NCAA Football Week 5: Full Pac-12 Breakdown Headed into Week 6

Kevin W. Ryan@@kevry88Contributor IIIOctober 2, 2012

NCAA Football Week 5: Full Pac-12 Breakdown Headed into Week 6

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    After one of the wildest weeks in college football, the Pacific-12 division officially has six teams in the AP Top 25—proving its power as a national contending conference. 

    While some teams plan to play the role of spoiler compared to others who have high hopes of a BCS bowl invitation, here is a complete Pac-12 conference breakdown after five incredible weeks of college football...enjoy. 

     

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12. Washington State Cougars

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    Conference Play: 0-2

    Overall Record: 2-3

    Washington State began conference play with a heartbreaking one-point loss to the then-winless Colorado Buffalos. 

    Last week, the Cougars tried to compete with the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks in a random road game in Seattle's Sun Link Stadium but were flat out destroyed for 56 points. 

    Looking ahead, the Cougars will fight to spoil the seasons of now-ranked Oregon State, Washington, UCLA and Stanford. 

11. Colorado Buffalos

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    Conference Play: 1-1

    Overall Record: 1-4

    Aside from the one-point upset over Washington State, there's not much to cheer about in Boulder. 

    The Buffs began 2012 with a loss to the MWC's sixth-best team in Colorado State, only to follow with a two-point loss at home to an FCS team (Sacramento State). 

    Not only have the Buffalos taken losses in their easiest of games, but they play at USC and at Oregon in back-to-back weeks after next week's matchup with Arizona State. 

10. California Golden Bears

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    Conference Play: 0-2

    Overall Record: 1-4

    Had the heavily-favored Bears sealed a Week 1 victory over Nevada-Reno, a 2-3 overall record would not look that bad given how tough the schedule is. 

    The Bears weren't expected to hang within one possession of the No. 12-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, but Keenan Allen sprouted into a Heisman-worthy receiver and played a major role in keeping Cal in the game. 

    Following the near-upset of Ohio State, Cal was mauled by an angry USC roster and failed to score a touchdown.

    Cal has one of the toughest finishes in the Pac-12 as they close out against Washington, Oregon and Oregon State in consecutive weeks—although an upset is not entirely out of the question. 

    I can only hope Berkeley's biggest Bears fans promote "Allen 4 Heisman" signs throughout the nation. 

9. Utah Utes

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    Conference Play: 0-1

    Overall Record: 2-2

    The Star Lotulelei-led Utah Utes sit at a modest 2-2 heading into a Week 6 matchup against USC. 

    As we saw in the Stanford-USC game earlier this season, if USC's line fails to contain a strong defensive line like Utah's, Matt Barkley is prone to making major mistakes. 

    The Heisman trophy candidate will have to deal with a future top-ten NFL draft pick in nose tackle Star Lotulelei—a 6'4'', 320-pound behemoth with 18 tackles in his first four games. 

    Unfortunately for Utah, the games following USC will also be a major challenge as the Utes will be traveling to UCLA and Oregon State in the next two weeks. 

8. Arizona Wildcats

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    Conference Play: 0-2

    Overall Record: 3-2

    After Rich Rodriguez's impressive 3-0 start highlighted by a 21-point blowout of No. 18 Oklahoma State, the Wildcats lost to both Oregon and Oregon State to start their hellacious upcoming schedule. 

    After dropping to Oregon and Oregon State in consecutive weeks, the Wildcats now face Stanford (18), Washington (23), USC (13) and UCLA (25) over the next five weeks. 

    Needless to say, Rodriguez will need a miracle to come out with a winning record against their six consecutive ranked opponents. 

7. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Conference Play: 2-0

    Overall Record: 4-1

    Currently the Arizona State Sun Devils are outright leaders of the Pac-12 Southern division, featuring both No. 13 USC and No. 25 UCLA. 

    Sorry, Sun Devil fans, but this top-conference standing won't outlast USC high-flying offense throughout the remainder of the season. 

    Besides, we all know the last thing Sun Devil fans need is another reason to party.

    Next up for Arizona State is what should be an easy victory over Colorado; however, we saw a Thursday night upset of Washington over Stanford just last week—proving that emotion can play a major role. 

    After the likely smacking of Colorado on primetime coverage next week, ASU will have the heart of its schedule with four straight games against ranked opponents: Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, USC (respectively).

    If the Sun Devils can pull out wins over UCLA and Oregon State, ASU should be bowl bound come December.   

