Pac-12 QB Power Rankings entering Week 2: The best got better
Pac-12 teams are off to an unbeaten start, and that has as much to do with the play of the league’s quarterbacks as anything. The group was, for the most part, outstanding in Week 1. The conference’s elite looked like it. And new stars emerged.
The best quarterback conference in the country somehow looks better than anyone even thought it would.
Here’s Saturday Out West’s Pac-12 quarterback power rankings entering Week 2. These will be updated weekly throughout the season.
12. Ethan Garbers
Last week: 9
Of the Power Five quarterbacks who played enough snaps in Week 1 to qualify, only Northwestern’s Ben Bryant and Virginia’s Tony Muskett had a worse QBR than Garbers (19.3). Coach Chip Kelly went with a rotation between Garbers and freshman Dante Moore. (Moore, by the way, had a QBR of 81 in the 27-13 win over Coastal Carolina.) Garbers looked shaky.
11. Ashton Daniels, Stanford
Last week: 12
Coach Troy Taylor kept his quarterback decision under wraps heading into the opener, but when the game kicked off, it was all Daniels. The second-year man completed 25 of his 36 pass attempts for 249 yards and two scores. He also added 42 rushing yards. It was an encouraging debut.
10. Jaden Rashada, Arizona State
Last week: 10
In his first career start, the freshman was hot out of the gates. He completed 12 of his first 16 passes for 182 yards and two scores before halftime as ASU went up 21-7. Then a lengthy weather delay and poor throwing conditions threw the entire offense out of rhythm and Rashada never really found his footing again. I’m giving him a pass for the second-half performance given the circumstances.
9. Sam Jackson V/Ben Finley, Cal
Last week: 11
Jackson drew the start, but was knocked out of the game in the first half. Finley performed well given the circumstances. You have to commend Finley’s prep work prior to the game to be able to enter somewhat seamlessly after losing the battle in camp. Finley completed 24 of his 34 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown as the Cal offense put up 669 total yards.
8. Jayden de Laura, Arizona
Last week: 6
Arizona won 38-3 and de Laura threw for three scores in the effort. He also added a fourth touchdown on the ground while totaling 337 yards of offense. Things get much tougher in Week 2 against Mississippi State.
7. Cameron Rising/Bryson Barnes/Nate Johnson, Utah
Last week: 4
Rising is a top-five quarterback in the conference when he’s healthy. But his continued absence drops the room a bit for my purposes. Utah didn’t show a ton of confidence in Johnson’s ability to drop back and throw the ball against Florida, and Barnes showed his limitations. Utah opened the game with a 70-yard play-action shot that went for a touchdown. That was good to see. There were some misses from Barnes, though.
6. Cameron Ward, Washington State
Last week: 5
The Cougar offense put up a 50-burger in their opener against Colorado State. Ward was excellent in the win, completing 75.5% of his passes for 451 yards and three touchdowns. Ward also had 40 yards rushing and a score. His chemistry with wideout Lincoln Victor was especially promising. One of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country, Ward has a chance to really make a name for himself against Wisconsin on Saturday.
5. DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon State
Last week: 8
Did anyone have a more satisfying opening weekend than Uiagalelei? The former Clemson quarterback completed 20 of his 25 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns as the Beavers blew the doors of San Jose State. Uiagalelei showed off his arm talent and settled in nicely behind an offensive line that figures to keep him clean all year. A day later, Uiagalelei got to sit at home and watch Clemson’s offense struggle mightily without him. Uiagalelei was made out to be the cause of Clemson’s offensive shortcomings a year ago. Monday night, he got a bit of vindication.
4. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Last week: 7
Sanders had the game of his life in his FBS debut. Colorado’s offensive line surprised folks and gave Sanders time to pick apart the TCU defense. Sanders completed 38 of his 47 passes for a CU program record 510 yards. He threw four touchdown passes. He rarely missed. And he scored a 90.6 QBR as a result — the fourth-best of any Pac-12 quarterback.
3. Bo Nix, Oregon
Last week: 3
Nix missed his first pass of the season, then he hit 23 of his next 26 before getting an early curtain call. Oregon scored a modern-era program record for points (81) and reached the endzone on each of its first nine possessions against Portland State. Nix had 287 yards and three scores. The Heisman campaign is off to a strong start.
2. Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Last week: 2
It took Washington a quarter to really get its footing, but once it did, Penix had the Husky offense cruising up and down the field. He’s the best deep-ball passer in the country. He’s a legitimate threat to steal the Heisman from Caleb Williams. Penix opened his 2023 season with 450 yards and five touchdowns — his fourth 400-yard game in a UW uniform.
1. Caleb Williams, USC
Last week: 1
Williams has thrown nine touchdown passes in his first two games, and USC has gone to its backups early in both. He’s the best quarterback in the country. Barring something unforeseen, it’s probably safe to just expect to see his name in this spot each week.