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Pac 12 Roundup and Power Rankings: Week 4

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QB injuries, Sark on the road, relief in Pullman and swagger found at Montlake. We have much to discuss.

Has the injury bug started to hit PAC 12 QBs?
Has the injury bug started to hit PAC 12 QBs?
Doug Pensinger

It's time for another edition of our weekly PAC 12 roundup. Go ahead. Take your pants off now. I'll wait.

There, now doesn't that feel better.  Let's get through some Roundup Dots.

Pac 12 Roundup Dots

  • For sure, stinker of the week honors falls to the USC Trojans after falling flat on their faces on the road at Boston College.  I get that it is a long flight and that a Sark doesn't have a good track record on the road.  But, c'mon!  Coming off of a big win at the Farm over Stanford should be a momentum starter, not a preface to a collapse.

  • Oregon's offensive line is getting perilously thin.  After an injury to yet another fill-in starter at LT, the Ducks resorted playing a walk-on in that important LT position to close out the Wyoming game.  Tumult on the line is one reason that the Duck rushing attack just doesn't seem very "Oregon-ish" quite yet.

  • Starting QBs took some blows in both the UCLA and ASU games.  In the former, Brett Hundley appeared to have hyper-extended his left elbow after bracing himself during a tackle.  To the latter, Taylor Kelly appeared to have sustained a slightly more serious injury in the fourth quarter against Colorado when he, too, was tackled by a d-lineman on a QB rushing play.  UCLA and ASU play each other next on the schedule.  While neither coaching staff comments on injuries, it would appear that Hundley has the better chance to play.

  • Speaking of UCLA.  How about that guy Neuheisel?

    Neuheisel_medium

    No, I meant the other Neuheisel.

    Usatsi_8085405.0_medium
  • Arizona has some players on offense and, well, I don't know what on defense.

  • The emergence of the front seven is finally happening at Montlake.  Danny Shelton (6) and Hau'oli Kikaha (5) are now one and two in the nation in QB sacks.  The UW leads the Pac 12 with 15 sacks - four ahead of Oregon.  Consider that UCLA has the lowest output with just three (gee, I wonder who predicted that?)
  • Oh, and I have no idea what the story is with Marcus Peters.  None.  Zero.  Zip.  Sorry.

