Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Power Rankings Week 4: This looks a lot like last week for a reason

1. Oregon (Overall: 3-0, Conference: 0-0, Last Week: 1)
Oregon took the week off and watched as no one was able to put together a complete game dominance like what they have shown in all three of their games. Oregon remains on top for at least another week.

2. UCLA (3-0, 0-0, LW: 2)
UCLA was supposed to blowout New Mexico State and they did exactly that in a 46 point victory. I have been really impressed by UCLA's depth and I think that bodes well for when conference play starts. The Bruins haven't faced a good up tempo offense so far this year but I think UCLA is built to succeed once those match ups come around.

3. Washington (3-0, 0-0, LW: 3)
Speaking of teams that did what they were supposed to do, Washington crushed Idaho State and now heads into its conference opener healthy, rested, and riding a big wave of momentum. The Huskies need to cut down on bad penalties and suffocate a good team in the fourth quarter before I put them on Oregon and UCLA's level.

4. Stanford (3-0, 1-0, LW: 5)
For three quarters against Arizona State the Cardinal looked like the Pac-12's 1b to Oregon's 1a. However, Stanford's lack of a killer instinct on defense allowed the Sun Devils to get back in the game and made Stanford look vulnerable. Stanford's stout front seven and strong running game will give them a chance against anyone but I'm curious to see what happens when Stanford runs into a team that can hold down the Cardinal's rushing attack. Can Kevin Hogan win games from the pocket? We've gotten a mix of evidence supporting answers of both "yes" and "no" so far.

5. Arizona (3-0, 0-0, LW: 6)
The Wildcats had the week off and managed to move up one spot after Arizona State was pounded into submission by Stanford. The Wildcats haven't faced anyone of note and therefore have not done anything noteworthy this season but that all changes on Saturday in Seattle.

6. Arizona State (2-1, 0-1, LW: 4)
I imagine that playing Stanford is the least fun out of all potential opponents in the Pac-12. There's nothing quite like having bigger and stronger players with vicious attitudes run right at you and take joy in your suffering. Arizona State's lack of size up front was exposed against the Cardinal and ASU's once dominant run game looks like it is all finesse after the past two weeks. All that being said, even in a crushing loss ASU's overall team talent was evident and I was impressed by how they didn't give up and fought back in such a hopeless situation. Despite their performance against Stanford, I still think the Sun Devils have shown enough in their other games to suggest they still belong in the top half of the conference.

7. Oregon State (3-1, 1-0, LW: 7)
It's entirely possible that the Beavers will never improve their tackling and they will never rise out of the middle of the pack. We've been waiting for four weeks now for OSU to start tackling and play a complete game on defense but it just is not happening even against the worst teams on OSU's schedule. Offensively, the Beavers were struggling to run the ball when Storm Woods was healthy thanks to their banged up offensive line. The line still isn't healthy and Woods is out indefinitely after a scary head injury so there is little hope for the Beavers' rushing attack to get any better. Despite all their inequities, OSU still has arguably the best QB-WR combo in the nation with Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks and those two give them a legitimate chance against anyone.

8. Utah (3-1, 0-1, LW: 8)
I have a really good feeling about this Utah team and I was so tempted to move them further up the board. The Utes may have lost to Oregon State but the Utes have looked a lot better than OSU in their other three games. I do believe in honoring head to head wins so I'm keeping Utah behind the Beavers for the time being.

9. Colorado (2-0, 0-0, LW: 9)
I can't really say anything about the Buffs or move them up or down until I see them play and unfortunately I haven't seen them since September 7. Fortunately, the Buffs will finally get out of flood ravaged Boulder and return to football on Saturday in a sneaky good match up against Oregon State.

10. Washington State (3-1, 1-0, LW: 10)
The Cougars are halfway toward their first bowl appearance in 10 years and this weekend they have a chance to take sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 North with a win at home (sort of). Of course the Cougars will need Oregon State to lose as well and more importantly will have to beat mighty Stanford in Seattle that could turn into a defacto neutral site game (their game in Seattle last year against Oregon sure did).

11. USC (3-1, 0-1, LW: 12)
Another week, another boring win for USC on the strength of great defense and mediocre offense. To tell you truth, USC has gotten markedly better since hitting rock bottom against Wazzou. The fact that the Trojans are still 11th is more of indication of overall strength in the conference rather than weakness from USC. The Trojans are certainly better than the 11th team in the Pac-12 but as long as the teams in front of them keep winning and looking good, I have to keep the Trojans down here.

12. California (1-2, 0-0, LW: 9)
Cal had a bye week and remains the only losing team in the Pac-12. Cal's placement at the bottom has a lot to do with a very difficult non-conference schedule but life only gets harder for the Bears as they face Oregon on the road on Saturday.

The Award Tracker:

Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year:
1. QB Marcus Mariota, So., Oregon (LW: 1)
A bye week doesn't change the fact that Mariota is the best player in the Pac-12 currently playing at the highest level.

