Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8: Bowl Games and CFB Playoffs Up For Grabs

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8

The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8 is 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.

The Pac-12 conference had another strong performance on the national scene. Washington and Oregon lived up to all the hype, and the entire country got to see two of the nations best teams. Well, sort of… The game was on ESPN2 in the south.

Take a peek at last week’s rankings here.

12. Oregon State (1-5)

Oregon State comes off a BYE and plays Cal in Corvallis. The Beavers look to get their first Pac-12 conference win since November of 2016. Their offense has not been the problem this season. They are #1 in the Pac-12 in rushing at 211.8 yards per game, and #3 in total offense with 453.7 ypg. Oregon State’s defense has consistently undone all the great work their offense has done. They are dead last in the conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, and total defense.

I am not sure how you win a game with those kinds of stats. Hopefully, head coach Jonathan Smith’s defense has made some adjustments over the BYE week.

11. Cal (3-3)

After the first three weeks of the season, Cal was looking like a team that could end up in a bowl game. After dropping three straight games against Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA, their bowl game chances look bleak. The Golden Bears defense was highly ranked and appeared to be the strength of their team through their first three games. Last week’s 37-7 loss to winless UCLA has to be concerning for head coach Justin Wilcox.  They gave up 37 points to the worst offense in the Pac-12. This week Cal has to try and stop Oregon State’s #1 rushing offense in the Pac-12.

Cal’s offense has to step it up. They rank #11 in the Pac-12 in both scoring offense (23.0 ppg), and passing offense (214.5).

10. Arizona (3-4)

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate did not finish last week’s game against Utah, and head coach Kevin Sumlin said he will not play Saturday at UCLA. Rhett Rodriguez, son for former Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, will get the start. Rodriguez should give Arizona a boost in their passing efficiency but is nowhere near the dynamic athlete running the ball that Tate is.

The Wildcats have a 3-4 record because they are statistically middle of the road Pac-12 offense and bottom third defense. This game against UCLA will be a pivotal game in deciding whether Arizona gets a bowl game.

9. UCLA (1-5) 

Bruins are relieved to know their team will not go defeated this year (0-12). Chip Kelly found a way to get his team which ranks last in the conference in points per game to score 37 points against Cal. UCLA has a chance to get their second win in a row against a struggling Arizona team. The game seems to be slowing down for true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He looks more comfortable passing the ball and continues to show flashes that he can be a special player.

The last two games have catapulted UCLA from the worst rushing offense in the Pac-12 at under 100 yards per game to 9th. Their defensive improvement has been a pleasant surprise. Bruins held Washington in check and shut Cal down in their last two games. Can they put together three straight solid defense games?

8. Arizona State (3-3)

The most intriguing team in the PAC-12 this season has been Arizona State. I am still not sure what to make of Herm Edwards’ team. Are they more the team that beat Michigan State or are they the team that lost to San Diego State? ASU comes off of a bye week and gets a huge test with Stanford coming in town. Manny Wilkins and their offensive coordinator have to find a way to get N’keal Harry the football more.

7. Stanford (4-2)

I am absolutely sure that David Shaw and the smart guys at Stanford did a lot of analytics number crunching over their BYE week. The “intellectual brutality” offense we are familiar with seeing has struggled to run the football. The Cardinal are typically one of the top-rated rushing offenses in the country and the Pac-12. However, injuries to Bryce Love and poor offensive line play have their offense only managing 85.7 rushing yards per game. Their inability to run the football keeps them in 3rd and long situations which have translated to a Pac-12 worst 32.9% 3rd down conversion rate.

Stanford must rebound after ugly losses to Notre Dame and Utah. However, they still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North but must win out.

6. Colorado (5-1) 

People tried to convince me that Colorado was a real threat to win the Pac-12 after starting 5-0. The Buffaloes suffered a bunch of injuries in the USC game, including their mid-season All American wide receiver Laviska Shenault. But, they weren’t winning that game if everybody had remained healthy. Statistically, Colorado is top four in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency, opponent first downs, and a whole bunch of other categories. The reality is their opponents have a combined record of 12-25.

The Buffaloes travel to Seattle to battle the Huskies on Saturday. A win would go a long way to ensuring Mike McIntyre is the coach next season.

