Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 8

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Quentin Tarantino’s cult-classic Pulp Fiction turns 20 years old this month, and what greater a way to celebrate the movie and the other seven films he has directed then rating his movies accompanied by their cross-over teams in the Pac-12 after week 7.  The conference as a whole finds lots of similarities to the 50-year-old polarizing director’s body of work.  Exciting and simple, and yet somehow misunderstood.  Are they the best films ever produced?  Perhaps not, but neither are the teams in the Pac-12 at this point with Oregon tops among all teams in the AP poll, just barely making it within the walls of the Top-10 rankings.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

1.#9 Oregon (5-1, 2-1)

Week 7: Defeated UCLA; 42-30.

Much like Pulp Fiction, the Ducks are a perfect blend of ridiculous and intrigue.  The Ducks proved they belonged with the conference elite with the dominating win over UCLA in which they were up more than four scores at one point before the Bruins chipped away at their lead.  Give Marcus Mariota an offensive line and he and the Oregon run game can do wonders.  Welcome back starting left tackle Jake Fisher after missing two games in which the make-shift line gave up 12 sacks combined.

 

Inglorious Basterds (2009)

2.#23 Stanford (4-2, 2-1)

Week 7: Defeated Washington State; 34-17.

No quarterback should have to withstand the beating that Connor Halliday somehow survived on Friday from this Stanford defense.  You can see the grittiness of Inglorious Basterds in this Cardinal team.  While they may not do it pretty offensively, especially with their current red zone woes, they still managed to pull away convincingly from the Cougars in the second half.

With three touchdown receptions by their tight ends, have they finally found an acceptable usage of this former strength on offense after a season and a half away from the 2011-2012 formula?

There’s no reason to get away from the blue print if you are David Shaw: dominate definitely, win the field position battle, and have just enough on offense to convert on down and distance playing with a short field.

 

Kill Bill Volume 1 (2001)

3.#22 USC (4-2, 3-1)

Week 7: Defeated Arizona; 28-26.

A team pushed to the boundaries after a heartbreaking hail mary loss to the Sun Devils somehow withstands a late onslaught by Arizona after the Cats miss three field goals in the game, including the game winner in the dying seconds.

Much like Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), the Trojans find themselves looking for answers in their identity as the complete their final season being hamstrung by scholarship restrictions.  And much like Beatrix, they possess a lethal weapon which is unfortunately not a Katana sword, but a running back in Buck Allen who sliced and diced his way through the Arizona defense for 205 rushing yards on 26 carries, nearly 8 yards an attempt.

The Trojans get to sharpen their swords this week as they face the Buffaloes at the Coliseum before heading out to play Utah at Rice-Eccles in Week 10.

 

Django Unchained (2012)

4.UCLA (4-2, 1-2)

Week 7: Lost to Oregon; 42-30.

Nothing says spaghetti Western like the Bruins right now after a six game body of work.  After beating Texas and ASU on the road by a combined score of 82-34 they managed to drop back-to-back games against Utah and Oregon in underwhelming fashion.  Not to mention the fact you have the internal strife between Jim Mora and his assistant coaches (we’re looking at you Jeff Ulbrich).

While there are excellent characters to soak up on this team (Brett Hundley, Paul Perkins, Eddie Vanderdoes, Myles Jack) each seems to have been dealing with the joys of victory and the agony of defeat in their own very public way.

After the decimation by the Ducks at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins head out to Memorial Stadium this weekend to face a Cal team torn to pieces by Washington.  This ideally would be part of a two game stretch (with Colorado next week) that should help UCLA football get back on their feet.

5.#17 Arizona State (4-1, 2-1)

Week 7: On Bye.

Much like Django, the Sun Devils always seem to be on this epic quest to last a lifetime.  For ASU, it simply wants national respect.  Something always seeming to elude it as it builds itself up in the polls only to lose a game in reputable fashion that removes every member of the media looking to cast doubts.

Yes ASU got blown out at home to UCLA, but it was a game that should have been more like 35-21, than the 35-point mutilation it turned out to be in the box score.  But turn the page in the story a week later and ASU defeated USC at the Coliseum, something few would expect to see again in their lifetime regardless of the quality of the 2014 Trojans.

