Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 2

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Week one of the Pac-12 slate came and went over  the course of three days this past weekend and with it came all sorts of overreacting you can expect when teams either play well or poorly against sub-par opponents.  As a website, we personally choose not to believe in the Chicken Little’s of the world who think UCLA are in trouble, or Cal is on its way to going bowling.  So with that, we also reserve the right to keep teams where we feel they deserve to be at this point in the season, regardless of how they looked in their opening contest.

 #3 Oregon (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 1)

Week 1: defeated South Dakota, 62-13

Oregon fans have felt slighted over the course of the past five years for not getting the respect they deserve as a top-flight program by the national media.  Winning non-conference games in Eugene against the Pac-12 Champion Spartans would go a long way towards earning that respect in 2014. It will be interesting to see how a Ducks defense that didn’t look quite insync will perform against an improving Michigan State offense.

Offensively, Oregon comes out of the South Dakota contest looking like they’ve added another dependable weapon in the backfield with true freshman Royce Freeman.  Not that fellow running back Byron Marshall and his near 250 yards of total offense and two touchdowns is anything to look past.  But it sounds like Mark Helfrich is scheming to get each of his three running backs quality touches going forward.

2. #13 Stanford (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 3)

Week 1: defeated UC Davis 45-0

Ty Montgomery confirmed to the nation that he is still one of the best special teams players playing college football taking back his first punt return of the year for a touchdown from 60 yards out. This helps to corroborate Stanford’s M.O. of playing great defense (shutting out UC Davis) and winning on special teams.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan will have to continue to improve (four total touchdowns against UC Davis) if Stanford is to avenge their next opponent, USC, who won 20-17 in 2013 as part of the invigorated second half run following the firing of Lane Kiffen.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s 10-1 against members of the AP poll in his time starting for the Cardinal.

You’d have to assume head coach Brian Shaw will want to control the clock against a Trojans team that amassed 105 offensive plays against Fresno State in week one, rather than trying to get into a shootout.  But they have the weapons in the passing game this time around should plans go awry.

3. #14 USC (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 4)

Week 1: defeated Fresno State 52-13

It’s times like these where you start to think the money head coaches get paid con somewhat be justified with all the scandals they have to put up with all the while being CEO of their football program.  While you don’t feel sorry for the money 40-year-old head coach Steve Sarkisian makes for the Trojans, it was a hell of a week with the names of both the Anthony Brown and Josh Shaw being burned into the minds of Trojan fans for the foreseeable future.

The good news for the Trojans was the play of their youngsters as JuJu Smith looked absolutely legit playing corner and moving into the starting receiver spot opposite Nelson Agholor.

Cody Kessler, Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, had the best game statistically of his career throwing for 394 yards and four touchdowns. While Buck Allen rushed for 133 yards for the new up-tempo Trojans offense that didn’t have a lot of time to waste before prepping for the Cardinal this week.

4. #11 UCLA (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 2)

Week 1: defeated Virginia 28-20

One has to wonder what might have happened in Charlottesville if the Bruins exceptional defense didn’t bring its A-game and score three touchdowns in the second quarter. The offensive line in front of quarterback Brett Hundley looked very timid without their starting center, giving up five sacks and countless hurries.

With some now questioning Brett Hundley’s ability to take the next step into the Heisman conversation he’ll have to show that he is the quarterback that converted a successful third quarter drive ensuing in a six-yard rushing, and not the one making poor decisions and looking very rushed in the pocket.

While the Bruins will be playing back at the Rose Bowl this weekend, Hundley can still plan on dealing with a sizable pass rush.  Memphis has a senior heavy defense lead by sack artist Martin Ifedi that should help keep things close early on.

5. #17 Arizona State (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 5)

Week 1: defeated Weber State 45-14

The Sun Devil offense certainly showed that it will once again be a force to be reckoned with totaling 570 yards against their FCS opponent thanks in part to the production by receiver Jaelen Strong (10 receptions for 146 yards) and running back D.J. Foster (147 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns).

ASU gets one more tune-up game this week on the road in Albuquerque before heading to Boulder next week for their Pac-12 opener.  And Todd Graham will welcome that time as he continues to sort through personnel on the defensive side of the ball with starters being swapped out at key positions each and every practice since mid-August.

6. Washington (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 6)

Week 1: defeated Hawaii 17-16

Quarterback Jeff Lindquist did everything he could to show that he was simply keeping the seat warm for Cyler Miles who returns from his one game suspension this week in time to start to build confidence among an offense that looked absolutely lost against the Rainbow Warriors.

If Miles can simply add some stability (see Lindquist completing just 3 out of 15 passes in the second half on the road last week) this offense should start to pick up pace with a defense that looked ferocious in week one.

7. Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 8)

Week 1: defeated UNLV 58-13

Another year, another quarterback for head coach Rich Rodriguez.  And clearly, the Wildcats have no problem with that fact as freshman Anu Soloman really looked comfortable running and throwing at the position directing an offense that put up a school record 787 yards.

Look for more of the same offensively this week as the Wildcats play FCS opponent UT-San Antonio.

8. Oregon State (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 7)               

Week 1: defeated Portland State 29-14

Much like the Bruins, the Beavers defense came to the rescue this time in the second half to bail out an offense that consistently stalled in key situations on third down and in the red zone to prevent another Eastern Washington-type affair.

Pieces and parts of the offense did however look good as Sean Mannion still managed to throw for 328 yards and a touchdown while running back Storm Woods rushed for 125 yards.

All of a sudden a trip to the Hawaiian Islands looks all the more exciting in week two after the Rainbow Warriors effort against the Huskies.

9. Utah (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 10)

Week 1: defeated Idaho State 56-14

Quarterback Travis Wilson passed for 265 yards and looked healthy and effective delivering the football down field to the likes of wide receiver Dres Anderson while the Utes look to finally have their first semblance of a running game since John White IV left the team.

Kaelin Clay put on a special teams clinic with two scores in the return game and recorded Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week in his first game for Utah.

10. Washington State (0-1, 0-0 Previous Rank 9)

Week 1: lost 41-38 to Rutgers

Poor Connor Halliday.  All he does is throw for 532 yards and 5 touchdowns, but once again Mike Leach can’t preserve victory in a game against a team that likes to run the football not to mention special teams blunders.  The Cougars defense is in for a long season if Rutgers is a blue print for upcoming opponents like Nevada this week and Oregon on September 20th.

Dating back to the Civil War last season, the Cougars have lost each of the past three games where they lead or had a chance to move ahead in the fourth quarter.

11. Cal (1-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 12)

Last week: defeated Northwestern 31-24

The first victory over a FBS opponent for Sonny Dykes as coach of the Bears.  This was a total team victory as both the offense and defense could claim a piece against their Big 10 opponent.  It also marked the first road win under the new Dykes regime in a game that witnessed the offense switch quarterbacks depending on the down and distance.  It will be interesting to see if this is something continues in upcoming weeks as they host FCS school Sacramento State this weekend.

12. Colorado (0-1, 0-0 Previous Rank 11)

Last week: lost 31-17 to Colorado State

The Buffs offense got flat out dominated by their Mountain West rival, especially in the trenches.  Now the Rams were able to successfully run on Washington State in their bowl game, but there was no excuse for how bad Colorado looked in the second half of this game, not to mention giving up 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.  That just screams of Mike McIntyre being out-coached.

Sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau looked solid as this offense moves on from Paul Richardson at wide receiver, passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns.  The good news is that while they have to travel across the country this weekend, it’s still against UMass.

How do you rank the Pac-12 top-to-bottom? Let us know on Twitter and you could make it on the next ASU Devils Den Podcast.

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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