Monday, October 21, 2013
Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 8
By Ted Miller
If you don't like where you are in the Power Rankings, play better.
See last week's Power Rankings.
1. Oregon: The Ducks, who have probably been the nation's most consistently dominant team, will get to show their stuff down the homestretch of the season, starting with a visit Saturday from UCLA with ESPN's "College GameDay" in town.
2. Stanford: The Cardinal regained their mojo with a dominant performance, particularly on defense, against UCLA. Stanford still controls its destiny, though its national title hopes probably are remote.
3. Arizona State: In a "what about us?" performance, the Sun Devils simply kicked the crud out of Washington. They now get to chill for a weekend before visiting Washington State on Thursday, Oct. 31. They control their fate in the South Division, and the matchup at UCLA on Nov. 23 looms large.
4. UCLA: The Bruins have no time to pout. They knew this part of the schedule was brutal: first Stanford on the road, then Oregon. The defense played credibly at Stanford, but QB Brett Hundley and the offense need to get back in sync.
5. Oregon State: In the preseason, it looked like the Beavers might start 7-0, which might push them into the nation's top 10. But that opening loss to Football Championship Subdivision team Eastern Washington has delayed their return to the national rankings. Now we'll really get a measure of the Beavers with Stanford coming to town. A win would be transformative for the season, and it could make QB Sean Mannion a serious Heisman Trophy candidate.
6. Washington: With one horrible performance, the Huskies lost just about all the credibility that built up through the first six games. That's the way it works, even though they lost a third consecutive game to a good team. The Huskies can get off the mat at home against woeful California on Saturday. Or they can completely collapse. And, yes, the worrisome possibility of another seven-win season looms.
7. Arizona: You know what coach Rich Rodriguez is mulling, even though he'd never say it? "Why the heck did USC have to fire Lane Kiffin right before our game?!" The Wildcats probably would be 5-1 and, at least, getting top-25 consideration if Kiffin had been the coach on Oct. 10. The Wildcats have a pair of winnable road games ahead -- at Colorado, at California -- before playing host to UCLA, a game that might represent a big opportunity.
8. Utah: The Utes came back to earth at Arizona, though losing QB Travis Wilson to a hand injury provides an annoying dose of "What if?" A victory at USC on Saturday could make things feel a whole lot better.
9. Washington State: The question now for coach Mike Leach's team: Can it find two more wins over the final four games? Might the Sun Devils bring their typically limp road skills to Pullman on Oct. 31? At Arizona? Utah? At Washington? This team is much improved compared to 2012, but the mark of success would be a bowl berth.
10. USC: The Trojans had so many opportunities to take the game at Notre Dame, but they just couldn't make the key play. (Credit to the Fighting Irish on that, by the way.) The melancholy good news is the defeat produced some clarity: There will be no inspiring surge under interim coach Ed Orgeron because USC just doesn't have enough -- talent, depth, focus, resolve -- to get on a roll.
11. Colorado: The Buffs got a third win. Even though it was over a second FCS foe, it had to feel good. Now do they have enough to get a fourth win? Odds are against it, but a quality Pac-12 upset at some point would offer a huge boost in Year 1 under coach Mike MacIntyre.
12. California: It has been a long season for the Bears. It will get longer. The chief task for coach Sonny Dykes is just to keep his locker room together. And hope for a breakthrough.