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Pac 12 Roundup and Power Rankings: Week 3

We look back at the week 2 performance around the league and project our weekly power rankings heading into week 3.

Steve Dykes

The Pac 12 picture came into clearer view this past weekend with the top of the conference beginning to exert itself, some new teams emerging in the middle and your beloved Dawgs starting to look like that they might be occupying the bottom portion of the pecking order, at least as things stand now.  Here are some Roundup Dots for your perusing pleasure.

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Pac 12 Roundup

  • You have to hand it to Oregon.  After looking like they were overmatched both defensively and in their ground attack in the first half, they came back to win impressively.  In fact, they didn't just come back, they quite literally dominated the second half in a way that had to impress just about every witness to it.  They made an opponent who had been kicking their butts look foolish in every aspect of the game. 

  • The bad news for Oregon, more injuries on the O-line.  We'll have to watch that situation play out.

  • The other marquee game in the Pac, USC and Stanford, turned out exactly as predicted in the pre-season but not in the fashion that was predicted.  Well, that's only half true.  I expected Stanford's o-line to struggle (they did) and their RBs to not show up (they didn't).  However, I had also expected USC to get more than 300 yards in total offense.  The fact that they didn't is a good sign for a reloading Stanford D.

  • By the way, I hope that the strip/fumble by Kevin Hogan finally puts to bed this ridiculous argument that all Hogan does is "win games".  Apparently, he occasionally loses them, too.   He is what he is - a good Pac 12 QB who isn't quite in the same league as the Hundleys and Mariotas of the world.

  • The OSU / Hawaii game was an interesting litmus test for a rival team against a common opponent.  The Beavs looked fantastic in mounting a huge 38-7 lead.  However, let's not fool ourselves by saying that Hawaii ran off 24 straight points against the reserves in garbage time.  The Beavers let the Warriors back in by showing off a pretty weak defense, by not executing on offense and by committing horrible penalties.  A blocked punt also kind of hurt the cause.  In the end, their win was about as impressive - or unimpressive - as was the Huskies (who played relatively error free).

  • The UCLA offensive line is still horrible.  When Memphis (and I know Memphis!) can get to your all-everything QB four times, you know you've got problems.  I expect Mora is going to punch somebody at the coaches conference call on Tuesday.

  • The Cougs have problems.  Big problems.  The thing is they don't look horrible all the time - but they commit horribly egregious errors.  I don't expect them to stay this bad - not with that passing attack - but they've dug themselves a HUGE hole when it comes to getting bowl eligible.  They have to have a winning record in P12 play to do it.

  • You have to be impressed with the Utes.  They have adopted Dave Christensen's playbook and turned it into a rip-roaring offense (which begs the question that is on all Husky Fans' minds:  what is so damn hard?).  They haven't really been challenged yet, but I think they are really the "surprise" team of the first two weeks.

