Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 3


It was a juicy week of action during Week 2 of the college football season where we witnessed a Pac-12 power laying the wood to the defending Rose Bowl champs while two of the better teams in the conference squared off in what could be one of the better games we’ll see all year.  And then there is Cal.  Does anyone know how good the Bears or Utah is for that matter right now?  Both teams have two wins through two games and are screaming for anyone to pay attention to them while they ride hot streaks.

But then again, we are only able to refer to a sample size.  So much can and will change in the following 13 weeks of play.

1. #2 Oregon (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 1)

Week 2: defeated Michigan State, 46-27

Insert Dennis Green locker room rant here.  Oregon is good, really good, and the win against Sparty should help them continue to collect national recognition.  The play of Marcus Mariota against a top level defense has also propelled him near the top of the Heisman race where he belongs.

What was more impressive about this win was the tactical and personnel changes made at half time by Mark Helfrich due to poor play and injuries forcing his hand to get more aggressive in his game management style.  He played his hand masterfully and should be applauded for doing so.

2.  #9 USC (2-0, 1-0 Previous Rank 3)

Week 2: defeated Stanford, 13-10

Huge win by the Trojans over the Cardinal and even with all the distractions (add Pat Hayden to the list now). The combination of the fast and aggressive offense with bushels of skill players at the running back and receiver positions for Cody Kessler to throw to as well as a stout front seven should help propel the Trojans into the conversation of College Football Playoff contenders by the time they play host to the Sun Devils in early October.

3. #15 Stanford (1-1, 0-1 Previous Rank 3)

Week 2: lost to USC, 13-10

For as good as quarterback Kevin Hogan could be for Stanford, the play calling was way too conservative against the Trojans and ultimately cost head coach David Shaw his second straight game against Southern Cal.  Add to it the uncharacteristically high amount of penalties and turnovers and you start to see a story evolving here.  That just isn’t how Stanford usually plays, so you can understand why folks in Palo Alto see the results of that game as an aberration.  Things get better however as Stanford hosts Army this weekend to help get their house back in order.

4. #12 UCLA (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 4)

Week 2: defeated Memphis, 42-35

While we all might still be confused with how Jim Mora handles press conferences, it was good to see it wasn’t all hype with the way the Bruins offense executed against Memphis.  Problem is the UCLA defense took a page out of the offense’s book in week one and really laid an egg.

Last year Mora was able to ignore the large amount of penalties due to the team’s overall talent that was able to override any small mistakes.  But those same sorts of penalties have really kept the Bruins at bay so far in 2014.  Folks in Tempe can see a direct correlation to the early Dennis Erickson teams in that regard, with the caveat that Mora seems to have a lot more talent at both the coaching and talent levels than that of Erickson.

5. #16 Arizona State (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 5)

Week 2: defeated New Mexico, 58-23

The Sun Devils make up for a bad second quarter by blowing the doors off the Lobos in the second half of their game in Albuquerque.  While we still don’t know the true ability of this team thanks to the opponents they have faced, they have won the games convincingly that they’ve played and that should continue this week against the Buffs in their Pac-12 opener.

6. Washington (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 6)

Week 2: defeated Eastern Washington, 59-52

Quarterback Cyler Miles showed the nation that this Huskies offense is capable of good things with the right person behind center and Shaq Thompson getting a few carries a game as a part-time running back.  Now if they could just get their defensive house (573 yards allowed to an FCS school isn’t going to cut it) in order there is a shot of this team moving up on the list.

7. Arizona (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 7)

Week 2: defeated Texas-San Antonio, 26-23

You can blame fans for shutting off the game after the first play when Anu Soloman connected with wide receiver Cayleb Jones for an 85-yard touchdown.  But if you continued to watch the game you were thoroughly entertained until the final few plays as head coach Larry Coyer has really coached this team up given the talent at his disposal in a short amount of time.  The Roadrunners are a salty team as is this week’s opponent Nevada. 

8. Utah (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 9)

Week 2: defeated Fresno State, 59-27

The Utes are outkicking their coverage right now, as is Cal, riding a hot quarterback (Travis Wilson who threw for five touchdowns last week).  While Michigan has been a disappointment so far, if the Utes really do belong they handle the Wolverines in the Big House in a week’s time.  If they can’t, well they should go back to settling for making a bowl as the goal to achieve.

9. Oregon State (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 8)               

Week 2: defeated Hawaii, 38-30

The Beavs were firing on all cylinders through three quarters last week against the Rainbow Warriors.  They were running the ball, Sean Mannion was efficiently firing the ball down field to new deep threat Victor Bolden as well as his trio of tight ends.  And then the fourth quarter took place.  Maybe they were day dreaming about going to Bubba Burgers after the game?  Whatever the case this team can’t afford to allow teams to get back into games.  Their defense just isn’t good enough.

10. Cal (2-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 11)

Week 2: defeated Sacramento State, 55-14

Many in the national media are grouping Cal with Utah as far as Pac-12 overachievers status goes.  But we here in the Devils Den know a pumpkin when we see one.

Cal is healthy and certainly is riding off the coat tails of being horrible in 2013 and then being able to beat a Big Ten opponent on the road a year later.  It’s encouraging, and they’ll get to ride the wave of positive enthusiasm for one more week as they are on a bye this weekend.

11. Washington State (0-2, 0-0 Previous Rank 10)

Week 2: lost to Nevada, 24-13

Nobody wants to be winless going into week three of the season.  Especially Mike Leach who was riding a positive wave of emotion with this program not seen since the glory days of Mike Price and Ryan Leaf.  That’s just how low things were in Pullman before his arrival.  Fact is he’s now won just 9 games out of 27 during his time with the Cougs and in this day and age of big money college football, which just isn’t going to cut it.

Things get better for the time being albeit as Portland State comes to town.  Nothing less than a blowout win should be expected over the Vikings.

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

Week 2: defeated UMass, 41-38

There was nothing good to be said about the Buffs going down by two scores against a limp UMass team in the second half of last week’s game.  The fact that Colorado did manage to pull it out on the road does however say something to the resolve of this team.  But a return trip to the friendly confines of Folsom Field doesn’t sound that great for Buffs fans when they realize it will be more than likely a third straight humiliating defeat to the Devils since they entered the Pac-12 in 2012.

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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