Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 8

Emma Lantos/Senior Staff
Cal and Utah are in a mad scramble to stay relevant in the middle of the Pac-12.

No. 1: Stanford (7-0, 5-0)

Oklahoma and Wisconsin both fell from the lofty perch of the undefeated, which meant the Cardinal’s BCS Championship hopes suddenly got much, much better. Stanford has talent everywhere on the offense, which could be enough for quarterback Andrew Luck to run through the rest of his final college season. ESPN Gameday will be on hand when the Heisman candidate heads down to USC this season, which means the media storm will only spin with more fury. The Cardinal are capable of defeating every team left on its schedule, but they have a bright red target on their backs.

— Jack Wang

No. 2: Oregon (6-1, 4-0)

Twenty-nine points to zero. That was the first quarter score of Oregon’s 45-2 wipe out of Colorado. 29-0. Most NBA teams don’t hit that many points in the first quarter — or any quarter. And the Ducks were playing without starting quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, a Heisman Trophy contender.

Oregon rushed for 371 yards as a whole, led by Kenjon Barner’s 115 on 10 carries. Backup freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett filled in admirably, throwing for a cool 156 yards on an efficient 11-of-20 passing.

This weekend the Ducks host Washington State. The result, while probably not as ugly as Oregon’s last decision, will still be a rout.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 3: Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)

The No. 23 Sun Devils have had an extra week to think about their Oct. 15 loss to Oregon with a bye this past week. Nevertheless, Arizona State looks like the sure bet to win the south division and reach the inaugural Pac-12 championship game. Games against Colorado and UCLA the next two weekends should not be too much trouble. A trip to Pullman to face Washington State could be a sleeper, and Arizona could give the Sun Devils trouble in their rivalry game. Then there’s the regular season finale against Cal. Any one of those games could end in an ASU loss — but don’t count on it.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 4: Washington (5-2, 3-1)

We already knew that Washington struggled on defense, but who thought that it would allow 446 yards … ON THE GROUND. Stanford’s multi-faceted offensive attack exposed the Huskies’ defense in the worst way, as the Cardinal barely needed the hype-machine Andrew Luck to obliterate Washingotn on Saturday.

The offensive side wasn’t as bad. With 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Chris Polk again proved that he is one of the feature running backs in the conference, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins turned in another strong receiving performance. The massive freshman looks like he will be a great target for years to come and should materialize someday into a high selection whenever he decides to enter the NFL Draft.

—Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 5: USC (6-1, 3-1)

An upset over Stanford will vault USC — at least for one week — back to a Carroll-era level of swagger. For now, though, the Trojans will have to hang their hats on an impressive victory against Notre Dame. The Irish are no powerhouse, but they’re still a team that had strung together four straight wins. Lane Kiffin’s squad ended that with a 31-17 thrashing in South Bend.The still-sanctioned team could make a jump if it handles the latter half of its schedule, which still includes the Cardinal, Washington and Oregon. True freshman Marqise Lee has emerged as a reliable downfield option, and having one of the nation’s premier receiving talents in Robert Woods generally gives you a chance.

— Jack Wang

No. 6: Cal (4-3, 1-3)

Cal’s 34-10 thrashing of Utah last Saturday was certainly the type of win the Bears were looking for after back-to-back blowout losses to two of the conferences top teams, and the defensive line is doing more and more to prove that it is one of the top units in the conference if not the nation. Terrorizing Utes quarterback Jon Hays all day long, the Cal front seven again proved that it will not easily be run on and that most teams will have to beat the Bears through the air.The offense also played perhaps its strongest game in conference play, and Zach Maynard looks like he is gradually adjusting to the speed of the Pac-12 game. Up next is UCLA on the road, a game that should favor the Bears because of just how many UCLA players are suspended for the game stemming from the streaker-induced fracas right before halftime of its 48-12 loss against Arizona.

—Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 7: Oregon State (2-5, 2-2)

Uh Oh. Here they come. Oregon State once again proved that it can never be dismissed or blown off because it is still capable of delivering the types of thrashings that it did to Washington State on Saturday.

Long removed from the horrifying loss to Sacramento State to open the season, the Beavers, behind freshman quarterback Sean Mannion, have matured into at least a formidable Pac-12 team. Mannion threw for an astonishing 376 yards and four touchdowns to keep the Beavers steamrolling down the field. Oregon State did not punt until there was 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and upended the upstart Cougars, who now look at-risk for a bowl bid. The Beavers get Utah next.

—Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 8: Washington State (3-4, 1-3)

After a promising start to the season — the squad was 3-1 in early October – the Cougars have quickly reverted back to their old losing ways. Washington State has now lost its last three and plays Oregon this weekend, so you may as well make that four. A November schedule that includes ranked Arizona State and formerly ranked Washington doesn’t bode well for the Cougars.

This past Saturday was the one that really hurt. Washington State was destroyed by a struggling Oregon State squad, 44-21. The Cougars turned the ball over three times and gave up 551 yards of total offense.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 9: Utah (3-4, 0-4)

It’s nearing the end of October, and the Utes are still looking for their first conference win. Head coach Kyle Whittingham’s club should get it this weekend, when Oregon State comes to town. By no means will it be an easy win, but Utah knows this is a must win game.

Utah actually hasn’t been all that bad. The squad’s defense is solid, as is its special teams. But it does not have a quarterback. Against Cal, signal caller Jon Hays showed why he was heavily recruited … by Nebraska-Omaha. The level of competition in the Pac-12 is not the same as it was when the junior was at Butte College.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 10: Arizona (2-5, 1-4)

At last, some life. Quarterback Nick Foles ended the most trying weeks of his football career last Thursday when he led the Wildcats to its first FBS win in 11 tries. The senior has been near the top of all the individual Pac-12 passing stats, but he has received little to no help from his teammates all season. That finally changed when the run game somehow churned out 254 yards against UCLA after averaging 71.8 through its first six games. A win over the hapless Bruins — even one as dominating as that 48-12 performance — isn’t much to brag about, but it’s something.

— Jack Wang

No. 11: UCLA (3-4, 2-2)

After Arizona fired Mike Stoops two weeks ago, it was surprising that UCLA didn’t similarly toss out Rick Neuheisel. The Wildcats snapped their own 10-game losing streak to FBS teams in explosive fashion, exploiting a feeble Bruins squad for a 42-7 halftime lead. To make matters worse, six UCLA players were suspended in a brawl that erupted two seconds before the whistle — a likely sign that they just don’t care anymore.

Despite his public confidence (“My argument is I am absolutely the right guy for the job”), the fourth-year head coach has done little with his fertile recruiting grounds, never winning more than three conference games in a single season. Los Angeles’ lesser football team is a mess right now, and Slick Rick is a dead man walking.

— Jack Wang

No. 12: Colorado (1-7, 0-4)

Life has got to be tough on coach Jon Embree right now. First, he had to see his son, UCLA wide receiver Taylor, be front and center of the fight that marred the Bruins’ blowout loss at Arizona on national television, and then he had to suffer through Oregon obliterating his own team, 45-2, in Boulder. Embree is a fiery guy by nature, but he tends to look downright livid for most of the game. I imagine it’s difficult to feel anything but anger when the Ducks’ backup quarterback and running back come one point away from covering a 30-point spread in the first quarter.

Life gets no easier for the Buffs. They travel to Tempe, Ariz., this weekend to take on No. 23 Arizona State.

—Gabriel Baumgaertner