Pac-12: pac12 power rankings 2012

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 14

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

And, again, keep in mind the power rankings lean heavily on the week that was, not as much on the totality of the season.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Stanford: I've started to think Stanford has become one of those "No one in the entire nation is playing better at this point of the season" teams. Certainly no team has better back-to-back wins over the past two weeks.

2. Oregon: The Ducks looked like their old selves against rival Oregon State. Best bet is they are headed to the Fiesta Bowl, where they will almost certainly play a Big 12 team that is ranked higher than the Big Ten's Rose Bowl representative. Maybe even good ole Kansas State.

3. UCLA: Were the Bruins -- consciously or unconsciously -- holding something back against Stanford on Saturday, knowing they'd already secured a berth in the Pac-12 title game? Maybe. We'll see in Friday's rematch.

4. Oregon State: Early in the third quarter, it looked like the Beavers might challenge the Ducks. Then -- poof -- Oregon went all Oregon and it was another blowout. Guessing the Beavers end up in the Holiday Bowl with the Pac-12 title game loser going to the Alamo Bowl.

5. Arizona State: It's official: Year 1 under new coach Todd Graham is an unquestioned success. Going 7-5 is one thing, but 7-5 with win No. 7 coming in Tucson is entirely different.

6. Arizona: While the reverse on the Arizona State verdict isn't true -- it's impossible to say the Wildcats didn't greatly exceed expectations in Rich Rodriguez's first season -- losing state bragging rights is an itch that will demand scratching for an entire year.

7. Utah: The Utes end the season with a close win at Colorado. That's not much -- at all -- but the teams below rate lower based on their recently elevated program misery index.

8. USC: Last year, the Trojans upset Oregon and beat their top rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA. This year, preluded by national championship expectations, they lost to all three. USC went from top-ranked to unranked, from expectations of 12-0 to 7-5. There are no grins inside Heritage Hall. Lane Kiffin will be near the top of every 2013 preseason coaching hot seat list.

9. Washington State: It was an awful season, full of losing and controversy. Ah, but when a Washington fan walks into the local watering hole, he will avert his eyes in shame from the Cougar contingent. When the folks in purple start to talk about all the great things going on at Washington, they will be silenced by a simple: "31-28. Stick it."

10. Washington: That was a dreadful choke in the Apple Cup, Huskies. You rightly should expect much grief from your Coug friends. Of course, you still have a bowl game ahead in which to secure an eighth win, which the Huskies haven't collected since 2001. Do that, and you not only will perk up several spots in the power rankings, you can enter the offseason with a smile.

11. California: Teams that fire their coach tend to tumble in the power rankings. But take heart, Golden Bears fans. See how quickly three of the four Pac-12 teams that hired new coaches a year ago climbed out of the doldrums.

12. Colorado: Worst season in Colorado history? Probably. Now there's just one question, Buffs: What are you going to do about it?

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 13

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Stanford: Remember the preseason question among national pundits: Will Stanford go quietly into the night now that Andrew Luck is gone? The Cardinal would now like those pundits to bring them a steak sandwich and ... a steak sandwich, please. And how's the lobster thermidor? Just put it on Chip Kelly's bill. Of course, Stanford needs to take care of business at UCLA to control its own North Division destiny.

2. UCLA: It's not just that the Bruins are 9-2, highly ranked and the Pac-12 South Division champs in Year 1 with new coach Jim Mora. It's that they are 9-2, highly ranked and the South Division champs in a year when a much-hyped USC team face-planted and these selfsame Bruins provided a decisive kick in the Trojans' britches. Up next: A visit from Stanford. Beat the Cardinal, and the Bruins would visit Oregon on Nov. 30 for the Pac-12 championship game (if Oregon beats Oregon State). Lose, and the Bruins would get a rematch at Stanford for the title.