6. UCLA Bruins

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    AP National Rank: 25

    Conference Play: 1-1

    Overall Record: 4-1

    Unfortunately for UCLA, the Associated Press feels that Nebraska is a better team than UCLA despite the fact that No. 16 Nebraska's signal-caller Taylor Martinez actually lost to the Bruins in Week 2. 

    UCLA's only loss came in Week 4 against the surprising Oregon State Beavers. 

    If the Bruins can run the table for the next five games against consecutive lower-ranked Pac-12 teams, they will certainly move up into the Top 15 just in time for an incredible matchup against hated rival USC. 

5. Stanford Cardinal

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    AP National Rank: 18

    Conference Play: 1-0

    Overall Record: 3-1

    Being a Stanford fan this season must be quite stressful.

    After a near loss to an impressive San Jose State team in week 1, the Cardinal incredibly upset No. 2 ranked USC—their fourth consecutive victory over Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans. 

    The win vaulted Stanford from No. 25 in the country to No. 8 with two straight bye weeks to help the cause. 

    This past Thursday, the No. 8-ranked Stanford Cardinal traveled north to Seattle where Keith Price and the Washington Huskies upset Stanford on national television, pushing the Cardinal's national rank back up to 18. 

    Looking ahead, Stanford hosts Arizona before traveling to South Bend to take on the No. 9-ranked Fighting Irish. 

4. Washington Huskies

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    AP National Rank: 23

    Conference Play: 1-0

    Overall Record: 3-1

    After upsetting the No. 8 ranked Stanford Cardinal during primetime national coverage, Keith Price has pushed his name up the rankings for the Heisman Trophy. 

    While there are quite a few candidates for the Heisman trophy coming out of the Pac-12, Keith Price will certainly get his fair share of national exposure as his Huskies take on both Oregon and USC in the next two weeks. 

    Barring a miracle, the Huskies will likely take a 3-3 record into the second half of their season where five of their six opponents are the five worst teams in the Pac-12—likely leading to a Huskies bowl berth. 

3. Oregon State Beavers

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    AP National Rank: 14

    Conference Play: 1-0

    Overall Record: 2-0

    Oregon State was set to begin its season against Nicholls State before Hurricane Issac forced the game to be rescheduled in December. 

    So instead of opening their season with an honest warm-up game, the Beavers were forced to play game one against the No. 13-ranked Wisconsin Badgers and upset them. 

    As if dominating Montee Ball (and his 38 touchdowns in 2011) wasn't enough, the Beavers traveled to sunny Los Angeles where they beat the No. 19 UCLA Bruins 27-20—moving Oregon State into the Top 25 for the first time in nearly two years. 

    I, for one, was incredibly wrong in my preseason breakdown of the Oregon State Beavers, claiming they were "rebuilding."

    Oregon State will have a tough time living up to the hype of a No. 14-ranked team when rivalry week comes in late November; however, the seven games leading up to the Civil War are all against lower-ranked teams. 

    Oregon State's last bowl game was in 2009 where the Beavers lost to No. 14 BYU. 

2. USC Trojans

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    AP National Rank: 13

    Conference Play: 1-1

    Overall Record: 3-1

    The highly-touted USC Trojans put up back-to-back 40-point performances in the first two weeks, leaving them sitting comfortably in the No. 2 seat in the nation. 

    After losing star center Khaled Holmes just days before the Stanford game, the Trojans offensive line imploded on Matt Barkley and left the Trojans upset by seven points.

    USC felt a swift shift in its national ranking after losing to an unranked Stanford team; however, I am fully confident that USC has the talent to continue climbing up the ranks to give Oregon a legitimate shot on November 3. 

    This offense features Heisman trophy candidates in Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee while also having two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield. 

1. Oregon Ducks

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    AP National Rank: 2

    Conference Play: 2-0

    Overall Record: 5-0

    Oregon Ducks fans and players alike are all smiles in 2012. 

    The Ducks are 5-0 and have outscored their opponents by 163 points, averaging 52.4 points per game in the process. 

    Unfortunately for Oregon, however, the Alabama Crimson Tide and their three consecutive games without giving up a touchdown still reign as the nation's top team. 

    Up next for Oregon is an impressive Washington Huskies team, followed by two modest games against Arizona State and Colorado, ultimately leading to the November 3 duel with No. 13 USC. 

    Oregon's only true challenge of 2012 will be that match with the Trojans as all of the remaining games will be against lower-ranked Pac-12 teams.