1. Oregon Ducks (8-0, 5-0)Last Week: 1
The Ducks are head and shoulders above the rest of their conference. Their offense wears you down with their blistering pace and then strikes with a big play. In the latter stages of games, the defense clamps down. They have only allowed 7 points in the fourth quarter this year. Darron Thomas runs this offense better than Jeremiah Masoli did. The Ducks are headed to the national title game, no question about it.
2. Stanford Cardinal (7-1, 4-1)Last Week: 2
You didn’t have to read Jim Harbaugh’s obnoxious comments after Stanford beat down Washington 41-0 to know he is a total jerk. However, Hubris Harbaugh wins ball-games, and that is what he gets paid to do. Stanford has turned into a very impressive football team led by quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck continues to manage the offense as perhaps the best quarterback in the conference. Stanford has yet to beat an elite team, though. They get their chance as Arizona comes to town.
3. Arizona Wildcats (7-1, 4-1)Last Week:
The Wildcats survived life without quarterback Nick Foles, who was injured. He is 100% this week and will be ready to do battle with Stanford. Arizona’s defense has been solid, and Stanford’s stepped up last week, but this game should light up the scoreboard. The winner earns the inside track to a potential second BCS bid for the Pac-10. Arizona controls its own destiny if it wins out and Oregon State loses, and that would take them to their first Rose Bowl in school history.
4. Oregon State Beavers (4-3, 3-1)Last Week: 3
The Beavers are the only one-loss team to control their own destiny. The win against Cal looks impressive on paper, but beating the Bears at home isn’t a significant achievement as we have learned. Oregon State has two easy games coming up against UCLA and WSU before a gauntlet of versus USC, at Stanford, and versus Oregon. The offense certainly misses James Rodgers, but his brother Jacquizz is one of the best running backs in the country.
5. USC Trojans (5-3, 2-3) Last Week: 4
Lane Kiffin needs to rally the troops before things burst. Arizona State probably isn’t as good as USC, but the Trojans are vulnerable right now. They may be a few seconds away from 7-1, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Given the circumstances, Kiffin has time to ease into the position, but he must equal Pete Carroll’s 9-4 mark from a year ago to keep hope alive.
6. California Golden Bears (4-4, 2-3)Last Week:
Cal turned in a lackluster performance en route to a 35-7 loss at Oregon State. Struggling quarterback Kevin Riley’s season is over after sustaining an injury, and the Bears will have to address the quarterback problem. They have been outscored by an absurd margin on the road, and they head to Pullman this weekend. The Bears are far superior to the Cougars, but they always have mental problems. Cal needs to win this weekend to keep their hopes of going bowling alive, since Oregon and Stanford loom. Jeff Tedford may be sitting on a very hot seat by seasons end.
7. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-4, 2-3)Last Week: 7
The Sun Devils need 7 wins to reach bowl eligibility. After Cal handed ASU their lunch, the Sun Devils showed up and shut out Washington State 42-0. Dennis Erickson’s squad has a terrific defense that can limit anyone. Arizona State travels to USC this weekend, but the Coliseum isn’t the vaunted stadium it used to be. With the Trojans coming off of an emotional loss, the Sun Devils might be able to spring an upset.
8. Washington Huskies (2-3, 3-5)Last Week: 8
Every time Washington takes a step forward (beating USC and Oregon State), they take two steps back (losing to ASU and being shut out by Stanford). Steve Sarkisian simply can’t get consistent performance from his team. Perhaps Washington just doesn’t have the talent to play with the elites yet. They are only two seasons removed from going 0-12. Jake Locker is out this week with a broken rib, and the Huskies are about to get railroaded by the Ducks.
9. UCLA Bruins (3-5, 1-4)Last Week: 9
UCLA put up a nice fight at home against the mighty Arizona Wildcats. Rick Neuheisel needs to go 3-1 to go bowling, and that begins this weekend against Oregon State. The Bruins passing attack is simply atrocious. 120 yards per game isn’t going to cut it. They need to find a way to throw the ball so that teams can’t stack the box and shut down the run.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-8, 0-6)Last Week: 10
Three games remain for the Cougars, who haven’t won a conference game since November 2008 when then won one. Every week, the Cougars improve and are much more competitive than they were a year ago. Despite that fact, the standings don’t to reflect their progress. Of their remaining games, the Cougars might be able to squeak out a victory. Cal is in Pullman this weekend, and they have been abysmal on the road. Their other chance comes against Washington, who is the poster child for inconsistency.