As we reach the midpoint of the Pac-12 football season, the haves and the have nots have separated themselves.
Four games in and there are two undefeated teams left.
One – Oregon – you would have guessed.
Nope, not USC, the preseason favorite to not only win the Pac-12 title but a national title as well.
Instead, it’s that team from right here in Corvallis – Oregon State. The Beavers are 4-0 in the conference and 6-0 overall, the best start in program history. The only other time the Beavers started 6-0 was in 1907 when they played just six games, including one against the Astoria Athletic Club.
The Beavers and Ducks have held the top two spots in my power rankings the past few weeks, and you can certainly bet they will this week after last week’s performances.
Oregon met the challenge of a Thursday road game at Arizona State with a 43-21 thumping of the Sun Devils. The Ducks didn’t even need to score in the second half for the blowout.
Oregon State, meanwhile, started quickly with a 14-0 lead at home against Utah late Saturday night, then put together a drive toward the end to seal the 21-7 victory. The Beavers are now 2-0 with backup QB Cody Vaz under center.
In other action, USC rolled Colorado (no surprise), 50-6, and Stanford throttled California, 21-3, in the Big Game, which was played super early this year. Also, Arizona ended a three-game slide with a 52-17 dismantling of Washington. UCLA and Washington State had byes.
So here is my take on the rankings after Week 8.
1. Oregon (7-0, 4-0): Ducks fell behind early, then blew past the Sun Devils. The defense may be the best in a long while at Oregon. With Colorado up next, Ducks should be perfect heading into showdown at USC on Nov. 3
2. Oregon State (6-0, 4-0): Beavers’ offense has struggled at home, scoring just 50 points in three games compared to 107 on the road. The defense has allowed just 20 points at home and 79 on the road. That works.
3. USC (6-1, 4-1): Matt Barkley was nearly flawless, completing 19 of 20 passes for 298 yards and six TDs. Yes, it was against Colorado, but still, that is mighty impressive. Arizona up next before hosting Ducks in the much-anticipated showdown.
4. Stanford (5-2, 3-1): Stepfan Taylor had a career game rushing the ball and the Cardinal looked like a physical force. The game wasn’t that close. Stanford gets lowly Washington State and Colorado before hosting the Beavers on Nov. 10.
5. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1): Sun Devils started well, but early injuries hurt against the Ducks. ASU must regroup with UCLA up next coming off a bye.
6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2): Bruins move up because, well, the teams ahead of them lost. They have just one bad loss – to Cal – but did beat Nebraska at home. OK, maybe I’m stretching a bit but hey, the bottom six through nine slots could be interchangeable week to week. (And have been)
7. Arizona (4-3, 1-3): Wildcats’ offense made a decent Huskies’ defense look overmatched. All three losses have come against ranked teams – Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford. Big test this week at home against USC.
8. Washington (3-4, 1-3): That upset of Stanford seems so long ago. The final six games of the year were supposed to be the easier part of the schedule, but with Oregon State up next, the slide could continue for UW.
9. California (3-5, 2-3): After getting off the hot seat for a couple weeks, a dismal showing against rival Stanford has coach Jeff Tedford back on it. Bears need win at Utah this week or Tedford’s fate could be sealed.
10. Utah (2-5, 0-4): Utes kept it close with Oregon State, but you never really got the feeling the offense could score enough to truly threaten the Beavers. Utah finding out how much tougher the weekly grind of the Pac-12 is compared to the Mountain West.
11t. Washington State (2-5, 0-4): Cougars had a bye and face Stanford this week. Utah is up the following week, and if Cougars can win there and Buffaloes keep losing, I will move WSU out of a tie for the cellar.
11t. Colorado (1-6, 1-3): That win over WSU can only get Buffs a share of the cellar. I can only imagine how bad this week’s game against Oregon will turn out. Then it is Stanford’s turn. Yikes.