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Oregon schools still on top while Bay Area schools take a tumble
Not as much movement this week, as the Oregon teams continue their stranglehold at the top. On the flipside, there's a new cellar-dweller in this week's rankings, as the fighting Jeff Tedfords have failed to live up to expectations in nearly every way.
HAPPY FAN BASES
1. Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Ducks haven't been stopped, or even challenged
Why they're not lower: Oregon has looked like the best team in the conference, which is about the best reason possible to be No. 1 in the power rankings. The Ducks have also been dominant in every game this season, winning all five games by at least three scores and putting nearly every game away early. The question has been what happens when Oregon gets challenged, but a better question might be will Oregon get challenged in the first place. It might be a while, as the Ducks' three toughest games (on paper) come in November.
First thing on fans' minds: 195. Sharing a backfield with De'Anthony Thomas makes it tough to shine, but Kenjon Barner found a way against Washington State, rushing for 195 yards on only 20 carries. Barner scored four touchdowns to make up for a fairly pedestrian day by Thomas (12 touches, 54 yards, and a touchdown).
Last week: 51-26 win over Washington State
Up next: vs. Washington on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
2. Oregon State (3-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Beavers keep on winning tough games
Why they're not higher/lower: Oregon State hasn't made it easy, but three games into the season, the Beavers have found ways to win every game so far. This time, OSU blew a 17-point lead on the road before scraping by with a three-point win thanks to a late touchdown pass from Sean Mannion, who continues to be one of the nation's most pleasant surprises. This week, the Beavers will finally play as a favorite for the first time all year.
First thing on fans' minds: Mannion. Yet again the Beavers found themselves in a close game, and yet again Mannion made the necessary plays to keep Oregon State undefeated. He threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter alone as part of a 433-yard effort that brings him to fourth in the nation in passing yards per game.
Last week: 38-35 win over Arizona
Up next: vs. Washington State on Saturday at 3 p.m.
3. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Sun Devils surprising South leaders
Why they're not lower: It's a tough call after the Oregon schools, but why not Arizona State? The Sun Devils haven't beaten any great teams, but they keep piling up the wins and sit alone in first place in the Pac-12 South. Now they get a week and a half to plan for Colorado before the tough stretch of the schedule comes around.
First thing on fans' minds: Division title? It's still early in the year, but Arizona State does have a realistic shot at the division title. The Sun Devils already hold the tiebreaker over Utah and don't have to play Stanford or Washington, so it could all come down to games vs. UCLA and at USC. A split of those two games could be enough to put ASU in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but that's a long way away.
Last week: 27-17 win over Cal
Up next: Bye, then at Colorado on 10/11 at 6 p.m.
4. Washington (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Huskies pull big home upset
Why they're not higher/lower: It was a fairly bland and predictable season for Washington through about 3.74 games this year. Then Bishop Sankey broke a long touchdown run, Keith Price led the Huskies to another touchdown, and Washington shocked Stanford in the Blackout of the Century. Suddenly this team has an identity thanks to its stifling defense, and the Huskies will need it this week against Oregon.
First thing on fans' minds: Defense. Washington held Stanford to only 4.6 yards per pass and 2.3 yards per rush while keeping the Cardinal offense out of the end zone.
Last week: 17-13 win over Stanford
Up next: at Oregon on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
5. USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Trojans still in the mix in the Pac-12
Why they're not higher: USC has had its bye and appears to have gotten past its upset loss to Stanford. That could spell danger for the Trojans' upcoming opponents, starting with Utah Thursday night. Even without the undefeated season, USC still has a lot left to play for.
First thing on fans' minds: Matt Barkley. The clear preseason Heisman favorite has yet to live up to the hype this year, as he ranks just 48th in the nation in passing efficiency and has already thrown five interceptions, just two shy of his total from last year.
Last week: Bye
Up next: at Utah on Thursday at 6 p.m.
6. UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Bruins rebound with romp over Buffaloes
Why they're not lower: It was crucial for UCLA to get back in the win column after losing at home to Oregon State, and the Bruins did what they have to do. Beating Colorado isn't much cause for celebration, but UCLA currently sits at 4-1 and does not face a ranked opponent until the final two weeks of the season, so UCLA fans have to feel good about this season.
First thing on fans' minds: Balance. UCLA beat Colorado through the air and on the ground, with 40 passing attempts and 44 rushes. The 281 passing yards and 211 rushing yards show that UCLA is tough to plan for, particularly considering how well Brett Hundley has played.
Last week: 42-14 win over Colorado
Up next: at Cal on Saturday at 7 p.m.
SO-SO FAN BASES
7. Stanford (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Cardinal blows lead in upset loss
Why they're not higher/lower: What a difference a week and a half can make. After taking down USC, Stanford fell victim to the road upset as well, putting up a dreadful offensive performance in a loss to Washington. This team was probably over-ranked coming into the game, but there is no excuse for how poorly Stanford played. Still, a 3-1 record after four games was probably what most fans would have expected.
