Pac-12 Football – Week 4 Power Rankings

Editor’s Note: Each week we combine rankings from all our writers to produce these consensus Power Rankings. Curious to know how each writer ranked the teams? Scroll down to the table at the bottom of the page. Don’t like where your team stacks up? Tell us about it on Twitter.

Who could have predicted the Pac-12 would have six teams in the Top 25 after Week Three? With the addition of Cal and Arizona State this week, half the Conference now graces the AP Poll for the first time since 1915, and only the 16th time in its history. The feat comes at a time when much of the College Football Establishment is declaring the Pac-12 down, if not out.

But can the good times last?

We’ll get a better sense this week, with two of those ranked teams engaged in key divisional matchups, and two more on the road against tough non-conference foes.

1. Utah (0-0, 3-0) — Previous Ranking: 1 ⟺

In the first two weeks, the Utes have looked like a team ready for a Pac-12 title run. Nothing changed last week, with Utah dominating Idaho State 31-0. It was a typical Utes performance, built on good habits. Utah did not take the Bengals lightly. The defense was prepared, holding ISU signal caller Gunnar Amos to 52 yards passing. The Idaho State running game didn’t fare much better, with Bengals halfback Ty Flanagan rushing for just 46 yards on 13 carries. Offensively, Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss overwhelmed the Idaho State defense, with Huntley throwing for 282 yards, and Moss running for 106. The pair combined for four touchdowns. Having breezed through their non-conference schedule, a difficult slate of Conference games await the Utes, beginning with always-talented USC. The Trojans have plenty to play for in the Coliseum after dropping a winnable game last week in Provo. The winner will have a leg up in the South Division race.

—Nicholas Bartlett

2. Oregon (0-0, 2-1) — Previous Ranking: 2 ⟺

The Ducks appear ready to live up to their No. 16 ranking after a second-consecutive non-conference blowout victory. Oregon held Montana to 242 yards of total offense, and just eight yards on the ground. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 316 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the first UO signal caller to throw for five scores in consecutive games. Herbert also extended his nation-lead of throwing at least one touchdown pass to 31 games.  Running back Travis Dye impressed as well, rushing for 101 yards in his first triple-digit game of the season. On the downside, injuries continue to be a concern for Oregon as several players either missed the game or left with various ailments. Heading into Conference play in Palo Alto, the Ducks need to forget about Stanford’s back-to-back blowout losses and 1-2 record. The Cardinal has a history of torpedoing Oregon’s best seasons, and they’ll have a chance to do it again on Saturday.

—Nicholas Bartlett

3. Washington State (0-0, 3-0) — Previous Ranking: 3 ⟺

Washington State got off to a slow start offensively against Houston before kicking it into gear in the second half. Wazzu quarterback Anthony Gordon threw for 440 yards and three touchdowns, with Brandon Arconado collecting nine of those passes for 115 yards. Altogether, nine different players caught balls, as Gordon continues to spread the receiving wealth. Max Borghi menaced Houston through the air and on the ground, gaining a combined 101 yards rushing and receiving while also adding a touchdown. More importantly, the Cougars seem to have found their stride defensively. After starting slow in the first two games, and missing several tackles early against Houston, Wazzu made some in-game adjustments that proved effective in shutting down UH, and created a pair of turnovers. It remains to be seen how WSU’s defense will perform against an offense less like its own, but the Cougars continue to impress. WSU hosts struggling UCLA this week in what’s likely to be a one-sided show on both sides of the ball.  

—Jace McKinney

4. Cal (1-0, 3-0) — Previous Ranking: 5 ⬆

The Golden Bears earned their first AP Top 25 appearance of the season with a workman-like win over North Texas. Cal prevailed the only way it knows how, grinding it out in an ugly, blue-collar contest. The Bears are happy to have opponents attack them through the air as the Eagles did; it only plays into Cal’s havoc-wreaking defensive secondary. The Bears held Mason Fine to 210 yards passing, picked him off, and relegated him to a 23.9 Quarterback Rating. Such games may make for unattractive viewing experiences, but Cal will take them every time. The formula has worked against Washington and two lesser opponents so far this season, but more difficult tests await. The Bears travel to Oxford, Mississippi, on Saturday to face the SEC’s unheralded Ole Miss Rebels (2-1) in their final non-conference tilt. While the outcome remains in question, this much seems certain: It isn’t likely to be pretty. 

