Looking over the embarrassing loss Oregon State suffered to Eastern Washington, the Pac-12 looked like a top-tier conference during the first weekend of play in the college football season. That’s to be expected, but with the way Washington beat then No. 19 Boise State, how close Washington State played Auburn, and the scare Cal gave Northwestern, there’s reason to believe the Pac-12 is the best conference in the country.
This week, we’ve added one new poller. It’s our newest staff writer Eric Nelson. He’ll join myself, Evan Webeck, Jesse Kennemer, Paul Somerstein, Erik Erickson and Jackson Safon in voting on this week’s power rankings.
1. Stanford Cardinal (0-0) 70 points (4 first place votes)
Last week: Bye
Despite not playing in Week 1, the Cardinal managed to move up a slot in the power rankings. They will open their season against San Jose State on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if any receivers step up for Kevin Hogan to throw to, or if one of their bruising backs separates himself and becomes the feature back.
2. Oregon Ducks (1-0) 68 points (2 first place votes)
Last week: 66-3 W vs. Nicholls State Colonels
Somehow, winning their first game 66-3 wasn’t enough to keep the Ducks in the top slot of the power rankings. Marcus Mariota didn’t particularly look like a Heisman candidate but De’Anthony Thomas sure did. His 18 carries for 128 yards were supplemented by Byron Marshall’s 8 carries for 124. It looked like the same old Ducks, putting up 500 yards rushing, alone. Unbelievably, that wasn’t enough to lead the nation, as Arkansas State put up 509.
3. UCLA Bruins (1-0) 58 points
Last week: 58-20 W vs. Nevada Wolfpack
UCLA looked every bit as impressive as the Huskies did. The Bruins just did it against an arguably worse team. They certainly didn’t look like they lost a 1,700-yard rusher a guard that went in the NFL Draft. Jordan James owned the ground, while Brett Hundley carried the team through the air, passing for 274 yards and two touchdowns. More meaningfully, the Bruins outscored Nevada 41-7 in the second half.
4. Washington Huskies (1-0) 57 points
Last week: 38-6 W vs. No. 19 Boise State Broncos
You don’t need me telling you how well the Huskies played in their opener versus the Broncos. Simply put, Bishop Sankey was Bishop Sankey, the offensive line was much improved, Keith Price looked like his old self and the defense didn’t allow a touchdown. Now, the Huskies have a bye to get Austin Seferian-Jenkins fully healthy for when they play Illinois at Soldier Field Sept. 14.
5. Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0) 50 points
Last week: Bye
The Sun Devils joined the Cardinal as the only two Pac-12 teams to get a bye in Week 1. Though Week 1 byes normally aren’t preferred, the Sun Devils are a little banged up and still have position battles ongoing, so the extra week to sort things out should help coach Todd Graham. ASU opens its season versus Sacramento State on Thursday night.
6. Arizona Wildcats (1-0) 40 points
Last week: 35-0 W vs. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
I’ll preface this by telling you that ASU had a 42-0 lead on NAU at halftime last season before beating the Lumberjacks, 63-6. There’s no question the Wildcats looked good in their opener – at least they didn’t fall victim to the apparent FCS curse last weekend – all without All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey, who was suspended. B.J. Jenkins looked solid, but the offense revolved around the running game – exactly what it will have to do this year.