- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.
1. Oregon: The Ducks rolled over Washington and head into their off week again looking like a national title contender. The visit to Arizona State on Oct. 18 could be tricky, though.
2. Oregon State: The Beavers probably won't wow anyone, but they just keep winning. Against Washington State, with the offense futzing around, the defense won the day. The visit to BYU on Saturday is far from a gimme.
3. Stanford: The Cardinal and quarterback Josh Nunes showed plenty of backbone with a comeback overtime win against Arizona. Now they take the show on the road to undefeated Notre Dame. The game should provide us a good measure of where Stanford is heading this year -- double-digit wins or something more middling?
4. USC: USC has gotten off the carpet, but it still seems to be greeted with plenty of skepticism. Two upcoming road games, at Washington this weekend and at Arizona on Oct. 27, should provide solid tests in advance of Oregon's visit on Nov. 3.
5. Washington: The Huskies didn't look that bad at Oregon despite the 52-21 final. You know, other than the five turnovers. They moved the ball fairly well. The next three games will determine the season: USC, at Arizona and Oregon State.
6. Arizona State: The Sun Devils haven't received national respect because of the lack of a signature win. They won't get one at Colorado on Saturday, either. But everyone knows who's coming to town on Oct. 18. It might be good not to look ahead, though.
7. Arizona: The Wildcats have a nice win over Oklahoma State, and they more than hung with two top-17 teams in Oregon State and Stanford. They are much improved compared to 2011. They have a tough schedule ahead, however, after the bye: Washington, USC, at UCLA.
8. California: The Bears finally put together a four-quarter performance on both sides of the ball in the win over UCLA. Now can they maintain that focus for a trip to Washington State? The Bears should worry because the Cougs seem due for their own breakthrough.
9. UCLA: The Bruins suffered their first horrible-no-good-rotten-very-bad day at California. So it will be interesting to measure their resolve against a visiting Utah team that also is licking its wounds.
10. Utah: The Utes' season may hang in the balance on the road the next two weekends: at UCLA and at Oregon State. At 2-3 overall, their bowl hopes might hang on at least getting a split.
11. Colorado: The Buffaloes had an off week to get ready for Arizona State. (The Sun Devils were off, too.) It's possible, though, that the Sun Devils will look ahead to Oregon. That might provide an opportunity in Boulder.
12. Washington State: It seems like every week there's something encouraging for the Cougars. Playing a competitive game at Oregon State is encouraging. But this is the Pac-12. A pat on the head should be annoying more than anything else. Where the heck is the high-powered offense everyone expected to see? And, while we're at it, who's the starting quarterback?
4dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information