Pac 12 Power Rankings:  Week 3

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 1 Oregon_medium
Oregon 2-0 Wyoming
Last Week WIN MSU 27 @ Oregon 46
We knew things were not going well for Oregon when they went to half down to the visiting team and having just netted 13 yards in total rushing. If you quit watching the game at this point, I wouldn't blame you for having questions about Oregon's weaker-than-expected O-Line play, their non-existent pass rush and their weak run defense. Then the third quarter happened. Oregon, which may be the most momentum-oriented team in all of CFB, completely took over in a display of defensive pressure, QB wizardry and unbelievably wide open receivers you've ever seen. It was stunning. While the D may still have some questions, this team remains the class of the Pac 12, especially as long as #8 remains at the helm.
Week 2 POG: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (5 tckls, 1 INT) Oregon was down by double digits until a stretch in the third quarter that covvered 9 offensive plays for MSU and resulted in 0 total yards. This was the turning point and, as such, it makes sense to give a defender the POG. Ifo didn't really stand out in pass coverage most of the night - MSU got a lot of what it wanted in the passing game. However, he was all over the place in run defense - in particular during that third quarter stretch - and he literally took a third of the field away from MSU. His fourth quarter INT - a full layout to get to a tipped pass - was an extremely athletic play that would fail to impress only the most cynical of Duck haters.
2 2 Usc_medium
USC 2-0 (1-0) Boston
Last Week WIN USC 13 @ Stanford 10
It wasn't pretty, and they needed a 53 yard field goal to win it, but USC demonstrated the value of having talent everywhere in their win over Stanford down at the Farm. When the Trojans's feature weapon - their hurry up offense - failed them, Sark and Wilcox were able to adjust to what Stanford was able to day and literally get down in the mud with them. In grinding out this win, they showed that they can adjust and beat a really good Pac 12 team at their own game. It is true that the Trojans are very fortunate to get this iteration of Stanford so early in the season, but this W is a true resume builder and cements their standing in this week's power ranks.
Week 2 POG: DE Leonard Williams (11 tckls, 1 sack) In a defensive slugfest, it is fitting that the team's POG come from the defensive side of the ball. The USC All-American led the team in tackles and recorded a big sack on Kevin Hogan. While it was JR Taval that made the defining sack/fumble to end the game, it was Williams that carried the day for the USC defense.
3 3 Stanford_medium
Stanford 1-1 (0-1) Army
Last Week LOSS USC 13 @ Stanford 10
It is hard to overstate the significance of Stanford starting off their Pac 12 schedule with a L, especially given the fact that the Ducks have an easier schedule that the Cardinal this season. At minimum, the Cardinal's playoff hopes are probably already dashed. The good news, if there is any, was that the loss to USC was not of the "embarrassing" variety. In fact, you could make an argument here that the Cardinal outplayed the Trojans with QB Kevin Hogan clearly having the better overall day than his counterpart. Still, the two turnovers - including a brutal sack/fumble by Hogan while in FG range at the end of the game - and the red zone struggles for David Shaw's team can't be ignored. In considering those red zone struggles, I'm particularly concerned that Stanford really hasn't established a war-machine style RB who can move piles near that goal line. If Stanford cannot become more "Stanford-y" in their red zone offense, this may not be the first disappointment that David Shaw could end up facing this season. Fortunately for them, there is nobody to take over their #3 spot in this weeks power ranks.
Week 2 POG: OLB Kevin Anderson (8 tckls, 1 TFL, 0.5 sacks) Kevin Anderson, who was last seen making pick six in the Rose Bowl, had a big game in disrupting Sark's tempo offense and holding the Trojans to 13 points. At 6'4" and 244 lbs, the physical KA has apparently beat out James Vaughters as the man to succeed Trent Murphy.
4 7 Utah_medium
Utah 2-0 @ Michigan
Last Week WIN Fresno State 27 @ Utah 52
Apparently, if you want to post the most impressive win of the week in the Power Rankings, playing Fresno State is a good deal (am I right, USC?). Utah was impressive for the second straight week running the new Dave Christensen offense on the way to a routing of the Bulldogs. The Utes were up 45-7 halfway through the third before taking the foot off the gas and letting the reserves get some game experience. While the Utah D deserves some credit, the story of this game is the overall efficiency of the Utes with QB Travis Wilson at the helm. Impressive in every aspect. I'm bumping up the Utes this week. It may be short-lived with Ann Arbor on the horizon, but it is warranted for this week.
Week 2 POG: QB Travis Wilson (191 yds passing, 5 TDs) Though he only attempted 20 passes, he completed a quarter of them for TDs and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. Coupled with no turnovers and, importantly, a seat on the bench by the third quarter and you have just about the best day possible for the Ute QB.
5 6 Arizonast_medium
ASU 2-0 @Colorado
Last Week WIN ASU 58 @ New Mexico 23
