The Cal Bears lived up to expectations and laid the biggest egg they possibly could against an explosive Oregon offense that many had been waiting to catch fire.
Oregon tops the charts now, but can they avoid the upset hangover that Washington drunkenly stumbled into?
With the Cougars coming into town, they better be.
The topsy-turvy Pac-10 still seems to be in pure disarray as we stroll into Week Five, but the picture should become a little bit clearer after this weekend. The big USC/CAL game that everyone had been anxiously waiting for is finally here, but this time around the losers will dig themselves into a bigger hole than previously expected.
Either way, things are definitely going to be a little more interesting this year in the Pac-10.
Here are this week’s rankings:
(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week’s Ranking)
1. Oregon Ducks (3-1, 1-0 | 3)
A rabid group of Ducks showed up on Saturday and completely obliterated a No. 6 Cal team like they were flying south for the winter. Jeremiah Masoli instinctively took control of Oregon’s offense and slowly picked apart the carcass of Cal’s defense until the bone was clean. In what appears to be another turbulent year in the Pac-10, Oregon emerged as the early conference favorite by taking down this big dog (or bear) in such convincing fashion.
2. USC Trojans (3-1, 0-1 | 2)
Two quick strikes by Matt Barkley were all the Trojans needed to dispose of the fragile Washington State Cougars.
Barkley threw two touchdown passes that were nine seconds apart in a three-touchdown first quarter. The Trojan offense still looked a bit stagnant despite the early fireworks. They would only compile four series of five plays or more, with all of their touchdowns coming off series with three plays or less. If the real Cal defense happens to show up on Saturday, USC should expect to experience even more instability within an offensive unit that is quickly becoming the scapegoat for the Trojans underachieving start.
3. California Bears (3-1, 0-1 | 1)
Just like a confused Yosemite Sam, Cal fell for a well-known trick and found themselves falling down an all too familiar trap door.
If this is how Cal’s stars are going to perform in big-time games, then this weekend’s tilt should be even more devastating. A Cal team seeking redemption after that embarrassing loss will need to take control of this Saturday’s game early, because as they showed us against Oregon, playing from behind isn’t one of their strengths.
4. Stanford Cardinal (3-1, 2-0 | 8)
The Cardinal defense only gave up one touchdown, while their offense marched up and down the field for 424 yards en route to their first 2-0 conference start since 2001.
Toby Gerhart appeared to be unstoppable, gaining 200 yards and a touchdown, while Andrew Luck collected over 50 yards on the ground and scored on an impressive play-action bootleg.
Stanford seems to be clicking on offense, defense, and surprisingly on special teams as well. Chris Owusu ran another kick return back for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies and now leads the nation in returning touchdowns (3) and average kick return yards (59.2).
5. Arizona State (2-1, 0-0 | 5)
In what many thought was going to be humbling trip to Athens for the Sun Devils, Dennis Erikson’s crew was actually able to stick to their guns against a somewhat powerful ranked team.
ASU would still lose, but in heartbreaking fashion as Georgia hit a go-ahead field goal as time expired.
In a game where one of their two touchdowns came off an interception return and the other off a fumble recovery which set them up deep inside Bulldog territory, several questions about the firepower of this Sun Devil offense arise. They only accumulated 204 total yards against Georgia, which will not be good enough once Pac-10 play begins.
6. Washington Huskies (2-2, 1-1 | 4)
Jake Locker completed over 50 percent of his passes, but only connected on one for over 20 yards.
Washington offense showed a little mental fatigue, reaching the red-zone only once against a stifling Stanford defense. The Cougar defense didn’t fair any better against what the Cardinal were offering on offense, looking like a deer in headlights on most plays, allowing six Stanford series to surpass 49 yards or more.
The USC upset celebration has started to thin and another tough road trip to South Bend this weekend should send more people towards the door.
7. UCLA Bruins (3-0, 0-0 | 7)
The Bruins have had a week to rest and prepare for their first conference game of the season against a team that is already two wins up on them in the Pac-10 standings.
If the Bruins really want to be considered as contenders in this wide-open conference, they need make a huge statement this weekend against a red-hot Stanford squad. How UCLA’s young talent responds to the urgency of this game so early in the season will be very telling on how far this year’s Bruins are capable of going.
8. Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 | 9)
Arizona’s offense exploded against the Beavers and consistently moved the ball down the field.
They were held to just three three-and-outs the entire game and gathered 388 yards of total offense to accompany five touchdowns in their first conference game. On defense Devin Ross stole the show, racking up 12 tackles and snatching away a pass to clinch the game for the Wildcats late in the fourth.
Ross was named this week’s Pac-10 Player of the Week.
9. Oregon State Beavers (2-2, 0-1 | 6)
The Beaver’s slide down the chute has been almost unbearable to watch.
Their defense has quickly dissipated the past two games, giving up an average of 32.5 points per game and losing two straight at home for the first time since 2006. A trip out to Tempe shouldn’t help their situation any, as they will be facing a more formidable Arizona defense, who will make it extremely difficult for the Beavers to continue playing this game of keep up.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-3, 0-2 | 10)
Hmm…something nice to say about the Cougars. Well, they were perfect on fourth down conversions—that’s a start. Now only if they could take what they do on fourth down and do it on the other three downs…then they would be money.