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UWDP's Pac 12 Power Rankings and Conference Roundup: Week 6

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Blow this sucker up. The Pac 12 is a dumpster fire right now.

Is Todd Graham still smiling after the drubbing at the hands of UCLA at home?
Is Todd Graham still smiling after the drubbing at the hands of UCLA at home?
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac 12 just can't seem to get it's stuff together.  Let's discuss.

Conference Roundup:  Week 6

  • How much better does Oregon look than just about everybody else right now?
  • The explosion of UCLA is probably more aberration than reality given the tattered state of ASU's overall defense.  Still, you can't help but notice the big plays coming from guys like Paul Perkins and Jordan Payton.  These are guys who needed to step up in order for UCLA to take the next step and, well, they did.
  • Not to be forgotten for UCLA is how relatively clean Brett Hundley's jersey stayed all night.  Good work by that O-Line, no matter how bad the opponent.
  • The other big story from the weekend was the huge comeback victory by WSU on the road in Utah.  I'll eleaborate more on this, but the story of that game was the WSU defense moreso than the offense. That's two weeks in a row that WSU's D - in particular that beefy D-Line - stepped up for Mike Leach.
  • Speaking of WSU's road victory - anybody notice the success that Pac 12 teams are having on the road so far this season?  Five of eight conference games have been won by the visitors.
  • Stanford should get credit for winning a tough game vs UW.  It would be easy to say that they gave UW "every chance" ... but that isn't really true.  UW gave them just as many breaks with the TD return called back, the dropped pick 6, the horrible fake punt and the lousy pass protection.  The Cardinal offense was really unimpressive on their own O-Line and with their running game.  In some ways, they are clones of UW - a team that is going to lean on their defense until their offense gets on track.
  • UW will get a lot of attention from the fans this week.  I'll just add that I'm not yet concerned about QB play.  Sure, it hasn't been good.  But nobody is going to do well until basic pass protection gets straightened out and the rushing attack gets going.  Nobody on this roster is as good a QB as Keith Price was in 2012 and look at how his season went with bad O-Line play.  There will be a time to bitch about QB play, but first things first.  Right now, Cyler Miles is KP 2012 minus the turnovers.
  • I'm not sure what to make of Cal.  They were getting crushed by Colorado at home until Jared Goff decided to turn it on and start lighting up the scoreboard.  Regardless, we are seeing the emergence of a true gunslinger down there.  Whether or not he turns into a ball-safe slinger remains to be seen.
  • And, how about both Sefo Liufau and Goff both throwing 7 TDs apiece in that game.  That's never happened before.
  • My top 5 Pac 12 defenses based on the eyeball test:  Stanford, Utah, USC, Washington and .... WSU.
  • Oregon State is not looking good.  The defense is starting to get beat up and that offense is not yet clicking.  The injury to Victor Bolden takes their best playmaker out of the mix and Mannion seems to be reverting to "sloppy Sean".  That said, I fully expect a Mike Riley-esque resuscitation soon.