3. Oregon: That was a tough loss to Stanford. The Ducks -- both coaches and players -- surely will experience regret looking at the game film. But college football is crazy. If USC beats Notre Dame on Saturday, the Ducks could still crawl back into the national title mix. It probably would help that cause if UCLA beats Stanford, thereby giving the Ducks the Pac-12 North title over Stanford and setting up a quality matchup with the Bruins in the Pac-12 title game.

4. Oregon State: This is only the second time since 1962 that the Beavers are 8-2 or better through 10 games, so it's difficult to view the season as anything other than an unqualified success. An outstanding coaching job by Mike Riley and his staff after consecutive losing seasons had fans chirping. Of course, the first Civil War win since 2007 would really, really make Beavers fans happy.

5. Arizona: It's been a surprisingly good first season for Rich Rodriguez in Tucson. But the term "good season" gets an asterisk among the Wildcats faithful if it doesn't include a win over Arizona State. An eighth win also would match the high point for victories reached twice by former coach Mike Stoops.

6. Washington: The Huskies' front-loaded scheduled has allowed them to meander forward in the power rankings. Win the Apple Cup at Washington State on Friday, and they finish the regular season with eight wins for the first time since 2001.

7. USC: If someone said in the preseason the Trojans would stay pretty healthy but would nonetheless lose four games, they would have seemed ridiculous. And the chance for five losses looms with Notre Dame coming to town with national title hopes and QB Matt Barkley hurt. But a Trojans victory would be at least a nice Band-Aid for a horribly disappointing season. And the Ducks sure would appreciate it.

8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are bowl eligible, so it's fair to call Season 1 under new coach Todd Graham a success. Now, winning at Arizona will produce a lot more grins among the Tempe faithful, not to mention a better bowl game.

9. Utah: The message for the Utes is fairly simple. This team can compete in the Pac-12, but it's not ready to compete in the top half of the Pac-12. That's made clear by the program's first losing, bowl-less season since 2002.

10. California: This is where the power rankings transform into the "powerless rankings." And that California starts that off is why many believe coach Jeff Tedford's tenure is over in Berkeley.

11. Washington State: It's been a horrible first season for new coach Mike Leach. But his fans will tell him this: We'll like you a lot more if you beat those freaking Huskies.

12. Colorado: Buff fans, I've got something positive for you: Basketball season.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 12

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: With the Ducks' defense hit by an epidemic of injuries, it looked like California might muster a threat. Nope. And now we have to ask: Is RB Kenjon Barner Oregon's top Heisman candidate? Or is it QB Marcus Mariota? And now here comes Stanford with the Pac-12 North Division hanging in the balance, not to mention national title hopes.

2. Stanford: The Cardinal ground out a tough, gritty win over Oregon State, and now turn their attention to Oregon. The Ducks don't talk about injuries, but here's a guess Ducks injuries will be a hot topic this week among Stanford's offensive coaches.

3. Oregon State: The Beavers surely have plenty of "what ifs?" from their loss at Stanford, but there's still plenty to play for. The key this week? Getting over the disappointment and not overlooking California.

4. UCLA: It looked like the Bruins started thinking about USC's visit in the second half against Washington State, and it nearly cost them. No matter. The L.A. showdown is here. The stakes are high both practically -- the South Division crown, for one -- and emotionally. Managing all of the hype will be critical.

5. USC: The Trojans started slow but finished fast against Arizona State, and that suggested this team still has fight left in it. The immediate question is whether the Trojans, 50-zip winners over UCLA a year ago, can maintain their L.A. dominance. If so, they might get another shot at Oregon. Or at least a shot at the Rose Bowl.

6. Arizona: The Wildcats are bowl eligible, but are they satisfied? Utah comes to town on Saturday needing a win to get itself to a bowl game. Every win helps the Wildcats climb the Pac-12 pecking order, which means a better bowl game. First question: Will QB Matt Scott be back?

7. Washington: The Huskies' season is on an uptick after three consecutive victories. With a visit to Colorado and the Apple Cup against Washington State up next, a five-game winning streak to end the regular season seems perfectly reasonable to expect. Of course, both games are on the road, where the Huskies have struggled.

