- 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 face their biggest challenge of the season -- so far at least -- at Arizona State on Thursday.
2. Oregon State: Backup QB Cody Vaz? No problem. The Beavers kept on rolling at BYU. Utah comes to visit on Saturday. Thereafter, the schedule ramps up a bit.
3. USC: Maybe we're being unfair to the Trojans, expecting more pizzazz than a 10-point road win over a quality foe. But the Trojans' lack of a consistent passing game just feels ... weird.
4. Arizona State: The Sun Devils, perhaps weary of hearing they haven't played anyone, get their chance to show their stuff on ESPN against the Ducks in front of what figures to be an energized home crowd.
5. Stanford: Difficult to rank the Cardinal because the offense struggles so badly on the road. But they nearly -- should have? -- won at No. 7 Notre Dame. Stanford can't be that bad if it's a hair away from beating a top-10 team with a high-quality résumé on the road.
6. UCLA: The Bruins have bounced back after their two losses with quality performances. That's encouraging. They are now off for the week, but likely are paying close attention to Arizona State on Thursday, because the Bruins visit Tempe on Oct. 27.
7. Washington: What we've learned from the first half of the season from the Huskies? They are solid but not elite. The schedule ahead, however, is far more forgiving. They could turn the season around with a win at Arizona on Saturday.
8. Arizona: See what we wrote about Washington. Ditto for you, Wildcats. The winner Saturday in Tucson can change the trajectory of its season.
9. California: The Bears have won two in a row and are now 3-4. If they even their record with a Big Game victory over Stanford in front of the home folks in newly remodeled Memorial Stadium, coach Jeff Tedford's hot seat will cool considerably.
10. Utah: The Utes, now 0-3 in Pac-12 play, can lean on their bouncing back from a 0-4 conference start in 2011. But as far as prop-ups go, that's not a great one. Quarterback and offensive line issues are worrisome.
11. Colorado: Colorado won at Washington State, which is why it's not in the cellar. But the Cougars have been more competitive in the Pac-12, so at some point that lone victory loses its buoyancy.
12. Washington State: Will the Cougars figure out who their quarterback is during the bye week? The schedule ahead, by the way, is as tough -- if not tougher -- than the schedule behind.
1dChantel Jennings and David Lombardi