1. Oregon (5-0, 2-0)
2. Arizona Wildcats (4-0, 1-0)
The Wildcats had a bye week after an emotional win over Iowa and a come-from-behind victory of Cal. We will find out how good the Wildcats really are this weekend as they play host to Oregon State. Was their win over Iowa a fluke? Maybe this team is for real. Nick Foles at quarterback throws accurate passes and has led two game winning drives already this season. His poise is a key intangible to the Wildcats success. The defense remains a question mark. Hold Cal to 9 points isn’t a high accomplishment, and Iowa put up a fair amount of points.
3. Stanford Cardinal (4-1, 1-1)
Stanford is still a premiere team on the national scene. The Cardinal roared out to a fast lead against the Ducks and appeared poised to establish themselves as the early leader in the conference race. Even though they lost, the offense looked sharp in the first half and Andrew Luck’s play has to strike fear into the hearts of Pac-10 defensive coordinators. The running back by committee approach appears to be working. The defense wasn’t as impressive as it had been in previous weeks, but this was the first true offense Stanford ran up against. After a tough loss, the Cardinal will be fired up for their next opponent, who also happens to be Jim Harbaugh’s favorite team to play…U-S-C.
4. Oregon State (2-2, 1-0)
Oregon State showed that the 0-2 start is likely a function of playing two top-5 teams on the road. The Beavers beat a tough Arizona State team to win their conference opener. Jacquizz Rodgers carried the Beavers and Ryan Katz continues to progress as a first-year quarterback. Oregon State is notorious for slow starts, but they may be hitting their stride earlier than normal. They usually suffer a Pac-10 loss early and draw a tough assignment this week as they travel to Tucson.
5. Washington (2-2, 1-0)
Coming off of a bye week, the Huskies rebounded from a drubbing at the hands of Nebraska to score a marquee win at the Coliseum. Jake Locker looked like the Heisman candidate he was touted as at the start of the season. He rolled out and ran play action perfectly, freezing the defense and creating seams. Admittedly, the defense was steamrolled and that will be a problem heading into games with good offenses and defenses. Nevertheless, the poise of these Huskies is tremendous. They could have rolled over after a 1-2 start, but they came prepared to play.
6. UCLA (3-2, 1-1)
The Bruins have won three in a row after beginning the season 0-2. Their defense didn’t look great against Washington State, but it manhandled the Texas Longhorns. Their success relies heavily on linebacker Akeem Ayers and defensive back Rahim Moore. Over the last three weeks, the pistol offense has grown over the last few weeks and focused heavily on the run. However, there is some question as to whether UCLA can win against teams in the Pac-10 not named Washington State. In week 2, they were embarrassed 35-0 by Stanford.
7. USC (4-1, 1-1)
The Trojans finally played an opponent with a decent offense and a good quarterback–something most teams in the Pac-10 have. Throughout the game, the Huskies exposed the linebacking corps and the secondary. Locker threw the ball at will and would have had even bigger numbers if his receivers hadn’t dropped several passes. Furthermore, the USC defense forced just one punt en route to giving up 32 points and over 500 yards. Meanwhile, USC’s offense looks like it can hang with anybody. The power ground game allows the Trojans to pound defenses and wear them down physically. For USC to be successful the rest of the way, they need to control time of possession and prevent opposing offenses from taking the field as much as possible.
8. California (2-2, 0-1)
The bye week couldn’t come soon enough for the Golden Bears. They were pistol-whipped by Nevada and then fell victim to Arizona after a few missed field goals. The problems begin and end with senior quarterback Kevin Riley. He is mentally fragile and has yet to make big plays down the stretch. When the Bears get behind, he plays scared and things go downhill from there. For the Bears to turn their season around, they need him to step up.
9. Arizona State (2-3, 0-2)
Although the Sun Devils hung with Wisconsin, Oregon, and Oregon State, there has to be some value in winning games. Arizona State is tied for last in the conference with 2 losses. The Sun Devils’ defense may not be as good as expected. They held Oregon over 200 yards below their average in rushing, but they have been unable to keep their opponents out of the end zone. If the offense can get going, the Sun Devils will sneak up on someone.
10. Washington State (1-4, 0-2)
After being routed by USC, the Cougars arrived at the Rose Bowl read to play. They pushed UCLA and exposed the pass defense that had normally been stout. However, there is a large possibility UCLA was hungover from their incredible upset at Austin. Washington State may not be as bad as it has been the last two years, but it remains the worst team in the conference by far.