5. Utah (4-2)

I could not believe my eyes. Utah scored 40 points in consecutive games. It appears Kyle Whittingham’s team has turned a corner offensively. Tyler Huntley is being efficient passing the ball, and Zach Moss is 3rd in the Pac-12 in rushing with 102 yards per game. Granted, they played a beat up Stanford team and a defensive disaster in Arizona. The Utes defense is for real. They lead the conference in opponent first downs, scoring defense, and total defense.

The Utes get a huge home test against USC this weekend. If they win, they will have a shot to earn their first Pac-12 South crown.

4. USC (4-2)

Clay Helton got a much-needed win against Colorado. True freshman quarterback JT Daniels did not start sharp but ultimately finished with 283 passing yards with three touchdowns. The Trojans will need to improve their -6 turnover margin on the season if they hope to keep the lead in the Pac-12 South.

USC lost their best pass rusher Porter Gustin for the season. If the Trojans can get past the next two weeks against Utah and Arizona State, their schedule appears to get a little lighter with Oregon State, Cal, and UCLA.

3. Washington State (5-1)

We will find out what Gardner Minshew and Washington State are made out of as the Oregon Ducks roll into Pullman this weekend. The Cougars boast the Pac-12’s best passing offense (413.7 ypg), and 2nd best defense in terms of yards allowed per game (313.7). Mike Leach’s ‘Air Raid’ offense is very capable of exploiting the Oregon secondary that ranks 10th in the conference in defensive pass efficiency.

2. Washington (5-2)

The Huskies are a top tier football team. They were a missed 37 yard FG away from beating Oregon for the 3rd straight year. Now, Washington looks to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss against their bitter rival Oregon. Teams are 0-5 on the season after playing a physical game against the Ducks. Chris Peterson is a great coach and should have his team up for the task against Colorado. Their defense continues to show up and be tough. The Huskies offense must improve their explosiveness. The lack of big plays seems the difference between the 2017 and 2018 Huskies teams.

There is still a chance the Huskies can win the Pac-12 and play in either the Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.

1. Oregon (5-1)

The Ducks have earned the #1 spot in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8. They gutted out a win against a very good Washington team. Oregon suffered a major injury in the against Washington. Their true freshman left tackle Penei Sewell is scheduled to miss significant time with a leg injury.

Justin Herbert continues to lead the conference in passing efficiency (171.2). The Ducks offense seems unstoppable at this point, but their defense will get a huge test this weekend at Washington State. We saw the Ducks respond well after a tough loss to Stanford. How will they handle the success of a big win?

Oregon has positioned themselves to potentially earn a spot in the college football playoffs.

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 7: Bad Blood and Razor Thin Margins

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 7

The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 7 is 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 earned, not given.

Take a peek at last week’s rankings here.

12. Oregon State (1-5)

(L) Washington State 37-56

I spent a lot of time deciding on #11-12 in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 7. How do you choose between a winless team who has played a solid schedule (UCLA) and a team that has only beaten Southern Utah (OSU)? Jermar Jefferson is the best thing the Beavers have going. The freshman has rushed for nearly 900 yards and 12 touchdowns through six games this season. The future for Oregon State is brighter than the present.

11. UCLA (0-5) 

(L) Washington 24-31

If there were moral victories in sports, UCLA would have one for how they played against Washington. The Bruins had multiple opportunities to tie the game in the 4th quarter, but could not capitalize. Dorian Thompson-Robinson made some really good throws and showed flashes of future greatness. Another bright spot was UCLA’s ability to run the football at will against a typically stout Washington defense.

I 100% believe that the Bruins would beat the Beavers if they played this season. They have a chance to get their first win against Cal this weekend.

10. Cal (3-2)

(L) Arizona 17-24

If Brandon McIlwain can stop throwing the ball to the other team Cal will win some Pac-12 games. He looks to be Khalil Tate 2.0; a dynamic athlete at quarterback, but also has solid passing skills. If Justin Wilcox can get his young quarterback to take care of the football a bowl game is in their future. The Golden Bears defense has remained solid even into Pac-12 play. The Bruins head to Cal this week, which should be a very “winnable” game for both teams.

9. Arizona (3-3)

(W) Cal 24-17

Until Khalil Tate is fully healthy and can run the football, Arizona is not a real threat to the upper class of the Pac-12. The Wildcats need his legs to be as much of a threat as his arm. Last year Khalil Tate rushed for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. This year, Tate only has 110 rushing yards through 6 games. A Pac-12 South title is still in reach for Arizona. Utah comes to Tucson Friday for what is essentially a must-win for the Wildcats.

