- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you don't like where you are in the Power Rankings, play better.
1. Oregon: When Stanford led Arizona State 39-7 after three quarters, it looked like the Cardinal would return to the top perch. But then Stanford yielded its killer instinct in the fourth, and the Sun Devils' rally keeps the Ducks No. 1.
2. Stanford: As dominant a first half against a good team as you could imagine. In fact, it's possible we're being too hard on Stanford because how well things went in the first half made the fourth quarter seem even worse than it was. Well, cry me a river.
3. UCLA: The Bruins go into the bye week still dealing with the emotions surrounding the death of a teammate, but they are playing very good football on both sides of the ball.
4. Washington: The Huskies' nonconference slate couldn't have turned out much better. A visit from Arizona will provide the first conference test. And the Huskies might be motivated by the whipping the Wildcats gave them last season in Tucson.
5. Arizona State: A bit difficult to get a handle on the Sun Devils. They deserve credit for the quality win over Wisconsin. And ridicule for the first half against Stanford. And credit for the strong fourth-quarter surge against the Cardinal. USC's visit, therefore, feels like a moment for far stronger and more decisive judgment.
6. Washington State: The Cougars' defense has been one of the season's biggest surprises, particularly the stout play of the front seven. That front seven will get a huge test in Seattle on Saturday against Stanford's offensive line.
7. Arizona: It seems like some Arizona fans believe their team has been cheated of coverage during the Wildcats' tour through the Little Sisters of the Poor nonconference schedule. Well, if the Wildcats post a quality win in Seattle, the media will refocus.
8. Oregon State: Beavers, Kevin wanted to demote you for your three horrid quarters at San Diego State. But his glass-half-full partner saw a gutty fourth quarter. Winning ugly feels a lot better than, well, losing to a supposedly overmatched foe ... as you know Beavs.
9. Utah: Ute fans (see ... not "Utes fans") are probably sitting back with a cold drink enjoying their dismissal of BYU. Yes, the gloating will be thick, as it should be after winning your fourth consecutive Holy War in advance of a two-year rivalry hiatus. And 3-1, after all, meets fairly optimistic preseason expectations. But, Utah, you are still 0-1 in Pac-12 play. Enjoy the off week. Then buckle your chin strap tight and prove yourselves in conference play. Up next is UCLA on Oct. 3. Then Stanford.
10. USC: Well, the defense still looks good. And Utah State is a solid team. But, man, Lane Kiffin's Trojans just seem determined not to play to their talent potential on offense. The visit to Arizona State likely sets the trajectory for the season. A loss would probably end South Division hopes. And maybe all hope.
11. Colorado: Colorado has been off for two weeks, so it will be interesting to see if the Buffaloes show some rust at Oregon State. Little Colorado has seen on film from the Beavers, particularly on defense, should make the Buffs think they can't win in Corvallis. And if that happens, Colorado can start using the "B" word. As in bowl (did I need to clarify that?).
12. California: Cal should be well-rested after a bye week. The good news is ... oh. Urp. Oregon. Autzen Stadium. A second consecutive top-five team. A third ranked team. Who put Sonny Dykes' first schedule together ... Mephistopheles?