Pac-12: Kevin Price
Note: These are not final. They merely reflect the short-term positioning. The final power rankings will include the entire body of work.
See last week's power rankings here.
1. USC: It's been a good two weeks for the Trojans. They are playing as well as any team in the country, and that includes LSU and Alabama. Just imagine if quarterback Matt Barkley shocks the world and decides to return for his senior season. Can you say 2012 preseason top-5?
2. Oregon: Oregon just needs to avoid tripping over itself against UCLA on Friday and it will go to its third consecutive BCS bowl game after winning its third consecutive conference title. Life is good, eh Ducks?
3. Stanford: While Andrew Luck might not win the Heisman, it's hard to consider a second-consecutive 11-1 season anything but a raving success on the Farm. It's extremely likely the Cardinal will head to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl opposite the Big 12 champion.
4. Washington: The Huskies, by virtue of winning their final game and owning victories over California and Utah, rise to the No. 4 spot, which likely means an invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl. Also, good news that quarterback Keith Price looked all Keith Price-y against Washington State.
5. California: Shhh. Come closer. I don't want the Bears to hear this. Cal has quietly put together a nice run in November, winning three of four, the lone loss coming 31-28 at Stanford. If they were to beat a quality Big 12 team in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday, perhaps Baylor and Robert Griffin III, the Bears would post a pretty darn good season. Hey, keep it down. Don't want Cal to go all Cal on us again.
6. Utah: Utah! You were supposed to be different. The new guy who didn't know Pac-12 teams often go belly-up at unexpected times. The loss to Colorado certainly tripped up what looked like a nice run at the end of the Pac-12 schedule. You now are likely headed to the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas instead of the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. Hey, once you've seen one Riverwalk, you've seen them all.
7. Arizona: The Wildcats finished their season with consecutive wins -- beating their hated rival Arizona State along the way -- and have hired a good coach in Rich Rodriguez. Successful two weeks.
8. Arizona State: Not much to say. It looked like a potentially special season, then things collapsed, and it's going to cost Dennis Erickson his job. Hugely disappointing turn in Tempe.
9. UCLA: Not much different than Arizona State. The Bruins simply never arrived at any consistently solid level of play with Rick Neuheisel. UCLA fans and administrators need to ante up: This program needs a great hire, and that means spending money. If the Bruins don't invest, things won't get better.
10. Colorado: The Buffaloes showed heart on the season's final weekend at Utah, and 26 seniors go out as winners after ending a 24-game losing streak outside of their home state. That's a nice building block for the offseason, though it's clear this program has a ways to go.
11. Oregon State: A second consecutive losing season punctuated by getting flicked aside by rival Oregon has folks grumpy in Corvallis. There will be pressure on Mike Riley to turn things around next fall. And will he need to make tough decisions with his coaching staff, to which he has been extremely loyal?
12. Washington State: It appeared the Cougars had crawled out of the conference basement, but they then lost seven of their final eight games and almost certainly cost coach Paul Wulff his job. Hiring Mike Leach, we will quickly note, would cause a nice uptick in sentiment in Pullman.
See last week's power rankings here.
1. USC: The Trojans broke all of those noted Oregon winning streaks -- including 21 in a row in Autzen Stadium -- so the team that can't win the conference now sits atop it.
2. Oregon: Hey, Oregon fans: Remember when losing just two games and going to the Rose Bowl was super awesome? Don't let the disappointment of one Saturday outweigh the ultimate trajectory of this program.
3. Stanford: The Cardinal took care of business against a game California squad. But Stanford -- and QB Andrew Luck -- doesn't look like the dominant crew it was at midseason. A visit from Notre Dame feels worrisome.
4. Utah: Utah is without question the team most deserving of a berth in the Pac-12 championship game among South Division contenders. While others have flopped, the Utes have won four in a row -- with their backup QB. If UCLA and Arizona State lose, then the Utes only need to beat Colorado to win the division.
5. UCLA: The Bruins continue to linger, and the efficient, confident play of late by QB Kevin Prince suggests that an upset of USC isn't implausible. So if the Bruins beat the Trojans, improve to 7-5 and win the South Division, will that be enough for coach Rick Neuheisel to survive into 2012?
6. Washington: The Huskies hit rock-bottom in a once promising season after losing at woeful Oregon State, making the Beavers' terrible offense look formidable. Coach Steve Sarkisian faces some tough questions about his highly paid and underperforming defensive coordinator Nick Holt.
