Ranking the Pac-10: Week 2


This upcoming week is a big one for the national perception of the Pac-10. Arizona faces off against a highly-ranked Iowa, Cal travels to Nevada for a must-win game, Washington plays host to Big XII North favorite Nebraska, Arizona State travels to Big 10 dark horse Wisconsin, and UCLA plays host to the ranked Houston Cougars.

Granted, it is early in the season and tough to get a read on any of these teams. The out of conference schedule is a time to mesh as a team and get ready for the rigors of the Pac-10. Last year, the Oregon Ducks fell to Boise State and won some close games before making their presence felt and winning the conference.

These rankings are based purely on the results to date and take in to account style points because the poll voters do so. To the rankings…

1. Oregon Ducks (2-0)

Yes, a mediocre UCLA managed a win at Tennessee last year, but it wasn’t as impressive as the Ducks performance on Saturday. They have amassed 120 points in 120 minutes of play and look like a machine on offense. They have answered the question about whether or not they could survive a quarterback change and look like a well oiled machine. Much of the credit has to go to Chip Kelly, who has this team playing quality football. Jeff Sagarian’s rankings peg the Ducks at No. 2 in the country, and that isn’t far-fetched.

2. Stanford Cardinal (2-0)

The Cardinal went to the Rose Bowl on Saturday night and annihilated UCLA 35-0. Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in the conference and will only continue to get better with experience. Last year, Stanford dropped a road game to Wake Forest early on. They get a chance to redeem themselves and should be 4-0 when they head to Autzen for what should me a major showdown. Stanford still has questions on defense though. Sacramento State and UCLA aren’t a very good litmus test. Nevertheless, Jim Harbaugh has turned Stanford into a contender for the Pac-10 crown.

3. Arizona Wildcats (2-0)

It’s hard to asses Arizona given that they have played Toledo and the Citadel. Nick Foles has looked sharp and accurate in that pass-happy system. For now, the four coordinator system has worked. The true colors will shine this week when they play host to No. 9 Iowa. The ‘Zona Zoo is a very hostile environment to play in. If the Cats win this weekend, it will be a bold statement to the the whole conference that Arizona is here to compete.

4. California Golden Bears (2-0)

Simply, the Bears haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1959. Jeff Tedford is a solid coach, but Cal has wilted under the bright lights year after year. We have seen this song and dance before: blowout opponents and put up impressive offensive numbers out of conference and then crumble in Pac-10 play. However, there is a sentiment that this team is different. Shane Vereen is a quality tailback behind a good offensive line. Keenan Allen at wide receiver is an immediate impact freshman that is a big reason Cal has put up 52 points in both games. All of Cal’s success hinges on senior quarterback Kevin Riley. He has been inconsistent throughout his career, but has the experience to finally put it together.

Neither win has been impressive, but the Trojans are 2-0. The offense has showed up in Hawaii, but it was absent against Virginia. On the opposite side, the defense carried the offense at home against Virginia. In essence, USC needs to clean up the penalties (240 yards) and become proficient in all three phases of the game before they can be considered on par with Oregon and Stanford. Luckily for USC, there is plenty of time.

6. Oregon State Beavers (0-1)

Oregon State looked good in their loss to TCU and Mike Riley is a solid coach. However, it’s hard to be impressed by the debut of sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz. The Beavers will likely rise in the rankings as the season goes along.  They tend to heat up down the stretch, but for now they don’t warrant a higher ranking.

7. Washington Huskies (1-1)

At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure Jake Locker had enough pieces around him to contend in the Pac-10. The loss at BYU and the struggles against Syracuse proved that Washington just isn’t ready yet. As a bonus, the Huskies haven’t won a road game dating back to 2007. Is that a team you can count on?

8. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0)

Dennis Erickson has bought himself a few seconds off of the hot seat with nice wins against Portland State and Northern Arizona. The Sun Devils have a good defense that can stifle opponents, but the offense is questionable. It put up big numbers against two FCS teams. The real test is upcoming when they go to Camp Randall. If they successfully move the ball against the Badgers, it isn’t impossible to see the Sun Devils finishing 6th or 7th instead of the projected 9th.

9. UCLA Bruins (0-2)

The fact that a UCLA supporter yelled, “Stop talking and win a game,” to Rick Neuheisel after the drubbing by Stanford says it all. UCLA is in serious trouble, with games against No. 23 Houston and No. 6 Texas upcoming. The offense simply can’t score, and the point of football is to outscore your opponent. No bowl for the Bruins seems evident. In fact, the sanctions may push Slick Rick out of the door sooner than he expected. Bruin backers expected UCLA to capitalize on USC’s misfortunes, and they are currently going in the wrong direction.

10. Washington State Cougars (1-1)

The Cougars needed 16 points in the 4th to beat FCS Montana State by 1. Truthfully, the Cougars won’t win another game this season and Paul Wulff will be looking for a new job.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave comments