2. QB Sean Mannion, Jr., Oregon State (LW: 2)
Mannion struggled to find a rhythm in the middle portion of the Beavers' game against San Diego State but he still managed to finish with a very impressive stat line of 38 completions on 55 attempts (both season highs) for 387 yards and three touchdowns (both season lows) with no interceptions. The fact that 367 yards and three touchdowns technically qualifies as an unproductive day goes to show just how good Mannion has been. Mannion now leads the nation in completions (133), passing yards (1604), touchdown passes (15), and touchdown to interception ratio (15:1).

3. WR Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State (LW: 3)
Cooks was held out of the end zone on Saturday but his seven receiving touchdowns from the previous three games still puts hum first in the nation. Cooks also maintained his national lead in receptions (43), and yards (639) with an impressive 14 catch (season high), 141 yard performance. Assuming the Beavers qualify for the postseason, Cooks is currently on pace for 140 receptions, 2077 yards, and 23 touchdowns. Based on the Beavers inability to do anything other than throw the ball, I wouldn't put it past him to hit those numbers at the end of the year


Honorable Mentions:
WR Paul Richardson, Jr., Colorado

RB Bishop Sankey, Jr., Washington

QB Brett Hundley, So., UCLA

RB De'Anthony Thomas, Jr., Oregon

QB Keith Price, Sr., Washington

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year:
1. LB Anthony Barr, Sr., UCLA (LW: 2)
Barr was only able to play one half before being sat down along with the rest of UCLA's starters but while he was in the game he recorded 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble. When Barr wasn't making a play in the backfield, he was attracting double teams and opening up opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

2. S Tra'Mayne Bondurant, Jr., Arizona (LW: 1)
Arizona wasn't present on last week's schedule but Bondurant's ball hawking ability hasn't gone anywhere.

3. DE Trevor Reilly, Sr., Utah (LW: 3)
Reilly had a monsterous game against BYU blowing up the Cougars once vaunted rushign attack. Reilly recorded seven solo tackles including two for a loss giving him six TFLs for the year, tied for most in the Pac-12. He also had his second sack of the season. BYU's game plan is always to run horizontally and get to the corner but Reilly destroyed BYU's ability to do that.

Honorable Mentions:
S Dion Bailey, Jr., USC

LB Devon Kennard, Sr., USC

DT Leonard Williams, So., USC

S Deone Bucannon, Sr., Washington State

DE Josh Shirley, Jr., Washington

Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year:
1. QB Jared Goff, California (LW: 1)
His numbers are inflated by the Bear Raid system but even with Sonny Dykes coaching, not everyone has the ability to use that system to lead the nation in total offense per game. We will see how Goff does against an Oregon defense that prides itself on shutting down fast teams and forcing turnovers.
2. RB Justin Davis, USC (LW: NR)
Among the many criticisms Lane Kiffin is his inability to rotate tailbacks and give capable players a consistent workload. Despite a career day against Boston College two weeks ago, Kiffin again decided to leave Davis out of the game plan and gave him only six carries. Luckily for Davis, all the offensive freshman behind him weren't able to do much better last week.

3. RB Paul Perkins, UCLA (LW: NR)
I was hoping to see Perkins get steady work in the second half of UCLA's blowout win over New Mexico State. However, the fact that Perkins only got five carries in the first half before sitting in the second is probably a good sign for him moving forward.
Honorable Mentions:
RB Thomas Tyner, Oregon

RB Khalfani Muhammad, California

WR Kenny Lawlor, California
Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year:
1. LB Addison Gilliam, Colorado (LW: 1)
Gilliam was not afforded a stage to show off his abilities this weekend but the memories of what he has done are not old enough to make him fade from the top spot. This is exactly what I posted last week and I'm not changing it because Colorado once again did not play and despite two weeks away from the field, I still haven't seen a freshman defender as good as Gilliam.

2. LB Myles Jack, UCLA (LW: 2)
Jack had a near silent game on Saturday recording just one tackle but like Perkins above, the fact that Jim Mora values him enough to sit him for the entire second half to protect him is huge.

3. LB Scooby Wright, Arizona (LW: 3)
Wright was a tackling machine for the Wildcats for the first three games but we'll see how well he can track down Bishop Sankey and friends on Saturday.

Honorable Mentions:

DB Daquawn Brown, Washington State

DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

LB Hardy Nickerson, California

S Su'a Cravens, USC

Pac-12 Coach of the Year:
1. Jim Mora, UCLA (LW: 1)
As I'm sure you can tell from what is written above, I loved how Mora handled his roster this week. the temptation existed for him to play some of his star freshman the entire game and give them extra reps but the fact that he rested important young players like Jack and Perkins shows Mora's solid grasp on his team and its future.

2. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado (LW: 2)
Three weeks in between games doesn't change how much better the Buffs look under MacIntyre versus how they played for the previous eight or so seasons.

3. Mark Helfrich, Oregon (LW: 3)
It's hard not to be impressed with how Helfrich has seamlessly implemented his own culture on top of what Chip Kelly had built before him. The fact that Helfrich has kept everything almost the same while adding a few important tweaks of his own is a big deal going forward.

Honorable Mentions:
Steve Sarkisian, Washington

Kyle Whittingham, Utah

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