Welcome to the mailbag.
To the notes!
Every Oregon Fan from Duckville writes: Your rankings are terrible. Oregon is ranked No. 2 by everyone else. You have the Ducks No. 4. And it's stupid to rank Stanford ahead of Oregon. And, by the way, stop writing about Washington. The Huskies are horrible.
Ted Miller: This, by the way, is an amalgam of several notes from Oregon fans who no longer like the Pac-12 blog, at least the Ted Miller half of it. Are there Ducks fans out there over 40 who are amused that it's an outrage among your younger fans to rank Oregon No. 4 in the season's second week?
I'm ranking Alabama No. 1 for obvious reasons, starting with my belief the Crimson Tide is the nation's best team. That theory might be tested this weekend.
I'm ranking Clemson No. 2 because the Tigers have the season's best win -- over then-No. 5 Georgia, a team that also has a quality win over South Carolina. I know Ducks fans would never get mad over me showing respect for a team delivering an impressive victory after taking on an ambitious nonconference schedule because that's the sort of thing I do with Pac-12 teams.
You know: Like Washington, which presently owns the Pac-12's best win so far this season -- a dominant performance against then-No. 19 Boise State.
And I have Stanford at No. 3 because I picked the Cardinal to win the Pac-12.
I very well might change things up this week between Stanford and Oregon if the Ducks run Tennessee out of Autzen Stadium, a game I am covering. But, at present, I am quite certain my top-25 represents the most accurate and fair top-25 poll in the history of mankind. And to suggest otherwise is to invite certain doom upon your team. So tread lightly.
Joe from Federal Way, Wash., writes: I just read the chat wrap-up from Kevin's chat this week and wanted to ask you guys... What the heck is up with all these Duck fans bashing on Washington/Boise State and (to use their own terminology) "hating" on you and Kevin for rating my Huskies so high in your polls? It's pretty comical that we can lose to them nine years in a row and they still have to get defensive anytime someone says we're doing well. Almost sounds like they're a little scared their free reign in the Pacific Northwest is coming to an end. =) After all... with both UW and USC having many down years they still haven't managed to win a national championship. Maybe the pressure is getting to them. My other question is, can you please get "Gameday" up here for the UW vs. O****n game? Best stadium in the country, biggest rivalry outside of the SEC and Texas/OU, and two pretty good football teams?
Ted Miller: I have no control over "Gameday," but if both teams are unbeaten, I'd rate Oregon's visit to renovated Husky Stadium as a good candidate to get a visit. What Kevin and I root for in that rivalry is relevance. It's more fun when both the Ducks and Huskies are good, just as it was fun when the Beavers and Ducks were battling for the Pac-12 title. Or when USC-UCLA -- or any other Pac-12 rivalry -- raises a national eyebrow.
As for Oregon fans hating on the Huskies showing hints of life, it's pretty simple. There are two sorts of fans: 1. Fans who become fans to root for something; 2. Fans who become fans to root against something. You see the same thing in politics, by the way.
While there's certainly plenty of crossover, just about every fan falls strongly on one side or the other.
Joseph from Hamilton, Ill., writes: Everybody talks about power rankings, but nobody says what they are. How are they derived, how can I compare schools with them, are they related to point spread? So what are they and why would a fan care?
Ted Miller: No, no relation to point spread. Why should you care? Because it brings you closer to the dual-omnipresent brain waves of the Pac-12 blog, of course.
Our weekly Pac-12 power rankings are different animals from Kevin and my weekly top-25 votes.
The weekly conference power rankings try to react more to what just happen during the weekend that was. So when Oregon State loses to Eastern Washington, it tumbles to 12th from seventh. When USC loses to Washington State in inglorious fashion, it replaces the Beavers at the bottom.
Of course, winning or losing on any given week doesn't completely rewrite a team's estimation. Those were just two especially bad losses. Further, Washington's win over Boise State lifted it from sixth to third, but it didn't eclipse Stanford and Oregon. The Huskies haven't reached that level just yet.
Is it a science? Of course not. There are plenty of times I read someone's critique and think, "Hmm. Good point. I am a dummy."
Roger from The Woodlands, Texas, writes: Have you had a chance to talk to David Shaw about the reasoning behind a home-and-home series with Army? A top-5 team doesn't need to travel across the country and play in a 38,000-seat stadium to get and easy win (BTW, ND typically played away games against Army in NYC, not Michie Stadium). Is Shaw making a statement about about his admiration for the kids at the USMA? Or am I reading too much into the scheduling? I going to have a great time at the game either way, truly a bucket list event.
Ted Miller: It seems very Stanford-y to me. Stanford is not merely playing a road nonconference game, it is showing respect to a football program manned by young men who shortly may put themselves in harm's way to protect this country.
My guess is there will be plenty of teachable moments for the Cardinal. And my impression of many of the Stanford players is they will embrace that aspect, while of course not forgetting it is, in the end, a business trip.
