Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 4

Kevin Foote/Senior Staff

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1. Oregon (4-0, 1-0)

So much for that supposed shootout. In Saturday’s 49-0 win over Arizona at Autzen Stadium, the Ducks’ offense took a while to get going, but ultimately found its rhythm for 5 second half touchdowns.

Running backs De’Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner were held mostly in check, and yet the offense still racked up 7 touchdowns worth of points, showing just how multifaceted and scary Oregon’s offense is. But what was more impressive about the win was the play of the Ducks’ defense, which picked off Arizona 4 times and shutout an offense that was averaging more than 46 points a game.

If Oregon has any weaknesses, teams have yet to find them.
— Connor Byrne

2. Stanford (3-0, 1-0)

The No. 8 Cardinal’s bye week came at an opportune time. After a physical 60 minutes against USC, Stanford had an extra week to rest, recuperate and prepare for its Thursday evening tilt at Washington.

The Huskies have serious offensive firepower with quarterback Keith Price running the show, but if the Cardinal were able to contain the Trojans, surely they can do the same against the Huskies. Stanford is giving up just over 14 point a game. Last year, the squad lit up Washington’s defense for 65 points in an easy win.

The Cardinal’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. They head to South Bend in two weeks to take on No. 10 Notre Dame. In terms of the Pac-12, however, 2012 looks like yet another year that will be decided by the Stanford-Oregon game.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

3. USC (3-1, 1-1)

USC didn’t look great in their 27-9 win over Cal this past Saturday. Although the line brought consistent pressure on the inexperienced Bears’ offensive line and the run game managed to wreak some havoc, the aspect of their team that was expected to make them national title contenders (the passing game) fell flat for the second consecutive week.

Quarterback Matt Barkley was inconsistent and star receiver Robert Woods struggled to get open. Another lackluster effort could permanently remove the Trojans from the national title race and effectively end Barkley’s heisman campaign. USC has Utah next week to beat up on and reassert their dominance as a lethal offense.

— Michael Rosen

4. Oregon State (2-0, 1-0)

No coach in the Pac-12 had a hotter seat heading into the season than Oregon State’s Mike Riley. And no coach in the conference has done more to help his job securities.

Through its first two games in 2012, Riley’s Beavers have completely shed any ties to the 3-9 squad from 2011. The run defense is as staunch as any unit in the Pac-12, and quarterback Sean Mannion has built off his solid freshman campaign to give life to a once moribund offense.

If Oregon State continues to play like it has, Riley will have plenty more chances to take his team out to In N Out for some post game Double Doubles.

Connor Byrne

5. UCLA (3-1, 0-1)

The Bruins’ fast start was mitigated by a tough Oregon State team this past Saturday, as UCLA fell in a close one to the Beavers 27-20.

Heisman contender Johnathan Franklin was held to 45 yards on 12 carries, by far his lowest output of the season. Quarterback Brett Hundley managed to put together quite a game, passing for 372 yards and a touchdown.

The Bruins drop to fifth for now, but will likely see themselves rising in coming weeks as they take on the softest part of their schedule in the next three weeks with matchups against Colorado, Cal, and Utah looming. Hundley and Franklin seem like the real deal, and UCLA fans can only hope their performance against the Beavers last week was an aberration.

— Michael Rosen

6. Arizona (3-1, 0-1)

What the heck happened?

After receiving virtually no preseason attention, the Wildcats crept up into the top 25 rankings after three consecutive outstanding offensive performances. Their signature win of the non-conference schedule came against a ranked Oklahoma State team, where Arizona hung up 59 points.

Saturday was a whole different story; the Wildcats failed to score even one point against an Oregon defense thought to be fairly average. Either the Ducks’ defense is among the best in the country and nobody expected it, or Arizona was wildly overrated after facing inferior opponents.

Next week’s face off with Oregon State should be an interesting test of whether the Wildcats can pick up a quality conference win.

Michael Rosen

7. Arizona State (3-1, 1-0)

Following a competitive road loss to Missouri, the Sun Devils looked sharp against Utah this past Saturday. In its 37-7 win, Arizona State held the Utes to just 209 yards of offense and 10 first downs. Quarterback Taylor Kelly was efficient, completing 19-of-26 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

Still, the squad was penalized eight times and mustered 140 rushing yards despite 43 attempts. Those numbers won’t cut it against Cal at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Nevertheless, the Sun Devils look to be in good shape for the postseason.

They face Colorado after the Bears and certainly will be expecting to win those two heading into their matchup with Oregon.

Jonathan Kuperberg

8. Washington (2-1, 0-0)

LSU’s near loss to 1-3 Auburn on Saturday makes Washington’s blowout loss to the Tigers look even worse. And San Diego State losing to San Jose State certainly doesn’t help the Huskies’ resume either — which currently consists of two uninspiring wins and a bad loss.

Coming off their bye, the Huskies will finally have a chance at a legitimate win when they host Stanford on Saturday. The defense has shown improvement from last year — allowing just 167 passing yards per game — but its physicality will be put to test by the Cardinal ground game that is also coming off from a week of rest.

Connor Byrne

9. Utah (2-2, 0-1)

It’s quite surprising the Utes don’t rank lower on this list. Supposedly possessing arguably the best defense in the conference, Utah let Arizona State stomp all over that assertion this past Saturday with a 37-6 beating.

Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn suffered a season-ending injury, so the Utes are forced to go with backup Jon Hays for the remainder of the season. Hays was bad last year, and has done nothing this year to make Ute fans think anything otherwise.

He threw for just 117 yards against a mediocre Sun Devils defense, cementing Utah’s fate as a truly horrible offensive team. This looks to be a rebuilding year for a Utah team that began the season with a bit of promise.

Michael Rosen

10. Cal (1-3, 0-1)

The Bears have finished the most difficult stretch of their schedule — back-to-back road trips to Ohio State and USC.

Now Cal has to focus on winning some conference games. There is no reason the Bears can’t win their next three leading up to their Oct. 20 rivalry game with Stanford.

Up first is Arizona State, a solid team that Cal beat in a shootout last season. This year’s matchup is in Berkeley, where the Bears are surely happy to be after consecutive away games. But if things don’t start turning around come Big Game, 2012 could end up being one of Cal’s worst seasons in recent history.

Jonathan Kuperberg

11. Colorado (1-3, 1-0)

The Buffaloes actually got a win. Unfortunately for Colorado, it will likely be the last of 2012.

The defense still can’t stop anyone, giving up 451 yards of offense — including 401 yards through the air — to one of the most unbalanced offenses in the Pac-12. The fact that quarterback Jordan Webb started actually completing more than 33 percent of his passes is somewhat encouraging, but he won’t face a weaker secondary in 2012 than he did on Saturday.

The squad’s next legitimate shot at a win won’t likely come until they close their season by hosting Utah — who might be the only team in the conference with a more inept offense.

Connor Byrne

12. Washington State (2-2, 0-1)

Well, that certainly wasn’t the happy ending Mike Leach was surely expecting in his first conference game as head coach of Washington State.

The Cougars lost, 35-34, to Pac-12 doormat Colorado, a team many pundits expected to go winless in conference play. Leach probably can’t get any rest after watching his team give up 531 total yards to the Buffaloes.

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday attempted 60 passes, far too many, but the Cougars’ running game was virtually nonexistent, totaling just 50 yards. After Saturday’s showing, it is safe to say there is no hope for Washington State in its next game, a visit from No. 2 Oregon.

Jonathan Kuperberg