This week's power rankings for the Pac-10 are as follows:
#1- Arizona State Sun Devils (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10)
Last week: Bye
This week: versus California, 10:00 PM Eastern
Still undefeated, they aren't budging from this spot. Dennis Erickson's team is headed for a colossal showdown against Cal on Saturday, which doesn't look as colossal as it did two weeks ago. However, Arizona State's schedule isn't easy the rest of the way, because they have remaining games against Cal, at Oregon, at UCLA, USC, and a rivalry game against Arizona. It is conceivable that they could lose all five of those games, but highly unlikely. I don't think they make it through the next five games without losing at least once, but until that happens, they stay #1 here.
#2- Oregon Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10)
Last week: 55-34 win at Washington
This week: versus USC, 3:00 PM Eastern
The score of the Washington game is decieving as the Huskies were still really in the game until the middle of the fourth quarter. However, all that matters to the BCS computers are W's and L's, and Oregon has a bunch of the former, and one of the latter. Mike Bellotti's squad has proved that the loss of Jeremiah Johnson is not as big as it could be, as Jonathan Stewart rushed for 250+ yards against UW. Granted USC has a much better defense than Washington, especially with Brian Cushing back in the lineup, but any time that someone has that many yards in a game, it really doesn't matter who's on defense. This week is the first of two mega-games at Autzen Stadium, as next week, the Ducks draw Arizona State; after that, the schedule opens up some, with two winnable games against Arizona and Oregon State wrapped around a trap game against UCLA.
#3- USC Trojans (6-1, 3-1 Pac-10)
Last week: 38-0 win at Notre Dame
This week: at Oregon, 3:00 PM Eastern
What's the best solution for a slumping football team this side of the Sun Belt? Try Notre Dame. Mark Sanchez, backup quarterback extraordinairre (and son of an Orange County firefighter, my thoughts go out to them), led the Men of Troy on a triumph through South Bend. However, this week's game against Oregon is the first time since 2002 that USC will not be favored in a game; proof that this year's Trojan army is not quite as good as years past. Their defense, led again by senior linebacker Brian Cushing, who missed the first five games with injury, is playing like they were supposed to at the start of the season, and like the adage says, defense wins championships. How they play in Eugene will dictate the rest of the season for USC, as after that there's giant killers Oregon State, Cal, Arizona State, and UCLA to go this year. If they come into that set of games without rhythm, they don't stand a chance, but if they win out, the National Championship is still not out of reach because of the lack of fully undefeated teams.
#4- UCLA Bruins (5-2, 4-0 Pac-10)
Last week: 30-21 win versus Cal
This week: at Washington State, 6:30 PM Eastern
Still undefeated in the Pac-10, UCLA last week took down California in the Rose Bowl by two scores. Defense, not usually the calling card of anyone in the Pac-10, but especially the Bruins, has helped them to their 4-0 Pac-10 record. Taking down Cal with Nate Longshore is one heck of an achievement, and they can thank the guys without the ball for that victory. UCLA also benefitted from having a healthy Pat Cowan, who, even as a second string quarterback has a lot of playing experience, instead of emergency QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson having to play. UCLA has a couple of gimme games before ending the year with Arizona State and Oregon at home and USC in the Coliseum.
#5- California Golden Bears (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10)
Last week: 21-30 loss at UCLA
This week: at Arizona State, 10:00 PM Eastern
Oh, what could have been. But instead, Cal decided to have the five worst quarters possible, and are now 5-2 and way out of the National Championship picture. It doesn't get any easier for the Berkley Bears, as they go to Arizona State this Saturday. Nate Longshore's ankle is probably the least popular joint on campus (it is Berkley after all), and the six days between games gives it just that much more time to heal. Both of the teams that Cal has lost to have for the most part underachieved this year, and they do have good victories against Tennessee and at Oregon, but if you were to play those games now, the results would most likely differ. Jeff Tedford doesn't have a great reputation as a motivator, so the odds of Cal getting back on track this year are not as good as they could be. The rest of the schedule looks marginal, as after Arizona State, there's Wazzou and USC at home, followed by games at Arizona and at Stanford.
