How do the teams in the Pac-12 stack up after Week 7 of action?
By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on Twitter)
Post-Week 7 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Oregon (5-1, 3-0) – The Ducks didn’t have their Heisman trophy-contending tailback LaMichael James and lost their heart and soul when quarterback Darron Thomas left the game in the middle of the third quarter with what appeared to be a minor left knee injury. It didn’t matter as the Ducks rolled up 327 yards rushing and 41 points in the 41-27 win over Arizona State. In what could be a preview of the inaugural Pac-12 title game, fill-ins Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas combined for 279 yards from scrimmage and three scores in a game that Oregon basically controlled from start to finish. All signs point to Darron Thomas being able to play this weekend against Colorado – how much depends on how quickly the game gets out of hand.
2. Stanford (6-0, 4-0) – There is only one team in the nation that has covered the point spread in every game it has played thus far. Yup, Stanford’s average margin of victory actually dipped to 34.6 after the 44-14 win over Washington State to keep the nation’s longest winning streak alive at 14. Andrew Luck continued his Heisman campaign with a 336-yard, 4-TD performance. He is now the most efficient quarterback in the Pac-12 and is third nationally (180.55). Argubaly the toughest test of the season thus far for Stanford will come in the form of a visit from the redhot Washington Huskies in Palo Alto this weekend.
3. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) – The Sun Devils did get out to a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, the Oregon Ducks outscored ASU 34-13 the rest of the way. The two-headed offensive attack of Brock Osweiler and Cameron Marshall was productive, but two costly interceptions by the Devils quarterback helped the Ducks pull away. Arizona State still has the South all but wrapped up, so this game serves mostly as a learning experience for a team that should be representing the South in the Pac-12 title game.
4. Washington (5-1, 3-0) – Husky quarterback Keith Price is quickly – and probably way too quietly – turning into one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 season. After a 21-of-28 passing performance for 257 yards and four touchdowns in the 52-24 win over Colorado, Price now has at least three TD tosses in every game of the season, and his 21 passing touchdowns trail only Robert Griffin’s 22 for the national lead. He might be the most underrated quarterback in the nation at this point in the season. After a 3-0 start in Pac-12 play, Steve Sarkisian will has his hands full trying to stop the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto this weekend. Should they pull-off the upset (the 20-point spread is entirely too much), Washington would vault to No. 2 on this list and becomes the top challenger to Oregon with the Ducks coming to town November 5.
5. USC (5-1, 3-1) – The numbers weren’t all that impressive for the Southern Cal offense – 195 yards passing, 118 yards rushing – but the defense played its best game of the season. Lane Kiffin used the bye week to fix some obvious problems on that side of the ball, and it showed. The Trojans forced five Cal turnovers in the 30-9 romp on Thursday night. USC now faces a hot Notre Dame team that also had an extra week to prepare. Fans will learn if the Trojan defense has actually made strides or if it's just playing Zach Maynard that made them look so good.
6. Utah (3-3, 0-3) – Utah pulled out a hard-fought black-and-blue victory over a solid BCS conference team on the road. Unfortunately, the 26-14 win over Pitt doesn’t help the Utes' Pac-12 record. The defense was outstanding against the (supposed to be) high-flying Todd Graham offense, holding the Panthers to 120 total yards of offense. The schedule lightens up from here on out for Kyle Whittingham — Cal, Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA, Washington State and Colorado are the remaining six games.
7. California (3-3, 0-3) – Keenan Allen once again displayed his remarkable talents by catching 13 more passes for 160 yards. However, Allen (who unfortunately can't play the other 21 positions on the field) has been the lone bright spot in three straight losses, the last two in blowouts, including the 30-9 loss to USC on Thursday night. Cal fans need to see some growth from Jeff Tedford’s group, and with Utah, UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State up next, he has a chance to cool down his warming seat.
8. UCLA (3-3, 2-1) – Above .500 in conference play this late in the season for the first time in half a decade, the Bruins will use the bye week to prepare for a winnable road game at Arizona. The Bruins lost 29-21 to the Wildcats last season but did not have to face the injured Nick Foles - whose Pac-12 leading 361.2 yards per game of total offense will be on the field this time around. This is a game, coming against a team without its head coach, that UCLA has to win if it expects to land a quality bowl game.
9. Washington State (3-3, 1-2) – The Cougars welcomed back starting quarterback Jeff Tuel to the field and then proceeded to produce their worst offensive output of the year in the 44-14 loss to Stanford. Washington State posted a season-low 48 yards rushing and a season-low 209 yards passing. Tuel was 17-of-30 for 145 yards and no touchdowns in his return to action. To be fair, however, they were facing the biggest buzzsaw in college football when they welcomed the Stanford Cardinal to town. The Cougars have to win over Oregon State if they expect to achieve bowl eligibility this season.
10. Arizona (1-5, 0-4) – The Wildcats had one of the more eventful bye weeks in all of college football. Not only did they have to contemplate the painful 37-27 loss to lowly Oregon State, but they also have a new head coach roaming the sidelines. Defensive coordinator Tim Kish will manage his first game this weekend against UCLA - a team the Wildcats beat 29-21 last fall.
11. Colorado (1-6, 0-3) – The 52-24 loss to Washington is more of a testament to how improved the Huskies are than to how much work Jon Embree has left to do in Boulder. The Buffs managed only 269 yards of offense, but the 113th-ranked scoring defense could not stop the Keith Price-led offensive attack.
12. Oregon State (1-5, 1-2) – The Beavers couldn’t stop the BYU rushing attack on Saturday as the Cougars rolled up 282 yards on the ground in the 38-28 win over OSU. After a 14-14 halftime score, BYU – behind new quarterback Riley Nelson’s three touchdown passes – outscored the Beavers 24-14 in the second half to earn the win in Corvallis. Freshman tailback Malcolm Agnew did return to the lineup with 49 yards on 10 carries. It was his first action since a 233-yard college debut in Week One.