8. Arizona State (3-3)

(L) Colorado 21-28

Arizona State is sitting at a 3-3 record. It doesn’t feel like they are overachieving or underachieving. They seem to be in a perfect spot when measured against preseason expectations. They are struggling to get off the field defensively. The Sun Devils allow the most first downs per possession in the Pac-12. Also, Herm Edwards has to find a way to get his team to close out games. All three of their losses have come by seven points.

7. Stanford (4-2)

(L) Utah 21-40

How the mighty have fallen. Stanford was king of the Pac-12 Power Rankings for the first five weeks of the season. I’m not sure what is going on, but the “intellectual brutality”we had grown accustomed to has been conspicuously absent since the Oregon game. A BYE in week seven should allow the Cardinal ample opportunity to recalibrate and refocus. They must be perfect down the stretch if they want to win the Pac-12 North title.

6. Utah (3-2)

(W) Stanford 40-21

How on earth did Utah score 40 points on Stanford? Utah had not scored more than 24 points against FBS competition this season. The Utes offense is still underwhelming, but their defense did a great job of forcing four turnovers, which led to a lot of scoring opportunities. We will see if Utah can repeat their dynamic offensive and defensive performance this week against Arizona.

5. Washington State (5-1)

(W) Oregon State 56-37

There is no team that I am happier about their success than the Cougars. It would have been easy for them to mail the season in after Tyler Hilinski’s suicide. But, they have come out and fought hard and won games. Gardner Minshew has been so impressive at quarterback that he has drawn the eye of NFL scouts. He may have to put his coaching dreams on hold for NFL paychecks.  They get a much-deserved BYE this week. Mike Leach knows the rest of the schedule will be tough as they have Stanford, Oregon, and Washington still on the schedule.

4. USC (3-2)

BYE

This week is the most important game of the season for USC. If they beat Colorado, the team has a shot to rekindle the energy and excitement of their 2016 Rose Bowl season. If they lose to Colorado, the Clay Helton boo-birds will be out in full force.

3. Colorado (5-0)

(W) Arizona State 28-21

We all keep waiting for Cinderella’s glass slipper to fall off, but the Buffaloes refuse to let it go! Steven Montez and crew keep putting up solid offensive performances. They rank third in the conference in percentage of possessions that end in touchdowns (36.4%). And their defense is one of the stingiest in the Pac-12. If you haven’t seen the Buffaloes electric wide receiver Laviska Shenault, don’t worry, you will see a ton of him Saturday versus USC.

2. Oregon (4-1)

BYE

The Ducks got a week off and who knows what they will have up their sleeves for Huskies week. Revenge has been on Oregon’s mind since being embarrassed in 2016 by Jake Browning and the Huskies at Autzen Stadium. This game is the most bitter rivalry in the conference besides UCLA vs. USC. The loser will be the subject of ridicule for an entire year.

After watching Washington play UCLA last week, we could have a new #1 team in the Pac-12 Power Rankings after the game. Huck the Fuskies!

1. Washington (5-1)

(W) UCLA 31-24

Washington continues to win football games. I am extremely concerned about how this team faired against UCLA. The Huskies may have looked past UCLA to next week’s date at Oregon. However, their usually very stout defense was porous against the Bruins. Jake Browning’s steady play at quarterback has made Washington tough to beat. He rarely makes mistakes, and give his team a chance to win every game, but won’t be a superhero. Browning is the Alex Smith of college quarterbacks.

It is Washington Huskies vs. Oregon Ducks this weekend. The winner of this game will have the inside track if the Pac-12 gets a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6: Make or Break Matchups

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Conference Play is in Full Swing

Welcome to the Unafraid Show Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6 by SportsPac12. If you are a Pac-12 fan, aside from Unafraid Show, SportsPac12 is the twitter feed you need to follow! Former sportswriter & columnist who has covered three different Pac-12 schools provides up to date stats and information on every team in the Conference of Champions.