8. Arizona State: While a four-game losing streak suggests the Sun Devils are about where they were last year -- collapsing -- it's mostly a function of the schedule. And the effort has been consistent, unlike last year. But with Washington State coming to town on Saturday and then a visit to rival Arizona on Nov. 23 ahead, the season's measuring stick is clear: Win out and it's a successful season.

9. Utah: The Utes' season is simple: They need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible for a 10th consecutive year. Seeing that the finale is at woeful Colorado, that means the visit from Arizona will provide the measure of their second Pac-12 season.

10. California: Cal showed some fight for nearly three quarters against Oregon, but it wasn't enough. The Bears head to Oregon State with a 3-8 record. The singular question for the program is the fate of coach Jeff Tedford.

11. Washington State: It was a tough week for the Cougars, and things with former star receiver Marquess Wilson got even messier, but they showed some fight in the second half against UCLA. It would appear this team hasn't quit on new coach Mike Leach. But will that produce a win over the next two weeks at Arizona State and then in the Apple Cup against Washington?

12. Colorado: The Buffaloes are 120th (last) in the nation in scoring defense, yielding 47.20 points per game. They are 115th in scoring offense, getting 17.60 ppg. Sorry to bring that up.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 11

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: It wasn't perfect, at least on defense, but that was a resounding statement at USC. There are some injury issues, particularly on defense, but this team is coming together as perhaps the best of the Chip Kelly era. Wondering what type of opponent the Ducks will face at California: A motivated one or one that will serve as a doormat?

2. Oregon State: A nice bounce-back win over Arizona State. The Beavers have overcome a quarterback change and injuries. This team just keeps finding ways to get it done. The winner at Stanford on Saturday becomes a legitimate threat to Oregon in the North Division.

3. Stanford: So does Kevin Hogan step in at QB and make the Stanford offense formidable again? Maybe. But it's not wise to take too much away from stomping Colorado. Oregon State will offer a true defensive challenge.

4. UCLA: Just like Kevin and I predicted: The Bruins dominated Arizona. The offensive effort was outstanding but unsurprising. The defense shutting down the potent Wildcats' offense was most notable. But the Bruins can't overlook a visit to Washington State. That's what the "old" Bruins might have done.

5. USC: The Trojans' resilience is going to be tested, starting with a visit from Arizona State. USC could win out, go to the Pac-12 title game and still earn a shot at the Rose Bowl. Or they could fold and finish a season that began with national title hopes with five consecutive defeats.

6. Arizona: Wow ... the Wildcats took a horrible beating at UCLA. Some of that was a USC hangover. But a lot of that was the Bruins asserting themselves in the South Division pecking order. A visit from Colorado should supply that sixth victory and bowl eligibility.

7. Washington: The Huskies were sloppy at Cal, but sloppy with a W is OK. If they can handle a visit from Utah on Saturday, they will get a sixth victory and bowl eligibility.

8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils have lost three in a row after the schedule toughened up. The good news is they showed some fight at Oregon State. It's a battle of two wounded teams at USC on Saturday.

9. Utah: The Utes are making another late charge. At 4-5, they need to win two of three to earn bowl eligibility. They still play Colorado, so that means they need to win at Washington on Saturday or beat Arizona when it visits on Nov. 17.

10. California: Cal and Jeff Tedford are beaten up. And here comes Oregon. Maybe the Ducks will be flat after the big win over USC?

11. Washington State: A run of 10 bowl games in 10 seasons as a head coach ends for Mike Leach, and things don't seem to be going well in the Cougars' locker room. A hot UCLA team is coming to town. How about a good snow storm for the visitors from sunny SoCal?

12. Colorado: The Buffs just need the season to end. A visit to Arizona doesn't figure to go well for perhaps the nation's worst defense.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 10

October, 29, 2012
10/29/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

This feels like an odd one.

