Pac-12 football power rankings: Arizona doesn't trip
Tyler Baker // The Daily Wildcat
The UA football team gathers before the start of the season opener against NAU on Friday.
Week one of the college football season felt more like March Madness, with seven schools from major FBS conferences losing to supposedly weaker FCS opponents. The Pac-12’s own Oregon State (0-1) loss to Eastern Washington (1-0) at home was the highlight of the wins for the FCS. The Beavers had entered the season ranked No. 25 in the country but quickly dropped out of the polls.
Arizona (1-0) hosting NAU (0-1) on Friday night was one of the 29 matchups between the FBS and FCS this week, but the Wildcats managed to not fall victim to the FBS’ misfortune, coming away with a smooth 35-0 victory over the Lumberjacks.
No. 2 Oregon (1-0) had the third and final Pac-12 game against an FCS school last week, but the Ducks cruised past Nicholls State (0-1) with a 66-3 win at home.
As No. 5 Stanford and ASU had the week off, not much was learned about the predicted top of the conference. However, some schools that might have been thought of as middle-of-the-road conference teams have earned more serious consideration. ASU opens its season Thursday by hosting Sacramento State, an FCS team that beat Oregon State in 2011 and Colorado in 2012.
No. 20 Washington (1-0) entered the season unranked, but after the Huskies thumped then-No. 19 Boise State (0-1) 38-6, they jumped in the national rankings. Senior Husky quarterback Keith Price has put a lot of pressure on himself this season to live up to his and the fans’ expectations.
Last season, following a strong sophomore campaign in 2011, Price finished his junior season with fewer passing yards, a lower completion percentage, nearly half as many touchdowns and more interceptions than he did as a sophomore. Price’s struggles caused Washington to have a disappointing 2012 season, ending with a 7-6 record and a 28-26 loss to Boise State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
But after throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos on Saturday, the Huskies appear to be serious contenders for the conference championship. Washington’s first conference opponent is Arizona on Sept. 28 in Seattle. The Wildcats blew past UW last season with a 52-17 victory at Arizona Stadium. Now, though, their Sept. 28 meeting is looking to be the first real test for Arizona.
Similar to Washington, No. 25 (1-0) USC began the season unranked and is now sitting in the top 25. That being said, unlike the Huskies, the Trojans more or less slipped into the national ranking after a less-than-impressive performance against Hawaii (0-1) on Thursday.
With four-year starting quarterback Matt Barkley gone to the NFL, USC found itself with an offseason battle at the position. Head coach Lane Kiffin named sophomore Cody Kessler as the starter for the team’s season-opening road game at Hawaii. The former backup didn’t secure the starting job, though, despite a 30-13 win on the road. Kessler completed just 52 percent of his passes for 95 yards. The Trojans’ defense helped with the victory as it forced four turnovers and held the Warriors to 4-18 on third down.
USC has an abundance of talent on offense, but if guys like receiver Marqise Lee — who had one catch for -4 yards last week — can’t get the ball, the Trojans won’t be able to compete to win the conference title.
1 No. 2 Oregon (1-0)
Week one: (W 66-3 vs. Nicholls State)
This week: at Virginia
2 No. 5 Stanford (0-0)
Week one: bye
This week: against San Jose St.
3 No 20 Washington (1-0)
Week one: (W 38-6 vs. No. 19 Boise State)
This week: At Illinois
4 No. 18 UCLA (1-0)
Week one: (W 58-20 vs. Nevada)
This week: at No. 22 Nebraska
5 Arizona State (0-0)
Week one: bye
This week: vs. Sacramento State
6 No. 25 USC (1-0)
Week one: (W 30-13 at Hawaii)
This week: vs. Washington State
7 Arizona (1-0)
Week one: (W 35-0 vs. NAU)
This week: at UNLV
8 California (0-1)
Week one: (L 44-30 vs. No. 22 Northwestern)
This week: vs. Portland State
9 Utah (1-0)
Week one: (W 30-26 vs. Utah State)
This week: vs. Weber State
10 Oregon State (0-1)
Week one: (L 48-46 vs. Eastern Washington)
This week: vs. Hawaii
11 Washington State (0-1)
Week one: (L 31-24 at Auburn)
This week: at No. 25 USC
Week one: (W 41-27 vs. Colorado State)
This week: vs. Central Arkansas
-Follow Luke Della @LukeDellaDW