Another exciting week passes in the Conference of Champions yet several headlines appear to remain the same.
Oregon flexed its offensive muscle once again and Cal continued to do its impression of a fish washed up on shore. USC’s complete ownage of the Bears has become quite sad and even if Cal can run the table the rest of this season, changes need to be in the works.
But while that song remains the same, there are new headlines that deserve their time in the spotlight.
The big hubbub in the Pac-10 right now is Stanford, who has completely come out of left field and currently holds the conference lead.
The Cardinal have jumped out to their best conference start in nine years but desperately cling to a slim one-win lead over USC and Oregon. The Cardinal have the toughest part of their schedule still ahead, which will definitely test this team’s stamina and whether or not it really is a contender.
Here are this week’s rankings:
(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week’s Ranking)
1. Oregon Ducks (3-1, 2-0 | 1)
Forty-two points in the first 30 minutes of the game should impress almost everyone…even USC fans. The Ducks put up twice as many points against Washington State than the Trojans did the week prior, and Oregon appears to be getting stronger as conference play continues.
We now know that the Ducks can win in Eugene but they have yet to prove that they can take the show on the road. A UCLA team that is still trying to find its identity should be a nice way for Oregon to test out the waters away from campus.
2. USC Trojans (4-1, 2-1 | 2)
With the number of players that the Trojans lost on defense to the NFL Draft, most people thought this year’s defense had an ice cube's chance in hell of surpassing last year’s mark of a minuscule nine points per game.
Global warming must be affecting everyone because after five games, USC is allowing an astonishing average of 8.6 points per game. The Trojans have only given up one touchdown in over eleven quarters, but that number will immediately be in jeopardy when they continue play against the Irish in two weeks.
3. Stanford Cardinal (4-1, 3-0 | 4)
Toby Gerhart for the Heisman! (I know—a shameless plug). But seriously, this kid is for real and needs to be getting the attention that he deserves.
The Cardinal are hotter than Sriracha Rooster’s sauce right now and they are playing like a team who is determined to continue making some serious noise in the Pac-10. Two straight road games are in their future and coming out of these trips with wins should increase the buzz that already surrounds this team.
4. California Bears (3-2, 0-2 | 3)
As the saying goes, “When giants fall, they fall hard”. USC’s defense embarrassed Cal’s supposedly explosive offense for a second consecutive week and Berkeley is officially bummed. The Bears will have a week off to sit in their rooms, think about what they have done, and for heaven’s sake learn some sort of lesson.
Jeff Tedford’s inability to coach his team to big game wins is becoming a tiresome story. Another loss this season should officially put him on the hot seat.
5. Washington Huskies (2-3, 1-1 | 6)
As 2-3 teams go, the Huskies have to be one of the strongest ones out there.
A second straight road loss has dampened the spirits of many Washington supporters but Steve Sarkasian’s boys sure as hell played their hearts out. In a game that had nine lead changes, the Huskies went toe-to-toe against the high-powered Notre Dame offense and were amazingly able to keep up despite the overtime loss.
Washington is gaining more and more respect each week, even when they don't get a tally in the win column. This wild card could create much more havoc in the weeks to come.
6. Arizona Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 | 8)
Wildcat nation should be somewhat happy with the move up the rankings considering Arizona didn’t have to play a game to make it happen. This week’s trip to Seattle will show the faithful followers whether or not their team is capable of living up to their sometimes-outlandish expectations.
The buzz surrounding the emerging Huskies will definitely draw a large crowd on Saturday, creating a disorderly atmosphere that Arizona has truly yet to face. How they respond should be very telling.
7. UCLA Bruins (3-1, 0-1 | 7)
UCLA’s defense allowed over 300 offensive yards for the first time this season. The Bruins looked extremely shaky for the first three quarters against Stanford, giving up four scores in their first six series.
UCLA’s usually powerful D pulled it together in the fourth, holding the Cardinal to only 31 yards. This fourth quarter stranglehold would provide their offense with the chance for a game-winning drive, but the team failed to take advantage.
With the Ducks coming to town, UCLA can’t afford to have another slow defensive start. The Bruins' stagnant offense is going to have enough trouble trying to keep up as it is.
8. Oregon State Beavers (3-1, 1-1| 9)
The Rodgers' show finally returned and as these two stars succeed, so do the Beavers. Jacquizz rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns while his brother caught 10 passes for 114 yard and a touchdown.
Despite only giving up 17 points, OSU’s defense showed signs for concern, allowing 20 first downs and over 330 yards on the pass alone. As the Beavers’ schedule starts to toughen, performances like this won’t come out as rosy.
9. Arizona State (2-2, 0-1| 5)
In a game where the Sun Devils accumulated over 400 yards on offense, they would only enter the red zone three times, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal. This wouldn’t be enough against the Beavers who hopped out to a 21-3 lead by halftime and eventually went on to win by 11.
It was the first time since ASU joined the Pac-10 that it allowed Oregon State to come into Tempe and exit as the victor. This loss to start the Sun Devils' conference schedule is a huge setback. Several upsets down the road will be necessary if they have any hopes of contending for the crown.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-4, 0-3| 10)
There is really absolutely nothing nice to say about the Cougars this week. Washington State football is the epitome of terrible. They are currently averaging 15 points and 283 offensive yards per game, which ranks somewhere in the 200s.
Well, at least you guys can talk about whether or not you think it’s going to rain.