The following article was prepared by staff writer Rob Malara.
With four teams on byes this past weekend, including the big two of Oregon and Stanford, you wouldn’t have been blamed for sleeping through Saturday with a bit of a hangover from the Thursday night game that saw the Arizona State Sun Devils land their first road win of the season. But now things heat up.
Going into this weekend, four teams remained unbeaten at home: Oregon, Stanford, ASU and Arizona. One of those four streaks came to an end on Thursday night as Stanford defeated Oregon. The Wildcats host the Bruins on Saturday.
1. #5 Stanford (8-1 Overall, 6-1 Pac-12)
Stanford was wearing down physically up and down the roster and needed last weekend to heal up. Nothing like a little time on the Farm to take care of some wounds! The Cardinal out-muscled Oregon on Thursday night and sent the Ducks packing for the second straight season. It was an impressive win for coach David Shaw’s team and reaffirmed the Cardinal’s position atop the Pac-12 power ranking.
2. #3 Oregon (8-1 Overall, 5-1 Pac-12)
It’s not difficult to understand the numbers behind Oregon’s success this season. The Ducks lead the conference in points scored and points allowed. They dominate against the run defensively and get off the field on third down, allowing just over 33 percent of opponents to convert into a first. Unfortunately for the Ducks, these impressive stats weren’t enough to take down Stanford. They fell to the Cardinal 26-20 in Palo Alto, and thus drop behind their key Pac-12 North rival in this week’s conference ranking.
3. #19 UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12)
The Bruins got back on track by following the script of all other Pac-12 teams these past few years: beating the Colorado Buffaloes. Brett Hundley successfully pulled his team up by the bootstraps, accounting for six touchdowns combined during a 45-23 win.
4. #22 Arizona State (6-2 Overall, 4-1 Pac-12)
The Devils obliterated Washington State for their first road game of the year in three tries. For coach Todd Graham’s team it was mission accomplished, dominating in all three phases of the game, but not without suffering a few nicks and bruises.
5. Washington (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12)
Keith Price and Company are coming off the bye having thrashed Cal, the first leg of a two-game home stand that welcomes Colorado into town this week. Steve Sarkisian finds himself having to win three of his last four games to shake the dreaded seven-win season he has mailed in each of the last three years. Without WR Kassen Williams for the rest of the season, it may be time to see if this Ross kid can make some more plays down field for the Bruins passing game.
6. USC (6-3 Overall, 3-2 Pac-12)
It’s hard to believe that USC is now bowl eligible under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Much of that can be credited to the Trojan defense that allowed the great passing game of Oregon State to record just one touchdown, and mauled Beavers QB Sean Mannion all day—forcing three interceptions and sacking him eight times. All of this by a Trojans team missing three starters due to injury on the defensive side of the ball.
7. Oregon State (6-3 Overall, 4-2 Pac-12)
Things just don’t get more difficult to understand for a team that has won all four of its games away from the noisy confines of Reser Stadium, yet dropped two against Stanford and a re-energized Trojans team. The Beavers padded the stats a bit on the road recently against the likes of San Diego State, Washington State and California, so that may have helped to mislead some. At this point, it’s safe to say that opponents have figured out ways to limit Oregon State in the red zone. But if coach Mike Riley can gather some semblance of a ground game during the team’s bye week, the best may still be yet to come for a squad that has to face ASU, Washington and Oregon in the Civil War to close out the regular season.
8. Arizona (6-2 Overall, 3-2 Pac-12)
Quarterback B.J. Denker now leads the Wildcats in rushing touchdowns thanks to three he scored against Cal at Memorial Stadium last weekend…and at this point has more TDs using his legs than his arm.
9. Utah (4-4 Overall, 1-4 Pac-12)
Utah has now lost two straight after their upset win of Stanford at home last month. The heart and soul of the team, sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson, has suffered from a hand injury going against Arizona and USC, but is now healthy according to coach Kyle Whittingham.
10. Washington State (4-5 Overall, 2-4 Pac-12)
In order for the Cougs to make their first bowl under Mike Leach, they will have to win two out of three games against Arizona, Utah and Washington with a rushing offense that’s at the bottom of the barrel in the country. Worse yet: two of those three games are on the road.
11. California (1-8 Overall, 0-6 Pac-12)
Cal has now lost seven straight games. The Golden Bears are struggling with injuries, and shouldn’t be bragging that they sit above the Buffs. The only vote of confidence they have in their favor is the first half they put up against Arizona last weekend. Sonny Dykes’ squad has yet to beat a team that calls the FBS home.
12. Colorado (3-5 Overall, 0-5 Pac-12)
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre has decided to devote the rest of the season on offense to the kids and see what some seasoning will do for promising players such as QB Sefo Liufau (completing over 64 percent of his passes) and RB Michael Adkins, who has rushed for over 180 yards in his last two games. But until the Buffs develop some depth and the ability to sustain drives and keep their defense off the field, they are going to find a cozy spot at the bottom of this list, week-in and week-out.