Pac 12 Power Rankings:  Week 6

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 1 Oregon_medium
Oregon 4-0 (1-0) Arizona
Last Week BYE
Nothing happened in the week that was to challenge Oregon's status as the top team in the Pac.
Week 4 POG: n/a
2 5 Ucla_medium
UCLA 4-0 (1-0) vs Utah
Last Week WIN UCLA 62 @ ASU 27
We could nitpick a lot of things about this UCLA performance, including the performance of a team D that surrendered 600+ yards of offense to an ASU team led by the backup QB. Still, to do so would miss the point. UCLA waltzed into the deserts of Tempe and laid a beat down on a legit, if not flawed, divisional rival. They did it with HUGE plays from scrimmage, the forcing of turnovers, and special teams. I know the analysts were all beating their chests say "see, this is the team we said was a top 5 national power", but I tend to think that this game was more aberration than a sign of beat downs to come. Oh, but what a beat down it was. UCLA deserves a bump up this week.
Week 4 POG: DB / Ret Ishmael Adams (1 INT, 2 TDs) I need to give Ish Adams some love here. He's been a silent team MVP all season and he really showed up against ASU with his defense and his ST touchdown. He's a "mighty might" player who looks like Nate Robinson out there. His 95 yard INT return was stellar and his 100 yard Kick Return TD in the third was the dagger that killed ASU.
3 4 Usc_medium
USC 3-1 (2-0) vs ASU
Last Week WIN
It's not like USC was dominating in their win over OSU. But they showed toughness and playmaking ability. The latter, as demonstrated by Su'a Cravens' pick six and Darreus Rodgers' Hail Mary reception, is what keeps me sticking with USC in the upper tier of the power rankings. In fact, i came away from this weekend impressed with both the performance of SC's o-line and with the impact that came from moving Cravens to LB in a Shaq-like role. A very Wilcox-y thing to do. Still, something isnt quite clicking for the Trojans. Consider this week's position tenuous.
Week 4 POG: LB Su'a Cravens (6 tckls, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 TD) Not a bad debut at LB for the sophomore superstar. Cravens got the first points of the night for USC with a pick 6 and went on to be the most dynamic player on the field all night. He's a beast in the making.
4 3 Stanford_medium
Stanford 3-1 (1-1) @Notre Dame
Last Week WIN Stanford 20 @ Washington 13
The Stanford D had another stellar showing, but it only did so against one of the most inept offenses in all of college football. The identify of Stanford's offense is in doubt given their inability to run the ball or to establish a TE oriented passing game. Though they pulled out the W in Seattle, this was more a story of how UW lost the game than how Stanford won it. This doesn't look like a very sharp football team. I'm going to drop them behind the LA schools this week.
Week 4 POG: LB Peter Kalambayi (6 tckls, 3 sacks) I could've picked any a number of Stanford defenders for this one, but Kalambayi's 3 sacks deserve special attention. He also gets credit for his post game quote where he noted that the Cardinal had noticed during film study that the Huskies "lacked discipline". One can only presume that he was talking specifically about the offensive line that he torched. He would be right.
5 7 Arizona_medium
Arizona 4-0 (1-0) @Oregon
Last Week BYE
Zona gets an extra week to prepare for a huge road trip to Autzen. It's almost a shame to blow a BYE week in such a fashion. Regardless, they get a bump because they are currently better than UW right now.
Week 4 POG: n/a
6 11 Wsu_medium
WSU 2-3 (1-1) vs Cal
Last Week WIN WSU 28 @ Utah 27
Coug fans deserved that one. After putting up with a pre-season sleep walk and then watching their team take Oregon to the edge only to be left empty-handed, this come-from-behind victory is special. While Connor Halliday and the receivers will get all the credit, it was an impressive step-up in defensive play that really changed the complexion of the game. Combined with their gritty effort against Oregon, we now have to open our minds to the idea that WSU's D is a legit plus unit. That is enough for me to jack them up the chart this week. We'll see if they can stay there.
Week 4 POG: BUCK Kache Palacio (8 Tckls, 2 TFLs, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 sack) The upset over Utah was driven by the play of the Cougar Defense and nobody played better than LB Kache Palacio. He played like Hau'oli Kikaha out there - possessed and with his hair on fire. He was disruptive and playmaking in all aspects.
7 6 Washington_medium
Washington 4-1 (0-1) BYE
Last Week LOSS Stanford 20 @ Washington 13
