Monday, September 28, 2009
Pac-10 power rankings
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
There is a lot of movement this week. I bet we'll have a lot of movement next week, too. This won't be a static year in the power rankings.
1. Oregon: It's fair to say no team in the nation has so dramatically reversed a bad first impression than the Ducks. Oregon handed Cal coach Jeff Tedford his worst defense, and it had nothing to do with turnovers or penalties but with players making plays on both sides of the ball. The Ducks and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli started grooving in game 11 last year. So, really they're way ahead of schedule.
2. USC: Yes, this is a default ranking. USC has a marquee victory over a very good Ohio State team, but it has been sloppy since then and the Pac-10 is too good and too deep for the team we've seen thus far not to slip at least once -- or twice -- more. Are the Trojans going to deliver a whipping in Berkeley on Saturday that hints at a red-letter showdown at Oregon on Halloween night?
3. California: Just like Oregon's victory over Cal mostly erased the bad taste of Boise State, Cal can erase the bad taste of the blowout in Eugene by besting the Trojans on Saturday. It's not ridiculous for Cal fans to hold onto this: Based on the Bears talent, they won't play that badly again this season. It's possible that the loss at Oregon was just one of those games.
4. UCLA: The Bruins, coming off a bye week, are quietly waiting with their under-appreciated 3-0 start. Who would have predicted in the preseason that UCLA's visit to Stanford on Saturday would feel like a critical game for sorting out the conference pecking order?
5. Arizona: Not only did the Wildcats post a key conference road win at Oregon State, they did so with a new starting quarterback and huge injury issues. Any more questions about Mike Stoops' recruiting? It's meaningful Arizona beat the Beavers with a multitude of backups. Also, that loss at Iowa looks a bit better now, eh?
6. Stanford: Just as coach Jim Harbaugh said, the Cardinal left no doubt vs. Washington. And bet Harbaugh and the Cardinal wish they used that same game plan at Wake Forest a few weeks back. By the way, Toby Gerhart is this close to having the "H" word used next to his name. As in: Why is Gerhart not a Heisman Trophy candidate?
7. Arizona State: Sure, the offense was anemic, barely gaining 200 yards against Georgia's second-rate defense. But the Sun Devils defense proved itself worthy. Now, the task is actually winning a game against a foe with a pulse. A desperate Oregon State team trying to avoid a fourth consecutive 2-3 start comes to Tempe on Saturday. An impressive performance would announce the Sun Devils as Pac-10 contenders with legitimate bowl hopes.
8. Washington: The Huskies took a step back at Stanford. The defense got run over and the quarterback Jake Locker was sloppy with the football. Are the Huskies the impressive team that outplayed LSU and beat USC or the one that the Cardinal dominated? Probably somewhere in between, which means the visit to Notre Dame should be interesting.
9. Oregon State: The Beavers are suddenly in trouble after losing two in a row at home. Two big concerns: The defense and offensive line have struggled more than expected. A win at Arizona State could set things straight, but a loss will leave the Beavers reeling. Of course, those previous 2-3 starts ended up yielding top-25 finishes.
10. Washington State: The Cougars keep giving hints that they are getting better, and the consistent fight they've shown demonstrates that the program has a much better attitude than in 2008. Here's a guess that some Pac-10 foe is going to regret treating the Cougs as a patsy and is going to get punched in the mouth.