Monday, September 21, 2009
Pac-10 power rankings
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Cal steps to the fore. UCLA and Washington make a big leap. Arizona State could go from No. 9 to the top third if it wins at Georgia on Saturday. Conference games figure to churn things up this weekend.
1. California: Ah, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The Bears, now the Pac-10's only top-10 team, ended a four-game road losing streak with a solid performance against a solid Minnesota team, but a visit to Oregon awaits. The Bears have beaten the Ducks three in a row, including a classic in Autzen Stadium in 2007.
2. USC: The Trojans are looking up in the standings after losing 16-13 at Washington, but we're not prepared to write them off. See, they do this every year -- lose to an unranked Pac-10 foe on the road. Wonder, as in most years, if folks will be calling the Trojans the best team in the nation by season's end? Also curious to see if Trojans are flat -- or furious -- vs. Washington State.
3. UCLA: So the Bruins handled a Tennessee team out for revenge in workmanlike fashion, and Tennessee pushed a homestanding No. 1 Florida squad that was hungry to embarrass the Vols so hard that most folks are calling it a moral victory. Why isn't anyone saying, "Perhaps we should re-evaluate UCLA?" Or, "Why is a 3-0 UCLA squad that has physically dominated two BCS conference foes still not ranked?" (And who voted for 2-1 Nebraska, which has wins over Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State?)
4. Oregon: Chip Kelly took a lot of crud for the debacle at Boise State. Maybe some of it was fair. But what do we say about a team that has yanked itself up by its bootstraps and is finding ways to win, even if those ways and wins aren't exactly beautiful? We say, "Good job." Now all Kelly has to do is beat Cal and all is forgiven among the Ducks faithful.
5. Washington: Want to thank the Huskies fans who didn't trample me -- great photo -- while I was trying to post from the track at Husky Stadium -- a track, by the way, that should be removed when Huskies fans start to pony up cash for a much-needed stadium renovation. You know, so all those marquee recruits who are soon to arrive will have a nice place to play. Oh, and the present Huskies? The 24th ranked Huskies! Stanford is eager to turn your grins upside down this weekend.
6. Oregon State: The Beavers had their chances against Cincinnati. And they may have been jobbed on a no-fumble call. But it's clear they are also working through some issues, particularly on the offensive line. The offense isn't clicking and the defense isn't disruptive. The showdown with Arizona is critical for both team's conference aspirations because they seem to be vying for the same spot of territory in the pecking order.
7. Arizona: The Wildcats offense is going to have to reinvent itself without tight end Rob Gronkowski, and it's unclear how things will go at quarterback because the passing game isn't working. The visit to Oregon State could be telling about the ultimate trajectory this season.
8. Stanford: Defensive end Tom Keiser (three sacks), Chris Owusu (94-yard kick return for a TD) and Toby Gerhart (113 yards rushing) keyed a sloppy (four turnovers) blowout win over San Jose State. Who would have thought that Washington's visit Saturday could feel like such a big game?
9. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are 2-0 and unchallenged. That will change at Georgia. The defense looks up to the test. The question remains the offense.
10. Washington State: The Cougars were dominated statistically by SMU and won in large part because of two long interception returns for touchdowns, but is anyone going to begrudge the Cougs some good fortune? Coming back from a 24-7 third quarter deficit to win 30-27 in overtime shows there's no quit in Pullman.