USC Trojans: pac12 power rankings 2012

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 14

November, 26, 2012
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

And, again, keep in mind the power rankings lean heavily on the week that was, not as much on the totality of the season.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Stanford: I've started to think Stanford has become one of those "No one in the entire nation is playing better at this point of the season" teams. Certainly no team has better back-to-back wins over the past two weeks.

2. Oregon: The Ducks looked like their old selves against rival Oregon State. Best bet is they are headed to the Fiesta Bowl, where they will almost certainly play a Big 12 team that is ranked higher than the Big Ten's Rose Bowl representative. Maybe even good ole Kansas State.

3. UCLA: Were the Bruins -- consciously or unconsciously -- holding something back against Stanford on Saturday, knowing they'd already secured a berth in the Pac-12 title game? Maybe. We'll see in Friday's rematch.

4. Oregon State: Early in the third quarter, it looked like the Beavers might challenge the Ducks. Then -- poof -- Oregon went all Oregon and it was another blowout. Guessing the Beavers end up in the Holiday Bowl with the Pac-12 title game loser going to the Alamo Bowl.

5. Arizona State: It's official: Year 1 under new coach Todd Graham is an unquestioned success. Going 7-5 is one thing, but 7-5 with win No. 7 coming in Tucson is entirely different.

6. Arizona: While the reverse on the Arizona State verdict isn't true -- it's impossible to say the Wildcats didn't greatly exceed expectations in Rich Rodriguez's first season -- losing state bragging rights is an itch that will demand scratching for an entire year.

7. Utah: The Utes end the season with a close win at Colorado. That's not much -- at all -- but the teams below rate lower based on their recently elevated program misery index.

8. USC: Last year, the Trojans upset Oregon and beat their top rivals, Notre Dame and UCLA. This year, preluded by national championship expectations, they lost to all three. USC went from top-ranked to unranked, from expectations of 12-0 to 7-5. There are no grins inside Heritage Hall. Lane Kiffin will be near the top of every 2013 preseason coaching hot seat list.

9. Washington State: It was an awful season, full of losing and controversy. Ah, but when a Washington fan walks into the local watering hole, he will avert his eyes in shame from the Cougar contingent. When the folks in purple start to talk about all the great things going on at Washington, they will be silenced by a simple: "31-28. Stick it."

10. Washington: That was a dreadful choke in the Apple Cup, Huskies. You rightly should expect much grief from your Coug friends. Of course, you still have a bowl game ahead in which to secure an eighth win, which the Huskies haven't collected since 2001. Do that, and you not only will perk up several spots in the power rankings, you can enter the offseason with a smile.

11. California: Teams that fire their coach tend to tumble in the power rankings. But take heart, Golden Bears fans. See how quickly three of the four Pac-12 teams that hired new coaches a year ago climbed out of the doldrums.

12. Colorado: Worst season in Colorado history? Probably. Now there's just one question, Buffs: What are you going to do about it?

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 11

November, 5, 2012
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

1. Oregon: It wasn't perfect, at least on defense, but that was a resounding statement at USC. There are some injury issues, particularly on defense, but this team is coming together as perhaps the best of the Chip Kelly era. Wondering what type of opponent the Ducks will face at California: A motivated one or one that will serve as a doormat?

2. Oregon State: A nice bounce-back win over Arizona State. The Beavers have overcome a quarterback change and injuries. This team just keeps finding ways to get it done. The winner at Stanford on Saturday becomes a legitimate threat to Oregon in the North Division.

3. Stanford: So does Kevin Hogan step in at QB and make the Stanford offense formidable again? Maybe. But it's not wise to take too much away from stomping Colorado. Oregon State will offer a true defensive challenge.

4. UCLA: Just like Kevin and I predicted: The Bruins dominated Arizona. The offensive effort was outstanding but unsurprising. The defense shutting down the potent Wildcats' offense was most notable. But the Bruins can't overlook a visit to Washington State. That's what the "old" Bruins might have done.

5. USC: The Trojans' resilience is going to be tested, starting with a visit from Arizona State. USC could win out, go to the Pac-12 title game and still earn a shot at the Rose Bowl. Or they could fold and finish a season that began with national title hopes with five consecutive defeats.