Pac 12 Power Rankings:  Week 4

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 1 Oregon_medium
Oregon 3-0 @ WSU
Last Week WIN Wyoming 14 @ Oregon 48
Save for a Defense that had a harder than expected time getting off the field for parts of the game, there was really no let up for the Ducks in the week following their huge win over Michigan State. As always,the story was an incredibly efficient Marcus Mariota who,yet again, covered up for the fact that the Ducks failed to establish a 100 yard rusher in the game. Who needs it when you have a QB who has thrown for a TD in 29 straight games? Enjoy him while you can, Duckies. Oh, and let's hope that your tattered offensive line doesn't get him killed.
Week 3 POG: S Erick Dargan (2 INTs) It's easy to give Mariota the nod every game. However, Dargan nabbed 2 INTs in this one and now has three on the season. Even though the first one was thrown right to him, the second one was pretty slick and came at a time when the Ducks were on their heels a bit. It was a momentum changer and good enough to allow us to tag Dargan as the UO POG.
2 3 Stanford_medium
Stanford 2-1 (0-1) BYE
Last Week WIN Army 0 @ Stanford 35
How crappy does Stanford have to feel after watching USC get gashed by a running team in Boston College? More importantly, what does the fact that BC was able to overpower USC say about the Cardinal and their rushing attack? While a 35-0 win always looks impressive (the second shutout for Stanford this season), it is always hard to gauge yourself against a one dimensional team like Army. Nevertheless, somebody has to be #2 in the power ranks and, given the lack of a better candidate, we'll go with Stanford here. The Cardinal now have two weeks to prep for their trip to Montlake.
Week 3 POG: LB James Vaughters Anytime you see one team pitch a shutout, it is a good bet that their POG is going to be a defensive player (even if WR Devin Cajuste caught three TDs). Caught ears had a solid day with six tackles including two for losses that summed up to a negative 16 yards. That's a bit hard to do against a triple option team.
3 4 Utah_medium
Utah 2-0 @ Michigan
Last Week BYE ----
The Utes get an early BYE to prepare for their trip to Ann Arbor. They also get a default bump thanks to USC soiling itself. Let's see if it lasts.
Week 3 POG: N/A
4 2 Usc_medium
USC 2-1 (1-0) BYE
Last Week LOSS USC 31 @ Boston College 37
A week after going to the Farm and stuffing the Cardinal, the USC defense completely failed as the Golden Eagles racked up a startling 420 yards of rushing including a gashing 4th quarter TD run by the BC QB to cinch the W. This kind of road effort is vintage Sark, but it is hard to punish USC too much given the kind of lapses that just about every other P12 team has suffered so far this season. One thing to be concerned about was the abandonment of the rush by Sark. The Trojans only netted 20 yards rushing here as the play calling went pass-happy. I think Kessler is a good QB, but he isn't good enough to carry this offense as if he is Brett Hundley. I'm docking USC as a result.
Week 3 POG: QB Cody Kessler (31/41, 4 TDs) Kessler was very efficient in this one, aided by the Sark short passing game that was implemented as soon as it became clear that the Trojans were not going to be able to run the ball. Outside of taking a few sacks, Kessler really made no mistakes and was the key guy holding it together why the rest of Troy was burning down.
5 7 Arizona_medium
Arizona 3-0 Cal
Last Week WIN Nev 28 @ Arizona 35
I watched chunks of this game and I was struck by how similar it looked to the UTSA game for Arizona. Their offense is good but prone to fits of mistakes. Their defense is bad but prone to outbursts of productivity. In the end, this is a team that is being built around two freshman at RB and QB. I'm not sure how long it will last, but both Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson are special talents possessing that "it" factor. Despite barely surviving Nevada, I'm bumping the 'Cats.
Week 3 POG: RB Nick Wilson (29 cars, 171 yards, 2 TDs) For the second week in a row, Nick Wilson carried the day for the Wildcats. I'm a little concerned about the fact that a true freshman has 59 carries in a two week span, but this kid looks like a real difference maker as the heir apparent to Ka'Deem Carey.
6 5 Arizonast_medium
ASU 3-0 BYE
Last Week WIN Arizona St 38 @ Colorado 24
While a 2 TD road conference win is always a good get in the PAC, ASU confirmed what our eyeballs have been telling us about this team. 1) DJ Foster is better than Marion Grice. 2) the offense is still a force to be reckoned with. 3) their state of the defense can only described as "in deep transition". The Buffs actually out gained ASU pretty substantially, but the three turnovers generated by the Devils was the difference. Offensively, the Devils stuck to the run with both Foster and QB Taylor Kelly taking turns moving chains. They took a blow when Kelly was injured later in the game (and seen on crutches with a foot injury). A win is a win, but it's hard to move ASU up after one where they looked slightly inferior to Colorado and when Kelly looks like he may miss time. I'm dropping them a little.
