What a shocking weekend! Well, not really. Everyone knew USC would end up losing a game in Pac-10 play, but it just happened to come sooner rather than later.
California has to make sure they don’t fall into the same Northwest trap this weekend, because if both conference favorites enter their Oct. 3 battle with one loss, the rest of the Pac-10 will start believing they REALLY have a chance.
Here are this week’s rankings.
(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week’s Ranking)
1. California Bears (3-0, 0-0 | 2)
Five touchdowns for Jahvid Best raised the question, what can’t this stud do on the field?
On the other hand, Kevin Riley tried to answer questions by performing admirably on the road. He completed 64 percent of his passes and averaged 10.1 yards per completion against Minnesota, adding to what has been a great start to his season.
An important win in their first conference game this weekend against the Ducks could be a sign that the Bears are slowly beginning the process of removing that choking stigma.
2. USC Trojans (2-1, 0-1 | 1)
Speaking of choking, USC has decided to keep alive their four-year streak of losing to Pac-10 teams that they should beat. Aaron Corp looked absolutely terrible in his first outing this season, constantly throwing into double coverage and making reads like it was his first game ever.
I’m sure this loss was all in Pete Carroll’s master plan of losing their only game early so they can still sneak their way into a National Championship game.
3. Oregon Ducks (2-1, 0-0 | 6)
The upset of the No. 18 Utah Utes no doubt puts the Ducks back on the map. LaMichael James rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown, allowing people to forget that horrid first week and reinstalling hope that this team still has what it takes to make some serious noise within the Pac-10.
If they can slay their second straight ranked team in Eugene this weekend, Oregon will have an early leg up in the race for the conference crown.
4. Washington Huskies (2-1, 1-0 | 7)
While Jake Locker played his heart out against the mighty Trojans, doing everything possible to lead his team to the victory, the Huskies still looked shaky at times and have a ton of room for improvement.
Their offensive line allowed Locker to be sacked four times, and the team as a whole could only muster 56 net rushing yards. Their defense, while looking good against a frazzled Corp on pass plays, couldn’t do much to stop the run, allowing 250 yards.
Now that they have the nation’s attention, it is time to clean house and prove that they are worthy of an extremely generous top 25 ranking.
5. Arizona St. Sun Devils (2-0, 0-0 | 4)
The Sun Devils currently rank second in the Pac-10 in total offense, averaging 44 points per game, and first in total defense, allowing only 149.5 yards per game, but their schedule so far hasn’t been anything the ASU Nation can get super excited about.
This week’s tilt against the No. 21 Georgia Bulldogs in Athens should bring this squad and their gaudy numbers crashing down to earth.
6. Oregon State Beavers (2-1, 0-0 | 3)
The Beavers could never recover from a horrid second quarter where the No.17 Bearcats rallied for 21 points. Their secondary allowed Cincinnati’s Tony Pike to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, while their defensive line only got to quarterback once the entire day.
OSU’s first conference battle against Arizona this weekend will be pivotal in answering the question of whether or not this team can come close to duplicating its Pac-10 success of 2008.
7. UCLA Bruins (3-0, 0-0 | 5)
Quarterback Kevin Craft and running back Johnathan Franklin both had productive days in what was a very balanced UCLA offense, leading the Bruins to a victory over a lackluster Kansas State squad.
The Bruins enter their bye week undefeated and it’s the first time they have started off a season 3-0 since 2005. There are still several issues that need to be addressed though, and the terrain ahead gets much rougher with conference play looming.
8. Stanford Cardinal (2-1, 1-0 | 9)
The Cardinal didn’t waste any time igniting the rout on Saturday, running the opening kickoff back to the house and taking a lead they would never relinquish. It was the second kickoff returned for a touchdown this season for Chris Owusu, which leads the Pac-10.
Stanford’s offense focused mainly on the run against the San Jose State Spartans, allowing Toby Gerhart to gain 113 yards and score two touchdowns.
Stanford faces the upstart Huskies this weekend in an epic battle where the winner will emerge as the only team with two conference wins and get to stay at the top of the Pac-10 standings for at least one more week.
9. Arizona Wildcats (2-1, 0-0 | 8)
The containment of Nic Grigsby really did a number on the Wildcats. Grigsby was held to 75 yards and one touchdown, and Arizona couldn’t get their aerial game going with either one of their scrawny quarterbacks, both totaling only 105 passing yards.
Unless one of these hurlers starts to find his touch, teams with a group of decent tacklers should have a workable blueprint on how to stop this offense.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-2, 0-1 | 10)
Hazzah! The Cougars don’t have to worry about going the entire season without a victory. Even though it took an overtime session, the fanbase has to be relieved.
My advice to them is to enjoy and fully appreciate every day of this winning week. With the only non-conference game ahead coming against Notre Dame, it could take until 2010 before they feel this way again.