1. Oregon: The Ducks showed seemingly effortless brilliance in a dominant victory over Colorado, but it wasn't a good weekend for the Ducks. They don't want the distance between themselves and everyone else to appear this vast. They want the conference to look strong, top to bottom. Losses by USC and Oregon State dinged the Ducks' BCS standing in terms of potential strength of schedule ratings down the road. And Kansas State and Notre Dame both posted impressive wins.

2. Oregon State: Picking the No. 2 team here wasn't easy. Stanford was considered, but the Cardinal barely slipped by Washington State at home. And the Beavers still have only one loss. The power rankings looks more at the short term, but the big picture keeps the Beavers here. By a thread. It feels like the visit from Arizona State will be a tester, particularly when there are now quarterback questions.

3. Stanford: The Cardinal muddled through a win against Washington State. They very well may muddle through a visit to Colorado on Saturday. The visit from Oregon State on Nov. 10 will begin a home stretch that will reveal just who Stanford is in 2012 (at Oregon on Nov. 17, at UCLA on Nov. 24).

4. Arizona: Matt Scott and Rich Rodriguez are making beautiful music together, but somebody needs to tip their cap to Wildcats defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. He's put together an opportunistic defense that just finds a way to do well with some questionable parts. Sure, USC had huge numbers. But the Wildcats also got stops that proved critical.

5. USC: The idea that the Trojans would fall into the middle of the Pac-12 power rankings never occurred to the Pac-12 blog in the preseason. What's notable is the sloppiness: turnovers and penalties. Sure, other teams have penalties. But the Trojans seem to get lots of penalties of choice -- personal fouls, taunting, lining up wrong.

6. Washington: There are two Huskies teams. The one that plays at home is worthy of a national ranking. The one that plays on the road is worthy of mockery. The next step for coach Steve Sarkisian is to make the Huskies into a team that plays like it's at home even when it's not. Up next is a Friday visit to flagging California.

7. UCLA: The win at Arizona State -- a clutch comeback one, no less -- feels like a potential corner-turner for the Bruins. Recall the horrid performance at California? That brought up some old UCLA bugaboos about road games. This win canceled those out nicely. Let's ask it ... maybe Jim Mora is the guy to actually end the football monopoly in L.A. Of course, the visit from Arizona on Saturday will provide a huge measuring stick in the South Division. The Bruins control their own destiny. If they win out, they go to the Pac-12 title game.

8. Arizona State: The schedule is getting tougher, and the Sun Devils are taking some hits. There was plenty of good to take away from the 45-43 loss to UCLA, but not so much on the defensive side of the ball. The Sun Devils could quickly right things if they can win at Oregon State.

9. Utah: Hard to say whether the blowout win over California was about the Utes finding their mojo after another 0-4 Pac-12 start -- just like last year -- or whether it was just a Cal team waving the white flag on its season. Maybe a little of both. But if the Utes can hold serve at home against Washington State, they will need to win just two of their final three to become bowl eligible. And one of those games is with Colorado.

10. Washington State: The Cougars were close at Stanford, but isn't being close what we sorta celebrated last year? The good news is how much better the defense is playing. The bad news is ... 10 sacks surrendered. And you got to see just how tough QB Jeff Tuel is. Getting hit that much and still playing well, passing for 401 yards and two touchdowns with no help from a running game.

11. California: Hey, Cal? Are you quitting on yourselves and coach Jeff Tedford? The performance at Utah suggests so.

12. Colorado: There is some good news. There are only four more games this season.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 9

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: Dominant win at Arizona State. With Colorado coming to town, the Ducks are almost certain to take the top position to USC on Nov. 3.

2. Oregon State: It appears that starting QB Sean Mannion will be good to go for the visit to Washington, but winning two physical games with a backup quarterback is another reason to drink the Beaver juice.