Week 3 POG: QB Taylor Kelly (13/21, 193 yds, 3 TDs; 77 rush yds, 1 TD rush) I really wanted to go with DJ Foster here, but Kelly was the offense all night. His 50 yd TD run in the 3rd essentially iced the game. He continues to ooze efficiency whenever he's on the field. It is yet to be seen if that will be anytime soon.
7 6 Ucla_medium
UCLA 3-0 BYE
Last Week WIN UCLA 20 vs Texas 17
I struggled with placing UCLA following their close shave against a severely depleted Texas team. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that Texas gave UCLA an extra possession by choosing "defense" and not "defer" after winning the coin toss, we may actually be talking about another outcome. The good news is that the Bruins found a running back in Paul Perkins who produced about 200 yds in offense. They also may have found a source of inspiration in the way that Jerry Neuheisel rallied the team following an injury to star QB Brett Hundley. However, this is a power rank exercise and, as such, I can't help but notice that UCLA is going into PAC 12 play with almost no momentum and the prospect of having their leader out there with a bad wing. Thus, I'm dropping them one more notch.
Week 3 POG: QB Jerry Neuheisel (23/30, 2 TDs) This may be the only time in his career he'll be a candidate, so I'm going to give Jerry some love here. What a thrill it must have been for him to step up in a hotly contested game played in front of a national audience and to deliver the game-winning TD pass. Good on him.
8 9 Washington_medium
Washington 3-0 Georgia State
Last Week WIN Illinois 19 @ Washington 44
I thought hard about moving UW up more aggressively given that they look to be in better health and showing a bit more momentum going into Week 4 than either ASU or UCLA. However, I still feel like we haven't seen the true "complete game" from UW. I also feel like the teams ahead have shown a little more against better competition. It is becoming clear that the front seven is emerging as a core strength for the Dawgs. Likewise, the offense is showing the ability to score with Cyler Miles at the helm. But the secondary is still a worry as is the inability to get Kasen involved. UW is settling in, but there is still a lot that we can't yet discern about this team. For now, I'll bump them up one.
Week 3 POG: LB Shaq Thompson (4 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FR, 2 TDs) After a slow start in Honolulu, Shaq has really shown up the last two weeks. His two defensive TDs vs Illinois demonstrated his pure playmaking ability. More impressive to me is how he is taking away the zones that he covers from opposing offenses. He is delivering mighty blows over the middle and controlling his space. His recovery of the Dante Pettis fumble on ST demonstrates how heads up he is playing right now. The man is in the zone. Hau'oli Kikaha is just going to have to have another three sack game if wants to win a POG.
9 8 Cal_medium
Cal 2-0 @ Arizona
Last Week BYE ----
A slight drop after a week off for Cal. No worries, though, as they'll have a chance to make a big impression in their visit to Tuscon.
Week 3 POG: N/A
10 10 Oregonst_medium
Oregon State 2-0 San Diego
State
Last Week BYE ----
The BYE doesn't do Oregon State any favors in terms of helping to distinguish them in the power ranks. They'll be looking to make a statement when hosting SDSU next weekend.
Week 3 POG: N/A
11 11 Colorado_medium
Colorado 1-2 (0-1) Hawaii
Last Week LOSS Arizona St 38 @ Colorado 24
While losing a home game to a division rival by two TDs wasn't exactly an encouraging development, the young Buffs can take solace in the fact that they did a lot of things that normally will lead to wins. Their QB made good throws. They got a running game going behind Christian Powell. They featured their playmaking receiver. They even provided a stiffer than expected test on defense. They just couldn't overcome the early deficit derived from turnovers and unforced mistakes. They will soon be challenging teams like ASU. Until them, they are holding at 11.
Week 3 POG: WR Nelson Spruce (7 recs, 97 yds, 2 TDs) For three weeks in a row, Nelson Spruce has been the best Buff on the field and I'm not sure it's even been close. Say 'hello' to the Pac's newest playmaker. This guy is legit.
12 12 Wsu_medium
WSU 1-2 Oregon
Last Week WIN Port St 21 @ WSU 59
WSU took the step they had to take in order to start recovering from the early hole that they've dug for themselves this season. The offense was aces as the Air Raid finally got untracked as Connor Halliday racked up 544 yds passing (and two more INTs). I'm not really sure why he played until halfway through the fourth with the game never in any danger but, hey, that's why I'm not the coach. Unfortunately, we just can't tell anything about WSU from this game, so they are in a holding pattern at 12 for the time being.
Week 3 POG: WR Isaiah Myers (11 recs, 227 yds, 3 TDs) I hesitated going with Myers here only because his impact wasn't really felt until the second half when the game was well out of reach. Still, those are some crazy numbers. We have to give the man some pub.

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