—Kamron Azemika

5. Washington (0-1, 2-1) — Previous Ranking: 6 ⬆

Make no mistake, last week’s victory was a huge, much-needed outcome for the Dawgs. Hawaii came in 2-0, with two straight wins over Pac-12 opponents in Arizona and Oregon State. The Warriors may not be a top-tier team, but they are no slouch. Washington made them look like an FCS opponent, jumping to a 21-0 lead, and never looking back. UW quarterback Jacob Eason rebounded from his disappointing outing last week, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. It was a confidence boosting performance for the junior, more in keeping with what we can expect from him going forward. The Husky defense shined as well, holding a dangerous Hawaii offense to just 20 points. The Dawgs get a chance to confirm their improvement against a tougher opponent this week at BYU, fresh off an upset of USC. Washington may need a couple more victories to put the Cal loss behind them, but for now, all seems right again in Montlake. 

—Nicholas Bartlett

6. Arizona State (0-0, 3-0) — Previous Ranking: 9 ⬆

The Sun Devils showed they’re a team to be feared, regardless of their youth and inexperience, emerging from East Lansing with a 10-7 defensive win over Michigan State. The victory brought them back into the national spotlight, reaffirming Herm Edwards’ unorthodox methods once again. Even more impressive was the way ASU won, giving up twice as many yards as they gained, losing the time of possession battle, and struggling to show anything resembling offense throughout most of the contest. Yet, through sheer force of will, the Devils found a way to win. Edwards trusted his true freshman quarterback to convert a fourth-and-13, and with ASU’s hopes dwindling, he came through. Jayden Daniels waited for his receivers to clear out the defenders before dashing for the game-changing first down. Not bad for his first big road test. All the same, Daniels and the Devils shouldn’t expect things to get any easier against Colorado in Tempe, with an early advantage in the South on the line.  

—Nicholas Bartlett

7. USC (1-0, 2-1) — Previous Ranking: 4 ⬇

Just when the Trojans appeared to be turning the corner with a new quarterback and a spot in the rankings, USC’s high hopes came unraveled in Provo. BYU is no pushover, but it was a game the Trojans could have won with better execution here or there. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis threw three interceptions, but it would be unfair to place all the blame on him. His 281 yards passing and two touchdowns kept the Trojans in the contest to the end. USC’s defense was no less at fault, giving up 430 total yards, and two long scoring drives in the final six minutes. Fortunately, the Trojans remain undefeated in conference play, and can take control of the South Division race with a win over the No. 10 Utes in the Coliseum on Saturday. It would go a long way toward bringing disgruntled Trojans fans back in the fold, squelching the Urban Meyer rumors for at least another week. If USC finds a way to beat Pac-12 favorite Utah, the BYU loss will be all but forgotten.

— Nicholas Bartlett

8. Colorado (0-0, 2-1) — Previous Ranking: 7 ⬇

The Buffs pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback two weeks ago against Nebraska, but the late-game magic wasn’t there against Air Force last week. Colorado did its best to prepare for the Falcons’ tricky option offense, but frequently seemed caught off-guard, giving up 444 yards of total offense. The Buffs’ offense didn’t play much better, with Steven Montez missing multiple receivers on long passes that could have altered the game. Despite the tough loss at home, the play of Laviska Shenault Jr. stood out. The senior receiver caught eight balls for 124 yards and a touchdown and rushed three times for another 25. There were other positives as well: The Colorado defense created three turnovers, and four Buff defenders had eight tackles or more. CU remains undefeated in the South Division race, and can record its first road win against a Top 25 team since 2002, at Arizona State on Saturday.