3. USC: Look, I know it was Colorado, but you will rarely -- if ever -- see a quarterback as completely in control as Matt Barkley was on Saturday. Perhaps something clicked. We'll see. The Trojans might need a few points to prevail at Arizona on Saturday.

4. Stanford: Kevin and I exchanged texts on Saturday wondering which one of you spiked our punch, thereby poisoning our minds into thinking California would win the Big Game. Stanford was its old, physical self in a dominant win. Washington State visits on Saturday.

5. UCLA: The Bruins, coming off a bye week, will visit Arizona State on Saturday. The winner will substantially improve its South Division position, while the loser might be out of it.

6. Arizona State: It seems the news on DT Will Sutton is encouraging, if vague, but you'd have to rate him doubtful on Saturday against UCLA. The Sun Devils need to pick up the pieces quickly because the Bruins' visit is critical. And, if any players need further motivation, recall last year's game and what happened thereafter.

7. Arizona: There was plenty to suggest in the Wildcats' blowout win over Washington that USC should be highly concerned about its visit on Saturday. The Trojans sure didn't dominate Washington like that. This team still might have something to say in the South.

8. Washington: Judging by my mailbag overflow on Sunday, some Huskies fans are jumping off the bandwagon. The visit from Oregon State on Saturday provides a chance for the Huskies to get those worrywarts back on board.

9. California: It wasn't just about losing the Big Game, it was about getting physically dominated. Dark times in Berkeley for the Bears and coach Jeff Tedford. This team needs a major rally to avoid a losing record. And it's a must-win Saturday at Utah.

10. Utah: The Utes won the statistical battle at Oregon State, but you almost never win when you lose the turnover battle 4-0. The Utes' bowl hopes probably hinge on beating Cal on Saturday.

11. Colorado: There were some good things coming out of a 50-6 loss to USC, believe it or not -- hey, more first downs than the Trojans. But six turnovers makes things difficult. That and terrible defense.

12. Washington State: The Cougs were off, meaning coach Mike Leach has had extra time to ponder the visit to Stanford. An upset win would be a good way to escape the power rankings basement. And Stanford might be flat after two emotional games. So, yeah, I'm saying there's a chance.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 4

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
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We have movement at the top, as you might expect.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: The Ducks emerge from their preseason in a familiar place: atop the Pac-12. While the Nov. 3 visit to USC was diminished by the Trojans' loss to Stanford, the Ducks' home game against Stanford on Nov. 17 suddenly ramps up a bit. Nationally ranked Arizona visits on Saturday. Will the Ducks get tested?

2. Stanford: The Cardinal have a well-timed bye so they can take a little extra time to soak in the national praise for their outstanding all-around effort against USC. But a visit to Washington on Sept. 29 looms as a game to take seriously, even though the Cardinal have dominated the series of late.

3. USC: Yes, Trojans, there will be an overreaction to your loss, and plenty of folks will dance on the rubble of your lackluster performance at Stanford. But you do know that you could have avoided such a fate by not giving everyone solid grounds to call you overrated, right? The question now: What are you going to do about it? Sulk? Feel sorry for your five-star-recruit selves? Or get mad and get even? Win out and a 12-1 Pac-12 champion could still be in the national title picture. And you better wake up with California coming to town. The Bears looked pretty capable at Ohio State.

4. UCLA: I know; it's still early. I know; the Bruins have teased us before. I know; they still have the Pac-12 slate ahead. But I guess what I want to ask: How do you feel about Jim Mora these days? Oregon State comes to town this weekend, which will be a legit challenge. But no game on the schedule appears unwinnable any longer. And that includes that team across town.

5. Arizona: The Wildcats took care of business against an overmatched foe, but things get just a bit tougher with a visit to No. 3 Oregon on Saturday. Of course, few of us thought the Wildcats would be bringing an unbeaten record and No. 22 national ranking with them to Eugene. It could be a scoring fest. While a win would be monumental for new coach Rich Rodriguez, a respectable showing wouldn't quash the recent momentum.

