Pac-12 football power rankings: Arizona back to number six
The jerseys may be goofy, the offense quirky and the college town small, but Oregon is the king of the Pac-12.
Its rise to the throne hasn’t happened overnight, as the Ducks’ three straight outright conference titles can attest to. But to truly be the best, you have to beat the best, and the probation-laden Trojans of the previous two years weren’t the same force as the Pete Carroll heydays.
That’s why, before the season started, the game between Oregon and USC was circled on the calendar in dark, red ink. It pitted the traditional Pac-12 powerhouse against the conference’s new darlings.
While USC didn’t exactly hold up its end of the bargain, entering the “game of the year” with two losses, the matchup still held nearly the same significance for Oregon: win and it stays on course, lose and all hope is lost.
Oregon running back Kenjon Barner beats the tackle of USC's Jawanza Starling to score a touchdown at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, November 3, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. Oregon outlasted USC, 62-51, as Barner scored five touchdowns. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Five Kenjon Barner touchdowns later, the Ducks reign supreme in the Pac-12.
The game didn’t turn into the blowout it threatened to be early on, and the Trojans brought it to within three in the third quarter, but the 62-51 final score had some symbolic significance.
Oregon piled on 730 yards and 62 points, the most ever allowed by USC, and Barner set a school record with 321 rushing yards to go along with his five scores.
Not that USC didn’t put up a fight — quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 484 yards and five touchdowns, as well as two interceptions. It just wasn’t enough. Now, Oregon jumped Notre Dame in the BCS standings to No. 3 and caused the Trojans to tumbled behind city-rival UCLA, who had an impressive win of its own.
The Bruins’ 66-10 humiliation of the Wildcats in the Rose Bowl made the Fall of Troy that much greater, as USC now sits firmly as Los Angeles’s second-best team.
UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin was unstoppable against Arizona, racking up 162 yards to become the school’s all-time rushing leader. The Bruins’ 611 total yards and 66 points were obviously aided by the no-show from the UA defense, but the UCLA win was more than impressive and it’s now built up a nice resume.
Assuming it beats Washington State next week, the Bruins just need to win its home game against the Trojans on Nov. 17 to clinch the Pac-12 south.
If that happens then Oregon will have to take on teams two, three and four in this week’s power rankings to finish off the season. Win all three, and the Ducks should make their second trip to the BCS National Championship in three years.
That path definitely won’t be easy. Stanford continues to win — not that this week’s 48-0 victory over Colorado really means much — and the season-finale against the Beavers is always a battle.
For a moment it looked like the wheels were coming off the Oregon State wagon against ASU, after the Beavers fell down 14-3 early and lost to Washington the week before. But junior quarterback Cody Vaz recovered from an early fumble and 0-for-4 start to help Oregon State rebound from its first blemish last week to beat ASU at home 36-26.
Right now the Ducks sit behind Alabama and Kansas State in the BCS standings.
Even if they slip up and fail to make it to Florida for the national title game, Oregon has gone 43-6 since Chip Kelly took over the program in 2009. The Ducks are 31-2 in conference and have either played in the Rose Bowl or BCS championship game all three seasons.
As long as Kelly is coaching in Eugene, Ore., the ways of old are gone and a new program controls the conference. The Pac-12 has a new top dog — maybe it should be called the top Duck.
1. No. 3 Oregon (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) Last week: 1
Week ten: (W 62-51 at USC)
This Week: at Cal
2. No. 11 Oregon State (7-1, 5-1) LW: 2
Week ten: (W 36-26 against ASU)
This Week: at No. 14 Stanford
3. No. 14 Stanford (7-2, 5-1) LW: 3
Week ten: (W 48-0 at Colorado)
This Week: against No. 11 Oregon State
4. No. 18 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) LW: 6
Week ten: (W 66-10 against Arizona)
This Week: against Washington State
5. No. 19 USC (6-3, 4-3) LW: 5
Week ten: (L 62-51 against Oregon)
This Week: against Arizona State
6. Arizona (5-4, 2-4) LW: 4
Week ten: (L 66-10 at UCLA)
This week: against Colorado
7. Washington (5-4, 3-3) LW: 7
Week ten: (W 21-13 at Cal)
This Week: against Utah
8. Arizona State (5-4, 3-3) LW: 8
Week ten: (L 36-26 at Oregon State)
This Week: at No. 19 USC
9. Utah (4-5, 2-4) LW: 9
Week ten: (W 49-6 against WSU)
This Week: at Washington
10. California (3-7, 2-5) LW: 10
Week ten: (L 21-13 against Washington)
This Week: against No. 3 Oregon
11. Washington State (2-7, 0-5) LW: 11
Week ten: (L 49-6 at Utah)
This Week: against No. 18 UCLA
12. Colorado (1-8, 1-5) LW: 12
Week ten: (L 48-0 against Stanford)
This Week: at Arizona