This conference really can’t go one week without some insanity. Just as quickly as one frontrunner emerges, so quickly do they lose. One clear frontrunner, then a massive clump of teams in the middle, and a few cellar dwellers. Pac-12 After Dark Insanity is alive and well this season. How does it affect our Power Rankings...
12. Arizona Wildcats (0-4 Overall, 0-1 Conference)
Another week, another Arizona starting QB. USF transfer QB Jordan McCloud took his first career start against the Oregon Ducks this past weekend. If you’re keeping track, that’s three new starting quarterbacks in just four weeks of football. Despite Arizona’s inability to decide on one starter, the results remained the same. Arizona was put into a hole early and often which left McCloud throwing quite often. As a result, he looked the part of a first-time starter with five interceptions. The impressive part of this game was that the Wildcats had this down to a five-point game late in the third. Ultimately, the Ducks turned it on and left Arizona in the dust. The Wildcats have had glimpses of hope throughout this season, but ultimately are still a talent-deprived roster that will need a few recruiting cycles before they are relevant again.
Next Game: Bye
11. Washington State Cougars (1-3 Overall, 0-2 Conference)
No quippy comments are silly slams. It takes a lot of character to play through a game after the events of Saturday morning on the Washington State campus. The team played through a tragedy involving junior Brandon Gray and managed to stay competitive against the Utes. Jarrett Gurantano had a solid day as a passer but the offense as a whole sputtered in the second half. Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh combined for over 100 yards rushing. The defense played as well as one could hope, keeping the Utes under 350 total yards and forcing three turnovers. It may have been a loss for the Cougars, but the team displayed an immense amount of character in their game on Saturday.
Next Game: @ Cal Golden Bears
10. Colorado Buffaloes (1-3 Overall, 0-1 Conference)
As soon as I get bold and do something nice for the Buffs, they lay back-to-back dud games. First against Minnesota, and now against Arizona State. The Sun Devils quickly put Colorado into a two-score hole that they never really escaped from, excluding a brief window early in the third. The offense was better than last week, but still not nearly good enough to be competitive. Starting QB Brendon Lewis had just 67 yards passing. While the rushing game was better, totaling 183 yards between five different rushers, it still wasn’t enough to keep pace with Jaydon Daniels and the Sun Devil offense.
Next Game: vs USC Trojans
9. California Golden Bears (1-3 Overall, 0-1 Conference)
Cal hung tight and managed to force an overtime game against the Huskies this past weekend. Chase Garbers was sharp on the day, passing for 319 yards to go with 71 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. The Cal defense was strong, limiting Washington to 326 total yards and forcing a turnover as well. Possibly the biggest downside of Saturday’s game for Cal was that they turned the ball over three times. However, no turnover was more painful than Damien Moore’s fumble in OT on the goal line. This fumble allowed Washington to end the game with the recovery. The game may have ended in heartbreak, but Cal played a terrific game and nearly took down Washington.
Next Game: vs Washington State Cougars
8. Washington Huskies (2-2 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
On the flip side of the Cal-UDub game is the Huskies. To be blunt, the Huskies were quite lucky to escape this game with a win. It took a goal-line fumble from the defense to save the day for Washington. Dylan Morris played well, wasn’t exceptional nor was he mediocre, as he mainly filled in as a game manager. The problem was that the offense as a whole wasn’t pulling away from Cal. The offense totaled 326 yards and 31 points, and the defense was being outplayed by Cal. This was an extremely lucky win for Washington, who has been playing far below the Husky standard that we’re accustomed to. Now they now have to prep for a red-hot Beavers team to remain in contention for the Pac-12 North.
Next Game: @ Oregon State Beavers
7. USC Trojans (2-2 Overall, 1-2 Conference)
USC got boat-raced. Simple as that. The Trojans trotted out Kedon Slovis to get their conference championship hopes back on track. Unfortunately, they ran smack into a Beaver Buzzsaw and quickly saw the game slip away by the end of the third quarter. Slovis tried his best to keep the Trojans in the game, but he tacked on three interceptions to go with his 355 yards passing. The Trojan defensive line was absolutely manhandled by Oregon State and allowed 6.3 yards per rush on the evening. The journey to the next USC head coach can’t come soon enough, as times are dark in Troy today.