See where all the teams stand in the Unafraid Show Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Arizona State (3-2) at #21 Colorado (4-0)

Saturday, October 6, 1:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Folsom Field, Boulder, CO

Straight-Up: Arizona State in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Arizona State (+3)

Having dispatched four teams with a combined 1-16 mark, it’s time for the Buffs to prove they’re worthy of their ranking. CU quarterback Steven Montez leads the nation in completion percentage, and his connection with wideout Laviska Shenault has been deadly. But Montez has yet to be pressured the way he’s likely to be pressured by ASU’s Merlin Robertson, Malik Lawal, and Darius Slade, who have three sacks each on the season. Collectively, ASU defenders average nearly four sacks per game. The Devils also have the advantage of having played in three big games already. Arizona State’s defense should limit Colorado’s explosive offense just enough to prevail in a close, back-and-forth game.

Notes: The Sun Devils lead the all-time series 8-1, with the lone loss coming in Boulder in 2016, and are averaging 38.9 points per game against the Buffs. Remarkably, no ASU running back has lost a fumble (or even put the ball on the ground) in 669 consecutive carries, over 24 straight games. Colorado is 4-0 for the first time since 1998. Under Mike MacIntrye, the Buffs are 16-0 when holding opponents to 17 points or less. Shenault leads the nation with 9.5 receptions and 145.3 yards per game.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

#10 Washington (4-1) at UCLA (0-4)

Saturday, October 6, 4:30 p.m. PT, FOX

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA

Straight-Up: Washington  in a Blowout Win

Against the Spread: Washington  (-21.5)

History suggests Washington could struggle at UCLA on Saturday: The Huskies have lost eight straight in Pasadena, dating back to 1995. But UW coach Chris Petersen wouldn’t know anything about that, having never coached in the Rose Bowl. Nor would he care. The Bruins will be outmanned at nearly every position, despite having recruited nearly equivalent talent, based on stars and ratings. In actuality, this might be the biggest Conference mismatch of the season, giving Jake Browning a chance to extend his school records in passing and total offense, while enabling Myles Gaskin to pop off a 200-yard game. Unless, unless . . . Chip Kelly has at least one trick up his sleeve this year, doesn’t he?

 

Notes: The Bruins lead the all-time series 40-31-2, but lost last year’s meeting in Seattle, 44-33. The winning team has scored 40+ points in the last three games. By contrast, Washington hasn’t given up more than 35 points in 49 straight contests—dating back to when the Dawgs surrendered 44 points to UCLA in 2014. Gaskin needs just seven yards to move past Chris Polk into second on the all-time UW rushing list. UCLA will be looking to avoid a 0-5 start for the first time since 1943.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Washington State (4-0) at Oregon State (1-4)

Saturday, October 6, 6:00 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Network

Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR

Straight-Up Pick: Washington State in a Comfortable Win

Against the Spread: Washington State (-17)

The Cougars showed some welcome defensive maturity last week against Utah, and that figures to be a problem for the Beavers. Oregon State is a year or so away from being able to match any team stop-for-stop. The Beavs would prefer a high-scoring shootout, giving Jermar Jefferson a chance to run wild like he did in Tempe. Both teams are likely to trade big plays at some point, with Gardner Minshew and Easop Winston getting the better of the exchange. Expect OSU to keep it close for a quarter or so, only to watch WSU pull away in the second half. Whatever the outcome between these two loose and confident-playing teams, it should prove entertaining.

Notes: The Cougars lead the all-time series with the Beavers 52-47-3, and have won four straight after posting a 52-23 victory in Pullman last season. With their 28-24 win over Utah, the Cougars have won 10 straight home games for the first time since 1933. OSU relied heavily on Jefferson’s 254 yards against Arizona State, allowing him to break his own Pac-12 single-game rushing record for freshmen, set earlier this season against Southern Utah.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Cal (3-1) at Arizona (2-3)

Saturday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. PT, FS1

Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ

Straight-Up: Cal in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Cal (-2.5)

Fast and shifty Cal quarterback Brandon McIlwain showed he can be as dangerous as Khalil Tate last week, running the ball for 123 yards against Oregon. Given Arizona’s defensive woes, that comparison could be on full display this week in Tucson, provided McIlwain can pass well enough to keep Chase Garbers off the field. The Wildcats, meanwhile, struggled to put up 20 points on a mistake-prone and porous USC defense. They’ll need Tate to run and throw much better than his sub-50 completion percentage and 38 yards on the ground to score as much or more against a tougher Cal defense. The Bears are giving up points on less than 20% of their opponents’ possessions.