7. California: The Bears fought at Stanford but ultimately will end up -- again -- as an afterthought in the Bay Area. Still, if the Bears win at Arizona State, their bowl prospects -- Sun? Las Vegas? -- appear pretty good.
8. Oregon State: Beavers fans, this has been a lousy year. But there's enough intriguing, youthful talent on this team to suggest a bounce back in 2012.
9. Arizona: It's been a horrible season, but it became just a bit less horrible with a win over rival Arizona State, which might have ended Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson's tenure. But which program will have more buzz when it hires its next coach?
10. Arizona State: Erickson is a good football coach -- his legacy is intact. But things haven't worked out this season and during his tenure in Tempe. A month ago, this looked like a special year. Now it's only especially painful.
11. Washington State: Here's a vote for coach Paul Wulff being retained if the Cougars beat the Huskies in the Apple Cup and finish 5-7. This team is much improved and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about another step forward in 2012. Upheaval might not be a great idea, unless athletic director Bill Moos has an A-list coach lined up.
12. Colorado: It's been a lost season for the Buffaloes in their first year of Pac-12 play. The rebuilding in Boulder won't be quick, painless or easy.
Ergo, we're going to run through the conference and look at the chief matters -- on the up and downside -- for each Pac-12 team.
Next up: UCLA
Biggest reason for hope: The defense is going to be sneaky good.
The Bruins' defense lost two elite players to the NFL draft -- outside linebacker Akeem Ayers and safety Rahim Moore -- and the unit was mediocre to bad in 2010, which provided a push out the door for coordinator Chuck Bullough. So what suggests improvement in 2011? Well, for one, the Bruins have a potential All-Pac-12 end in Datone Jones, who was expected to be a dominant presence last fall until he broke his foot. Further, a number of young defensive linemen looked like they were growing up this spring, while some older players seemed to find their rhythm. End result: It looks like UCLA will be able to throw seven or eight D-linemen at opposing offenses, which is a good start. There's also intriguing talent at both linebacker (not a ton of depth, though) and in the secondary (far more at safety, though), with those levels led by middle linebacker Patrick Larimore and safety Tony Dye. Further, new coordinator Joe Tresey runs an aggressive attacking scheme that is probably going to be easier on the athletic, young talent that isn't salty with experience. Is this unit going to transform into the conference's top defense in 2011? Probably not. But it will be good enough to keep the Bruins in a handful of games even when the offense struggles.
Biggest reason for concern: No idea who the quarterback will be. And whether he'll stay safe.
It's not good to have nagging questions at quarterback. It's even worse to have nagging questions at both QB and offensive line, which is what the Bruins have. Whether some Bruins fans want to admit it or not, UCLA's best chance to win next fall is a healthy Kevin Prince, who was a capable passer in 2009 and did a solid job running the new pistol option game in 2010 -- recall the effort in the win over Texas -- before he got hurt. Now hear this: Prince with 12 regular-season starts would lead the Bruins to a bowl game. That happening also probably requires the offensive line playing better than expected, because only a healthy Prince is going to produce every Saturday. And there is hope on the offensive line. If the Bruins trot out their best five guys, the line will be at least average. These are, of course, two big "ifs."
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Which Pac-10 newcomers might make a name for themselves this spring and put themselves into position to start or see significant action in 2009?
Let's take a look.
- QB Nick Foles & OT Phillip Garcia: Foles is a sophomore transfer from Michigan State who will compete with Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne to replace Willie Tuitama. Garcia was a JC transfer last January, but the 6-foot-7, 340 pounder hurt his knee and missed the season. He's in the mix at left tackle.
- S Keelan Johnson, RB James Morrison, DE Dean DeLeone: Johnson, a redshirt freshman, is the sort of athlete who could end up playing both ways. Morrison was a true freshman walk-on destined to play last year before he broke his ankle. He's back this spring. The 25-year-old DeLeone, a JC transfer, is already drawing raves for his weight room work.
- WR Marvin Jones & LB Mychal Kendricks: Jones was a touted true freshman last year but hurt his knee and never broke through. Kendricks had 16 tackles and a sack as a true freshman and is a frontrunner to fill one of the three vacancies at linebacker.
- DE Zac Clark & WR Lavasier Tuinei: Oregon has big-time needs on the D-line and at receiver, and these JC transfers will be given an opportunity to immediately ease those needs. Tuinei, at 6-foot-5, should give the Ducks receiving corps some size, while Clark will be eyeballing the vacancy left by Nick Reed.
