Pac-12 football power rankings: Quarterbacks dominate conference
The Pac-12 has always been known for its quarterbacks. Some of the NFL’s most notable gunslingers have played in the conference.
From California’s Aaron Rodgers to Stanford’s John Elway, the Pac-12 has produced at least one NFL quarterback each year since 1995, and at least one quarterback has gone in the first round in nine of the past 16 drafts.
Last season was an off year. With so many new names and young quarterbacks under center, the team with the strongest defense won the conference. Stanford, the 2012 conference champion, finished the season ranked first in total defense, only giving up an average of 336.2 yards per game. Arizona finished last in total defense, giving up 499 yards per game.
But now, with those young quarterbacks a year more mature, the Pac-12 looks to be back as the conference of quarterbacks. Six starting conference quarterbacks are currently in the top 20 in the country in yards per game, California’s Jared Goff sitting on top of the list with 458 yards per game through two games.
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat UA quarterback B.J. Denker prepares to have the balled snapped on Saturday against UNLV.
The quarterbacks are also running well. Last season, four different Pac-12 quarterbacks had rushes of at least 30 yards. But already this year, five different Pac-12 quarterbacks have accounted for rushes of at least 30 yards, including Arizona’s B.J. Denker and Javelle Allen.
Schools lacking an NFL-caliber quarterback are probably going to struggle in 2013. USC got by in week one with a strong defensive performance on the road in Hawaii, but slipped at home this past week in its first conference game against Washington State after only scoring seven points.
This season the Trojans have struggled to replace former four-year starter Matt Barkley, who graduated from USC this past year and was drafted in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 NFL draft.
The season is still too young for anyone to determine who is the best quarterback and who is the worst. It’s also way too early to predict where schools will finish in the conference standings. But it is clear that the Pac-12 once again has the nation’s best quarterbacks, and the depth of good teams is the highest in recent memory.
1. No. 2 Oregon (2-0) LW 1
Week two: (W 59-10 at Virginia)
This week: vs. Tennessee
2. No. 5 Stanford (1-0) LW 2
Week two: (W 34-13 vs San Jose State)
This week: at Army
3. No. 19 Washington (1-0) LW 3
Week two: Bye
This week: at Illinois
4. No. 16 UCLA (1-0) LW4
Week two: Bye
This week: at No. 23 Nebraska
5. ASU (1-0) LW 5
Week two: (W 55-0 vs. Sacramento State)
This week: vs. No. 20 Wisconsin
6. Arizona (2-0) LW 7
Week two: (W 58-13 at UNLV)
This week: vs. UTSA
7. USC (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) LW 6
Week two: (L 10-7 vs. Washington State)
This week: vs. Boston College
8. Washington State (1-1, 1-0 Pac-12) LW 11
Week two: (W 10-7 at USC)
This week: vs. Southern Utah
9. California (1-1)LW 8
Week two: (W 37-30 vs. Portland State)
This week: vs. No. 4 Ohio State
10. Utah (2-0) LW 9
Week two: (W 70-7 vs. Weber State)
This week: vs. Oregon State
11. Oregon State (1-1) LW 10
Week two: (W 34-14 vs. Hawaii)
This week: at Utah
12 Colorado (2-0) LW 12
Week two (W 38-24 vs. Central Arkansas)
This week: vs. Fresno State
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDellaDW