Pac-12 Power Rankings: Midseason Gameday Edition

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Carli Baker/Senior Staff

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1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12)

The Oregon train keeps on rolling, and it looks like someone cut the breaks. After a deceivingly close 45-24 win over a scrappy Washington squad last Saturday, it’s hard to see the No. 2 Ducks dropping another Pac-12 game. Marcus Mariota continues to slay any and all defenders in his path; the sophomore has compiled 1724 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns to go along with his 426 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. The Ducks face WSU over the weekend. The chances of the Cougars stopping Mariota and Co. are on the level of Jay Cutler renouncing his douchebaggery, which is to say neither will happen.

Michael Rosen

2. UCLA (5-0, 2-0)

Is it possible to win 37-10 and, at the same, fail to impress? UCLA sure seemed to embody this contradiction in its Saturday night dispatching of Cal at the Rose Bowl last weekend. The vaunted Bruins offense sputtered in the first half against quite possibly the worst defense in the country, putting up only 17 points at the break. An offensive performance like the one on Saturday won’t suffice if the No. 9 UCLA squad harbors any aspirations of dethroning the West Coast king Oregon in two weeks. On the bright side, the defense appears to be in top form, with outside linebacker Anthony Barr looking like the next DeMarcus Ware for the Bruins.

Michael Rosen

3. Washington (4-2, 1-2)

The Huskies have lost two straight, but those losses were to No. 2 Oregon and No. 13 Stanford. Against the Cardinal two weeks ago, the Huskies dropped a nail-biter at the Farm; and against the Ducks last week, Washington was within a score entering the final quarter. The pair of defeats pretty much ended any hopes the Huskies had of winning a Pac-12 championship, but led by the nation’s leading rusher, Bishop Sankey, they still find themselves ranked at No. 20. Look for the Huskies to re-establish their winning ways against a feisty Arizona State squad, followed by a California cupcake.

Sean Wagner-McGough

4. Stanford (5-1, 3-1)

All four Stanford football fans must have been crushed upon hearing of their loss to unranked Utah last weekend. The loss effectively knocked the Cardinal out of national-title contention and into the cluster of teams comprising the second tier of the Pac-12. Luckily for David Shaw’s squad, they immediately have a chance to reassert themselves as an unreckoned-with force in the upcoming weekend. UCLA and Stanford will duel on the Farm on Saturday afternoon. It’s a crucial contest for the reeling Card — a win vaults them back into the top 10, while a loss permanently eliminates them from Rose Bowl contention. No pressure.

Michael Rosen

5. Arizona State (4-2, 2-1)

At this point, Arizona State is shaping up to be the best team in the third tier of Pac-12 teams — the ones trailing Oregon, UCLA, Washington, and Stanford but ahead of the bottom-dwellers. While their win against Wisconsin is somewhat tainted by the referees’ blunder, the Sun Devils hung tough with Stanford, losing by only 14, and fell just shy of a road win at Notre Dame, losing by a field goal. But much is still unknown about this squad, as its only two conference wins have come against USC and WSU.

Sean Wagner-McGough

6. Utah (4-2, 1-2)

Against then-No. 5 Stanford at home, the Utes pulled off the stunner, stopping Stanford on a late fourth down to secure their first Pac-12 win of the season. They might have only a .333 winning percentage inside the conference, but their only two losses have been by a combined 10 points to Oregon State and UCLA. Led by sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson’s 13 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns, Utah piles up 470 yards of offense every week. If the Utes can take care of business against Arizona and USC next, they could be poised to climb up the Pac-12 standings.

Sean Wagner-McGough

7. Oregon State (5-1, 3-0)

Where did Sean Mannion come from? The junior quarterback who leads the country in passing yards lost his starting job midway through last season to Cody Vaz. It’s hard to explain his sudden rise, but it’s even harder to deny the dude is legit. While completing 67 percent of his passes and averaging 8.7 yards per completion, Mannion has racked up 2,511 yards and 25 touchdowns, a ludicrous confluence of extreme volume and extreme efficiency. Judging by the first half of the season, the Cal secondary won’t be the one to slow the dark-horse Heisman candidate down.

Michael Rosen

8. Washington State (4-3, 2-2)

Remember when the Cougars sucked? That was so 2012. And 2011. And 2010. Really, I can go all the way back to 2004, because they actually went 10-3 in 2003. But in 2013, the Cougars are actually kind of mediocre. Unfortunately for Washington State, mediocrity in the Pac-12 doesn’t equate to many wins. But hey, the Cougars have already racked up Pac-12 wins against USC and Cal. Of course, USC and Cal suck, so we don’t really know how mediocre Washington State actually is. Next up for the Cougs is Oregon, which will almost surely result in a blowout and will fail to tell us much about them. So for the time being, let’s just stick with kind of mediocre.

Sean Wagner-McGough

9. USC (4-2, 1-2)

There are signs of life down at the University of Spoiled Children. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did for the Trojans in the first half of the season — they lost to the lowly Cougs, star wide receiver Marqise Lee sat out with injuries and Lane Kiffin remained the USC coach. Mercifully for Trojan fans, Kiffin was fired in the middle of a parking lot after an embarrassing loss to the Sun Devils, and things finally seem to be turning around. In interim coach Ed Orgeron’s first game, USC secured its first Pac-12 victory in a 38-31 victory over Arizona.

Michael Rosen

10. Arizona (3-2, 0-2)

The Wildcats might be struggling, but running back KaDeem Carey isn’t. The junior may be overshadowed by Washington’s Bishop Sankey in the order of superstar backs, but the All-American is putting up arguably a comparable slate of numbers. Carey averages 6.1 yards per carry and more than 142 yards per game; the latter figure ranks fourth in the country. Carey can’t do it all himself, however; the Wildcats have to play defense, too. Unfortunately for them, they’re not very good at it. They gave up 38 points and 546 yards to an inept USC offense last weekend, and it’s doubtful Utah will do any worse Saturday.

Michael Rosen

11. Cal (1-5, 0-3)

The banged-up Bears appear to be headed toward a winless Pac-12 season. Despite a less than stellar game by UCLA last Saturday, Cal still lost by 27 points. Against Oregon State and the nation’s leading passer in quarterback Sean Mannion, the Bears will be without cornerback and team captain Stefan McClure. With McClure on the field, Cal was already surrendering 321 passing yards per game. Cal fans might want to circle the matchup against Colorado as their only chance to pick up a Pac-12 win, because it doesn’t appear to be coming against anyone else.

Sean Wagner-McGough

12. Colorado (2-3, 0-3)

A year removed from a dreadful 2012 season that resulted in just one conference win, the going doesn’t appear to be getting any easier in Boulder. The Buffs give up nearly 500 yards and more than 40 points per contest, and their offense hasn’t been much better. Head coach Mike MacIntyre finally decided to switch things up midway through the loss to Arizona State last week, as he benched quarterback Connor Wood in favor of true freshman Sefo Liufau. This week, against Charleston Southern of the FCS, Liufau should be able to settle in before starting against Pac-12 competition.

Sean Wagner-McGough