- WR Jordan Bishop & OT Colin Kelly: Receiver is a need area for the Beavers, and Bishop, a redshirt freshman, impressed on the scout team and during Sun Bowl practices. Kelly, a redshirt freshman, is in the mix on an offensive line that lost both starting tackles.
- QB Andrew Luck, OG David DeCastro, TE Konrad Reuland: Luck almost lost his redshirt last year while Tavita Pritchard struggled, and he'll have a good chance to win the starting job. DeCastro is presently No. 1 on the depth chart, while Reuland is a transfer from Notre Dame.
- QB Kevin Prince & TE Morrell Presley: Prince, a redshirt freshman, is the most likely candidate to unseat returning starter Kevin Craft. Presley, a true freshman, could make an immediate impact as a hybrid TE/WR.
- QB Matt Barkley, DE Nick Perry, RB Curtis McNeal: Barkley, the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2009, could jump over Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp in the quarterback competition, while Perry, a redshirt freshman, is almost certain to be in the mix at end or perhaps outside linebacker. McNeal, a redshirt freshman, was a late arrival last year but made an impression with his explosiveness.
- LB E.J. Savannah, C Mykenna Ikehara , WR Anthony Boyles: Savannah is not a newcomer -- he was the Huskies leading tackler in 2007 before finding his way into Tyrone Willingham's spacious doghouse and getting kick off the team. Pencil him in as a starter. Ikehara, a redshirt freshman, could replace Juan Garcia at center. Boyles, a redshirt freshman, was a touted recruit who didn't break through last year but is expected to be sharper this spring.
- DT Bernard Wolfgramm, CB Brandon Jones, RB James Montgomery: It's not unreasonable to go ahead and pencil in all three of these guys in as starters. Wolfgramm is a 2008 JC transfer who redshirted last year, while Jones and Montgomery both transferred from California.
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
If you are a Pac-10 QB, please, don't get out of bed today. Just read these links.
- Bad things happen in threes? The top story today is UCLA QB Ben Olson living up to the"oft-injured" that oft appears before his name. Olson was carted off the field yesterday, joining USC Mark Sanchez and Washington's Jake Locker among the Pac-10 QB M.A.S.H. unit -- though it appears that Sanchez and Locker might not be as bad off as first expected. If Olson is out, then the JC transfer Kevin Craft is the leader to step in, with redshirt freshman Chris Forcier and freshman Kevin Prince also possibilities, as is Osaar Rasshan, the only other QB on the roster who's thrown a pass in a Bruins game uniform.
- The Arizona offense looked good during a Saturday scrimmage, but a fight marred the fun.
- It's not easy being the backup QB at Arizona State. Danny Sullivan has watched Rudy Carpenter start 31 consecutive games. And, if we mention Sun Devils QBs, you just know we can't avoid saying something about the questionable offensive line. Of course, if the line comes through, there are plenty of guys to throw to, including Kerry Taylor.
- Don't write off California's Nate Longshore just yet. With Cal's new 3-4 defense there are, obviously, only three DL spots. So guys have to work to get into the rotation. A true freshman appears headed for the rotation at WR. An old guy, too. This comes from the California football office, but it's interesting: Cal needs to rebuild its receiving corps, and the standout thus far is a bit of a surprise, senior Sean Young:
The prettiest play of the day may have been sophomore Kevin Riley
delivering a perfect 33-yard pass to senior Sean Young in the end zone.
Young also made an impressive leaping grab of a pass to continue his
"Sean Young's having a great camp," Tedford said. "Right now he's
definitely in the rotation. He's probably had the most consistent, best
camp of any of our receivers. It's great to see because he's been here a
long time and he's finally staying healthy, knock on wood. He's always
shown flashes; he's doing a great job and catching a lot of balls."
- Good day for the O at Oregon. More on the passing game.
- Highlights from Oregon State's first scrimmage. And a position-by-position breakdown here. Still no OG Jeremy Perry or QB Sean Canfield, though.
- Interviewing the interviewer: A Q&A with Michelle Smith, the Stanford beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. And here's Michelle's story on a miraculous recovery. Perhaps the defense will showcase a recovery of its own this season.
- Bruins Nation breaks down another Neuheisel profile but finds an interesting angle -- Neuheisel was so hungry to get back into the college game he was willing to become Karl Dorrell's offensive coordinator -- you know, work for the man he replaced.
- The second item in Bob Condotta's notebook is big: Washington may shortly have a new athletic director. And some further notes on Day 6. More on Locker.
- The pace is picking up at Washington State. The culture also is changing. Bud Withers' effort here should be a must-read for Cougars fans. And here's a practice report.
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State