Week three for college football is in the books and it’s time to get into the heart of conference play. Time to see where everybody lands in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 4. The Power rankings are based on three things: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance. The “eye test” and preseason rankings are not factored into the Unafraid Show’s rankings. I know some of you are used to the biased rankings, but you won’t find those here.
I have to again express my frustration with the Pac-12 start times. Part of the reason the conference doesn’t get the respect it deserves is that so many quality games are played with 7:30 or 7:45 pm PT kickoffs when many voters are sleeping. This week many people will miss out on seeing Arizona State and Washington play. It’s imperative that more college fans see the Pac-12 so they know the truth when media experts talk about the “eye test.” Hopefully, the conference figures out another solution to get it’s best games nationally televised without playing them so late.
Here are the Pac-12 Power Rankings from last week.
12. UCLA (0-3)
(L) at Fresno State 38-14
Lord have mercy. UCLA could finish the season defeated 0-12. There is no way that happens, right? They have to get their offense right by the end of the year, right? Until they do, they will occupy Oregon State’s usual #12 spot in the Pac-12 Power Rankings. The Bruins offense is caught between a true freshman quarterback and a bad offensive line. It is going to be a loooooooong season in Westwood.
11. Arizona (1-2)
(W) Southern Utah 62-31
The good news is that Arizona got a win and Khalil Tate threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The bad news is there is no more Southern Utah’s on the schedule. Arizona will need to improve on their -2 turnover margin if they are going to beat Oregon State in Corvallis this weekend. I am still perplexed as to why this team that most thought would compete in the South division is so bad. The Wildcats still have time to turn it around during Pac-12 play.
10. Oregon State (1-2)
(L) Nevada 37-35
The Beavers lost last week’s game to Nevada on a last-second missed FG. This team is clearly better under Jonathan Smith than they have been over the last couple seasons. They lead the conference in explosion plays of 30 yards or longer (12). I expect a good showing from the Beavers as the Wildcats roll in town. This team has dark horse potential to finish the season number 8 or 9 in the Pac-12 Power Rankings.
9. USC (1-2)
(L) Texas 37-14
The loss against Texas was really ugly. The Trojans rushed for a mindblowing -5 yards. I cannot even remember the last time I saw a box score from a team full of four and five star athletes held to negative rushing yards. Clay Helton has a lot of questions to answer and adjustments to be made. The best way to sum up USC last two weeks is to quote Ryan Abraham of uscfootball.com, “When you lose badly and don’t change anything, you are likely to lose badly again.” Sidenote: true freshman Amon-Ra St. Brown is legit at wide receiver! Will Helton get this talented team to play better?
8. Washington State (3-0)
(W) Eastern Washington 59-24
We don’t know much about Washington State because they haven’t played anybody. The Cougars have put up good numbers in their three “pad your record for a bowl game birth” games. But, they will get a real test this week when they show up at The Coliseum to play USC. After watching the last two games USC played, the Cougars will believe this is a game they should win. If Mike Leach can pull off a victory against the Trojans we could be watching the beginning of a truly special season for Washington State.
7. Utah (2-1)
(L) Washington 21-7
Last week I said Utah’s lack of offense was a huge concern. Their offensive deficiencies showed up in a major way against Washington. In addition, the Utes have not taken care of the football. After three weeks, Utah is dead last in the Pac-12 for turnover margin (-6). The only reason they didn’t get demolished by Washington is that their defense is extremely stout. Kyle Whittingham has a team that is defensively capable of winning the south division, but offensively not.
6. Arizona State (2-1)
(L) San Diego State 28-21
It hurt to watch the ending of their game against San Diego State. You wouldn’t think that a targeting call that gets a player ejected could penalize the targeted team, but it did this week. The Herm Edwards hire looks like a sage move by Arizona State right now. If they can get their offense going earlier in games I like them to win the Pac-12 South. We need to see a lot more Manny Wilkins to N’Keal Harry for the Sun Devils to see a birth in the Pac-12 title game.
5. Oregon (3-0)
(W) San Jose State 35-22
What an ugly win for the Ducks. Washington State beat San Jose State 31-0 so most expected Oregon to run away with this game, but that didn’t happen. Though they were never in any danger of losing, the team didn’t look as polished against San Jose State. Perhaps the Ducks were overlooking San Jose State and looking towards their week 4 matchup with Stanford. Game Day will be in Eugene this week for Oregon’s most important game of the year. A win against the Cardinal could propel this team to a Pac-12 North title and a potential playoff birth. A close loss against a top 10 team would signal that the Ducks are close to being back in the Pac-12 elite. Justin Herbert will need to live up to the hype and play his best game of the season.
4. Cal (3-0)
(W) Idaho State 45-23
Justin Wilcox is a miracle worker. He has managed to turn the worth defense in the country in 2016 into leading the nation in interceptions. Don’t be surprised if after the season his name starts circulating some of those big money head coaching jobs. Chase Garbers has cemented himself as the starting quarterback and leader of the offense. Again I say, the Golden Bears officially are a threat to everyone in the Pac-12. They aren’t a threat to win the Pac-12, but they have upgraded themselves from cupcake to “potential trap game” status.
3. Colorado (3-0)
(W) New Hampshire 45-14
There was no hangover from their emotional win at Nebraska. The Buffaloes came out and handled their business against the vaunted New Hampshire Wildcats. I’ll admit I had to google their mascot. Week 4 provides a bye for Colorado and an extra week of preparation for UCLA. Did I mention that their wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr is one the best players in the Pac-12?
2. Washington (2-1)
(W) Utah 21-7
By this point, it probably seems like I’m picking on Jake Browning. However, he is the only thing separating Washington from being a threat to win a national championship. The Washington passing game has to show up better against good defenses. There are so many times that their defense is dominant against quality competition, but the offense can’t put up enough points to put the game out of reach. If Chris Petersen can get his senior quarterback going, this team can be dangerous.
1. Stanford (3-0)
(W) UC Davis 30-10
It appeared that Stanford was just as conservative against UC Davis as Oregon was against San Jose State. Bryce Love didn’t even suit up for the game despite reports that he was healthy. KJ Costello is getting more confident and efficient at quarterback. Stanford’s passing attack is back to Andrew Luck status. The Cardinal have an epic showdown this week with the Ducks. I am sticking by my prediction that the winner of that game will win the Pac-12 title and stay on top of the Pac-12 Power Rankings.
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