A one possession loss to Stanford is hardly something to be ashamed about. However, Husky fans can be forgiven for scratching their heads right about now. How the Chris Petersen staff could come in and take apart one of the most prolific offenses in Washington history is mystifying. Even if you adjust your expectations for the losses of KP, ASJ, Bishop Sankey and Demore'ea Stringfellow, this kind of collapse is unthinkable. Outside the very questionable game management by the coaches (kicking to Ty Montgomery, fake punt, making Stanford rekick), the biggest question I have is why have a mobile QB out there if your plan is to run a power rushing attack that doesn't utilize this skill set? The offensive coaching is a problem as much as anything and the result is, perhaps, the most incompetent offense in the Pac 12. The Huskies D is good enough to buoy them in the rankings for now. You have to be particularly excited about how well the pass rush looked, how well Budda Baker played and the huge turnover margin UW has on the season. However, that D alone isn't going to win you games with Cal, Oregon and Arizona all just ahead on the schedule.
Week 4 POG: P Koree Durkee (7 punts, 51.7 avg, 3 I20) I thought about Shaq here, but he was out of position on the Hogan TD run. Durkee was the only player that contributed positively at all with about as good a day in punting as you could ask for.
8 8 Arizonast_medium
ASU 3-1 (0-1) @USC
Last Week LOSS UCLA 62 @ ASU 27
ASU is quickly becoming what we thought they were to start the season. While they have somehow managed to stay ranked, ASU has been showing cracks in the armor all season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. UCLA exposed those cracks and then blew them open. Not only is this revamped ASU D not good, but they essentially had quit on their team by the end of the third quarter. Still, the offense was pretty decent, despite Bercovici's three turnovers (two unforced). They racked up a lot of yardage, ran a lot of plays and could have made this a different game if not for the turnovers. The dangerous offense keeps these guys relatively steady in the rankings.
Week 4 POG: WR Jaelen Strong (12 recs, 146 yds) This guy is the true "beast mode" of Pac 12 receivers. Big, strong, athletic, coordinated. He's the whole package. Huge night for him in the loss.
9 2 Utah_medium
Utah 3-1 (0-1) @UCLA
Last Week LOSS WSU 28 @ Utah 27
The Utah Utes suffered a staggering defeat at home to WSU after establishing an early lead and then setting the tone with some tough D. But when the offense stalled in the rain and wasn't able to extend that lead in the second quarter, you kind of felt that something was going to go wrong. Ultimately, this one is on Utah's offense - they couldn't string together any drives in the second half and they left that D hanging out to dry. This epic meltdown added with the further evidence that came from the Michigan loss to Minnesota has us rethinking Utah's position and compels a big drop in this week's Power Rankings.
Week 4 POG: LB Jared Norris (14 tckls, 2.5 TFLs, 1 PBU, 1 sack) Though Utah's pass D ultimately failed them in the first half, Norris was the guy that made sure the Cougs didn't take the game away earlier. This is second time on the POG list this year. On a unit that is clearly in the top 3 of Pac D's, he is emerging as, perhaps, its best player.
10 9 Oregonst_medium
Oregon State 3-1 (0-1) @Colorado
Last Week LOSS
I know that a lot of P12 fans are going to question OSU below UW. However, OSU is proving to be more prone to mistakes on both sides, in particular with turnovers (e.g. pick sixes) and defensive breakdowns (e.g. Hail Mary TDs). Plus, Mannion's numbers were actually worse than Cyler Miles's were. Go figure. I'm holding OSU back for now, at least until they start their annual mid-season climb back to respectability.
Week 4 POG: KR / DB Ryan Murphy (1 TD, 3 tckls) There really wasn't a single stand out on either side of the ball for OSU, but Murphy did his best to stoke the fires of his team with a 97 yard KO return in the first quarter. That play was probably the last highlight for the Beavers on a miserable night in Los Angeles.
11 10 Cal_medium
Cal 3-1 (1-1) @WSU
Last Week WIN Colorado 56 @ Cal 59 OT
I wanted to move them up. However, this team has a really awful Defense - one that is so bad that it will continue to make really weak offenses like Colorado and Washington look really good. I was a little surprised to see an equally as inept Colorado defense disrupt Jared Goff so much in the first half, especially given my boasting about Goff "turning the corner" the week before. But, hand it to the man, he came back strong in the third quarter and ended up winning the game for the Bears. Next week's game at WSU will reveal much to us about where Cal stands.
Week 4 POG: QB Jared Goff (449 yds, 7 TDs, 1 INT) He was pretty off in the first half, but the man threw 7 TD passes in Cal's home OT win over Colorado. That's a whole lot of production.
12 12 Colorado_medium
Colorado 2-3 (0-2) vs OSU
Last Week LOSS Colorado 56 @ Cal 59 OT
I feel bad for Colorado here. They actually got a quick lead on Cal, taking a 28-14 lead into the half. But that Colorado Defense had zero ability to contain the Cal passing attack and, in the end, it was a game of attrition. Whomever had the ball last was going to win and, unfortunately, that was Cal in OT.
Week 4 POG: QB Sefo Liufau (449 yds, 7 TDs, 1 INT) Sefo finally breaks Nelson Spruce's stranglehold as Colorado's POG. He played valiantly in the OT road loss to Cal, throwing for three first half TDs to stake a lead for Colorado, only to see that awful D give it all back. Curious how his stats were almost identical to his opponent, Jared Goff.

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