First thing on fans' minds: Josh Nunes. Stanford struggled at times in just about every aspect of the game, but the most blatant was quarterback play. Nunes completed fewer than half his passes for only 170 yards, and some of his throws were as ugly as you'll see ona football field. He did play well in the second half against USC, so there is some hope, but Stanford will not be able to win many games with Nunes playing the way he did on Thursday.
Last week: 17-13 loss to Washington
Up next: vs. Arizona on Saturday at 12 p.m.
8. Arizona (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Wildcats get doses of reality against Oregon schools
Why they're not higher/lower: Arizona was flying high after three games, but the Wildcats had the unfortunate task of starting Pac-12 play against the Oregon schools. A blowout loss to Oregon and a nail-biting defeat against Oregon State leave Arizona outside the national rankings and in last place in the Pac-12 South. It's not going to get a whole lot easier, as the Wildcats must face four more ranked opponents in a row.
First thing on fans' minds: Schedule. Arizona has as brutal a stretch as you'll see in college football, with Stanford, Washington, USC, and UCLA ahead after Oregon and Oregon State. The Wildcats' two Pac-12 misses are Cal and Washington State, giving Arizona likely the toughest conference schedule. If Arizona doesn't pull an upset or two, the Cats could find themselves at 3-6 in just a month's time.
Last week: 38-35 loss to Oregon State
Up next: at Stanford on Saturday at 12 p.m.
MISERABLE FAN BASES
9. Utah (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Utes hope bye prepares team for tough stretch
Why they're not lower: Utah has done little to inspire confidence so far this year, and the Utes' inconsistency will be exploited in its upcoming games unless they improve. Utah does get the benefit of missing Stanford and Oregon, so the next few games against USC, UCLA, and Oregon State could decide its season.
First thing on fans' minds: Defense. Utah's offensive struggles have been well-documented, so it is going to rely on its defense heavily. With Matt Barkley and company coming to town this week, Utah's defense will need to be at its best. If the squad plays like it did in its last game, giving up 512 yards to Arizona State, the Utes won't stand a chance.
Last week: Bye
Up next: vs. USC on Thursday at 6 p.m.
10. Colorado (1-4, 1-1 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Buffaloes fall back to Earth with blowout loss
Why they're not higher: Looks like the magic comeback in Pullman was a one-time occurrence, as Colorado looked every bit as hopeless against UCLA as it had in its first three games. The Buffaloes were outscored by a touchdown in every quarter and never really factored into the game. They now get some time to regroup before a primetime duel with Arizona State next Thursday night.
First thing on fans' minds: Mismatches. Bye weeks are usually for correcting mistakes, but Colorado is just an all-around worse team than most of its opponents. Out of 120 full-on FBS teams, the Buffaloes are in the worse than 100th in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense, and total defense, just to name a few. It's hard to win when you can't gain yards or score or stop your opponent from gaining yards and scoring.
Last week: 42-14 loss to UCLA
Up next: Bye, then vs. Arizona State on 10/11 at 6 p.m.
11. Washington State (2-3, 0-2 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Cougars outmatched versus Ducks
Why they're not higher/lower: It's not every day you can move out of the cellar with a 25-point home loss, but that day is today for Washington State. The Cougars actually hung around for a while against Oregon, as they trailed by only four at halftime. The second half was a different story, but at least Washington State put up a fight. Unfortunately for the Cougars, they have to play the other hottest team in the conference, Oregon State, in Corvallis this week.
First thing on fans' minds: Running game. Against a very good offense, one of the best weapons can be a ball-control offense. Washington State couldn't do that against Oregon, managing a whopping -8 rushing yards. In fact, the Cougars are second-to-last in the nation in rushing at 45.6 yards per game and only 2 yards per carry, which makes the job that much harder on both the offense and the defense.
Last week: 51-26 loss to Oregon
Up next: at Oregon State on Saturday at 3 p.m.
12. Cal (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12)
Why they're here: Golden Bears again fold at home
Why they're not higher: The weather has been particularly warm in the Bay Area of late. Global warming? Nah. It's just the heat emanating from Jeff Tedford's scorching hot seat. Tedford's job seemed to be on the line this year after going 12-13 the last two seasons. The thought was that Tedford would need at least a bowl appearance, but probably at least eight wins, to consider himself safe. Losses in toss-up games, like last week's home game against Arizona State, aren't helping the cause. Now, after a 1-4 start, a bowl appearance seems just about impossible.
First thing on fans' minds: Where are the wins going to come from? At 1-4, Cal needs to go at least 5-2 just to qualify for a bowl game. Even if Cal beats Washington State and Utah on the road (no easy feats), the Bears would still need to upset three of the five ranked teams remaining on their schedule: UCLA, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, and Oregon State. With the way Cal is playing, it seems more likely that Cal will finish 1-11 than make a bowl game. In fact, Cal could be an underdog in every game it plays for the rest of the season unless the Bears start turning things around fast.
Last week: 27-17 loss to Arizona State
Up next: vs. UCLA on Saturday at 7 p.m.