As we head into the fourth week of the 2015, with most Pac-12 teams completing the non-conference end of their schedule last week, we can start to flesh out which teams still have a chance to compete for the College Football Playoff, which will play in the more competitive bowls, and who might be looking for a new coach during the 2016 offseason.
Week 3 gave us our first conference clash of 2015, which also ended up giving us our first big Pac-12 North on Pac-12 South crime of the year.
- #9 UCLA (3-0, 0-0, S&P+ 16th, Previous Power Ranking: 3)
Week 3: Defeated BYU; 24-23.
Josh Rosen has shown over the past two weeks that A) he is a human B) he is a true freshman quarterback learning on the job in the Pac-12. More importantly, we learned earlier in the week that the Bruins would be without the services of impact linebacker Myles Jack for the remainder of the season after injuring knee ligament. This marks the third starter on defense to go down for the season for UCLA.
Not great news as they head to Tucson this weekend to take on the University of Arizona in what was hyped in the pre-season as one of the biggest conference games of the year for each team. How head coach Jim Mora and first year defensive coordinator Tom Bradley build a game plan with a depleted defense to attack one of the best offenses in the country will be fascinating.
#13 Oregon (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 15th, Previous Power Ranking: 2)
Week 3: Defeated Georgia State; 61-28.
Quarterback Vernon Adams did not play in the game against the Panthers due to a broken finger. Instead we saw that Jeff Lockie, with a different skill set, could do just as much damage against against a sub-par FBS school.
More concerning however is the Ducks defense ranked 58th in Football Outsiders defensive S&P+ thanks in part to allowing 431 last week. But that didn’t matter through most of 2014 when the Ducks were a win away from being the best team in the country. Their Pac-12 schedule opens this week as they welcome the upstar Utes into Autzen Stadium, a team who they destroyed in 2014, but that was back in the Mariota Era.
The Ducks have the best set of offensive tackles in the conference at the moment, so it will be fun watching how they perform against the vaunted pass rush of the Utes.
- #19 USC (2-1, 0-1, S&P+ 8th, Previous Power Ranking: 1)
Week 3: Lost to Stanford; 41-31.
The loss to the Cardinal certainly doesn’t shock those who year-in and year-out are found yelling in the streets to anyone who will listen that USC is overrated. For the rest of us, you have to both tip your cap to Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan while at the same time shaking your head at Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian and his defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Moving away from this game with the talent USC possesses on offense, you’d assume the mistakes made last during the second half last Saturday will be addressed this week at practice before heading to Tempe. Because the Trojans skill players looked damn good on that first drive.
- #16 Arizona (3-0, 0-0, S&P+ 48th, Previous Rank: 4)
Week 3: Defeated Northern Arizona; 77-13.
The Wildcats finished up their cupcake non-conference schedule unscathed for the most part outside of the injury to their best defensive player. Whether or not Scooby Wright, currently listed as questionable by Rich Rod, makes it back for their contest against the Bruins remains to be scene.
- #18 Utah (3-0, 0-0, S&P+ 47th, Previous Power Ranking: 5)
Week 3: Defeated Fresno State; 45-24.
Raise your hand if you heard it said last year in this column, but this could easily be the best team Utah has put out on the field since kyle Whittingham’s BCS busters late last decade.
Throw away the score against Fresno State as the Bulldogs scored 21 of 24 in garbage time. The three points the Utes defense allowed through the first three quarters should lead this team into Eugene with a bit of momentum. Whether or not they hold on to said momentum against the Ducks offense is another story entirely.
- #21 Stanford (2-1, 1-0, S&P+ 14th, Previous Ranking: 8)
Week 3: Defeated USC; 41-31.
Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense finally lived up to the pre-season expectations last week against the Trojans, and it was certainly aided by sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey having a breakout game shouldering the bulk of the carries.
When they follow the tried and true Stanford script set many years ago by Jim Harbaugh will keep this team in a lot of games. Moving the ball four yards at a time on offense while staying out of third and long situations that seem to challenge David Shaw’s comfort zone in play calling.
- Cal (3-0, 0-0, S&P+ 46th, Previous Power Ranking: 6)
Week 3: Defeated Texas; 45-44.
The Bears needed a bit of luck to come away with a win against Texas with the offense forced to make due without their starting running back. While the defense has progressed each and every week, it did show warts against the Horns quarterback making his first ever start.
We do get to witness the true firepower of this offense as it faces off against an upstart Huskies defense on the road. Following the win in Texas, this game will add to the media’s Jared Goff love affair should he continue his torrid start to 2015.
- Arizona State (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 28th, Previous Power Ranking: 7)
Week 3: Defeated New Mexico; 34-10.
While they didn’t exactly “dominate” the Lobos as Todd Graham suggested after the game on Saturday night, the Devils got through their non-conference schedule 2-1 with many corrections to be made in order to improve in all three phases of the game.
Whether or not they can heal up and correct glaring concerns at receiver, offensive tackle, and on special teams could determine the result of Saturday’s game in which the Devils currently sit five point underdogs. A win over the Trojans for an unprecedented third straight year could vault this team way up these rankings and undoubtedly find them back in the top-25 rankings.
- Washington (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 58th, Previous Power Ranking: 9)
Week 3: Defeated Utah State; 31-17.
The Huskies defense has looked better than average so far this season, as has true freshman quarterback Jake Browning. Whether or not the offensive line can pull it together in its remaining nine games on the schedule will decide whether or not this team can win eight games again.
- Oregon State (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 83rd, Previous Power Ranking 10)
Week 3: Defeated San Jose State; 35-21.
There will be few games played by the Beavers during the 2015 season where they won’t have to outwork their opponents to win. Last week’s game against an inferior opponent showed that in order to win games in conference, they need an A+ performance out of true freshman quarterback Seth Collins.
- Colorado (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 73rd, Previous Power Ranking: 12)
Week 3: Defeated Colorado State; 27-24.
After missing the potential game winning field goal at the end of regulation, Buffs kicker Diego Gonzalez made up for it by splitting the uprights for what turned out to be the game winner in overtime. Much like the Beavers, this is how the Buffs are going to have to out work teams if they plan on winning another two games out of the nine remaining on their schedule.
- Washington State (2-1, 0-0, S&P+ 90th, Previous Power Ranking: 11)
Week 3: Defeated Wyoming; 31-14.
The defense has looked better this year for the Cougs, but it’s been against sub par opponents, and this team still isn’t running the ball.
They had to come back against one of the worst teams in FBS play after sleepwalking through the first half. At some point you have to begin to wonder what it will take for this team to play a full four quarters in a game and what the expected output of those results might be?
** S&P+ rating was created by FootballOutsiders.com : 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).