This was another big win win for ASU over a non-descript opponent that played out almost exactly as you would have guessed. The offense rolled and the defense was a little more soft than I'm sure the coaching staff would have preferred. Taylor Kelly was better this week than last, which is a great sign for the Sun Devils. He was moving the ball around to more receivers while still exploiting the talents of Jaelen Strong. DJ Foster had another excellent night and is well on the way to making sure that there is no drop off after the graduation of Marion Grice. Defensively, the consternation is still there - particularly in the pass defense. I'm moving them ahead of UCLA in the rankings for now. We'll learn a lot more next week @ Colorado.
Week 2 POG: QB Taylor Kelly (11/20, 193 yds, 3 TDs / 1 TD rush, 84 yds rushing) Efficiency is the name of the game for Taylor Kelly and he was all that last night. While he only spread the ball to five receivers, this was mostly because he didn't attempt all that many passes. Nonetheless, he still passed for two and ran for another while averaging about 10 yards per attempt. Not sexy, but sexy isn't his game.
6 4 Ucla_medium
UCLA 2-0 Texas
Last Week WIN Memphis 30 @ UCLA 38
If you think the heat is turning up in Montlake, imagine what it must be like for the so-called national championship darkhorses who, for the second straight week, allowed a far outmanned opponent to take them to the very end of the game. In fact, Memphis got two possessions in the fourth quarter with the opportunity to tie this one up. Fortunately for the Bruins, they were able to stiffen up and make the plays that they had to make. This game was much like the Viriginia game in that it was Brett Hundley making plays (and mistakes) without a whole lot of help on the offensive side. In fact, Jim Mora - probably already having seen Shaq Thompson make his RB debut - decided to take the handcuffs off Myles Jack. Jack ended up with a rushing TD. Nonetheless, after allowing another four sacks, UCLA is already tied for third worst in the nation for sacks surrendered. That doesn't even count the hits and hurries that he had to endure. The o-line is the major weakness on this team and is forcing me to drop UCLA in this week's ranking.
Week 2 POG: QB Brett Hundley (396 yds passing, 3 TDs, 48 yds rushing) WR Thomas Duarte went over 100 and caught a couple of TD passes, but Hundley was the real story here. He is literally carrying this offense behind a line that would make Ty Willingham blush. I shudder to think what this kid could do if he had half the protection that the more celebrated Marcus Mariota enjoys.
7 5 Arizona_medium
Arizona 2-0 Nevada
Last Week WIN Arizona 26 @ UTSA 23
The Roadrunners of UT, San Antonio gave the Wildcats just about all that they could handle in a stunningly close game last Thursday night. Larry Coker's UTSA, which jumped up from FCS a few seasons ago and is bowl eligible for the first time this year, showed tremendous grit in taking body blow after body blow against the up-tempo Arizona attack. They excelled in defending the red zone, forcing 'Zona to kick four FGs. QB Anu Solomon, who exploded onto the scene in Week 1, was effective but inconsistent, converting only 4 of 15 third downs. Of greater concern has to be the Arizona defense which was absolutely gashed time and time again by a much smaller UTSA offense. I don't want to undersell UTSA here, they are a unique team in that 21 of their 22 starters, including 10 on offense, are returning from a season ago. However, watching their offense lineup against the 'Zona defense was liking watching dwarves go against orcs (that one was for you, Kirk). UTSA had just about anything that they wanted in the middle of just about every level of the Arizona D on play after play. I expect that 'Zona will have better days, but just as I had to drop UW after their Hawaii game, 'Zona will be taking a bit of a dive this week.
Week 2 POG: RB Nick Wilson
(30 cars, 174 yds, 1 TD)
True freshman, Nick Wilson, took advantage of an injury to incumbent Terris Jones-Grigsby and may have just Wally Pipped him but putting up a huge night on the road. Granted, Dick Baird probably could have run through the holes that 'Zona was creating against a vastly undersized UTSA front seven, but Wilson really showed good burst and got into the UTSA secondary with alarming suddeness. He looks like the real deal.
8 8 Cal_medium
Cal 2-0 BYE
Last Week WIN Sac State 14 @ California 55
Congratulations to the Golden Bears in already doubling the win total from a season ago. Of course, beating up on Sac State, a not-very-good FCS team doesn't really tell us anything about the team. But 2-0 is exactly where Cal wanted to be and a place many didn't expect them to arrive at. I give them credit for handling their business and going into the BYE on a high note. We'll hold them steady in this week's rankings.
Week 2 POG: LB Davante Downs (6 tckls, 1 sack) This game was one in which the stats were pretty evenly spread around and no single individual really "popped". I was tempted to go with Luke Rubenzer here, he having completed his first career TD pass as part of the QB carousel that Cal is apparently committed to. However, I pick QBs a lot, so I went with defense on this one. True frosh Davante Down, who supposedly picked Cal over UW with the idea of playing RB, had a great day as a linebacker in nailing 6 tackles and recording his first career sack.
9 9 Washington_medium
Washington 2-0 Illinois
Last Week WIN Eastern Wash 52 @ Washington 59
