- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.
1. Stanford: There was some thinking to switch the top two after Oregon's dominant road effort at Virginia, but the Cardinal pretty much showed their own style of dominance against a San Jose State team that won 11 games last year and has an NFL prospect at quarterback.
2. Oregon: If Oregon approaches the monstrous butt-kicking it gave Virginia at home against Tennessee, then it probably will be time to move Oregon up to No. 1. And another dominant performance, this time against an SEC team, would probably move the "what will Mark Helfrich do" talk to the background.
3. Washington: The Huskies were off this week, but their victory over Boise State is still the highest-quality victory in the conference this season. Now can a team that has struggled on the road under Steve Sarkisian bring that efficiency on both sides of the ball to Illinois on Saturday?
4. UCLA: Another power rankings debate here. Both Kevin and I picked Arizona State to win the South Division. Now that the Sun Devils have played -- and drubbed an FCS team -- should they be bounced up? Nope. Even though the Bruins were off, their opening victory over Nevada was still of a higher quality. Plus, both teams take on ranked Big Ten teams on Saturday. Maybe that will provide some more clarity.
5. Arizona State: You never play a perfect game, but the Sun Devils were pretty much exactly what their idealized version should be against an FCS team last Thursday. Beat Wisconsin and the country will take note.
6. Washington State: Cougs making their move! We know you guys are irritated that the victory over USC became all about how bad USC looked, but we're also assuming the objective side of you sort of knows why. And, well, you didn't score an offensive TD. Still, great road win. Great defensive effort. Enjoy being optimistic.
7. Utah: Boy, Dennis Erickson sure is too old to make a difference with the Utes' offense! That hire will never work. Our guess is Utes fans who were down on the program have now noted that good QB play is sort of a good -- and fun! -- thing to get. Beating Oregon State at home on Saturday would perk up some preseason expectations.
8. Arizona: The Wildcats' defense, though it gave up a couple of big plays at UNLV, is vastly improved. And the running game looks pretty good, particularly with Ka'Deem Carey back in the lineup. But the passing game -- still no TD passes caught by a receiver -- is an issue.
9. California: The Bears get no style points -- even with all the big passing numbers -- for beating Portland State. But a win is a win. The issue, however, is how many more remain with a brutal upcoming schedule.
10. Oregon State: Hawaii isn't good. But after the disaster against Eastern Washington, it was good that the Beavers not only took care of business but overcame a first-half lull when they looked like they might be about to go rear-end-over-tea-kettle. The visit to Utah could set the trajectory for the season.
11. Colorado: Of course, it would have been nice for the Buffs to dominate Central Arkansas, but this isn't a team that can dominate anyone. Still, a second consecutive week of fourth-quarter gumption and opportunistic playmaking is meaningful. In danger of a humiliating defeat? Well, score 21 consecutive points to win going away.
12. USC: Just awful. The crowd in the Coliseum pretty much said it all.