6. Oregon State: Wisconsin's close call at home to Utah State nicks the Beavers' win over the Badgers a bit, but Oregon State can make a statement at UCLA on Saturday. The Bruins and QB Brett Hundley should reveal if the Beavers' improved defense is ready for prime time.

7. Utah: The Utes bounced back from the Utah State loss to outlast archrival BYU without QB Jordan Wynn, whose career is over, and RB John White, who actually does have an ankle injury that was made to officially disappear last week. Here's how things stand (and Utes fans, feel free to correct me, because I know you will): We're so 2011 all over again; only Jon Hays looks like a better QB than he was a year ago. The question is whether this version can move up the Pac-12 pecking order. I know this: It will help when White really is 100 percent. Not sure if the Utes can win consistently in the conference without him.

8. Arizona State: The sloppiness returned on the road at Missouri, and the Sun Devils wasted an opportunity with the Tigers playing without QB James Franklin. So now we get to see another measure of Todd Graham's new-look team: resilience. As much as has been made of the program's lack of discipline in recent years, the bigger issue -- to me -- was the general lack of backbone and locker-room cohesion. A home matchup with Utah could provide a good early measure.

9. California: There was a lot to like about the way Cal played on both sides of the ball at Ohio State, though like many of you, I lost my voice yelling, "GO FOR IT!" on that ill-fated fourth-and-1 moment when coach Jeff Tedford opted to miss a third field goal. Still, QB Zach Maynard played well enough to win against a highly ranked team on the road, RB Brendan Bigelow showcased some much-needed explosiveness and the defense -- other than two horrible plays -- looked physical and stingy. So what happens at USC?

10. Washington: The Huskies emerged, as expected, at 2-1 after three games. They have a bye this weekend. Then they go: Stanford, at Oregon, USC and at Arizona. That's four ranked teams in a row. How will they weather that storm?

11. Washington State: The Cougars won at woeful UNLV, and they should win Saturday at home against woeful Colorado. A 3-1 start is a good thing. But we won't really know how well the Mike Leach era has taken root until the Pac-12 schedule -- apologies to the Buffs -- really takes root, starting with a game with Oregon in Seattle on Sept. 29.

12. Colorado: Oh, man. Buffs, as my mother always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything." So I got nothing for you.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 3

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
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Last week's power rankings called the theme of this past weekend: "OK, but let's see what you do Saturday."

Lots of teams came through. Big. Some, however, didn't. That is reflected here. All complaints should be filed with "Kevin Gemmell."

You can review the Week 2 power rankings here.

1. USC: The Trojans' trip east to play Syracuse got a little weird with an evacuated stadium and everything, but there was never a moment when it even seemed reasonable to say, "Hey, the Orange have a chance!"

2. Oregon: A potential season-ending knee injury to safety John Boyett is a big -- and sad -- blow, and things didn't go as smoothly on offense as the opening weekend. But there still remains a wide gap between the top two teams here and the rest of the conference, even with the nice work yesterday.

3. Stanford: Stanford still hasn't beaten anyone, unlike the three teams directly below them. But they did enough while dominating Duke to suggest they are still the team most likely to break up the Trojans-Ducks marriage. Of course, we'll get a good feel for the Cardinal when the Trojans visit Saturday.

4. UCLA: Love the offense. It -- QB Brett Hundley! and RB Johnathan Franklin! -- is putting up ludicrous numbers. But what elevates the Bruins here is their second-half adjustments on defense. Gave up just six points to Nebraska after the break after shutting out Rice.

5. Arizona: That was not a bad Oklahoma State defense the Wildcats ran over. It's clear the Wildcats will be able to score in bunches. If they protect the football and get just enough defense, this is a bowl team. Maybe a good bowl team.

6. Oregon State: Here's a prediction: No other team will shut down Wisconsin this year like the Beavers did. Just a hunch, so we'll see. Loved how Sean Mannion handled himself. He could have gotten frustrated and tried to force things. He didn't. Sometimes 10 points is enough, and recognizing that is QB Zen.

