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Monday, September 24, 2012
Dumb blog: Pac-12's unexpected look

By Ted Miller

I'm a dipstick. I know nothing about the Pac-12. I'm a big pile of stupid. And I mean that, self, in the nicest possible way.

So a lot of you guys are correct about me. Drat.

Know how many Pac-12 teams are presently ranked in our week 5 power rankings in the same slot where we projected them in the preseason?

Zero.

Take a look out our most recent power rankings. The number to the right is the preseason ranking.
1. Oregon (2)

2. Stanford (3)

3. Oregon State (9)

4. USC (1)

5. UCLA (7)

6. Arizona State (11)

7. Arizona (10)

8. Washington (5)

9. California (6)

10. Utah (4)

11. Colorado (12)

12. Washington State (8)

Five teams are lower than expected, seven are higher. And some of these misses are substantial: Oregon State is six spots higher; Utah is six spots lower; Arizona State is five spots higher.

Eight teams have moved up or down at least three spaces.

Of course, we're only four games into the season and the preseason power rankings were aimed at projecting a finish. Perhaps things will still turn out that way.

But I don't think so. (I realize my thinking so at present is diminished in value by the very article in which I am relating it to you).

I'm more a believer in USC bouncing back than it crumbling, but I now acknowledge the argument that the Trojans were overrated in the preseason as defensible. I'd like to see Oregon State win at Arizona and Arizona State end its Berkeley Curse before I go all-in with either. And I'm not sure folks should be so quick to write off a Utah program that started 0-4 in conference play last year but went on to win the Sun Bowl.

But my feelings today are that Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona are better teams than I expected them to be. Each should earn a bowl berth. And USC, Washington, California, Utah and Washington State are worse than I expected them to be.

What's the root of the  switcheroo? Quarterback play.

Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State each had questions at the position in the preseason, but they are getting efficient production from young QBs. USC, Washington, California, Utah and Washington State entered the season with experience at QB, but each is getting production that is below expectations.

That, it's worth noting, could turn around. I don't expect USC's Matt Barkley to end up 51st in the nation in passing efficiency. I expect that Mike Leach's Cougars will be better at QB by season's end as his system settles in.

Washington's Keith Price and California's Zach Maynard? They both have offensive line issues, which are not fun for QBs to have.

There are surprises every season. And every season the Pac-12 blog produces plenty of wrongness.

But the first quarter of this season seems more surprising than usual.

Types the big pile of stupid.