Pac-10 football never disappoints in finding a way to create the best college football drama. This week, the team everyone thought was unstoppable failed to live up to expectations and the conference’s perennial powerhouse didn’t look like a powerhouse at all.
Oregon couldn’t keep things rolling against Jim Harbaugh’s determined Cardinal and USC’s offense suddenly showed signs of fatigue despite sneaking out of the desert with a win.
Arizona looked the strongest of all the Pac-10 teams over the weekend (even though they played Wazzu) and while this should get some resistance from the community, I am fully on board the Wildcats train…at least for this week. It should be interesting to see how this young team reacts to playing Cal, Oregon, and USC over the next four weeks.
But until then, they sit on top this week’s Pac-10 Power Rankings:
(Overall Record, Conference Record | Last Week’s Ranking)
1. Arizona Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 | 3)
A 65-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown set the tone for the entire game in the Wildcat’s 41-point shellacking of the toothless Cougars.
In limited playing time, sophomore quarterback Nick Foles still managed to impress. Although he would only be credited for one touchdown, two passes from Foles were halted at the goal line, setting up Arizona for two easy punch-in scores.
While Arizona’s success hinges greatly on what this young slinger can do in the upcoming games against the big boys of the Pac-10, the Wildcat defense will need to find a way to carry over the success they displayed against Wazzu in order to give this team any real chance of finishing atop the Conference of Champions.
Arizona’s defense held Washington State to eight first downs and only allowed them to convert on one third down conversion. But with the plethora of high scoring offenses waiting ahead, the Wildcats shouldn't expect to see numbers this spectacular until they visit Pullman next season.
2. Oregon Ducks (7-2, 5-1 | 1)
Holy Hangover! After a convincing victory against USC, the Ducks came out of the gates a little sluggish against Stanford, opening the door for the Cardinal to rattle off an early double digit lead.
Oregon eventually found their groove on offense but their defense could not find an answer for Toby Gerhart or Andrew Luck, allowing the Cardinal to surpass 500 yards of offense. Despite a valiant comeback effort by Jeremiah Masoli and his offense, their slow start created a hole too deep for even these Ducks to fly out of.
Expect the Ducks to take out their frustrations this weekend in Eugene against a Sun Devil team that is staggering their way to the finish line.
3. USC Trojans (7-2, 5-2 | 2)
Matt Barkley seems to be running out of steam as this longer season comes to a close for the freshman. Although he connected on a 75-yard pass to Damian Williams for a touchdown, the budding star only completed 28-percent of the rest of his passes for a disappointedly pedestrian 37 yards.
The Trojans greatly benefited from ASU’s lack of stability at quarterback but they won’t be so “Luck-y” against the Cardinal. (sorry, terrible pun)
USC should prepare for a shootout with Stanford’s two-headed offense looking to repeat last week’s explosive performance. The Cardinal have picked up that “upset scent” and if the Trojans can’t get things started early, USC could fall into an all too familiar Jim Harbaugh nightmare.
4. Oregon State Beavers (7-2, 4-2 | 5)
Senior quarterback Sean Canfield threw for over 340 for the first time against a Pac-10 opponent and his two touchdown passes and one touchdown run would be good enough to silence the downward turning California Bears.
Jacquizz Rodgers also saw a ton of action last weekend, carrying the ball 25 times, but he failed to gain over 70 for the first time this year and only the third time in his career.
Their final home game of the season is this weekend against the deteriorating Huskies but the Beavers need to stay focused and not get caught looking forward to the rivalry game against Oregon looming in a couple weeks.
5. Stanford Cardinal (6-3, 5-2 | 6)
Jim Harbaugh has been anything but soft-spoken when it comes to how he feels about his quarterback and running back. It might be time for the rest of the Pac-10 to start paying serious attention to what this candid coach has to say.
Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes, collecting over 250 yards through the air, while Toby Gerhart accumulated a monstrous 223 yards rushing, punching the ball into the end zone three times. The efforts by these two stars catapulted the Cardinal into bowl eligibility and the AP’s Top 25 for the first time since 2001.
Stanford has yet to prove that they can take the show on the road, winning only one road game this season, and going to the home of the Pac-10’s top scoring defense should not help the issue. But with no end in sight for the inept ways of the Cardinal defense, Luck, Gerhart, and the rest of the offense will need to shoot for another 50-point game to leave So Cal with a win.
6. California Bears (6-3, 3-3 | 4)
A scary moment in the second quarter had all of Berkeley frantically wondering the fate of the school’s prized running back. Thankfully, Jahvid Best only suffered a mild concussion and was released from the hospital late Sunday night.
Things were not really rolling that great for Cal when Best was in the game but his heart-stopping tumble seemed to deflate any type of fight that may have been left within these Golden Bears. Cal’s offense could only muster 239 yards against the Beavers and converted a measly 30-percent of their third down conversion.
Arizona brings their point-happy offense to the East Bay this weekend and without Best, keeping up with Foles’s crew could be a mere fantasy.
7. UCLA Bruins (4-5, 1-5 | 9)
The Bruins snapped a five game losing streak but found a way to lose something else in the process.
Freshman quarterback Kevin Prince suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit that took him out of the game late in the second quarter. Before exiting, Prince put up some decent numbers, going 13-for-17 passing with 212 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Senior quarterback Kevin Craft came in for Prince and led the Bruins to their first conference win this season. UCLA’s quarterbacks passed for over 370 yards but they couldn’t get anything going on the ground, gathering only 84 yards rushing.
UCLA defense’s deserves the true credit for the win though, coming up big late with a stop of Washington offense, desperately holding on to the one-point victory.
8. Washington Huskies (3-6, 2-4 | 7)
The Huskies road woes continued as the Bruins handed them their 11th straight loss in hostile combines. Washington hasn’t seen a win away from Seattle since they visited Stanford on Nov. 3 2007.
NFL-caliber quarterback Jake Locker and emerging running back Chris Polk had pretty impressive days statistically but they came up short on the last drive of the game where Locker was intercepted to seal their fates.
The blame can be laid mainly on the Huskies defense who allowed over 370 yards passing by the two UCLA quarterbacks and gave up over 450 yards overall when all was said and done.
Another away game this weekend gives the Huskies one last chance to find that elusive road win, but trying to locate that bugger in Corvalis will not be easy.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-5, 2-4 | 8)
Two interceptions by starting quarterback Danny Sullivan brought out the “Brock” chants by the vocal Sun Devils’ crowd and Dennis Erickson listened. Highly-touted recruit Brock Osweiler saw more time against the Trojans than he has all year and he made the most of the opportunity.
Brock displayed poise, connecting with Chris McGaha for ASU’s only touchdown. He also collected over 150 yards passing but showed his youth on an ill-advised pass that found its way into the hands of USC’s defense.
After this promising performance, the freshman quarterback should be inline for his first start next week, but we will see if Erickson wants to risk his young QB’s psyche in the Autzen Asylum.
10. Washington State Cougars (1-8, 0-6 |10)
The Cougars have allowed 40 or more points for the three straight games and this season can’t come to a close quick enough for this terrible team.
A miserable negative-24.5 scoring margin says it all when wondering just how bad this team truly is. If some signs of life are not seen soon, it could be time for another management overhaul.