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UWDP's Pac 12 Power Rankings and Conference Roundup - Week 10

A clear line of separation has emerged between the top half and the bottom half of the conference. As we go into week 10, it is time to start calling out the contenders from the pretenders.

The look on the face of Chris Petersen says it all.
The look on the face of Chris Petersen says it all.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If there were ever a weekend that Husky fans were forced to deal with the enduring mediocrity of their football team, this was the one.  In a game that was played in "Husky weather" against an opponent from the desert who was returning a rusty QB and an average team defense, the imperfect Huskies were expecting to see where they really stand relative to the rest of the conference.

The good news is that the mission was accomplished.  The bad news is that it is clear that this Husky team is a decidedly worse product than what we've seen on the field the past few years.

While the Huskies D fared well and has emerged as a truly top-tier defense in the PAC, glaring deficiencies in offense and special teams are relegating this Husky squad to bottom-of-the-conference status.  The Huskies are in significant danger of not even equaling last season's win total, despite having a far easier schedule and an extra game on the docket.  To equal last year's nine wins, they'll have to win four of their final six matches (including a bowl game) with four of those contests happening outside of Husky Stadium.

It is hard to see that happening for a Husky team with such an inept offense.

That said, this is still a team working through significant injury issues (Ben Riva, Dexter Charles, Kasen Williams, Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, etc) and the adoption of a much more significant philosophical coaching change than fans had expected.  There is reason to believe the Huskies still haven't touched their ceiling.

Conference Roundup:  Week 10

  • Sticking with the Husky theme to start this off, it should be noted that the Huskies are currently averaging 2 yards less per play in 2014 than they did in 2013.  That is a ridiculous decline in performance (~20%).  Eyeballing recent Pac 12 history, I can't find an example of a team that has come close to that kind of decline.  UW's 4.87 yards per play, by way of comparison, is not quite 2008 bad, but would rank as one of the three worst performances of any Pac team in the last five years - right there with Colorado in 2012 and UCLA in 2010.
  • UW's is the only offense averaging less than 5 yards per play for the season, but it isn't the only Pac 12 offense that has fallen precipitously from where it was a year ago.  OSU and Stanford also fall into that bucket.  However, Stanford seemed to breakout against an otherwise salty OSU D last weekend.  David Shaw employed a much more aggressive game plan that involved more down field strikes - many of which connected.  QB Kevin Hogan averaged 10 yards per attempt.  Though he ended up throwing 2 picks, uncharacteristic for a Stanford QB, the positive impact on the offense was apparent.
  • The best game of the weekend was clearly Utah hosting USC.  If you watched it, you had to be impressed with how both teams got after it.  It was a physical, bruising affair played at a high level of tempo from both teams.  I was really impressed with both teams, but it was the better coached team that ended up pulling out the W.  Utah is now very well positioned in the South and will get the chance to further cement their situation with their matchup versus ASU next weekend.
  • Injuries and a lack of solid pass protection are really starting to affect and already transitioning OSU offense.  QB Sean Mannion is watching his draft stock plummet in a season that is starting to off the rails.  I'll be curious to see if Mike Riley's seat really starts to warm up in Corvallis.
  • Oregon did what Oregon does in their Friday Night lights matchup against Cal.  Still, the fact that Royce Freeman was relatively well-controlled and that the Oregon D really couldn't stop Jared Goff and co has to be concerning.  The announcers noted several times that Marcus Mariota never really had to throw into tight windows.  I note the same thing and now I'm starting to wonder what kind of offense Oregon will be able to execute against a much stiffer and disciplined Stanford D.  I still think they are the best team in the PAC, but I'm not sure that they are a playoff team.
  • Last comment here goes to Arizona.  This team is really rolling right now.  The 59 points is tied for the second most that they've ever scored in a game and, ironically, both came against WSU.  They are playing just flat-out dominating offense and that defense of theirs is doing a nice job of creating turnovers.  I don't know if they can sustain, but they are pretty fun to watch right now, even if their latest conquest was just the whimpering Cougs.
  • Pac 12 Power Rankings - Week 10

    Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
    1 1
    Oregon 7-1 (4-1) vs Stan
    Last Week WIN Oregon 59 @ Cal 41
    Another interesting if not disappointing showing from Oregon. A ridiculous 24 point run between the first and second quarters gave UO an insurmountable lead. Otherwise, the Ducks looked pedestrian. Marcus Mariota was just OK in passing for 18/30 and throwing his first pick of the season. The defense was truly subpar. There were turnovers and mental mistakes everywhere (where were these mistakes vs UW?). The offense was explosive but not really all that efficient. While still the class of the PAC by a good margin, I'm beginning to wonder if they are really playoff worthy. We'll see against a Stanford D that is more than capable of tamping down Oregon's explosive plays.
    Week 9 POG WR Dwayne Stanford (6 recs, 103 yds, 2 TD) There were some sexier stat lines, but it has been pretty impressive watching the emergence of Stanford over the last few weeks. He's not a polished product yet, but he's looking like a guy who could be that "big" outside receiver that Oregon has struggled to develop over the last several years.
    2 2
    utah helmet
    Utah 6-1 (3-1) vs ASU
    Last Week WIN USC 21@ Utah 24
    Despite its overlap with the Husky game, I was able to watch this entire game. I was really impressed with both the speed and the physicality with which Utah played. They are have truly established a confident, strong defense and, with a healthy Travis Wilson to complement RB Devonte Booker, an effective enough offense. The special teams play is also elite. K Andy Philips is a real athlete and KR Kaelin Clay is probably the best special teams player in all of the Pac 12. Despite arguably the most difficult schedule in the nation, I'm looking at Utah as a legit contender for the Pac 12 crown.
    Week 9 POG KR / WR Kaelin Clay (115 APY, 1 TD) In a hard fought, physical football game like this one, the game often hinges on the ability to turn field position. Clay did just that. He had a fantastic 51 yard punt return at a critical moment of the game and he managed to convert a huge TD receiving. His 115 all purpose yards were second on the team only to Devonte Booker's 119.
    3 4
    Arizona Helmet
    Arizona 6-1 (3-1) @ UCLA
    Last Week WIN Arizona 59 @ WSU 37
    It's hard to draw sweeping conclusions from a game against WSU. However, this matchup had "letdown" written all over it. Arizona overcame that and simply put their foot to the collective throat of their opponent. Solomon is an emerging superstar with a fantastic supporting cast on offense. I'm still not sold on that D, but they are playing loose and fast right now.
    Week 9 POG LB Scooby Wright (3 sacks, 3 FF, 8 tckls) Wright continues to impress in both his production and his leadership. He has had an amazing breakout season as the anchor of the 'Zona 3-3-5 and was a one-man wrecking crew against the Cougars' Air Raid. 3 FF? That's Shaq-esque production right there.
    4 5
    ASU Helmet
    ASU 6-1 (4-1) vs Utah
    Last Week WIN ASU 24 @ Washington 10
    I'm not sure how good ASU really is, but I'm fairly certain that ASU's D has benefited greatly from playing Stanford and Washington the last two weeks. I do not believe that this unit will be able to keep up this kind of production for the remainder of the schedule. On the flip side, I also believe that Graham's offense is better than they've shown against the last two defenses that they've played. In a normal year, this ASU is squarely a middle of the pack team. Still, in this crazy year, they are in the middle of the South division race.
    Week 9 POG QB Taylor Kelly (2 TD passes) Give Kelly credit. Coming off a big injury and having his first game back come against an aggressive UW defense in the swirling, gusting winds of Husky stadium was a challenge. He maneuvered his team, remained as efficient as you could hope for and made plays when he got the chances to do so. Not a sexy stat line, but I'm not certain Bercovici could have pulled it out.
    5 6
    Stanford 5-3 (3-2) @ Oregon
    Last Week WIN OSU 14 @ Stan 38
    This was kind of a Stanford game, but kind of not. Not surprising, there was stellar LB play, a ton of creative blitzing, and many attempts at rushing the ball. On the flip side, Stanford struggled with that run game, ball security and special teams - all things that the Cardinal normally do well. The big difference in this one - besides completely crushing the OSU rushing attack, was the explosive plays out of the Stanford offense. From the first series, you could tell that David Shaw was determined to make Kevin Hogan push the ball downfield - and the beleaguered QB delivered. Despite the struggles they've had, Stanford can STILL take sole possession of first place in the North if they can find a way to beat Oregon next weekend.
    Week 9 POG LB Blake Martinez (6 tckls, 2.5 sacks, 1 PBU) Another week, another Stanford linebacker steps up as a POG. Martinez was the guy that the Beavs decided to try to handle one on one all night. Bad decision. He wreaked havoc in the OSU backfield and was in Sean Mannion's grill all night. A great game for Martinez.
    6 3
    USC Helmet
    USC 5-3 (4-2) @ WSU
    Last Week LOSS USC 21@ Utah 24
    I think the performance of the Trojans will get discounted based solely on the L and the manner in which they lost it at the end. Sark definitely deserves the scrutiny he will get for his game management at the end. However, there was a lot to like if you are a Trojan fan. USC matched Utah's physicality on both sides of the ball in what was one of the hardest hitting games that I've seen all season. This game was truly a battle between two sharp teams. I'm impressed with how Sark is getting the down field passing game going, but I can't help feeling that the depth issues are really starting to affect USC's play in second halves of these games. I think it will only get worse for USC from here.
