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Pac-10 Football Power Rankings: Week Nine

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Pac-10 Football Power Rankings: Week Nine
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Oregon Ducks completely controlled a spunky Washington Huskies team and as a result, find their way back atop this week’s Pac-10 Football Power Rankings.  While USC also looked impressive, putting up 42 points against Oregon State, their struggle to pull away from the Beavers, and eventually letting them back into the game, should raise concerns and is the reason for their drop.

The two Pac-10 powerhouses have the chance to prove which team is actually better when they face off this weekend in Eugene.  The winner will take ginormous strides towards claiming the Pac-10 crown.

Oregon has a slight edge going into this game since it is at home, but tough road games have not been a real problem for Matt Barkley and the Trojans (it’s the easy ones that make USC fans worry).

Oregon’s offense seems to back on track and if it's a shootout that USC is looking for, the Ducks will be more than willing to participate.  In the end, I see the Ducks coming out on top, handing the Trojans a devastating second loss on the season. 

Here are this week’s power rankings:  

(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week’s Rankings)

1. Oregon Ducks (6-1, 4-0 | 2)

Jeremiah Masoli ’s first game back started off a little slow but it wouldn’t take him too long to get back in the groove of things. 

The ailing quarterback showed signs of rust throughout most of the first quarter, failing to get the ball past mid-field. A blocked punt for a touchdown and a 4th-and-goal interception by his defense helped take some of the pressure off of Masoli, allowing him to ease back into action. 

By game’s end, Jeremiah would have a typical day, rushing for 82 yards, passing for another 157 yards, and racking up three total touchdowns.   

This has been the first real explosive showing by the Oregon offense on the road and it came in an extremely unfriendly atmosphere, which was a huge relief to the Oregon faithful. 

While the Ducks will be playing in the comforts of their own home this weekend, USC’s defense will be creating hostile conditions of there own. But, as Oregon State showed, there are some chinks in their armor. 

 

2. USC Trojans (6-1, 3-1 | 1)

The Trojans barely held on to a six-point lead in what was another close call with the Oregon State Beavers.  While USC’s fiery offense did their part and more, their defense showed a weakness that it hasn’t displayed in a long while.

The Trojans gave up more than 35 points for the first time since the 2006 Rose Bowl against Texas. Oregon State either scored or put themselves in the position to score in six of their final seven offensive series.

Thankfully for USC fans, their offense was able to bleed the clock on a nine-play drive to end the game.  With the way the Beavers were moving the ball, things could have ended much worse. 

Yet another big road game this weekend for Matt Barkley, but if his first two big road game wins were a testament to anything, he should do just fine. 

 

3. California Bears (5-2, 2-2 | 3)

It is hard to get excited about the numbers that Cal put up last weekend mainly because of the horrendous nature of their opponent. Nonetheless, you have to give props where props are due. 

Jahvid Best continues to rack up big rushing numbers, accumulating 159 yards and two touchdowns against the measly Washington State Cougars.  Best would also catch one of the three passing touchdowns delivered by Kevin Riley in a fairly impressive day by the quarterback.

The Bears found their way back into the Top 25 this week and will need to continue on their current offensive pace through the rest of the season to stay there.  With the majority of their toughest games behind them, only one or two trap games still lie in their way of finishing amongst the NCAA’s top teams.

 

4. Arizona Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 | 4)

Nick Foles reminded everyone that he is still a sophomore, throwing three terrible interceptions last Saturday against the Bruins.  Despite the errors, Foles still tossed for 247 yards and connected on two touchdown passes, which was good enough to beat UCLA’s anemic offense.  

The Wildcats defense held the Bruins to only 211 yards of offense and the only touchdown allowed came when Arizona’s offense was on the field.  While these are nice numbers, they shouldn't quickly erase the memory of the plethora of points this defense allowed the three games prior. 

After a week off, Arizona gets a nice warm up game against Washington State but then the meat of their schedule will test the true level of this team’s abilities.  Three games against ranked opponents (with two on the road) should make for an interestingly-turbulent season end for the Wildcats.    