7. Arizona State: The Sun Devils delivered another butt-kicking, albeit to a team without its starting QB. What was most impressive, though, was how easily the Sun Devils dominated the Illinois defense, which was supposed to be good. And just one penalty, one that was taken on purpose! Who are these guys?

8. Washington: Even worse than taking a beating at LSU is the injuries piling up. The challenge for coach Steve Sarkisian and QB Keith Price is keeping this team focused, positive and together during this early-season gauntlet.

9. Utah: The Utes' 12-game winning streak against Utah State -- all decided by at least 15 points -- is over. While the health of QB Jordan Wynn is the big question heading into the Holy War against BYU, the bigger problem may be poor offensive line play.

10. California: The jury is still out on the Bears, so the visit to Ohio State feels like a good measuring stick. After the Pac-12 went 3-0 -- with two underdogs winning -- against the Big Ten this past weekend, it's up to the Bears to extend the winning streak. Or, failing that, turn in a respectable performance that reveals some spine.

11. Washington State: We still don't know the Cougs. The good news is their next two opponents, UNLV and Colorado, lost to FCS teams over the weekend. They should be 3-1 heading to Seattle to play Oregon on Sept. 29.

12. Colorado: The Pac-12 blog doesn't like to be negative. We may snark a bit, but we don't like to throw an all-consuming blanket of pessimism over a team. So, in the interest of being positive, we will predict that at some point this season the Buffs will win a game. Maybe.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 2

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
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There is more movement than we expected with the power rankings, as number of teams underwhelmed in Week 1.

The theme this week? "OK, but let's see what you do Saturday."

You can review the Week 1 power rankings here.

1. USC: A dominant win over Hawaii. And no major injuries. Just what USC wanted.

2. Oregon: The Ducks actually closed the perceived distance between them and USC with quarterback Marcus Mariota's performance. While it was easy to suspect he would be more than a game manager, he pretty much proved it against overmatched Arkansas State.

3. Utah: The Utes did what they needed to do, dominating a bad Northern Colorado team on both sides of the ball. It wasn't pretty all the time on offense, but it was effective.

4. UCLA: It was hardly a perfect, or even a very good, performance at Rice, but the Bruins offense rolled up huge numbers with redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and the defense pitched a second-half shut out on the road. Now let's see what happens with Nebraska.

5. Washington: The Huskies looked shaky after a strong start against San Diego State, but it was the offense more than the defense that disappointed. The defense, in fact, was the pleasant surprise of the game. Now let's see what happens at LSU.

6. Stanford: The Cardinal gets a big demotion for a poor effort at home against a weak San Jose State team. Part of that demotion is the mediocrity of perceived strengths: The defense and the running game. The Cardinal can move back up if it gets back to its physical ways against Duke on Saturday.

7. Arizona: Quarterback Matt Scott put up huge numbers and the defense exceeded expectations -- albeit exceedingly low expectations -- in an overtime win over Toledo. A decent win, but it didn't provide much reason for hope against Oklahoma State on Saturday.

8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils not only dominated Northern Arizona, they turned in a pretty clean sheet -- one turnover, four penalties for 30 yards. The next two games are measuring sticks with Illinois at home and Missouri on the road.

9. Oregon State: The Beavers didn't play so their debut will be Saturday at home against Wisconsin. Whether the postponement of the opener proves to be a negative or positive will be based on how the Beavers look against the Badgers, who whipped them 35-zip last year.

10. California: The Bears celebrated the opening of their renovated stadium by getting pushed around in a 31-24 loss to Nevada. The disappointing part about it was it's impossible to call it a fluke.

11. Washington State: The Mike Leach Renaissance won't happen overnight, at least based on a flat performance at BYU. The Cougars of Provo looked pretty good, but the way the Cougars of Pullman reacted to early adversity is the real problem.