    Week 9 POG S Su'a Cravens (7 tckls, 2 sacks, 1 PBU) Cravens was all over the place versus Utah. His combination of speed and strength is remarkable for a sophomore. The closing speed he showed on both of his sacks was breathtaking. He may be the best pure football player on the USC roster - even better than Leonard Williams.
    7 7
    ucla helmet
    UCLA 6-2 (3-2) vs Arizona
    Last Week WIN UCLA 40 @ Colorado 37
    For the third time this season (Virginia and Memphis being the other two ...and you might even put Cal in there), UCLA won a game against a clearly inferior opponent that they really didn't deserve to win. It is perplexing to me because, as I look at the Bruins, i see a team that has a running game finally emerging, who has a legit weapon at QB and a defense that SHOULD be pretty good. However, the OL is a major problem, the DL is movable and the LBs are prone to significant mental mistakes (has there been a more disappointing sophomore season than Myles Jack in recent history?). This is a team lacking leadership - both on the field and on the sideline.
    Week 9 POG
    8 8
    UW Helmet
    Washington 5-3 (1-3) @ Colorado
    Last Week LOSS ASU 24 @ Washington 10
    With half the season gone, the Huskies stand where they are - a very good defensive team that is being let down by streaky special teams play and, perhaps, the worst offense that this program has ever seen outside of the 2008 season. All three Husky QBs have now had their chance and each of them have looked like carbon copies of the other two. There is an infection creeping through the offensive side of the bal called "staffus ineffetivus". Husky fans are looking to see how Coach Chris Petersen handles his first true test of adversity. Until then, it is hard to argue that UW hasn't sunken to the bottom quarter of the conference in terms of overall "power" - despite the presence of four "first rounders" on the defensive side of the ball who are playing up to if not past their overall potential.
    Week 9 POG DE Hau'oli Kikaha (2 sacks, 4 TFLs, 1 PBU, 6 tckls) Kikaha set new Husky marks for sacks in a season and career sacks with an unbelievable night against ASU. Not only was he harassing the QB all night, but he was also very effective in defending ASU's screen game. Just a true stud who's last season at Montlake is going to waste.
    9 9
    Cal Helmet
    Cal 4-4 (2-4) @ OSU
    Last Week LOSS Oregon 59 @ Cal 41
    Like they did a week ago against a UCLA team that jumped to a big lead, the Cal Bears showed a ton of grit in fighting back after Oregon ran off 24 unanswered points in the first half. They ran the ball, they forced turnovers and they stood up against the Ducks rushing attack. Watching Oregon struggle to stop Cal's offense is a reminder of how good UW's D can be when it was on. Despite the loss, Cal is clearly the most improved P12 team this year and likely the most improved in the nation.
    Week 9 POG DB Stefan McClure (7 tckls, 1.5 TFLs, 1 INT) On principle, the Cal secondary did nothing to warrant a POG candidate. They got torched on broken coverage after broken coverage all night. However, picking Marcus Mariota off for the first time all year is noteworthy. So congrats go to Stefan McClure for the accomplishment and an otherwise productive game.
    10 12
    Colorado Helmet
    Colorado 2-6 (0-5) vs Washington
    Last Week LOSS UCLA 40 @ Colorado 37
    Give Colorado credit. They were down by 17 at three different points in their matchup versus UCLA and they kept coming back. The fact that they got to OT is a testament to their character and the belief they have in the road that they are traveling. The fact that they lost is almost irrelevant. There is substance to this Buffs team that exceeds both their level of experience and their overall capabilities. I'm giving Mike McIntyre's crew a well-deserved bump this week.
    Week 9 POG QB Sefo Liufau I'm not listing in any stats here because Liufau's POG recognition isn't about the numbers. UCLA was up and up big on Colorado several times in this one. Yet the sophomore QB kept his team together and just kept coming. He showed real toughness and grit in doing so. His leadership is a real story line for this Buffalo football season.
    11 10
    OSU Helmet
    Oregon State 4-3 (1-3) vs Cal
    Last Week LOSS OSU 14 @ Stan 38
    If there were ever a week to upset Stanford at home, this was it. The Cardinal were missing all but one starting DL, they were coming in completely discombobulated on offense and, during the game, they committed turnovers and ST gaffes. Yet they still got thrashed. I don't hold the lack of offense against them - though this OSU offense is really struggling - but the inability to challenge Stanford's explosive playmaking really surprised me. I don't think that OSU is the worst team in the PAC, but they are in really bad shape right now. All of a sudden, next week's game versus Cal could turn into a job eval for the reeling Mike Riley.
    Week 9 POG LB Michael Doctor (8 tckls, 1 INT) Hard to pick a POG in a game that was over with 10 mins to go in the third. However, I thought Doctor played hard throughout and seemed to pop whenever the Beavs made some kind of stop. His INT was one of the few momentum plays that OSU had all game long.
    12 11
    WSU Helmet
    WSU 2-6 (1-4) vs USC
    Last Week LOSS Arizona 59 @ WSU 37
    WSU got run out of the building against Arizona on Saturday night in a game that many thought would be closer. Don't be fooled by the final score - WSU was down 24-0 in the first quarter and was really never a threat to Wildcats all night. WSU's offense continues to be streaky despite how much Connor Halliday has improved in both his passing touch and his ball security. Defensively, the Cougs are a complete disaster right now.
    Week 9 POG QB Connor Halliday (56/79, 489 yds, 4 TDs, 2 INTs) The best Coug on the field was probably Vince Mayle (14/145/1), but Connor gets a special nod for setting the all-time WSU mark for passing yardage. Congrats to Connor on a great career.

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