But national media pawn it off as a game USC probably should have won, so you can’t help but to be confused at what expectations should be of this team going into the second half of the season.  Make no mistake about it, a win at home against Stanford puts ASU back on the map as a conference title contender.  Simply put, it would mean the Devils would have taken two of three games out of the group of UCLA, USC, and Stanford.  And that is definitely something you can put on a resume when looking to find a respectable bowl game in December.

 

Jackie Brown (1997)

6.#16 Arizona (5-1, 2-1)

Week 7: Lost to USC; 28-26.

Arizona, Utah, and Washington all belong in this same group and find themselves attached to Jackie Brown because like this movie, they don’t really belong with the others in the Tarantino collection.

After winning five straight to open the season, including a program building second straight win over Oregon, the Cats loss to the Trojans began a three game stretch which includes a road trip to the Palouse next week followed by one to the Rose Bowl the week after.

Arizona finds themselves at the middle of the pack offensively in all important statistics be it third down conversions, red zone success, or scoring offense.  The same holds true defensively, which is an improvement for how this defense has performed in the two prior seasons under Rich Rodriguez.  Therefore it’s safe to say, ranking this team tenth in the nation last week was quite an overstatement regardless of the win in Eugene.

7.Washington (5-1, 1-1)

Week 7: Defeated Cal; 31-7.

The Huskies play a very well thought-out carbon copy of Samuel L. Jackson as Ordell in Jackie Brown.  They are tough, blunt, and to the point defensively with a lot of style.  But you aren’t going to get much positivity out of them on offense unless.  That being said, this team deserves to be ranked and beating a one-loss Oregon team would be just what the doctor ordered this week.

8.#20 Utah (4-1, 1-1)

Week 7: On Bye.

Coming off the by following their second big road win of the season with the win over the Bruins being something of a major upset, its helping to show those outside the program that this team can win meaningful conference games away from the friendly confines.  This is one of the first big steps in breaking the chains of mediocrity in the Pac-12.

Utah’s defense has been very good so far this year, leading the conference in sacks and second in yards allowed per play.  Teamed with improved play at the quarterback position thanks to the assention of Kendal Thompson, this team is starting to like quite threatening.

If they can avoid a landmine in playing at Reeser Stadium on Thursday night, Utah can add yet another member to the Pac-12 South contenders down the stretch.

 

Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)

9.Cal (4-2, 1-2)

Week 7: Lost to Washington; 31-7.

In any other season, Cal might be ranked where an Arizona or Utah sit right now.  Unfortunately they are overshadowed on this list by the amount of quality above them that forces us to forget how solid of a rebuild this has been in season two of the Sonny Dykes regime.  Much like Kill Bill: Volume 2 pales in comparison to the bloodshed and action scenes of its predecessor.

10.Oregon State (4-1, 1-1)               

Week 7: On Bye.

How can a one loss team sit this low in the rankings?  Because it’s not all about wins without looking at the opponents (Portland State, Hawaii, San Diego State, and Colorado), or in the case of Kill Bill: Volume 2, the scenic sun blasted back drops.  But don’t let that take away from two things Oregon State has that will do it service in the second half of the season; a good quarterback and an underrated defense.

 

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

11.Washington State (2-5, 1-3)

Week 7: Lost to Stanford; 34-17.

No one will doubt that Mike Leach, the Hal Mumme disciple has been a game-changer in the industry much like Resevoir Dogs, but not to be confused with a coach and a system without its flaws.

I’m still shocked after the Stanford game that Connor Halladay could walk to the post game press conference, let alone sit there in solace questioning the current state of his team.  As fun as it is to watch Cougar games, much like Resevoir Dogs, it’s not something I plan to watch again later on in the week on Pac-12 Network.   Regardless, the Cougars might have an argument that they are the best two win team in the country, for whatever that is worth.

 

Death Proof (2007)

12.Colorado (2-4, 0-3)

Week 7: On Bye.

Hopefully Mike McIntyre had a chance to cool off during the bye week after two straight games with sideline tirades.

Tarantino admitted publicly that if Death Proof was the worst film he ever made than he would have called his career a successful one.  And I feel that accurately will sum up McIntyre’s second season at the helm in Boulder.  They certainly are better than they were last year, and will be able to hold their head up with the progress they’ve made at the end of the season, whether or not USC blows them out at the Coliseum on Saturday.

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