Ranking the Pac-10: Week 6


With each passing week, the conference picture comes into a clearer perspective.

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)Last Week: 1 

The Ducks were pushed around a bit by the Washington State Cougars. Oregon is the best team in the Pac-10, but they certainly aren’t the invincible beast some make them out to be. The defense is speedy, but it is prone to give up points. However, the Ducks score so often and so quickly that it may not matter how many the opponent scores. 43 points on Saturday just adds to the amazing amount of push-ups their mascot has had to do throughout the course of the season. Off to a fast start, the Ducks have a week to recharge and gear up for UCLA.

2. Stanford (5-1, 2-1)Last Week:  3

The Cardinal showed resilience in driving to kick a field goal to beat USC in the final seconds. Stanford’s front seven was as physical as advertised, limiting USC’s Allen Bradford to 33 yards. The secondary is a weakness though. Matt Barkley torched them for 390 yards as he found holes in the coverage. Stanford’s offense is impressive. Andrew Luck got back on track and is an accurate passer who provides a challenge with his ability to run.

3. Oregon State (3-2, 2-0)Last Week: 4 

After two tough losses out of conference against top-5 teams, Oregon State has arrived prepared for conference play. They improved to 2-0 after scoring an upset on the road at No. 9 Arizona. The ‘Zona Zoo is one of the more hostile environments and sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz handled it well. The defense is better than expected and has been effective in stopping the opponent. If James Rodgers knee injury isn’t too serious, the Beavers have plenty of fire power to score and contend for a Pac-10 crown.

4. Arizona (4-1, 1-1)Last Week: 2 

After squeaking by Cal 10-9, the Wildcats were upset at home by an Oregon State team. Nick Foles threw for 440 yards and will tears up many secondaries in the conference, but it just wasn’t enough this week. While it is early in Pac-10 play, this loss drastically hurts Arizona’s prospects of winning the Pac-10. If they can’t beat the Beavers at home, how can they travel to Autzen or Palo Alto and upset the best two teams in the conference on the road?

5. Arizona State (3-3, 1-2)Last Week: 9 

Everybody knew the Sun Devils defense would be stellar in 2010, but many figured their offense wouldn’t be capable of scoring any points. Steven Threet has proved a viable option in leading Dennis Erickson’s squad. Threet managed 288 yards on 21 of 34 passing and helped the Sun Devils throw up 24 points. Meanwhile, the defense kept Jake Locker under wraps and held the Huskies to 14 points. Winning in Seattle is no small feat.

6. USC (4-2, 1-2)Last Week: 7 

USC is in unfamiliar territory at 1-2 in conference play. USC has lost their two conference games by a combine 3 points, and they have the defense to thank for that. The Trojans simply can’t defend opposing offenses and come up with stops when they need to. The offense is probably the second best in the conference behind Oregon. If the defense was merely average, USC would easily be 6-0 and 3-0 in conference play.

7. California (3-2, 1-1) 

Cal dominated UCLA at home and put up 35 points on offense. The defense stuffed the run and swarmed to the ball with good instincts. The offense ran the ball effectively against UCLA and Kevin Riley made the necessary passes. Nevertheless, there are still serious questions about quarterback Kevin Riley. The senior is a head case and panics under pressure. It will be interesting to see how he responds in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

8. Washington (2-3, 1-1)Last Week: 5 

A week after upsetting USC, the Huskies laid an egg against Arizona State. Jake Locker only threw for 209 yards and had another interception. The Huskies simply don’t have the fire power to handle the upper-tier Pac-10 teams. The defense allows too many yards and points, and Locker has had a very disappointing campaign so far. The win in Los Angeles feels like a fluke at this point.

9. UCLA (3-3, 1-2)Last Week: 6 

My reservations about UCLA were confirmed in their loss to Cal. While the pistol worked out of conference, the formation isn’t going to work in the Pac-10. The Bruins managed 7 points against the Bears and were shut out by Stanford a few weeks ago. Teams know they can stack the box and stifle the Bruin attack by forcing Kevin Prince to throw. Unless UCLA gets a passing game going, they still may struggle to make a bowl. The defense is good, but the offense needs to catch up.

10. Washington State (1-5, 0-3)Last Week: 10 

The Cougars have hung tough for two weeks in a row against Oregon and UCLA, and they are much improved from 2009. However, they just don’t have the talent to win games and pull off upsets in the Pac-10. Paul Wulff is sitting on a very hot seat in Pullman.