6. Arizona: Wow ... the Wildcats took a horrible beating at UCLA. Some of that was a USC hangover. But a lot of that was the Bruins asserting themselves in the South Division pecking order. A visit from Colorado should supply that sixth victory and bowl eligibility.

7. Washington: The Huskies were sloppy at Cal, but sloppy with a W is OK. If they can handle a visit from Utah on Saturday, they will get a sixth victory and bowl eligibility.

8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils have lost three in a row after the schedule toughened up. The good news is they showed some fight at Oregon State. It's a battle of two wounded teams at USC on Saturday.

9. Utah: The Utes are making another late charge. At 4-5, they need to win two of three to earn bowl eligibility. They still play Colorado, so that means they need to win at Washington on Saturday or beat Arizona when it visits on Nov. 17.

10. California: Cal and Jeff Tedford are beaten up. And here comes Oregon. Maybe the Ducks will be flat after the big win over USC?

11. Washington State: A run of 10 bowl games in 10 seasons as a head coach ends for Mike Leach, and things don't seem to be going well in the Cougars' locker room. A hot UCLA team is coming to town. How about a good snow storm for the visitors from sunny SoCal?

12. Colorado: The Buffs just need the season to end. A visit to Arizona doesn't figure to go well for perhaps the nation's worst defense.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 10

October, 29, 2012
If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.

See last week's power rankings here.

This feels like an odd one.

1. Oregon: The Ducks showed seemingly effortless brilliance in a dominant victory over Colorado, but it wasn't a good weekend for the Ducks. They don't want the distance between themselves and everyone else to appear this vast. They want the conference to look strong, top to bottom. Losses by USC and Oregon State dinged the Ducks' BCS standing in terms of potential strength of schedule ratings down the road. And Kansas State and Notre Dame both posted impressive wins.

2. Oregon State: Picking the No. 2 team here wasn't easy. Stanford was considered, but the Cardinal barely slipped by Washington State at home. And the Beavers still have only one loss. The power rankings looks more at the short term, but the big picture keeps the Beavers here. By a thread. It feels like the visit from Arizona State will be a tester, particularly when there are now quarterback questions.

3. Stanford: The Cardinal muddled through a win against Washington State. They very well may muddle through a visit to Colorado on Saturday. The visit from Oregon State on Nov. 10 will begin a home stretch that will reveal just who Stanford is in 2012 (at Oregon on Nov. 17, at UCLA on Nov. 24).

4. Arizona: Matt Scott and Rich Rodriguez are making beautiful music together, but somebody needs to tip their cap to Wildcats defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. He's put together an opportunistic defense that just finds a way to do well with some questionable parts. Sure, USC had huge numbers. But the Wildcats also got stops that proved critical.

5. USC: The idea that the Trojans would fall into the middle of the Pac-12 power rankings never occurred to the Pac-12 blog in the preseason. What's notable is the sloppiness: turnovers and penalties. Sure, other teams have penalties. But the Trojans seem to get lots of penalties of choice -- personal fouls, taunting, lining up wrong.

6. Washington: There are two Huskies teams. The one that plays at home is worthy of a national ranking. The one that plays on the road is worthy of mockery. The next step for coach Steve Sarkisian is to make the Huskies into a team that plays like it's at home even when it's not. Up next is a Friday visit to flagging California.

7. UCLA: The win at Arizona State -- a clutch comeback one, no less -- feels like a potential corner-turner for the Bruins. Recall the horrid performance at California? That brought up some old UCLA bugaboos about road games. This win canceled those out nicely. Let's ask it ... maybe Jim Mora is the guy to actually end the football monopoly in L.A. Of course, the visit from Arizona on Saturday will provide a huge measuring stick in the South Division. The Bruins control their own destiny. If they win out, they go to the Pac-12 title game.

8. Arizona State: The schedule is getting tougher, and the Sun Devils are taking some hits. There was plenty of good to take away from the 45-43 loss to UCLA, but not so much on the defensive side of the ball. The Sun Devils could quickly right things if they can win at Oregon State.

