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PAC-12 Power Rankings and Roundup - Week 2

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Somebody put the brakes on Colorado.

Idaho State v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,

Where the deer and the antelope play,

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,

And the skies are not cloudy all day

Oh, you don’t like scout songs. No worries. I’ve got another one.

EVACUATE THE DANCE FLOOR!

Sure, we can all chuckle at the Dancin’ Dawgs. But does anybody dare mock the rumblin’ Buffalo of Colorado?

Seriously, nobody has shot up the power rankings faster that the mighty Colorado Buffaloes. Mike MacIntyre’s team has gotten off to a fantastic start, winning both of its first two games in decisive fashion. In fact, at 50 points per game, they rank #11 in the nation in scoring offense (second in the PAC to Washington) and lead the nation in scoring differential.

But the real story is the CU defense. They’ve been off the charts, allowing just 14 total points in two games and giving up a ridiculous 1.78 yards per pass attempt.

Michigan is up next and is sure to put a dent in some of those stats. Nonetheless, Colorado is out to prove that whatever they lack in talent they more than make up for with grit.

And the Leader is ...

The PAC-12 has always been known for its QB play. Whether we are talking about all-time greats like Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer, or Troy Aikman, or recent phenoms like Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota, or Brett Hundley, there is usually somebody setting the pace of QB play not just in the conference, but across the nation.

Idaho v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Such is the case in the PAC-12 this year. Two games into the season and that player is...Washington QB Jake Browning. Nobody - not Luke Falk, not Josh Rosen, not Sefo Liufau - is playing at a higher level than Jake Browning after two games. Browning currently leads the nation in TDs per pass attempt (a ridiculous 1 of every 7 passes is a TD), he’s #1 in college passer rating, he’s tied for second in overall TD passes, and he is tied for 6th in yards per attempt.

While it is unlikely that Browning will maintain this torrid pace once conference play begins, it is clear that UW’s sophomore QB has a huge runway ahead of him.

Slingin’ PAC

The PAC-12 sneaked in (which I originally typed as “snuck in” because, well, I went to high school in Portland, OR) some news last week when they announced that they were going to be available on Sling TV’s “cord cutting” service. Though the revenue impact is minimal, this is big news as it creates another option (and additional leverage) that the conference can use in its carrier negotiations. DirecTV and other carriers are already on the defense as more and more consumers opt for services like Sling as an alternative to paying inflated cable bills. Making the PAC content available on what looks like a clear leader in the space ensures Larry Scott “ground floor” access when the trend really takes off and gives his unhappy fans a relief valve for accessing content outside of the west coast.

The Cool Chart

Week 2 Power Rankings
Chris Landon

The Power Rankings - Week 2

12. Arizona 1-1/0-0 (last poll: 10)

Last Result: Grambling State 21, Arizona 31

Yes, the Wildcats won. Yes, I’m still dropping them below the Cougs in the power poll. If you watched this one, you would know why. Grambling wasn’t just beating Arizona, they were flat out dominating the ‘Cats on both sides of the ball. That was until Grambling starting QB DeVante Kincaide was knocked out of the game. At that point, new starting QB Brandon Dawkins was able to spark a late rally for his Wildcats and push them over the top.

Let’s not sugarcoat this; this win was pure luck. Grambling outgained Arizona, outplayed Arizona, and out-hustled Arizona. With Anu Solomon looking like he’s out - whether it is injury or performance - the Wildcats are rudderless right now. It remains to be seen whether or not Dawkins’ big second half against an FCS team translates into momentum. For now, I’m dropping UA to the bottom. They get one tune-up game against Hawaii before the dope gets real and the Huskies come to town.

Up Next: vs. Hawaii

11. Washington State 0-2/0-0 (last poll: 12)

Last Result: WSU 28, Boise State 31

I know it wasn’t the result that Coug fans were looking for, but the trip to Boise State was definitely a step forward. Against a legitimate Top 25-ish team, the Cougs went toe to toe. The return of S Shalom Luani (though he was the man who got torched on the decisive Brett Rypien 47-yard TD pass) had a demonstrable impact on the play of the defense. That’s good.

Not so good was the inability of WSU to generate any kind of offense. In fact, I’m really starting to wonder if there isn’t a more overrated WR in the PAC than Gabe Marks. Regardless, the Coug O-Line really struggled against what was, for the most part, a 3-man rush. The penalty disparity (10 to 3) between the two teams was a killer. I’m going to bump the Cougs up a spot, but I’m worried. Finding five wins on their P12 schedule isn’t completely obvious if you are starting to do the bowl eligibility math.

Up Next: vs. Idaho

10. Oregon State 0-1/0-0 (last poll: 11)

Last Result: BYE

The Beavers are holding steady up one and in the right spot for now. I suspect WSU and Arizona will each soon challenge them. However, having a bye last week translates into more momentum than either of those other two have at the moment.

Up Next: vs. Idaho State

9. California 1-1/0-0 (last poll: 7)

Last Result: Cal 40, SDSU 45

For those of you in the “Cal is ranked too high” crowd, this one is for you. Though the Bears scored 40 points, they were terribly inefficient in doing so. QB Davis Webb managed just 41 completions on 72 attempts to go along with 5 TDs and 3 INTs. On top of that, the Bears D once again got torched by an offense that, as far as I can tell, would likely rate dead last if it were a PAC-12 team.

Kudos to junior Chase Hansen who shined for the second week in a row with 14 catches and 190 yards with a TD. He was the only real highlight in this game for Cal.

Up Next: vs. #11 Texas

8. Arizona State 2-0/0-0 (last poll: 8)

Last Result: Texas Tech 55, Arizona State 68

Last week, I said that I didn’t think ASU matched up well defensively with Texas Tech. Turned out that I was very right. The Red Raiders racked up 612 yards of offense on 75 plays while only getting sacked twice.

I also claimed that I didn’t think ASU was ready to get into a shootout with anybody. Turned out that I was very wrong. The ASU ground game was exquisite as both Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard generated over 100 yards apiece (137 and 109, respectively). Oh, and there is this little thing about Ballage scoring 7 TDs (!) on just 13 carries.

I still don’t love this passing game and I’m very bearish on the state of ASU’s D. But this was a big win.

Up Next: at UTSA (Friday)

7. Colorado 2-0/0-0 (last poll: 9)

Last Result: Idaho State 7, Colorado 56

Next to UW, only Colorado has been quite so impressive over their first two games. In fact, the Buffs have put up 100 points so far in the season to just 14 surrendered. The competition hasn’t been the stiffest, but that is an accomplishment either way. The defense looks legit and Sefo Liufau looks efficient both running and passing the ball. Who knows how long the magic lasts with a road trip to Ann Arbor up next. For now, it looks Disney-esque.

Up Next: at #5 Michigan

6. USC 1-1/0-0 (last poll: 6)

Last Result: Utah State 7, USC 45

Things are still not right with USC. In fact, watching offensive lineman Chuma Edoga get tossed from the game for manhandling a referee and then seeing crotch-stomper Jabari Ruffin return in the second half was a stark reminder of how messed up this program is right now. Still, to dominate a very well-coached Utah State team in a game where the offense was very inefficient and the defense just ok says much about the USC athletes. If they can get it together, they can still put together some good games.

The immediate question on the table is whether or not backup Sam Darnold will surpass QB Max Browne on the depth chart this week. With a critical conference matchup against Stanford up next, there isn’t much time left to figure it out.

Up Next: at #7 Stanford

5. Oregon 2-0/0-0 (last poll: 5)

Last Result: Virginia 26, Oregon 44

And now we get to Oregon, who I’m holding steady. The Ducks went head to head against what many view as the worst team in FBS after coming off the second-worst loss by an FBS team to an FCS team and they did their job. The playmakers - Devon Allen, Royce Freeman, Pharaoh Brown, etc. - all had good games and demonstrated why the Ducks can be dangerous. QB Dakota Prukop demonstrated, again, that he is efficient enough (though Mike Belotti calling him “the most fundamentally sound QB he has ever seen at this level” was laughable hyperbole). The real challenge for that Oregon offense is the poor play of that offensive line. Young players Shane Lemieux clearly does not belong on the field and Calvin Throckmorton isn’t much better. Yet.

We’ll have plenty of time to revisit that Duck defense in the future. In this one, the Ducks relied on the blitz probably more than they wanted to in order to generate any kind of pressure. While not ideal, you can still see the inherent team speed which makes one wonder about when upside will get cashed in. We’ll get a good gauge on it this weekend with their road trip to Lincoln.

Up Next: at Nebraska

4. UCLA 1-1/0-0 (last poll: 4)

Last Result: UNLV 21, UCLA 42

That UNLV entered the fourth quarter down by just one possession was not exactly the plan that Jim Mora had going into his team’s home debut. That Josh Rosen again looked like an inefficient and unsure quarterback (7 yards per attempt) is certainly a surprise akin to finding a fly in your soup. Still, the explosion of RB Soso Jamabo (112 APY on 12 touches and 3 TDs) is a great sign. So is the fact that they played with relatively sound ball security (1 fumble lost). Oregon’s win against Virignia wasn’t enough to overtake UCLA in the polls this week, but they are close. If UCLA can quit waiting until the fourth quarter to be competitive, I’d feel a lot better about keeping them here.

Up Next: at BYU

3. Utah 2-0/0-0 (last poll: 3)

Last Result: BYU 19, Utah 20

I’m holding the Utes at #3 despite a performance in the Holy War that might give one pause. Defensively, the Utes still look stout. However, that they surrendered a potential game-tying TD drive by Taysom Hill and his otherwise impotent offense was a bit of an eye-opener. On the flip side, the 20-play FG drive that Utah QB Troy Williams led just before that was impressive for its endurance if not for its lack of big plays.

The Utes certainly look like they will be offensively challenged for the near term. But they also look tough enough to keep close games close and to find ways to win at the end. Denying BYU the game-winning two-point conversion at the end of regulation was a perfect example of that.

Up Next: at San Jose State

2. Washington 2-0/0-0 (last poll: 2)

Last Result: Idaho 14, Washington 59

It is official: the Huskies are one of the hottest teams in the nation. They’ve now scored 40 or more points in 5 straight games - the longest such streak in all of college football - and have averaged 38 pts/game over their last nine. Over that span, Jake Browning has grown as a QB with a completion percentage above 65% and a yards/attempt at around 10. That kind of accuracy with that kind of distance is national contender-level output.

Oh, and did I mention the defense? Opponents are averaging less than 14 over the last five. One could argue that the level of competition isn’t Alabama and they’d be right. However, while teams like Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan State, Oregon, and Clemson are all playing down to their competition, the Huskies are putting them away.

Up Next: vs. Portland State

1. Stanford 1-0/0-0 (last poll: 1)

Last Result: BYE

The schedule isn’t going to be kind to Stanford for most of this season. The first example of it is the placement of a bye week just before they open conference play against USC. I’m holding Stanford at #1 as they’ve not done anything to lose it. However, Ryan Burns is likely going to have to show more than he did against K-State. Additionally, the momentum that Stanford’s D-Line showed (8 sacks) in that one needs to continue to give me confidence that the Cardinal are still ahead of UW.

Up Next: vs. USC