Mike Robinson

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 1


The Pac-12 may not be look at as the preeminent powerhouse conference but it features fun teams, exciting players, and up-and-coming programs. Here are the power rankings headed into the 2016 season.

1) Stanford Cardinal

David Shaw’s team has a national championship on their minds. Running back Christian McCaffrey has his eyes set on the Heisman trophy and can carry Stanford to the college playoffs. With the conference’s best player, perhaps the best in the nation, Stanford sits up top the Pac-12 power rankings.

2) USC Trojans

This may be a spot or two too high, but USC will be back to national relevance this season. With the massive 6’8” 375-pound Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler, on the offensive line, Adoree Jackson in the secondary, and JuJu Smith-Schuster lined up on the outside, the Trojans have top-end talent. First year head coach Clayton Helton will go through growing pains, but the upside for the Trojans is there.

3) UCLA Bruins

Sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen is on a lot of people’s radar to breakout this season. Drawing comparisons to Andrew Luck, Rosen has the tools to become a star. This UCLA team has the talent to win, especially with Eddie Vanderdoes on the defensive line and Conor McDermott anchoring the offensive line. Jim Mora has done a good job recruiting and now it is time for the fruits of his labor to blossom.

4) Washington Huskies

Similar to Josh Rosen at UCLA, Huskies quarterback Jake Browning has the tools to have breakout year. However, Browning does not have to carry this team, as the Huskies should have the best defense in the conference. The Huskies allowed only 18.8 points a game, good for 13th in the entire country and 1st in the Pac-12.

5) Oregon Ducks

Without a definite answer at quarterback, the Oregon Ducks have slipped in the Pac-12 rankings for the first time in years. Graduate transfer Dakota Prukop is the front-runner with redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen and freshmen Justin Herbert and Terry Wilson in the mix. With recruiting rankings decreasing, Oregon does not have the talent it once had.

6) California Golden Bears

The Golden Bears named their five captains prior to their trip to Australia to face Hawai’I in the season opener. The Bears will obviously have to replace Jared Goff, but they have an offensive line returning along with a defense filled with upperclassmen.

7) Arizona State Sun Devils

The Devils are ready to surprise people this season. A new secondary is ready to upgrade the weakest position last season and quarterback Manny Wilkins is ready to lead the young Sun Devils offense.

8) Utah Utes

The Utes have talent on defense, led by defensive linemen Lowell Lotulelei, Filipo Mokofisi, and Kyle Fitts. However, questions on the offensive side of the ball lower expectations for the Utes.

9) Washington State Cougars

The Devils are ready to surprise people this season. A new secondary is ready to upgrade the weakest position last season and quarterback Manny Wilkins is ready to lead the young Sun Devils offense.

Christian McCaffrey may not be the only Heisman candidate In the Pac-12 this season. WSU’s head coach Mike Leach is making a case for his quarterback Luke Falk to be in the running, coming off a 38 touchdowns season. The Cougars can make noise in weeks 5, 6, and 7 when they play Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA.

10) Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffaloes have only won five conference games in five seasons, but this season may by different. With 18 returning starters, who lost a couple of heartbreakers last season, do not sleep on the Buffaloes.

11) Arizona Wildcats

There is very little hype around the Wildcats this season. We will have to see how the new defense plays under first year coordinator Marcel Yates.

12) Oregon State Beavers

With zero conference wins last season and an average lost of 27 points to conference opponents, Pac-12 teams lick their chops when they see Oregon State on the schedule.

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