9. Utah: Hard to say whether the blowout win over California was about the Utes finding their mojo after another 0-4 Pac-12 start -- just like last year -- or whether it was just a Cal team waving the white flag on its season. Maybe a little of both. But if the Utes can hold serve at home against Washington State, they will need to win just two of their final three to become bowl eligible. And one of those games is with Colorado.

10. Washington State: The Cougars were close at Stanford, but isn't being close what we sorta celebrated last year? The good news is how much better the defense is playing. The bad news is ... 10 sacks surrendered. And you got to see just how tough QB Jeff Tuel is. Getting hit that much and still playing well, passing for 401 yards and two touchdowns with no help from a running game.

11. California: Hey, Cal? Are you quitting on yourselves and coach Jeff Tedford? The performance at Utah suggests so.

12. Colorado: There is some good news. There are only four more games this season.

Pac-12 power rankings: Week 3

September, 10, 2012
Last week's power rankings called the theme of this past weekend: "OK, but let's see what you do Saturday."

Lots of teams came through. Big. Some, however, didn't. That is reflected here. All complaints should be filed with "Kevin Gemmell."

You can review the Week 2 power rankings here.

1. USC: The Trojans' trip east to play Syracuse got a little weird with an evacuated stadium and everything, but there was never a moment when it even seemed reasonable to say, "Hey, the Orange have a chance!"

2. Oregon: A potential season-ending knee injury to safety John Boyett is a big -- and sad -- blow, and things didn't go as smoothly on offense as the opening weekend. But there still remains a wide gap between the top two teams here and the rest of the conference, even with the nice work yesterday.

3. Stanford: Stanford still hasn't beaten anyone, unlike the three teams directly below them. But they did enough while dominating Duke to suggest they are still the team most likely to break up the Trojans-Ducks marriage. Of course, we'll get a good feel for the Cardinal when the Trojans visit Saturday.

4. UCLA: Love the offense. It -- QB Brett Hundley! and RB Johnathan Franklin! -- is putting up ludicrous numbers. But what elevates the Bruins here is their second-half adjustments on defense. Gave up just six points to Nebraska after the break after shutting out Rice.

5. Arizona: That was not a bad Oklahoma State defense the Wildcats ran over. It's clear the Wildcats will be able to score in bunches. If they protect the football and get just enough defense, this is a bowl team. Maybe a good bowl team.

6. Oregon State: Here's a prediction: No other team will shut down Wisconsin this year like the Beavers did. Just a hunch, so we'll see. Loved how Sean Mannion handled himself. He could have gotten frustrated and tried to force things. He didn't. Sometimes 10 points is enough, and recognizing that is QB Zen.

7. Arizona State: The Sun Devils delivered another butt-kicking, albeit to a team without its starting QB. What was most impressive, though, was how easily the Sun Devils dominated the Illinois defense, which was supposed to be good. And just one penalty, one that was taken on purpose! Who are these guys?

8. Washington: Even worse than taking a beating at LSU is the injuries piling up. The challenge for coach Steve Sarkisian and QB Keith Price is keeping this team focused, positive and together during this early-season gauntlet.

9. Utah: The Utes' 12-game winning streak against Utah State -- all decided by at least 15 points -- is over. While the health of QB Jordan Wynn is the big question heading into the Holy War against BYU, the bigger problem may be poor offensive line play.

10. California: The jury is still out on the Bears, so the visit to Ohio State feels like a good measuring stick. After the Pac-12 went 3-0 -- with two underdogs winning -- against the Big Ten this past weekend, it's up to the Bears to extend the winning streak. Or, failing that, turn in a respectable performance that reveals some spine.

11. Washington State: We still don't know the Cougs. The good news is their next two opponents, UNLV and Colorado, lost to FCS teams over the weekend. They should be 3-1 heading to Seattle to play Oregon on Sept. 29.

12. Colorado: The Pac-12 blog doesn't like to be negative. We may snark a bit, but we don't like to throw an all-consuming blanket of pessimism over a team. So, in the interest of being positive, we will predict that at some point this season the Buffs will win a game. Maybe.