Brian from Chicago writes: This is more of a comment, than a question. I'm a Sun Devils alum. Year after year I get overly excited for Sun Devils football season and then ultimately get overly disappointed. We've had some "OK" seasons, but haven't had a "WOW" season in a long time (97 Rose Bowl). 2007 was a great season, until we got slammed by Texas in the Holiday Bowl. So here we are... a new season. I'm trying not to get overly excited for the next four games, but I can't keep my emotions to myself. I'm even wearing my Sun Devils gear to work today. Since I'm in Big Ten country, there are tons of Wisconsin alum here in Chicago. I'm cautiously excited for the next four games, starting with tomorrow's. Even though we're 5-6 point favorites, I don't feel comfortable at all. Stanford will be a real challenge, USC will be tough and Notre Dame's talent is far superior than most of our competitors. If ASU goes 4-0, we'll be ranked top 10-12 -- 3-1 and 2-2 over the next four games is more than acceptable to me. 1-3 wouldn't be the end of the world, but the one win has to be USC or Stanford. If we go 0-4, it will be difficult to put the first part of the season behind us. So no real question here. Just cautiously excited. Could this be the year of the Sun Devil or will we continue to showcase mediocrity?
Ted Miller: Brian, focus on improving to 2-0 first with a win over a very good Wisconsin team Saturday.
In my humble opinion, fans need to be like players: Cheer one game at a time. Enjoy the moment.
That said, the big picture at this moment seems very encouraging for Arizona State. This team is good enough to win the South Division and then have a puncher's shot at beating the North champ and earning a berth in the Rose Bowl.
The Wisconsin and Notre Dame games, ultimately, won't be relevant for the Sun Devils' standing in the division, but they certainly will as a foundation for a national perception. I think the Sun Devils are capable of going 4-0 through this stretch, though I'd guess most fans would be thrilled with 3-1 and accepting of 2-2.
A 2-2 run certainly wouldn't preclude a national ranking over the second half of the season.
Chris from Los Angeles writes: At USC, it appears that there is giant disconnect between the administration and everyone else. There seems to be a cover-up when anything happens. The players-only meeting happened, then didn't. Ball was deflated by a student manager and then fired; coaching staff knew nothing. Kiffin didn't vote USC No. 1 when he actually did. Kiffin saying Pola, then Helton are the OCs when everyone in their right mind knows it's Kiffin. The administration covering up a scuffle after the Sun Bowl. Kiffin has a black eye and gives different stories as to how it happened, when it leaked that he and Pola may have had a disagreement. Haden stating that Garrett hired Kiffin, when in fact the ones that have to approve the hire are the board of trustees, which Haden played a major role. This is like a three-ring circus -- you can't make this stuff up. Do you see this ship righting itself? Or do you see all out mutiny, like what happened with John Mackovic?
Ted Miller: Part of this is simply USC playing in a major media market. When things go well, as they did from 2002-08, the wall-to-wall coverage is all rainbows and bouquets. When things go badly, it's all storm clouds and intrigue.
USC folks feel like there's a "Lane Kiffin Effect," which means truly minor issues become magnified when viewed through the "Lane Kiffin Is Bad" lens. That may be part of it, but Kiffin brings so much on himself. He sweats the small stuff -- but the wrong small stuff.
USC has the talent to right itself. It is perfectly capable of winning nine, 10 or 11 games this season (13-game schedule). But Kiffin is 8-7 over the last 15 games. There's more evidence at present to doubt him than to believe he will turn things around. It's up to him to find the resolve to prove his critics wrong.
My impression has been most players like Kiffin. Marqise Lee certainly gave me an impassioned defense in the preseason. But "like" and "respect" and "believe in" are different things. Not sure the locker room is respecting and believing at present.
Chris from Penticton, BC, Canada...yes, Canada writes: I love what you guys do and the Pac- 12 Blog has brought me riches beyond my wildest dreams. But... how are you guys going to respond to a 4-0 Utah when it hosts UCLA next month? When preseason polls have placed Utah in the top 25, the Utes have always promptly folded. However, Utah's two undefeated seasons and BCS appearances came in years when the preseason rankings had them outside of the Top 25 while the "count on us to tank" BYU Cougars were ranked well ahead of them. At least this year BYU did not get much early attention and without a win over an incredibly bad Texas team, Provo would not be on anybody's radar. I will go on record now to say Utah will be 5-0 after the Bruins get blindsided at RES. No less an expert than Brock Huard of Seattle's Pac-12 tonight program picked Utah as the "surprise team" of the year. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that his prognostication talents far outshine his career choices. And, yes Ted. I am taking my medication. See you in Pasadena.
Ted Miller: I think Utah has a good chance to start 4-0. And if they do that, a 5-0 start with a home victory over UCLA will certainly be on the table. Obviously.
Not ready to say the Utes are ready to run with a UCLA team that is a South Division favorite just yet. But the possibility is not insane after the Utes' strong start.
But, Chris, those riches beyond your wildest dreams... let's keep that on the down low. I don't want all those Big Ten and SEC folks to defect.
Every Oregon State Fan from Everywhere writes: Ted, for the love of everything holy, DO NOT PICK OREGON STATE TO WIN! We fully expect to win but if you pick us... you know the rest. Love what you're doing with the blog but we would all be happy here in Beaver Nation if you never picked us again.
Ted Miller: I can't guarantee the future, but I followed your instructions this week, as did Kevin. So congrats. Things should go your way.
It is odd how poorly my record is with Oregon State and California. I need to go through and see what my percentage is with those teams. They seem to do the opposite of what I predict, win or lose.