Notes: Arizona leads the all-time series 17-14-2, having won the last four. The last two have come down to the final play, including last year’s double-overtime contest in Berkeley. Look for Cal to strike early, having scored first in all four games this season. Arizona forced three fumbles Saturday against USC, recovering all three, marking the first time the Wildcats have recovered three fumbles in a single game since 2016. Bears linebacker Evan Weaver posted a career-high 14 tackles against Oregon; he leads the Conference with 13.2 tackles per game.

Pac-12 Football Predictions Week 6

Utah (2-2) at #14 Stanford (4-1)

Saturday, October 6, 7:30 p.m. PT, ESPN

Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA

Straight-Up: Utah in a Close Win

Against the Spread: Utah (-4)

Who needs this game more? A loss could prove disastrous for Utah, whereas Stanford runs the risk of a Notre Dame hangover: The classic elements of a trap game. As good as K.J. Costello and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have been, the Cardinal appear to have become too pass-dependent with Bryce Love struggling. Utah’s defense, which held the Cougars to 0 yards rushing last week, could cause Stanford more problems than the Irish. Offensively, Tyler Huntley played more like a dual-threat quarterback against WSU, rushing and throwing for a combined 206 yards, while freeing up Zach Moss to post his second 100-yard game. Don’t be surprised if Utah hangs around, stealing this one by a field goal.

Notes: The all-time series between the two teams is tied 4-4, though Utah has won three of the last four. Stanford ended a three-game losing streak to the Utes last year with a 23-20 victory in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal has an active 11-game home winning streak—the longest since a 17-game streak from 2011 to 2014—but the Utes are 3-0 in Stanford Stadium. In good hands: The Cardinal have not lost a fumble through the first five games, one of only four teams in the nation to do so. Huntley’s season-high 88 yards rushing against WSU matched his career high.

Leave a comment or voice your opinions at ImMad@unafraidshow.com

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6: Contenders and Pretenders Reveal Themselves

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6:

The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6 is 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.

Take a peek at last week’s rankings here.

12. UCLA (0-4) 

(L) Colorado 16-38

I believed UCLA had a shot to beat Colorado coming off their bye week. The Bruins put up a fight for the first half, but then it all went left after halftime. Their defense appeared to either tire out or lose mental focus in the second half. The schedule only gets rougher for Chip Kelly’s team for the rest of the season. I am not sure where this team finds a win. They can’t go 0-12 right?

11. Oregon State (1-4)

(L) 24-52 Arizona State

There are two stats that give you a lot of insight into the 2018 Beavers. Oregon State has allowed their opponent’s explosion plays of 30 yards or more 14 times in their first five games, which is worst in the Pac-12. They are also getting outscored by an average of nearly 15 points per game. Both of those stats mean there are only two things wrong with the Beavers: their offense, and their defense.

1o. Arizona (2-3)

(L) USC 20-24

Arizona has been doing a decent job of scoring since their disastrous first two games against BYU and Houston. Their biggest problem this season has been their defense. The Wildcats are only forcing turnovers on 5.9% of their opponent’s drives. And are only getting a sack on every 24 pass attempts. The good news for Arizona is that none of the teams in the South are particularly tough, and they still have a chance to win the division. However, the likelyhood seems low at this point.

9. Utah (2-2)

(L) Washington State 24-28

The Utes had their highest scoring game of the season last week (against a team not named Weber State). Their defense continuously shows up, but their offense fails to score enough points. It is always tough to win a lot of college football games when you only score 22 points per game. It is time to accept that the Utes are the same team they have been for the last 3-4 years.

8. Arizona State (3-2)

(W) Oregon State 52-24

The Sun Devils beat Oregon State soundly, as they were supposed to do. I’m still unsure what to make of a team that beats a pretty highly regarded Michigan State team only to turn around and lose the next week to San Diego State. Over the next month, Arizona State has Colorado, Stanford, and USC on the schedule. They could either go 3-0 or 0-3. This team is the best in the conference in turnover margin at +5. So, that should help.

7. Washington State (4-1)

(W) Utah 28-24

The Cougars offense is impressive. My heart says Wazzu looks like a top five Pac-12 team, but my head remembers their best win is against Utah. The Cougars only give up one sack every 58 pass attempts. The next closest team is Arizona State with one sack for every 35 attempts. If Washington State can continue to keep Gardener Minshew upright, they could knock off one of the North division heavy hitters.

