Pac-12 Power Rankings entering Week 9
Hey, guess what? We have another new No. 1 in the Pac-12 Power Rankings. The top spot changes hands for the fourth time in the last five weeks after Oregon and UCLA went head-to-head inside Autzen Stadium on Saturday.
Let’s dive in.
12. Colorado Buffaloes
Welcome back to the bottom, Colorado. It was a nice one-week reprieve from the cellar, but after a 42-9 demolition at the hands of Oregon State, you’re back to the bottom.
11. Cal Golden Bears
Prev. rank: 12
The Bears play better at home and UW is still trying to find its rhythm on the road. I’m chalking the closeness of Cal’s 28-21 loss to Washington to exactly that. As has been the case throughout the Justin Wilcox tenure, the offense is holding this football team back. A team that entered the matchup ranked inside the top 10 nationally for scoring had all of two field goals at the halftime break. Good news for Cal! On the other side, the Bears had four first-half possessions and none of them reached scoring position (crossing the opponent’s 40). Not so good news for Cal. Jack Plummer again put up decent numbers, but he’s doing so with various obvious health issues that look to be taking their toll. Plummer was limping and holding his throwing shoulder late in the game. My main takeaway from the loss: this offensive line is atrocious.
10. Arizona State Sun Devils
Prev. rank: 8
Time to make a quarterback change, Arizona State. We have enough evidence to suggest it’s not working with Emory Jones at the controls, and we got enough of a flash in the Washington game to warrant giving Trenton Bourguet a chance. In four full games against Power Five teams this season, Jones is completing 59.8% of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions while the overall offense has averaged 17.3 points a game. In Saturday’s 15-14 loss to Stanford — a team that won a game in the year 2022 while failing to score a single offensive touchdown — the Sun Devils went into an offensive shell after halftime to drop to 2-5 on the year.
9. Arizona Wildcats
Prev. rank: 10
The Wildcats were on a bye week this week, so this section is too.
8. Stanford Cardinal
Prev. rank: 9
I don’t know what to do with Stanford. The Cardinal has won back-to-back football games against Power Five competition after losing 11 straight, and when you’re on that kind of a slide, you’ll take wins however you can get them. At the same time, Stanford’s offense scored one touchdown in those two wins. It has been seven full quarters since the Cardinal found the endzone. Kicker Joshua Karty is playing well and answering when called upon, but this offense has to open up at some point, right? The talent just doesn’t match the production. Stanford has the same number of red zone trips this season as Colorado — 19, the fewest in the Pac-12 and the fifth-fewest of any team in the country.
7. Washington State Cougars
Prev. rank: 7
The Cougars were on a bye week this week, so this section is too.
6. Washington Huskies
Prev. rank: 5
UW is still trying to figure out its road operation. The machine doesn’t quite hum the same way outside of Husky Stadium. Nevertheless, Washington did enough to beat a bad Cal team and move to 6-2 on the year, but there are some questions lingering here. Chief among them: can Washington run the football when it needs to?
5. Oregon State Beavers
Prev. rank: 6
This team is awesome. Hat’s off to Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith. I was ready to leave the Beavers for dead a few weeks ago and now here they are at 6-2, enjoying their best start since 2013. They’ve rediscovered what they’re best at — beating you at the point of attack. Damien Martinez has back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances and just bullied Colorado. He went for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Oregon State took a ground-and-pound approach (44 runs, 22 passes) and leaned on its excellent freshman tailback to carry it to a 42-9 victory over a bad run-stopping team. Someone take the film and send it to Justin Wilcox, please.
4. USC Trojans
Prev. rank: 4
The Trojans were on a bye week this week, so this section is too.
3. Utah Utes
Prev. rank: 3
The Utes were on a bye week this week, so this section is too.
2. UCLA Bruins
Prev. rank: 1
The Bruins were caught sleeping in a spot early that completely changed the game. Even if Chip Kelly doesn’t agree, Oregon’s successful onside kick flipped Saturday’s contest against Oregon from a back-and-forth kind of affair to the kind of game where one side was just hopelessly chasing the other. UCLA’s been good about creating advantageous spots for its defense to be aggressive. Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham neutered the UCLA pass-rush and kept the defense on its heels all game. UCLA’s offense couldn’t be stopped either, which is why I don’t think anyone should jump out of the boat yet. That Oregon offense is special, and UCLA won’t see another like it until USC comes to town.
1. Oregon Ducks
Prev. rank: 2
Oregon is going to be held a bit lower in the polls because of its Week 1 loss, which is perfectly justifiable when there are still so many unbeaten teams left standing, but if I had an AP poll ballot (I don’t) I’d give strong consideration to putting Oregon at No. 5 or 6 in my Top 25. If you gave me Oregon vs. TCU tomorrow, I’d pick Oregon without hesitation. Oregon against Clemson? I’d pick Oregon. If you put Oregon and Georgia back on the same field, it would be a much closer game. The offense is buzzing behind a quarterback who isn’t making any mistakes and an offensive coordinator very much in his bag right now. Kenny Dillingham was stacking plays and just slicing up a Chip Kelly-coached team with a Chip Kelly-inspired attack. It was a masterclass. The Ducks have six straight wins, with at least 40 points scored in each of those six.