The Pac-12 had a great week in week 4. The heavy hitters in the conference (Washington, Stanford, USC, Oregon) all had great performances on national television. Stanford vs. Oregon is the game of the year so far. Great performances in prime time go a long way in determining the College Football Playoff top 4. The top of the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 5 was decided by razor-thin margins.
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. Respect is not given, it is earned.
Here are the Pac-12 Power Rankings from last week.
12. UCLA (0-3)
UCLA has a real shot at a win on Friday night against Colorado. Strange things always happen during those Friday Night Pac-12 games. And Chip Kelly’s squad had a full week off to figure out some way to retool the Bruins anemic offense. There are betting lines around who will win a game first UCLA, or Nebraska. If UCLA gets a win, they will get out of the Pac-12 Power Rankings cellar.
11. Oregon State (1-3)
(L) Arizona 14-35
There are a bunch of programs that have gimmicks for players to wear or use after turnovers. Oregon State has a “turnover chainsaw.” While it’s not corny like Florida State’s “turnover backpack, there is so much potential for something bad to happen. When I played in Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio put a big wood stump and an ax in the middle of the locker room. He would always tell us to “Keep Chopping Wood.” To make a long story short, Our punter Chris Hansen chopped into the wood, and the ax split the wood, he cut his leg, and couldn’t play anymore that season.
That story had nothing to do with Oregon State, but it was much more interesting than anything going on with the Beavers.
1o. Arizona (2-2)
(W) Oregon State 35-14
Finally, we saw the Arizona team we thought would compete for the Pac-12 South division. Khalil Tate’s ankle is still not healthy, so the Wildcats offense is extremely limited. Arizona struggled through their nonconference schedule, but are still 1-0 in conference play. The Wildcats get USC at home this week. A win would put them in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South. Wouldn’t it be a strange twist of fate if we all severely overreacted to the first three weeks of the season?
9. Washington State (3-1)
(L) USC 36-39
The loss on Friday night against USC was tough. Washington State had an opportunity to win the game on their last drive until an inexplicable 3rd down play call. We didn’t know much about the Cougars heading into the USC game, but we learned a lot. Gardener Minshew is a legit passer. He carved up the Trojans defense to the tune of 344 yards and three touchdowns. With Minshew leading Mike Leach’s ‘Air Raid’ system, Washington State has a chance against any team in the Pac-12.
8. Utah (2-1)
Utah will be looking to rebound from their week 3 loss to Washington at Washington State this weekend. The theme of the bye week should have been offensive efficiency. The Utes rank 10th in the Pac-12 in the percentage of possessions that result in points at 23.8%. The top two teams, Washington State and Oregon, sitting at 50.9%, and 44.8% respectively. Utah’s top-notch defense will have a tough task trying to stop the ‘Air Raid’ attack on Washington State. Kyle Whittingham had to find a way to get his offense going if the Utes have hopes of the south division crown.
7. USC (2-2)
(W) Washington State 39-36
USC got a much-needed win against Wazzu after back-to-back ugly losses. It was not pretty, but a win is a win. There is still concern about the Trojans inability to run the ball. They also struggled on pass defense as well against Washington State. The bright spots for USC were JT Daniels and wide receivers St. Brown, Pittman, and Vaughs. Daniels threw for a very solid 241 yards passing and three touchdowns. All three wideouts made phenomenal catches and showed they must be respected. What is it going to take for USC fans to buy into Clay Helton at head coach?
6. Arizona State (2-2)
(L) Washington 20-27
Herm Edwards is doing his thing down at Arizona State. They lost a competitive game to Washington that no one really thought would be as close, to begin with. The Sun Devils middle of the road record mirrors their conference ranking in most meaningful statistical categories. We need to see more of Manny Wilkins throwing the ball to N’Keal Harry if Arizona State is to rise in the Pac-12 Power Rankings.
5. Colorado (3-0)
Something tells me that Colorado better bring their A-game on Friday night against UCLA. The Buffaloes have done a great job defensively in their first three games. They have only allowed opponents to score on 17% of their drives. Steven Montez has to keep his level of play high if Colorado is going to have another quality season like two seasons ago. Their Nebraska win doesn’t look nearly as good at this point. Colorado is still untested, but they will be soon.
4. Cal (3-0)
Cal’s first real test of the season will be this weekend against Oregon. The Golden Bears secondary was leading the nation in interceptions before their bye. They will be challenged mightily by the nation’s best quarterback, Justin Herbert. When I talked to the Cal coaches, they said the team is ready and believes they can compete with any team on their schedule. If they are going to stay in the game with Oregon, they will need to step up their offensive production. Cal ranks last in the Pac-12 in explosive plays over 30 yards with one. And they are next to last in the Pac-12 for the percentage of possessions that result in points at 23.2%.
3. Oregon (3-1)
(L) Stanford 31-38
The loss against Stanford was an All-Time heartbreaker. But, there is good news. Even with the loss, the Ducks exploded back on the national scene and made a serious statement. Oregon looked, fast, physical, and well coached. They have arguably the best quarterback in the nation with Justin Herbert. And their defense is extremely stingy against the run only allowing a conference-best 2.13 yards per carry. The Ducks had been sitting outside the top three of the Pac-12 Power Rankings for weeks because they hadn’t played anybody. Now, that they have, it is clear they are a top tier team. Now the question is: Will the Ducks let Stanford beat them twice and have a letdown against Cal?
2. Washington (3-1)
(W) Arizona State 27-20
The Huskies were extremely impressive in the way they closed out the game against Arizona State. They executed their 4-minute offense to perfection. Jake Browing who I often pick on deserves a lot of credit for his play. He took care of the football and made plays when his team needed them. Browning will need to step up his play as Washington heads to the toughest part of their schedule. The Huskies defense leads the Pac-12 with only one explosive play over 30 yards given up. Chris Petersen’s team has a lot more competition in the Pac-12 than most predicted in the preseason.
1. Stanford (3-0)
(W) Oregon 38-31
I almost threw up at the end of this game. The bottom line is that despite being dominated by Oregon all game, Stanford made plays when it counted. The best player on Stanford’s team is not Bryce Love; it’s KJ Costello. David Shaw’s team is always run first. But he will need to use the pass to set up the run if the Cardinal hope to make the College Football Playoffs. Stanford is boring to watch, but they win and are tough to beat. It does not get any easier for the Cardinal as they head to South Bend this weekend to play Notre Dame.
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