6. USC (3-2)

(W) Arizona 24-20

The only reason USC has three wins is that they have the more talent than the teams they played. They are doing everything that typically results in losses. The Trojans are 11th in the Pac-12 in turnover margin, average under one touchdown pass per game, and give up the second most explosive plays of 30 yards to opponents. A lot of people are high on the Trojans winning the Pac-12 South; I am not. The team is talented enough to finish the season 10-2 but are more likely to finish 8-4.

5. Cal (3-1)

(L) Oregon 24-42

The Golden Bears have to figure out their quarterback situation. It is clear their offense is more explosive with Brandon McIllwain under center, but Chase Garbers is a better passer. Their defense is good enough to keep them in games, but their offense has to step up. Cal had a good start to the season, but the road only gets tougher from here. They still have games against Washington, Washington State, and Stanford left on the schedule. Cal is well coached, but they are short on talent to be highly competitive in the north division.

4. Colorado (4-0)

(W) UCLA 38-14

Colorado has earned their seat in the #4 slot of the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6. However, I do not trust they are good enough to run the gauntlet ahead of them. Through four games, their offensive and defensive stats have been very impressive. But all four of their wins are against sub top 50 college football teams. If they can get past Arizona State this weekend, I will trust them more.

3. Stanford (4-1)

(L) Notre Dame 17-38

The Stanford offense and defense looked exactly the same against Notre Dame as it did against Oregon through three quarters. They were dominated. I am truly questioning my prediction of Stanford winning the conference. Bryce Love is injured and KJ Costello looked rather average against a good Notre Dame team. The Cardinal are trending in the wrong direction. But I realize David Shaw is good for 10+ wins per year, so he should get things turned around.

2. Oregon (4-1)

(W) Cal 42-24

Oregon bounced back from one of the most heart-breaking losses in recent memory. Teams often let a loss like that affect the next game, but the Ducks didn’t. This team is physical and talented. There is an outside chance this team could pull and Alabama and make the College Football Playoffs without winning the conference. Oregon is the best team in the conference offensively, and one of the best defensively as well. All eyes will be on their matchup against Washington in two weeks.

1. Washington (4-1)

(W) BYU 35-7

The Huskies have earned the top spot in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 6. Jake Browning had another solid week against BYU. Washington’s defense seems to be getting more and more stingy each week. They are best in the conference against the pass and have only allowed two explosive plays over 30 yards through five games. Oregon and Stanford are the only two teams that actually stand in the way of the Huskies winning the conference.

Leave a comment or voice your opinions at ImMad@unafraidshow.com

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Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 6: Crushing the Competition

College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 6

Best weekend of college football this year.

There were multiple quality games and near upsets on at every time slot. College Football is the only sport that can show you what it’s like to simultaneously feel alive and like you want to die! That is why is it is by far the greatest sport there is! Before we get to College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 6, you can reference the Unafraid Show’s College Football Top 10 Rankings for Week 5.

The two most frustrating parts of being a college football fan are the biased polls and the terrible non-conference schedules. I cannot change the schedules but I can rank the college football top 10 teams by the correct criteria: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance. Most polls including the College Football Playoff Committee give college blueblood teams a massive “benefit of the doubt.”  How else can you explain Georgia at #2 when they haven’t played anyone, or Wisconsin ranking above Cal and BYU before this week? I don’t believe in that. The best teams who play the best schedules will always be ranked highest. Only the games that have been played matter. I re-rank the top 10 every week from scratch. The previous week’s rankings do not factor into the next week. So, the rankings will change every week as more games are played.

1.  Alabama (5-0)

Alabama won a game with their starting quarterback Tua Tagoviloa only attempting 8 passes. I know it was only Louisianna, but that is still impressive. Teams typically move down in the College Football Top 10 Rankings when their schedule is not particularly impressive. But, Alabama combats their schedule with an unmatched dominance. It will be interesting to see how the 2018 Crimson Tide respond when someone puts up a fight. We may have to wait till November when they get LSU and Auburn.

2. Notre Dame (5-0)

A quarterback change has taken Notre Dame from a really good football team to a playoff contender. Brandon Wimbush could only beat you with his legs. Ian Book can beat you with arm and legs. Against Stanford, he regularly extended plays and escaped sacks to complete passes for 3rd down conversions. The Notre Dame defense is fast and extremely physical. This is not your typical Fighting Irish team that is overrated. Dominant wins over Michigan and Stanford make them an easy choice at #2 in the College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 6.

