1. #3 Oregon (7-0 Overall, 4-0 Pac-12)
Any time you can beat a division opponent by more than four scores and only really play a half of stand-out football generally means you are going in the right direction as a football program. Marcus Mariota still hasn’t thrown an interception this season but will go up against a team this week in UCLA that has its back against the wall.
What could be even scarier concerning the Ducks is the news that D’Anthony Thomas should be back this week. Frightening, considering how successful they have been without the player, who is one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the country.
2. #6 Stanford (6-1 Overall, 4-1 Pac-12)
Stanford got back to playing Stanford football last week against the Bruins. Nothing too flashy, not necessarily exciting, especially in their three-point first half, but in the end come out of it with another victory.
The passing offense is still searching to find someone other than Ty Montgomery to go to on third and long, especially now after the loss of fellow big-bodied wide out Devon Cajuste. But the defense still looks like the class of the conference at this point after completely man-handling the Bruins offense. And that’s a good thing as they play the fiercest offense throwing the ball in college football this season in Oregon State.
3. #12 UCLA (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12)
The UCLA defense won a moral victory in the first half of their game against the Cardinal, but they just couldn’t hold serve with how poorly the Bruins offense played through three quarters of their game.
4. Arizona State (5-2 Overall, 3-1 Pac-12)
Nobody expected the Devils to lay a beat down on the Huskies like they did in their 53-24 win at Sun Devil Stadium on homecoming night. Not only did they thwart their biggest weakness in stopping the run against a running back who was statistically the best in the country heading into the game, but they put forth their most complete game of the season in the process on both sides of the football. And to reward them, the scheduling gods gave them a bye before their game against Washington State next Thursday.
5. Washington (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12)
Head coach Steve Sarkisian couldn’t have put together a worse game plan for a contest that really could be a fork in the road on the Washington schedule going down the stretch. Luckily, the Huskies have lowly Cal and Colorado to get back on track with having lost three straight to Stanford, Oregon and ASU.
6. #25 Oregon State (6-1 Overall, 4-0 Pac-12)
This could be the last we see of Oregon State in this area of the rankings if they can play like the normally do in Corvallis. Can the best defense in the conference stop the kings of the drop-back passing game that is Mannion-to-Cooks? The Beavers’ final five games of the season will have them wishing they could have conquered mighty Eastern Washington back in Week 1, with this week’s match-up against Stanford the start of run that includes USC, ASU, Washington, and Oregon.
7. Arizona (4-2 Overall, 1-2 Pac-12)
B.J. Denker took big steps against Utah to show he can give Rich Rodriguez at least some semblance of a passing attack to keep defenses honest against Ka’Deem Carey. As a reward, he faces back-to-back road games against teams that won four games between them in 2012 and don’t look much better in 2013.
8. Utah (4-3 Overall, 1-3 Pac-12)
The Utes took their first trip out of state in 2013 and were greeted by a team in Tucson that ran the ball down their throats to the tune of a 35-24 final score. Hard to believe from a team that physically and tactically outmatched Stanford. But, if the Utes want to prove that last year’s bowl absence was a fluke they had better find consistency in their game as looming road contests against the Trojans, Ducks and Cougars could make staying home in December a reality instead of an anomaly.
9. USC (4-3 Overall, 1-2 Pac-12)
The bloom came off the rose quickly for interim coach Ed Orgeron as his offense was absolutely stonewalled by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a 14-10 defeat. The question is whether a healthy Silas Redd as part of a deeply talented Trojans backfield is enough to spell not having Marquise Lee against Utah in the Coliseum this week.
10. Washington State (4-4 Overall, 2-3 Pac-12)
Connor Halliday’s 89 pass attempts against Oregon earned him a bye, a shot at being a future starting pitcher for any team managed by Dusty Baker, or maybe it was just Mike Leach’s attempt to get his work in for the break all in one 60 minute spurt. Leach may have the smallest play call sheet in the conference, but surely he could sneak in another run or two and try to help keep his quarterback alive for another game or so.
11. California (1-6 Overall, 0-4 Pac-12)
We knew it was going to be tough in Sonny Dykes’ first season, and you can now add a potential quarterback controversy to the list of problems the first year coach of the Golden Bears has to deal with as Zach Kline came in for an ineffective Jared Goff against the Ducks.
12. Colorado (3-3 Overall, 0-3 Pac-12)
The Buffs pick up their second of three wins this season against an FCS opponent, and did so starting freshman at both quarterback and running back. To treat the fans attending for homecoming, their Saturday game features two of the best players at their position in the conference in wide receiver Paul Richardson and running back Ka’Deem Carey.