1. UCLA (No. 17)
I would wager to say this is the first time UCLA has been ranked ahead of USC since the Daily Bruin started running these power rankings so savor it, Bruin fans. For the first time I can remember, UCLA legitimately controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 race. After a 66-10 thrashing of the Wildcats on Saturday, the Bruins can earn a berth in their second consecutive Pac-12 Championship game by winning out.
2. USC (No. 21)
Offensive shootout doesn’t begin to describe the glorified track meet that took place at the Coliseum on Saturday between USC and Oregon. It was the third-highest scoring total that two ranked teams have amassed since the AP began ranking teams. To no one’s surprise, the Ducks sprinted to a 62-51 win and rolled up 730 yards of total offense, the most a Trojan team has ever allowed. USC’s national title hopes, and any shot quarterback Matt Barkley had at the Heisman Trophy, are dashed.
3. Arizona State
The schedule is finally catching up to Arizona State, loser of its last two games. Not even the Pac-12′s leading sack man Will Sutton could help the Sun Devils steal a win in Corvallis, as they fell to the Oregon State Beavers 36-26 on Saturday. OSU’s stout defense slowed ASU’s up-tempo offense and held the visitors to just 303 yards of total offense. ASU is now 5-4 and 3-3 in the conference and will likely fall to .500 overall when it travels to Los Angeles next weekend to face USC.
What a difference a week makes. Seven days after knocking down USC, Arizona hit the road in an attempt to ruin UCLA’s homecoming. The Wildcats couldn’t have plummeted out of the top 25 any quicker, as they failed to amass any offense in a 66-10 loss ““ and the team may have lost quarterback Matt Scott. Scott left the game with an injury, marking the second consecutive week he’s failed to finish a game healthy.
At the beginning of the year, the disparity between the top and bottom halves of the South division appeared to be vast. Now, Utah looks like it could be in the same breath as Arizona and Arizona State while UCLA and USC might be in a league of their own. The team is enjoying its first winning streak of the season after routing Washington State 49-6 in Salt Lake City. The Utes returned to their bread and butter: tough defense and a steady dose of running back John White IV.
Is the Pac-12 rethinking its decision to invite Colorado into the league? After Saturday’s 48-0 loss to Stanford, that very well may be the case. The Buffs were shutout at Folsom Field for the first time since 1986. Not only has Colorado regressed in coach Jon Embree’s second year at the helm, the team appears to be despondent on offense. A combination of three quarterbacks combined for just 76 yards of total offense. The Buffs only crossed into Cardinal territory twice in the loss. Next up, a trip to Arizona.
1. Oregon (No. 2)
Oregon running back and Riverside native Kenjon Barner returned to the Southland to rush for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns. Given the Ducks’ recent running back lineage, that’s no small task. Oregon may be No. 2 in the AP poll, but still can’t grab that elusive No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings, which belongs to undefeated Kansas State. Oregon should roll to an easy win Saturday night against Cal.
2. Oregon State (No. 13)
Oregon State proved its mettle by beating a solid Arizona State team at home despite a slow start from quarterback Cody Vaz, who has taken over the starting spot from Sean Mannion after he threw four interceptions in a loss to Washington. After fumbling on the opening drive of the game, Vaz went on to throw for 267 yards and three touchdowns. OSU still has just one loss on its record but will face Stanford on the road this weekend and still have to play Oregon in the team’s conference finale.
3. Stanford (No. 16)
It’s not often that a top 20 team switches quarterbacks this late in the season and finds success. That is, unless you’re playing Colorado. When senior Josh Nunes failed to put points on the board against the nation’s worst defense on either of the game’s first two drives, Cardinal coach David Shaw made the switch to redshirt freshman signal-caller Kevin Hogan. Hogan used his quick feet to bombard the Buffs in a 48-0 win. We’ll see if Hogan is up to the task again this weekend against Oregon State.
Quarterback Keith Price got a break Thursday, as Washington didn’t need anything more than sophomore running back Bishop Sankey’s 189 rushing yards on 29 carries to dispose of Cal on the road. The win was Washington’s first road win in over a year. Washington returns to its temporary home ““ the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field ““ to face Utah on Saturday.
It’s safe to say Cal coach Jeff Tedford’s fate is sealed and the search for a new coach can officially begin. Tedford recently lost winnable games against Utah and Washington and finds his team at 3-7 with two games to play. Cal can count themselves out of a bowl game even if they are able to steal a home win against Oregon (don’t count on it) this week or a road win at Oregon State (not a chance) to end the year. Going 3-9 is certainly not the right way to open a new stadium.
6. Washington State
Washington State isn’t in the running for the worst-team-in-the-country award like Colorado, but it is remarkable that a league with as many good teams as the Pac-12 could house squads this terrible. Their embarrassment came by way of a 49-6 loss to Utah, dropping the Cougars to 1-8 and keeping them winless in Pac-12 play. They would have been shutout if not for a five-yard touchdown pass on the game’s final play, but they were still denied the satisfaction of kicking the extra point.
– Reporting by Sam Strong, Bruin senior staff.