 

5. Oregon State Beavers (4-3, 2-2 | 6)

The Beavers made a valiant effort trying to pull out a second straight win against the Trojans but a failure to find the end zone in the first half inevitably came back to bite them in the behind.

Three times in the first half OSU entered USC’s red zone, but they were only able to come away with six points. 

In the second half, their offense started clicking and shifted into a higher gear. The Beavers went 4-for-4 in the red zone, scoring four touchdowns and only relinquishing the ball without scoring once. 

It would all be for naught though, as their defense allowed the Trojans to gain three first downs in the final drive, killing off the final five minutes and erasing any chance of a game winning drive. 

Despite the loss, the Beavers appear to be improving with every passing week and unless teams find a way to silence the Rodgers brothers, OSU could be in line for a couple upset wins before the season is through.

 

6. Stanford Cardinal (5-3, 4-2 | 8)

Stanford did what they do best and ran the ball almost 50 times in their rout of the Arizona Sun Devils.  Four rushing touchdowns by four different carriers would be all the Cardinal would need to stop their two-game losing streak. 

Toby Gerhart rushed for his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the year and he is just five yards short of surpassing 1,000 yards this season.  He is well on pace to break his own Stanford rushing record that he set last season. 

Stanford’s defense showed vast improvement compared to the past few games, giving up only 290 offensive yards.  They still managed to get beat deep on a long touchdown play which still should be a cause for concern.    

The Cardinal have a week off to gear up and prepare for a stretch of games that would make even the toughest SEC team cringe.  Wrestling away one win against either one of the top three teams in the Pac-10 or Notre Dame won’t be easy, but not impossible. 

Luckily for Stanford, three of these four games will be at The Farm.

 

7. Washington Huskies (3-5, 2-3 | 5)

A strong defensive first quarter led many to believe that this was another game that the Huskies could keep close and find themselves in a position to win late.

Oregon made sure that this would not be the case. Washington’s defense completely fell apart in the third quarter, giving up three touchdowns and allowing the game to be blown completely wide open.

Things never really heated up on the offense for the Huskies either.

The Ducks held Washington to six points through three quarters and dropped Jake Locker to the floor four times, applying constant pressure on him the entire day.  By the time the Huskies' offense was able to move the ball steadily, it was way too late.   

The air has finally been let out of the Huskies’ balloon and with two tough road games and a home game against Cal still ahead, any bowl hopes still lingering in Seattle should soon be squashed.    

 

8. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-3, 2-2 | 7)

The Sun Devils struggled to get things started against Stanford and displayed several reasons why they are not ready to truly contend for a Pac-10 title any time soon. 

ASU’s defense apparently didn't make the flight to Palo Alto, giving up 473 yards and allowing the Cardinal to convert 50-percent of their third down conversions.

With four of their final five games schedule against teams currently ranked in the Top 25, vast improvements are needed on both sides of the ball if they have any chance of becoming bowl eligible.       

 

9. UCLA Bruins (3-4, 0-4 | 9)

Four straight losses have many wondering how much further the Bruins can drop down this hole before they reach the bottom.

The carousel of quarterbacks seen last Saturday doesn't instill confidence that this offense should start improving any time in the near future.  Against Arizona, neither of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass and all of them threw for under 100 yards. 

UCLA’s rushing game was also non-existent, collecting only 93 yards as a team.

If this offense doesn't start to mature fast, it could be a couple more years until this school sees another bowl bid. 

 

10. Washington State Cougars (1-6, 0-5 | 10)

While all is still pretty miserable for football fans on the Washington State campus, there is a silver lining to last weekend’s debacle in Berkeley.

Freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel threw his first 300-yard game and complemented that number with two touchdowns and no interceptions.  Tuel is quietly emerging as the budding star of this roster and something for this team to build around in the future.

But a prime-time game this weekend against No. 23 Notre Dame should show the world just how crappy a BCS team can get.  

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