—Ian McCollam

9. Arizona (0-0, 2-1) — Previous Ranking: 10 ⬆

Arizona earned its biggest nonconference win of the Kevin Sumlin Era last week as a “White Out” home crowd roared its approval. The Cats got it done with a smash-mouth rushing attack, including an 84-yard touchdown run from Khalil Tate, and a 99-yard scoring drive with 13 straight rushes in the fourth quarter. The Wildcat defense, suspect in the first two weeks, was surprisingly stout, holding high-powered Texas Tech in check while forcing two interceptions and seven punts. The Arizona offense controlled the time of possession and limited the Red Raiders to just two scores. With a bye week to prepare for UCLA, the Wildcats have a chance to get healthy and iron out some remaining issues, especially on special teams. The offense is still too turnover-prone and needs to limit mistakes to make Arizona a real threat in Conference play. If the Wildcats continue to make week-to-week improvements, the Wildcats might just emerge as a dark horse in the South.

—Dane Miller

10. Stanford (0-1, 1-2) — Previous Ranking: 8 ⬇

The good news for Stanford is that quarterback K.J. Costello returned, and the bad news is, well, just about everything else. The Cardinal got lambasted by UCF last week, falling behind 21-0 from the get-go, and trailing 38-7 at half. Golden Knights signal caller Dillon Gabriel torched Stanford for 247 yards and four touchdowns in the air, and UCF rushers added 198 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It may be time for Stanford to go back to the drawing board, returning to the basics that once defined David Shaw teams. The Cardinal have played terribly the last two contests, and appear to be in the midst of an identity crisis. What type of team is Stanford without a dominant run game and stingy defense? Not a very good one. Things don’t get any easier next week, with rival Oregon coming to Palo Alto. Another Pac-12 loss would likely knock the Cardinal from the title chase, and put their postseason bowl hopes in question. 

—Nicholas Bartlett

11. Oregon State (0-0, 1-2) — Previous Ranking: 12 ⬆

One can’t help admiring Oregon State’s willingness to take on non-conference foes the caliber of Oklahoma State. But until second-year coach Jonathan Smith gets things turned around in Corvallis, the Beavers might want to schedule more teams like Cal Poly. OSU’s execution improved dramatically on both sides of the ball, and the players’ confidence seemed to soar. Quarterback Jake Luton led the way, throwing for 255 yards and four touchdowns, while running back B.J. Baylor rushed for 101 yards and a score. Defensively, the Beavs allowed just seven points, a step in the right direction. The end result was that all-important first win of the season. But can the Beavers carry that confidence and momentum into Conference play? OSU gets a week off to build on what it learned before hosting Stanford next week, then travels to UCLA the following week. The Beavs must win one of these contests to have any hope of improving on their record of the past two years.

—Nicholas Bartlett

12. UCLA (0-0, 0-3) — Previous Ranking: 11 ⬇

No one reasonably expected the Bruins to give No. 5 Oklahoma a game, but many expected to see improvement. And on certain fronts, they did. UCLA’s effort and energy seemed better all around. The receivers, particularly tight end Devin Asiasi, who cut loose for three breakaway catches, made the most of their opportunities. But on the whole, the Bruin offense remained inconsistent under quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who tossed two picks to go with a mixed bag of throws. The UCLA defense was outmanned from the start, leaving way too many holes for Jalen Hurts & Company to exploit. Those lapses yielded a whopping 309 yards on the ground, and another 302 through the air. The Bruins might just give up more yards and points at Washington State on Saturday, unless something changes. And soon. It’s too early to know how much UCLA is progressing under Chip Kelly this year, but whatever progress has been made seems less apparent than it did at the end of last season.

— SportsPac12 Staff

*This story was originally published at Syndicated with permission.

Avatar photo
About SportsPac12 28 Articles
An agile sports media organization founded and operated by a former sportswriter & columnist who has covered three different Pac-12 schools. An amazing partner of Oregon Sports News.