#6- Oregon State Beavers (4-3, 2-2 Pac-10)
Last week: Bye
This week: versus Stanford, 6:30 PM Eastern
The redheaded stepchild of Pac-10 teams with winning records, Oregon State's bye week couldn't have come at a worse time than it did, as the Beavers were riding high after dethroning Cal at Cal. The only positive of that game was more time to prepare for life without Sammie Stroughter, the star reciever, who, as was discussed last week, is out for the year with a bruised kidney. The OSU defense probably feels slighted, for this year, the offense has squandered whatever advantage that has been given to them. Expect that to continue, because the only sophomore quarterback who has succeeded in the Pac-10 recently was Matt Leinart (remember him?); Sean Canfield, you're off the schneid for the rest of this season. At USC and at Oregon in the Civil War (which is almost always won by the home team) are the only hard games left this year, and the Beavs should make it to a low bowl game.
#7- Stanford Cardinal (3-4, 2-3 Pac-10)
Last week: 21-20 win at Arizona
This week: at Oregon State, 6:30 PM Eastern
After beating Arizona, Jim Harbaugh's Stanford team looks like a darkhorse to get bowl eligible this year, with Oregon State and Cal being the only teams that Stanford will not be favored against. The snail race at Arizona was a low-quality offensive game, with the Cardinal only gaining 277 yards of total offense and Arizona outgaining them by just short of 100 yards. However, the only thing that matters is that final score, and Stanford won there. If Stanford can sneak out of Corvallis with a W, the rest of the season could be special, but even if they lose, there still isn't too much pressure, for the Cardinal were not supposed to be this good this fast.
#8- Washington Huskies (2-5, 0-4 Pac-10)
Last week: 34-55 loss versus Oregon
This week: versus Arizona, 3:30 PM Eastern
Jake Locker. Jake Locker. Jake Locker. There's the UW offense for you. Granted, even as a redshirt freshman, he is the best single player on the Huskies, but someone else has to step up for Washington on offense. If not, it looks to be a longer year than usual for the 'Dawgs. This week's showdown against Arizona is not so much a game for victory, but a game for not losing, because this is nothing more than a futility fight. Both teams will be glad when this season ends. The only other winnable game is the crApple Cup against Washington State. Not much more to say, other than Cal, who suddenly doesn't look so healthy, and the Muskies could potentially play spoiler against Hawai'i's undefeated(?) season.
#9- Arizona Wildcats (2-6, 1-4 Pac-10)
Last week: 20-21 loss versus Stanford
This week: at Washington, 3:30 PM Eastern
Mike Stoops, I sure hope that you've paid up on your unemployment, because you're going to be without a job at the end of the year. What happened to getting to a BCS Bowl? Have you tried a winning season? Aren't you a defensive specialist? How's that treating you? Aren't there a whole bunch of talented recruits in Arizona and Southern California? Doesn't your campus sell itself? Thank goodness Arizona put down Washington State, because if it weren't for that, you'd be zero-for-the-year this year in conference. The game against Washington is winnable, but it is the last of the Mohicans of their schedule, for after that it's UCLA, Oregon, and Arizona State. Sure hope that y'all play inspired against the Sun Devils.
#10- Washington State Cougars (2-5, 0-4 Pac-10)
Last week: Bye
This week: versus UCLA, 6:30 PM Eastern
What's that stench at the bottom of the Pac-10 freezer. Must be Wazzou. They're rancid. Better buy those Derrick Low jerseys now, before he gets any better. What's that you say? Derrick Low's a basketball player? I say that focusing on him will help take the collective Cougar minds off of the football team, like Oregon State does with basketball and baseball. If UCLA doesn't win on Saturday, well, I can't even bring up an apocalyptic theory because the Cougars are THAT BAD. Only good news: USC, Oregon, and Arizona State are out of the way.