Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 5

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This week was more like it in the Pac-12.  While the match-ups weren’t necessarily marquee, there were entertaining games all day, be it the scare in Seattle between the Huskies and those pesky Georgia State Panthers, or the nightcap games in both Tucson and Pullman.

Saturday had a little bit of everything on a day where we learned even the best team in the conference was just as vulnerable as the bottom feeders in the conference.  All of this was welcomed especially with the fact that four of the top five teams were on bye.

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

Week 4: defeated Washington State, 38-31

Narrowly pulled through, enduring quite a few scary moments in the Palouse.  We learned that Marcus Mariota (during a time of Jameis Winston strife) can confidently say he has the most complete platform at the moment of any quarterback in the country who strives for Heisman glory. Each and every time the Cougars looked to have an edge on Oregon, Mariota made a play to beat Washington State back down a peg.

The interesting part of the game was Washington State’s ability to beat Oregon’s defense through the air, including one of the best defensive players in the nation, corner back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.  This is an area Oregon will need to tighten up as they go on the by this week before hosting Arizona next week.

2.#16 Stanford (2-1, 0-1 Previous Rank 2)

Week 4: Bye

With a warm-up game against Army before the bye, Stanford had the week off to prepare for their second biggest test in the early season, this week’s game in Seattle against Washington.  Just based on talent alone, fans of the Pac-12 will be rewarded in this game for watching two of the better front sevens in the league.  A Stanford win secures would help their case that they still indeed belong in the top flight in the Pac-12.

3.#11 UCLA (3-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 3)

Week 4: Bye

The bye week gives UCLA a chance to re-gather and gameplan for their next big road game, their Pac-12 road opener against the Sun Devils.  Will quarterback Brett Hundley start for the Bruins?  It seems all but a given after a video leaked out from practice earlier this week of Hundley throwing balls to his receivers.

4.#15 Arizona State (3-0, 1-0 Previous Rank 4)

Week 4: Bye

The Devils have yet to play four complete quarters of football in 2014 and look to scheme a way to bring it all together without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly who will miss the game against the Bruins due to a foot injury sustained in Boulder against the Buffs earlier in the month.

5.#18 USC (2-1, 1-0 Previous Rank 5)

Week 4: Bye

Much like the Devils, the Trojans needed the bye week to regain health on their roster as they host Oregon State this week.  What team will show for the Trojans will be one of the biggest questions of the week: will it be the team that survived Stanford on the way to the biggest win so far for Steve Sarkisian, or the team that flopped the following week against Boston College?

A healthy dose of the run game lead by Buck Allen to slow down the Oregon State passing attack might pay in spades for this very thin Trojans squad.

6.Washington (4-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 6)

Week 4: defeated Georgia State, 45-14

Chris Peterson was not a happy man when describing the first half of his team’s play against Georgia State.  Down 14-0 at half time, the Huskies looked to be sleep walking at home against an inferior opponent before turning on the after burners (42 points in less than 20 minutes) in the second half in a definition of a “trap game.”

This week’s game against the Cardinal will be their toughest so far in the early season.  Will Cyler Miles and the Huskies offense be able to make athletic plays against Stanford’s defense?  This is a game where linebacker Shaq Thompson has to step up and show that his talent truly is NFL quality against one of the better teams in the conference.

7. Utah (3-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 8)

Week 4: defeated Michigan, 26-10

While it’s been a turbulent season for Michigan, any time a Pac-12 team can win in the Big House under adverse weather it has to get spoken of highly.  Kyle Whittingham’s squad deserves praise after gutting it out against the Wolverine’s in a game where once again they suffered an injury at the quarterback position and struggled before getting things squared away late and leaving Ann Arbor still undefeated.

The prime time Saturday match-up against Washington State should prove to be an entertaining one with both teams known for their pension to play boom-or-bust, big play football.

8.Arizona (4-0, 1-0 Previous Rank 7)

Week 4: defeated Cal, 49-45

Have we ever seen a team look so bad for three quarters and look so good in the final stanza?  Sure you could argue the Wildcats got lucky landing two on-sides kicks in succession, followed by the hail mary catch by wide receiver Austin Hill.  But Rich Rodriguez seems to slowly be building on what could be a terrific offense by mid-season if he could get a bit more consistency from his young quarterback Anu Solomon.

While the Arizona defense leaves something to be desired, the offense has two huge playmakers at wide receiver and running back Nick Wilson that will guarantee Oregon’s coaching staff quite a few late nights on their bye week as the two meet to open October next week.

9.Oregon State (3-0, 0-0 Previous Rank 9)               

Week 4: defeated San Diego State, 28-7

The Beavers have their first big game of the season against USC this week after a convincing if not unspectacular win against San Diego State.  Beaver fans can’t feel too confident about the results so far in 2014 even with a perfect record so far.

Sean Mannion’s fourth and final game against the Trojans comes at a time where his statistical production has been relatively tame in the early going.  A win in the Coliseum would certainly help elevate his status as one of the best quarterbacks all-time for the Beavers.

10.Cal (2-1, 0-1 Previous Rank 10)

Week 4: lost to Arizona, 49-45

You can’t help but feel the entire Cal roster and coaching staff, much less the fan base, needed a hug after losing to Arizona on Saturday.  Mike Leach feels bad about how the Bears blew this one down the stretch.

There certainly is talent on this team offensively, and the defense almost did enough to win on the road, but the game showed those observing that you have to play defense in this league to be bowl worthy, and Cal just forgot that going into the fourth quarter.

11.Washington State (1-3, 0-1 Previous Rank 11)

Week 4: lost to Oregon, 38-31

Tip of the cap to the Cougars and their coaching staff for being outgunned and yet still giving Oregon a pretty good scare.  They put together a great gameplan and executed it as best they could; protecting their quarterback Connor Halliday, allowing him to make plays down field in the passing game time and time again.  They even ran the ball enough to keep Oregon honest.

But they just couldn’t find a way to limit Mariota’s ability to make key plays in key moments, and that combined with a costly fumble by Jamal Morrow sealed their fate.

And while they don’t have to face Oregon again until next year, Mike Leach has to somehow figure out a way to win five of their next eight games to become bowl eligible.  All that stands in their way are games against Utah, Cal, Stanford, Arizona, USC, Oregon State, Arizona State, and Washington.  Ouch.

12.Colorado (2-2, 0-1 Previous Rank 12)

Week 4: defeated Hawaii, 21-12

The Buffs take care of a Hawaii team at home that has struggled to put out a healthy roster, let alone the struggles of traveling to Boulder.  Once again receiver Nelson Spruce puts in a fantastic effort for the Buffs who played very salty on the defensive side of the ball.

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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