Next Game: @ Colorado
6. Utah Utes (2-2 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
Another team with heavy hearts are the Utes. After the shocking news of Charlie Brewer’s departure from the program, sophomore QB Cameron Rising stepped in to provide relief for the offense and help stay ahead of the Cougs offense. While he only threw for 137 yards, TJ Pledger picked up the slack with a 117 yard rushing performance of his own. While the three turnovers by the offense didn’t help, the defense countered with three turnovers of their own. The defense also got in on the scoring fun with a pick-six to add to the score. The offense will need to be better in future performances, but the defense is still a strength for Utah as they handled the Cougs this past weekend.
Next Game: Bye
5. Stanford Cardinal (2-2 Overall, 1-1 Conference)
Stanford battled throughout the entire game and nearly completed a comeback against the Bruins. Tanner McKee played exceptionally well and contributed to three touchdowns and almost 300 yards passing. It was the rushing game that never got going for Stanford. The defense was in much worse shape this weekend and allowing over 450 yards to UCLA did not help the team much. Stanford flirts with being a top-tier team from time to time, but still needs a lot of work on offense and more consistency all-around. The Ducks come to town this weekend, and Stanford always plays Oregon tough. Let’s see if something shakes out for Shaw and co.
Next Game: vs #3 Oregon Ducks
4. Oregon State Beavers (3-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
Ohhhhhh baby I’ve been waiting for this summary. Oregon State beat the piss out of USC, and it was glorious to watch (in-person for me, too!). B.J. Baylor was the star of the offense, rushing for 158 yards and brutalizing the Trojan defense all game long. USC had no answer for Oregon State’s rush game. Chance Nolan has also firmly entrenched himself as the starting quarterback for the Beavers for the foreseeable future. He didn’t throw for a whole bunch of yards, but he was extremely efficient when the team needed a mix-up from the run game, and ultimately tallied four touchdowns. Sure, he threw two picks, one of which required an incredible play from a Trojan defender, but it seems like the Beavers offense is running extremely well with him behind center. It’s not a stretch to say this is possibly the biggest win of J-Schmitty’s coaching career. And the Beavs are now poised for a bowl season run, and possibly Pac-12 North contention.
Next Game: vs Washington Huskies
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
Jayden Daniels was brilliant in the Sun Devil victory this past Saturday. The junior QB threw for 236 yards and rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns in the winning effort. Daniels looked every bit the star the ASU coaching staff wants him to be. While the offense was humming, the defense looked excellent against the Buffs. They were in the backfield all day with three sacks and eight tackles for losses. All this helped keep Colorado to 250 total yards. Arizona State looked especially strong tonight and could give UCLA big trouble next weekend if they stay in this groove.
Next Game: @ #20 UCLA Bruins
2. #20 UCLA Bruins (3-1 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
UCLA had a strong performance this past weekend against Stanford. At times, the Cardinal attempted to claw back into the game but the Bruins would do just enough to stay ahead. Dorian Thompson-Robinson played well and contributed four total touchdowns in his performance. Zach Charbonnet also had a great game on the ground as well. The Bruins took down a strong Stanford team, but now they have to prepare for a possible brawl with Arizona State this weekend.
Next Game: vs Arizona State
1. #3 Oregon Ducks (4-0 Overall, 1-0 Conference)
It took some time, but the Ducks took down the Wildcats with little fight. The offense was efficient and racked up over 400 total yards en route to scoring 34 points. The defense, however, was very generous to the Cats by allowing 435 of offense to a weaker Arizona offense. The five turnovers helped keep Arizona in check while Oregon turned it on in the fourth quarter. The Ducks still look strong and should continue to be the favorites of the North, and the entire conference for that matter. They will travel to Stanford in a matchup that the Cardinal always fight hard for. Oregon needs to be on upset watch this weekend.
Next Game: @ Stanford
What are your thoughts on this list? Is one team ranked too high? Too low?
Give your thoughts in the comment section!