12. Colorado: Colorado State looked like a game that was a must-win for bowl hopes. So those hopes took a major hit, as the Rams asserted themselves in the second half and seemed to physically handle the Buffaloes on both sides of the ball.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ


Game week! Whee!

Time for the final preseason power rankings. Hereafter the power rankings will reflect three things: 1. A team's overall rating in the conference, big picture; 2. A team's rating based on what happened the previous weekend; 3. A team's rating based on the totality of the season thus far.

Frequently, No. 2 will be most important. A good team that lays an egg often will find itself powerless in these power rankings, but it also will be able to quickly regain ground with a redemptive performance.

These rankings set up as how we see things ultimately stacking up when the calendar flips into December.

And away we go.

1. USC: The Trojans begin the season ranked No. 1 here and in the AP poll. If the national title game were held Saturday, or you could guarantee the Trojans' starting 24 today would be the same at season's end, just about everyone would hand USC the title. But a season is long. Things happen. The Trojans' defense is already down two players, DE Devon Kennard and CB Isiah Wiley. A couple more of those, and the perception of this team could change.

2. Oregon: QB Marcus Mariota has inherited the keys to the Ducks' ludicrous speed offense, which is almost certain to be outstanding again with Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and a good line. But it's the defense that figures to keep the three-time defending Pac-12 champions ranked in the top-five. Oregon visits USC on Nov. 3, which could be the national game of the season. At least until they meet again in the Pac-12 title game.

3. Stanford: You can't replace Andrew Luck, but you can still win a bunch of games with the guys who are back on the Farm. The Cardinal will continue to win because of a strong running game and defense.

4. Utah: DT Star Lotulelei is a good place to start. He leads what should again be a very good defense. The offense should be much better with a healthy Jordan Wynn to balance a strong running game. If you are looking for something to worry about, start at offensive tackle, where things are uncertain. Further, the Utes need to beat a top-shelf conference team to prove they belong. It's notable -- and sure to inspire some consternation -- that they are ranked ahead of Washington and California, two teams that whipped the Utes pretty badly last fall.

5. Washington: It's nice to have QB Keith Price back, and the defense has to get better under new coordinator Justin Wilcox. But will the Huskies survive the brutal early schedule and emerge with confidence? Consider what happened at Arizona a year ago under similar circumstances.

6. California: QB Zach Maynard is the key. If he's consistent, as he was over the final third of the 2011 regular season, the Bears will finish in the top half of the conference. There are plenty of weapons on offense with WR Keenan Allen and a bevy of good running backs, and the defense should again be strong.

7. UCLA: Dual-threat redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley should energize things, and there's enough talent on both sides of the ball for a bowl game. But the Bruins have been intriguing on paper before only to show the resiliency of that very sheet as the season wore on.

8. Washington State: The offense should be able to score a lot, and it might need to because the defense is highly questionable. QB Jeff Tuel and a strong crew of receivers should fit nicely with new coach Mike Leach's schemes. The expectation should be a first bowl berth since 2003.

9. Oregon State: Sophomore QB Sean Mannion should be better as a seasoned, second-year starter, but both lines are questionable. The Beavers haven't been able to run the ball or stop the run the past two seasons. Getting back to a bowl game depends on reversing those trends.

10. Arizona: QB Matt Scott is a good fit for new coach Rich Rodriguez's offense, and there's pretty good talent surrounding him. The defense is highly questionable. And what if Scott gets hurt? The Wildcats are going to need to score a lot of points to win.

11. Arizona State: Taylor Kelly was the surprise winner of the QB competition, and new coach Todd Graham has pressed many of the right buttons this offseason. But the Pac-12 blog always sees it as a bad sign when an angry fan base attempts to counter our skepticism by touting players who have played no or very little college football.

12. Colorado: The Buffs finished here last year and start off here this season with a much younger team than the 3-10 bunch from 2011. The good news, however, is the schedule. It's possible, perhaps even likely, Colorado will win more games this fall than last just because of a far more favorable slate of games.

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