2-0 is 2-0 no matter how you get there. However, I cannot imagine Husky fans could have dreamed a more confounding and less promising first two games than what they've seen from the Huskies in weeks one and two. The trip to Hawaii featured an inept offense with a middling defensive effort. The shootout against EWU featured an improved offense but one of the worst defensive performances that we've seen on the field since the last time EWU came out to Seattle. Vernon Adams absolutely torched the Huskies young secondary, making sure that every freshman (and Kevin King, too) got gashed with a long TD pass against. While watching Danny Shelton rack up 12 tackles and 4 more sacks (what?) was impressive, it was a putrid defensive performance all around that leaves Husky fans mystified. Nobody has ever thrown seven TD passes against UW in Husky Stadium. Is it the case that we just didn't realize the substantial value that Will Shamburger, Greg Ducre and Sean Parker delivered last season, or is this a coaching issue? Until we know the answer to that question, UW certainly looks to be at the bottom tier of the Pac. However, if you are looking for a bright side, consider that UW has yet to commit a turnover yet this season ... even with all of those players getting rotated in.
Week 2 POG: QB Cyler Miles (180 yds passing, 1 TD pass, 58 yds rushing, 3 TD rush) Lavon Coleman racking up his first career 100 yard game is clearly noteworthy here, but getting caugt from behind on that 54 yard scamper tipped the scales away from him. Miles, on the other hand, had to come in without the benefit of spring practices or a full regimen in the fall and lead the Huskies in an unexpected shootout. After suffering lapses of inacurracy in the first half, he got much sharper as the game went on and he clearly kept a steady hand on an offense that appeared to be getting more and more nervous every time the Husky D failed to stop the Eagles. For his production and leadership, he's your Husky POG.
10 10 Oregonst_medium
Oregon State 1-0 San Diego
Last Week WIN OSU 38 @ Hawaii 30
Portland St), I'm going to keep OSU just behind UW for the time being. But this one is close. These are two teams at the bottom of the mountain racing to get to the first base camp."]">Just like UW with their trip to Honolulu a week ago, this game was probably close than anybody expected. Unlike UW's game, OSU at one point was up big in the game only to see Hawaii mount a pretty furious comeback. This is the second game so far in the Pac schedule that features different teams playing the same opponent (the other being Fresno St), so there is something to be said about leveraging this for comparison purposes. Sean Mannion looked like a top-level QB in leading his team to their 38 points. His defense, however, didn't look quite so good in giving the lead back up (and penalties plus a blocked punt didn't help matters). Given that OSU has had pretty much the same "underwhelming" outcomes in their first two games as UW has had but their schedule has been a little easier (EWU > Portland St), I'm going to keep OSU just behind UW for the time being. But this one is close. These are two teams at the bottom of the mountain racing to get to the first base camp.
Week 2 POG: WR Victor Bolden (11 recs, 114 yds, 1 TD) I almost went with WR turned DE Obum Gwacham here given that he got his first two career sacks, but Bolden has to get the nod here. Bolden has playmaker potential and is starting to emerge as the key guy who will replace the production lost by Brandin Cooks. He has a nice rapport going with Mannion and he got his first career touchdown. So, congrats to Bolden.
11 12 Colorado_medium
Colorado 1-1 Arizona
Last Week WIN Colorado 41 @ UMASS 38
Give Colorado credit. Although UMASS is hardly a power in the world of college football, traveling a young team across the country for an early start game is a challenge no matter who you are. The Buffs endured some ups and downs, including a 10 point deficit in the 2nd quarter, but were eventually able to get UMASS to submit in the way that you'd expect of a Pac 12 team against an inferior opponent. The offense wasn't particularly efficient, but QB Sefo Liufau was able to get over 300 yards passing. The defense, despite surrendering 38 points, was better in giving up just 7 yards per pass and 3.5 yards per rush. Next week's match against ASU will tell us how much Colorado has improved over a year ago.
Week 2 POG: WR Nelson Spruce (10 recs, 145 yds, 2 TDs) Spruce is Col's POG for the second week in a row. He already has four TD catches on the season and has clearly established himself as Sefo Liufau's ace receiver. Another great game for one of the brightest new stars in the Pac 12.
12 11 Wsu_medium
WSU 0-2 Portland
Last Week LOSS WSU 13 @ Nevada 24
Ugh. The Cougs fell to 0-2 after a miserable trip to Reno that saw the Nevada Wolfpack post their fourth ever victory over a Pac 10/12 team. In contrast to their failure against Rutgers in Week 1, it was the offense that let down Mike Leach and co. versus Nevada. QB Connor Halliday, who has more than 900 yards passing in his first two games, was sacked four times behind a porous offensive line while surrendering two interceptions. He never could get into the kind of rhythm required to keep the chains moving in Leach's Air Raid. On a plus side, the Coug D showed that they may be more comfortable defending a spread attack like Nevada's as they had a decent night overall. Still, QB Cody Fajardo was able to get free for over 100 yards rushing. His pass-run versatility led the Wolfpack to a first quarter 14-0 lead that they would never relinquish. For WSU, the question of bowl eligibility is now on the table as the path to six wins will no require five wins in the conference. This game could become a real turning point as a failure to return to the post-season could put Mike Leach squarely on the hot-seat in Pullman.
Week 2 POG: CB Daquawn Brown (13 tckls, 1 TFL, 1 PBU) The WSU sophomore CB, who somehow survived the roster after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault on a female during the offseason (violating one of Leach's "third rail" rules) was the star of a better Coug defense in Week 2. He was active in supporting the run and played a big part in limiting Cody Fajardo to a 12/21 passing day.