After a week off due to some much needed R & R, it’s time to shake things up! The North is getting very interesting with the Big Four gunning for that top spot. The Trojans are starting to show why they are the best in the South, although they have a few very tough conference matchups on the horizon. So much is still up for grabs as we start the second half of the season. Here are my power rankings after week 7.
1. Oregon (5-1 Overall, 2-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #3)
The Ducks are the best team in the North and this is easy for me. Coming off a bye week, Oregon took down Washington in dramatic fashion. The overtime thriller was the 2nd time the Ducks were the best Pac-12 game on TV this year. Through “Cupcake Row”, a game they should have beat Stanford, and their most recent win against the Huskies, Oregon has proven to have the best recipe in the conference: an explosive offense based on a strong run game, the ability to get after opposing quarterbacks, and a formidable run defense. The Ducks travel to Pullman to face off against the Mustache himself and the other hot team in the North, Washington State. If that isn’t enough, College Gameday will be onsite ramping up the hype as they always do.
2. Washington State (5-1 Overall, 2-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #4)
The Cougars are on fire and have proven themselves to be relevant nationally. Wazzu jumps up to #25 in the nation and #2 in my poll. Minshew leads the nation in passing yards and the defense is surprisingly good, especially against the pass as they currently give up the fewest yards per game in the conference to opposing QBs. They beat Oregon State before their recent bye week and their only loss was a nail-biter at the Coliseum. The Cougs were one field goal away from going into OT with the Trojans and possibly remaining undefeated. They have plenty of games to make even more of an impact with Oregon, Stanford, Colorado, and Washington still on the schedule. What a gauntlet yet to come.
3. Washington (5-2 Overall, 3-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #1)
Washington played a solid game against the Ducks and just could not hold on. It’s not the fact that they lost, its that they struggled to beat UCLA, didn’t really beat Utah in convincing fashion, and don’t look like the powerhouse team that was expected at the beginning of the year. But, the Huskies can prove me wrong with Colorado, Stanford, and Washington State still on the schedule. We shall see.
4. Stanford (4-2 Overall, 2-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #2)
Ahh those Trees. Stanford got crushed by Notre Dame and then slapped around by Utah at home in Palo Alto. Part of the Power Rankings is how hot you are currently, and the Cardinal are ice cold, hence their drop to #4. KJ Costello has looked like a different player the last two games – sloppy with the ball and putting too much pressure on a run game without Bryce Love. Two out of their next three opponents are ranked, so they had better lick their wounds quickly.
5. Oregon State (1-5 Overall, 0-3 Conference) (Previous Rank: #6)
OK, they haven’t beaten anyone since Southern Utah in Week 2, but they keep putting up points in these losses and they have an identity. This is more then I can say for Cal at the moment. The Beavers can really run the football and eventually, that has to get you some wins. OSU leads the conference in rushing yards per game at 211, mostly due to freshman Jermar Jefferson, who is averaging 144 yards per game and has 12 touchdowns on the year. Just keep giving him the ball because that’ll hopefully keep the defense off the field. And the defense NEEDS to stay off the field as they are ranked dead last in the conference in almost every defensive statistical category.
6. California (3-3 Overall, 0-3 Conference) (Previous Rank: #5)
The last two weeks for the Bears brought a tough loss to Arizona in Tucson, followed by a shellacking by the winless Bruins in Berkeley. They fall to last in this week’s rankings because they have no QB and were crushed by a UCLA team that hasn’t stood a chance against anyone else. In addition, over the last three weeks, CAL has turned the ball over 14 times. 14 TIMES! That’s a recipe for racking up losses in a hurry. The last place debate will be settled on the field on Saturday as CAL plays Oregon State in Corvallis. I give the Beavs the nod.
1. USC (4-2 Overall, 3-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #2)
What a win for the Trojans! USC deserves this #1 spot after they put it to Colorado, 31-20. The score does not tell the whole story as USC’s defense was in the Buffaloes backfield all night. The Trojans racked up 16 tackles for loss without their starting middle linebacker, Cam Smith. Michael Pittman Jr and Tyler Vaughns had big nights as JT Daniels continually threw deep down field on the Colorado defense. USC is definitely on the right trajectory and it’s the Trojan’s division to lose – but, another big game this week in Utah against the Utes awaits.
2. Colorado (5-1 Overall, 2-1 Conference) (Previous Rank: #1)
The Buffaloes lose the top spot as they were physically dominated in the LA Coliseum. Steven Montez was 26/47 with one interception and zero touchdowns. Shenault was limited to one big play out of the Wildcat and only had 72 yards receiving. Colorado goes up to Seattle for another major showdown and Washington will be fired up and ready to get back on the horse.
3. Utah (4-2 Overall, 2-2 Conference) (Previous Rank: #4)
Utah took down Arizona 42-10 this past week, after a huge win in Palo Alto against the Cardinal the previous week. Tyler Huntley continues to play clean football and take care of the ball, leading the offense to back-to-back 40+ point games. He completed 81% of his passes against Stanford and 74% against Arizona and has thrown for 400 combined yards over the last two games. Zach Moss keeps the Utes balanced as he provides a power run game, and the dual threat of Huntley running keeps defenses on their toes. Utah gets USC at home Saturday afternoon and it’s a huge opportunity for Utah to get in the driver’s seat in the South.
4. Arizona State (3-3 Overall, 1-2 Conference) (Previous Rank: #3)
ASU has lost three of their last four and they get Stanford on Thursday night. That one win was against Oregon State, so I am going to say it: its starting to look like a dumpster fire! And, the Sun Devils still have Utah, USC, and Oregon left on the schedule -which ain’t going to be pretty. ASU should be thinking about a bowl berth at this point, not the South division championship – let’s be honest.
5. UCLA (1-5 Overall, 1-2 Conference) (Previous Rank: #6)
Here we go Bruins! A 37-7 blowout of Cal in Berkeley is not only their first win, but a dominant one on the road. Dorian Thompson-Robinson was 13 for 15 for 141 and Joshua Kelley rushed for 157 yards on the day. While Cal can’t figure out the QB position, it seems like UCLA has theirs. Look for DTR to only get better in the second half of the year. The Bruins are at home this week against Arizona and I think this is a game the Bruins can win to keep the momentum going.
6. Arizona (3-4 Overall, 2-2 Conference) (Previous Rank: #5)
The Wildcats getting crushed by Utah isn’t a surprise, but it’s how underwhelming their offense looks game after game that hurts them. Their only conference wins are against CAL and Oregon State, two of the worst three teams in the conference. Changing to Rhett Rodriguez at QB wasn’t the answer as he was just over 50% completion percentage and things doesn’t look promising as Khalil Tate will sit out this week with an ankle injury. This is a must win game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl. It’s the battle for 5th place in the South! Let’s get fired up!