Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 3


Week two proved to be a much more successful endeavor for the Pac-12 as ten teams came away winners with two falling short in out-of-conference road games. As a result, the AP poll once again shows five of its members among the Top-25.

Things get a bit tougher for the likes of Cal, Colorado, Stanford, USC, and UCLA who will all be playing in their toughest match-up of the year to date as we head into the third week of the season.

  1. #6 USC (2-0, 0-0, S&P+ 8th, Previous Power Ranking: 2)

Week 2: Defeated Idaho; 59-9.

The Trojans leapfrog the Ducks not because they have played tougher opponents, but because they have looked flawless in their two starts against two inferior teams.  Things could change this week however as they begin Pac-12 play in the Coliseum this week against Stanford.  As is normally the case in this series, if will come down to the Trojans high-powered offense (third in Offensive S&P+ in ‘15) against a stingy Cardinal defense (second in defensive S&P+ in ‘15)?

  1. #12 Oregon (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 5th, Previous Power Ranking: 1)

Week 2: Lost to #5 Michigan State; 31-28.

It’s tough to ding Oregon for their narrow defeat on the road to Big Ten power Michigan State, especially with the way their defense rallied in the second half.  

Vernon Adams is already dealing with injury issues that should see him ushered off early in their upcoming match-up against Georgia State, but he certainly has put up some impressive numbers so far including seven completions of 20 yards or more and an additional 24-yard run two weeks ago against Eastern Washington.

  1. #10 UCLA (2-0, 0-0, S&P+ 7th, Previous Power Ranking: 3)

Week 2: Defeated UNLV; 37-3.

The Bruins picked up their first road win of the season against UNLV and it only gets tougher as they welcome No. 19 BYU to the Rose Bowl on Saturday followed by games against Arizona and Arizona State.  In other words, things just got a whole lot tougher for freshman phenom Josh Rosen.  But if this team can handle BYU with a USC loss to Stanford, they could easily be considered the best team in the conference.

  1. #20 Arizona (2-0, 0-0, S&P+ 33rd, Previous Rank: 4)

Week 2: Defeated Nevada; 44-20.

The stellar sophomore backfield of Solomon and Wilson were once again up to the challenge in Reno, and that’s a good thing from the looks of how this defense is shaping up in 2015.  One week remains for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to prepare his defense for Pac-12 opponents without the likes of Scooby Wright before the Bruins come to town.  Expect a whole lot of shootouts in this teams immediate future.

  1. #21 Utah (2-0, 0-0, S&P+ 35th, Previous Power Ranking: 7)

Week 2: Defeated Utah State; 24-14.

The win in the Battle of the Brothers against Utah State proved costly for the Utes as both quarterback Travis Wilson and defensive end Hunter Dimick were lost for the game by halftime.  Head coach Kyle Whittingham would not commit to whether or not either play would miss additional time heading into this week’s game on the road against Fresno State.

On a positive note, running back Devontae Booker’s showed his sub par outing against Michigan a week prior was an aberration carrying the ball 31 times for 120 yards in the hard-fought win over their in-state rivals.  They’ll need more nights like this with their trip to Eugene looming in just over a week’s time.

  1. Cal (2-0, 0-0, S&P+ 47th, Previous Power Ranking: 5)

Week 2: Defeated San Diego State; 35-7.

The only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 North heads to Texas this week, and while the Horns aren’t the tough opponent they once were, they are certainly the toughest opponent the Bears will face early on in 2015.

The national media is finally catching on to what folks in Berkley have been saying for a while now, Jared Goff is really good, and it’s not just him, this is a formidable offense that should do a pretty good job of lighting up a lackluster Texas defense that has given up 10 plays of 20 yards or more and has given up 9 yards per pass attempt (115th in the FBS).

  1. Arizona State (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 23rd, Previous Power Ranking: 6)

Week 2: Defeated Cal Poly; 35-21.

It sure wasn’t pretty in the Devils home opener last Saturday night against an upstart FCS opponent, but you’d hope it was a character builder.  After playing a high flying Air Raid attack in Houston against the Aggies, the Cal Poly plodding, methodical triple option attack (we warned you in our season preview) certainly took its toll on the Sun Devil defense; mentally and physically.

But things won’t get any easier on Friday night as the Devils will play a different flavor of the triple option against New Mexico.  Add to that, they must quickly recover from a slew of injuries since the season began including the likes of Kalen Ballage, De’Chavon Hayes, Viliami Latu, William McGehee, and Armand Perry.

It went public this week that Todd Graham would be getting a raise helping to push him near the top-25 highest paid coaches in the country.  Now would be the perfect time to begin to earn the high praise both he and the team received heading into the 2015 season.

  1. Stanford (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 19th, Previous Ranking: 8)

Week 2: Defeated UCF; 31-7.

It took six quarters, but the Cardinal finally scored their first offensive touchdown of the season en route to a drubbing of UCF last week.

Kevin Hogan had a career-best 341 passing yards and lead an explosive looking offense that is perhaps waking up just in time heading into this week’s game against the Trojans.  They head to the Coliseum 9.5-point underdogs and without the big names on defense we are accustomed to seeing on a Stanford defense.

For David Shaw, last years 13-10 loss on the Farm was the beginning of what would be a disappointing season for his team.  A win this time around could catapult this time in a better direction after a disappointing season opening loss to Northwestern.  

  1. Washington (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 63rd, Previous Power Ranking: 9)

Week 2: Defeated Sacramento State; 49-0.

A convincing win over an FCS school was just what this young rebuilding team needed after a tough loss to Boise State a week earlier.

This week’s opponent Utah State seems to slot in somewhere between each of their previous two opponents so far but posses an x-factor in their quarterback Chuckie Keaton who is a fantastic playmaker with both his arm and legs when healthy.

  1. Oregon State (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 85th, Previous Power Ranking 10)

Week 2: Lost to Michigan; 35-7.

The Michigan loss taught Gary Anderson a valuable lesson, if you are a rebuilding program, you can’t be too cute on the road and if you can’t stop the run, you’re going to get get gashed against physical teams.  The latter is really bad news as the Beavers open up their Pac-12 portion of the schedule in a week’s time against Stanford.

  1. Washington State (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 68th, Previous Power Ranking: 12)

Week 2: Defeated Rutgers; 37-34.

Kudos to the Washington State offensive line who didn’t allow a sack to Rutgers defense despite throwing the ball 66 times in a game marred by poor special teams play.

The good news is that Luke Falk (five career starts) has seemed more than capable running this offense since he took over for Connor Halladay last November.  His play on the road during the final drive in which he threw the game winning touchdown pass with :13 left on the clock showed the poise he possesses.

Mike Leach would help cool down that seat he’s on right now with a convincing win over winless Wyoming at Martin Stadium on Saturday.    

  1. Colorado (1-1, 0-0, S&P+ 87th, Previous Power Ranking: 11)

Week 2: Defeated Massachusetts; 48-14.

Strike up the band, the nine-game losing streak is over for the Buffs as a re-energized run game lead the way in their blowout home opener.


How do you rank the Pac-12 top-to-bottom? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

** S&P+ rating was created by : The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play and drive data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays).  


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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