By Steven Lassan
Post-Week 1 Pac-12 Power Rankings
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1. Oregon (0-1) – Turnovers and an inability to establish their rushing attack prevented the Ducks from getting a much-coveted win over the SEC. However, all is not lost for Oregon. The Ducks remain the favorite to win the Pac-12 title and should get the offense back on track over the next two weeks against Nevada and Missouri State. Running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner suffered injuries against LSU, but the Ducks shouldn’t miss either if they are forced to sit out or are limited in the next two weeks. And who knows, maybe Oregon will get another shot at the SEC in a BCS bowl or national title.
2. Stanford (1-0) – The David Shaw era at Stanford is off to a good start. The Cardinal easily handled San Jose State, with quarterback Andrew Luck having an efficient afternoon, completing 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and two scores. A remodeled offensive line also performed well, not allowing a sack and averaging 3.5 yards per rush. The Cardinal defense bottled up San Jose State’s offense, forcing three turnovers and limiting the Spartans to 237 yards. The Cardinal will head east this week, as they travel to Durham to take on Duke.
3. USC – It was a tale of two halves for the Trojans against Minnesota. USC dominated in the first half, leading the Gophers 19-3 at halftime. However, Minnesota rallied in the second half and had a chance to win the game, but a late interception by Torin Harris sealed the victory for USC. The Trojans got a big game from quarterback Matt Barkley, who completed 34 of 45 throws for 304 yards and three scores. Receiver Robert Woods torched the Minnesota secondary for 17 catches and three touchdowns. One positive sign for coach Lane Kiffin was the play of the defense. The Trojans limited Minnesota to 302 yards and made the key stop in the fourth quarter to prevent a Gopher victory.
4. Arizona State (1-0) – UC Davis wasn’t the toughest Week 1 opponent, but the Sun Devils looked very good. Quarterback Brock Osweiler completed 19 of 26 passes for 262 yards and two scores. Running back Cameron Marshall also came up big, posting two scores and totaling over 100 yards of offense. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also registered three sacks. The Sun Devils have high hopes this year and Thursday night’s win is a good start. Missouri visits Tempe for a Friday night tussle, which should give Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson a good idea of where his team stacks up as Pac-12 play approaches.
5. Washington (1-0) – It’s a victory, that’s all that matters. The Huskies escaped a scare from Eastern Washington, as Desmond Trufant picked off a pass in the endzone to prevent the upset. Keith Price had big shoes to fill from the departure of Jake Locker and played alright in his second career start. Price completed 17 of 25 throws for 102 yards and three scores. Running back Chris Polk had knee surgery in fall camp, but showed no ill-effects, rushing for 125 yards on 23 attempts. One concern for the Huskies continues to be the defense. The Eagles shredded the Washington secondary for 473 passing yards. The Huskies’ pass defense will be tested once again this week, as Hawaii visits Seattle on Saturday.
6. Utah (1-0) – Utah’s first game as a Pac-12 member wasn’t pretty, but like Washington – it’s a victory. The Utes jumped out to a 24-0 lead and finished with a 27-10 victory. Junior college transfer John White had a solid debut at running back, posting 150 rushing yards and a score. Quarterback Jordan Wynn had offseason shoulder surgery and had to learn a new offense, coordinated by Norm Chow. The Utes still have some work to do in the passing attack, as Wynn only threw for 101 yards and averaged 4.4 yards per attempt. The Utes have a quick turnaround to workout the kinks, as they open Pac-12 play with a date against USC this Saturday.
7. California (1-0) – The Golden Bears had a solid win over Fresno State on Saturday. Quarterback Zach Maynard had a few shaky moments in his first at California, but finished 266 yards and two touchdown tosses. Running back Isi Sofele was solid, rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts. California’s defense also got the job done, limiting Fresno State to only 210 yards. The Golden Bears take on Colorado this Saturday, which should be a good measuring stick test for both teams.
8. Arizona (1-0) – The early results on Arizona’s reworked offensive line are positive. The revamped front five gave Nick Foles plenty of time to throw, as the senior sliced Northern Arizona’s secondary for 412 yards and five touchdowns. One other positive for Arizona was the play of the defensive line. The Lumberjacks managed only 80 yards rushing, while the Wildcats registered two sacks. Next up for the Wildcats is Oklahoma State, a team they were handled by in the Alamo Bowl.
9. UCLA (0-1) – Rick Neuheisel’s seat got a little hotter after Saturday’s loss to Houston. Dating back to last season, the Bruins have lost seven out of their last eight games. Quarterback Kevin Prince was knocked from Saturday’s game, suffering a concussion and a shoulder injury. Richard Brehaut was solid in his absence, but the UCLA defense was unable to get stops. With San Jose State up next, the Bruins should be able to even their record at 1-1. However, there’s not much room for error the rest of the way, especially if UCLA wants to go bowling and Neuheisel wants to return next year.
10. Colorado (0-1) – The Buffaloes just can’t seem to shake their losing ways on the road. Saturday’s loss to Hawaii was Colorado’s 18th consecutive road loss, although there were a few positives for coach Jon Embree. The offensive line struggled to open up holes for running back Rodney Stewart, but quarterback Tyler Hansen and receiver Paul Richardson developed a nice rapport in the second half. The secondary entered 2011 with a lot of question marks, but held Hawaii to only 178 yards passing. The Buffaloes have a lot of work to do in order to escape the Pac-12 South cellar. However, it will be interesting to see the improvement Colorado makes from Week 1 to Week 2 under Embree.
11. Washington State (1-0) – Paul Wulff needs all the wins he can to bolster job security, but Saturday’s opener came at a heavy price. Quarterback Jeff Tuel did not start the game due to a virus, but later entered the game and suffered a broken collarbone. Tuel is out indefinitely, which is a huge loss for Washington State. Tuel had a solid sophomore season and was on the verge of a breakout campaign. Without Tuel, the Cougars will have to turn to senior Marshall Lobbestael. However, Tuel will be missed and his absence is a huge blow to Washington State’s chances of escaping the Pac-12 North’s cellar – and Wulff’s job security.
12. Oregon State (0-1) – What in the world is going on in Corvallis? The Beavers have started slow in previous years under Mike Riley, but losing to Sacramento State is unacceptable. Dating back to last year, Oregon State has lost five out of its last six games – including a defeat to Washington State. Big things were expected out of Ryan Katz this year, but he was benched in favor of Sean Mannion. The good news for Oregon State is it appears the offense has found a replacement for Jacquizz Rodgers – Malcolm Agnew. The true freshman had a strong debut, rushing for 223 yards and three scores. Riley is a good coach, but there are a lot of questions to be answered after a lackluster performance like this. Unfortunately, for Oregon State, things won’t get any easier next week at Wisconsin.