3. LSU (5-0)

LSU keeps piling up wins. They didn’t beat Ole Miss as bad as Alabama did, but Joe Burrow and company still showed offensive dominance. Burrow threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and added another 92 yards and a touchdown on the ground. I cannot remember the last time LSU had a dynamic passer at quarterback who could also hurt you with his legs. I am salivating thinking about their matchup against Georgia in two weeks. They are one of the few SEC teams that have played a quality schedule so far.

4. Ohio State (5-0)

Penn State had the game in sewed up, but Ohio State pried a victory from the jaws of defeat. Dwyane Haskins stats looked good again, but the truth is in the film. The majority of his 270 pass yards came off screens to backs and wide receivers. The Ohio State vs. Penn State game felt a lot like the Stanford vs. Oregon game last week. The team who dominated and looked better lost the game. However, there are no moral victories in sports. The Buckeyes won, so they reap the rewards in the College Football Top 10 Rankings Week 6.

5. Oklahoma (5-0)

Kyler Murray is the Black Doug Flutie. He is small, but he can play! He and Oklahoma bounced back from that narrow escape against Army with an offensive explosion. Murray finished with 432 yards passing and 8 total touchdowns (1rush) against Baylor. I truly believe Oklahoma’s offense is more explosive this year than last year with Baker Mayfield. Most people expect Murray to hang his cleats up and play in the MLB. Oklahoma has the best receiving corps in the country.  I would love to watch Alabama try and stop this offense.

6. Clemson (5-0)

The Tigers are breathing a sigh of relief. Kelly Bryant decides to transfer, and Trevor Lawrence gets hurt while they are down to Syracuse. All signs pointed to a loss for Clemson. But, Dabo Swinney cashed in all his good Karma from doing the right thing for Kelly Bryant, and they got the win. You are always rewarded in life for doing the right things. Every top team faces a couple of gut-check games each season, and this was one for Clemson.

This team is good, but they have not been nearly as dominant this season as I expected.

7. Washington (4-1)

The Huskies has the best defense in the nation not named Alabama. Washington has stepped up their game since their close week 1 loss to Auburn. This week the Huskies undressed BYU, who beat a highly regarded Wisconsin team. It was a dominant performance. Jake Browning is real close to shutting me up about his inconsistent play against good teams. Their matchup against Oregon in two weeks will be an epic showdown.

8. Georgia (5-0)

New week, weak opponent, Georgia Wins. Rinse. Repeat. Georgia has played no teams currently ranked in the top 25. Unless Georgia starts demonstrating some Alabama-like dominance, it will be tough to rank them as higher until they get to the heart of their schedule. Please don’t try to tell me the South Carolina game was a good game. They just got beat up by Kentucky. I believe the Bulldogs could be a playoff team, but they will need to get more production out of Fromm or Fields at quarterback.

9. Auburn (4-1)

It took Auburn all four quarters to put So. Miss away. They were only able to rush for 96 yards on 36 attempts. The win was extremely unimpressive. War Eagle needs to figure out how to get their running game on track, or they will get tripped up against Miss State, Ole Miss, or Texas A&M in the next month. The only way the Tigers make the College Football Playoffs is if they do so on the back of Jared Stidham.

10. West Virginia (4-0)

500 yards of total offense seems to be the norm for West Virginia in 2018. Will Grier will find himself a finalist for the Heisman if he keeps playing like this. We still don’t know a lot about the Mountaineers defense. Their schedule has been relatively light so far, but their dominance has them narrowly ahead of the teams Next Up. Dana Holgorsen has a shot to get West Virginia over the hump in the Big 12 this year.

Next Up:

Michigan, UCF, Texas, Oregon, Penn State

I know some of you are steaming mad right now because your team is ranked too low or is unranked. Take a breathe and realize that your fandom is causing irrational thoughts. Leave a comment or shoot an email: ImMad@unafraidshow.com… Yes, that is the real email address.

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 5: North Division is Dominant

Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 5

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)

BYE

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)

BYE

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)

BYE

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)

BYE

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.

Leave a comment or voice your opinions at ImMad@unafraidshow.com

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