?

— Jonathan Kuperberg

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  • Marcellus Bousson

    Phil Steele is the Nostradamus of our time.

    “This year they [Washigton] lose Locker (#1DC TEN) and the unit returns 37 career att’s but there may not be as significant of a drop in the QB stats as you might expect.”