Pac-12 Football Power Rankings: Week 4

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Sep 14, 2013; Lincoln, NE, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) leaves the field after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. UCLA won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

What an entertaining weekend of football. Two games that came down to the final seconds or went to overtime, UCLA dominating Nebraska in the second half and USC got back on track with a convincing win over Boston College.

As I’m sure you all have seen by now, ASU beat Wisconsin with the help of, to say the least, questionable officiating. I was in attendance and I’ll tell you, the crowd was just as confused as the players and officials. Though, I’ve heard reports that the fans yelling, “Fumble!” caused the players to jump on it. It was a very exciting game, but ASU’s weakness were definitely exposed.

We had all six staff members submit ballots this week. Jesse Kennemer, Jackson Safon, Erik Erickson, Eric Nelson, Paul Somerstein and myself, Evan Webeck. 12 points are awarded for first place votes, 11 for second, and so on.

1. Oregon Ducks (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 72 points (6 first place votes)

Last week: 59-10 W vs. Tennessee Volunteers

This week: vs. California Golden Bears (1-2)

Amazingly, the Ducks’ 61.3 points scored per game does not lead the nation. That title belongs to the Baylor Bears, who have averaged 69.5 points in two games thus far. Then again, Baylor’s points have come against Wofford and Buffalo; Oregon’s have come against Nicholls State, Virginia and Tennessee.

2. Stanford Cardinal (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 65 points

Last week: 34-20 W @ Army Black Knights

This week: vs. No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0)

Stanford came out slow and didn’t really pick things up much later on. The Cardinal were only up four at halftime, and that only improved to 14 by the end of the game. It seemed as though the Cardinal were unprepared and possibly looking over the Black Knights in favor of their next opponent, No. 23 ASU.

3. UCLA Bruins (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 61 points

Last week: 41-21 W @ Nebraska Cornhuskers

This week: vs. New Mexico St. Aggies (0-3)

The first team other than Oregon or Stanford to receive a top-two vote in the power rankings! Gifted by Paul Somerstein – who added an affirmative “yeah” in parentheses next to his submission. It was more than earned, after the Bruins gave a whooping to the then No. 23 Cornhuskers. Though it helps when the team you surpass barely beat Army.

4. Washington Huskies (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 54 points

Last week: 34-24 W @ Illinois Fighting Illini

This week: vs. Idaho State Bengals (2-0)

Some might say they weren’t impressed by the Huskies victory in Chicago last weekend, and that’s valid, but I’m just happy with the ‘W’. Illinois had looked much better than expected, much in thanks to the resurgence of quarterback Joe Scheehaase. When he reverted to his old, worse self, it was no surprise to see the Illini trailing. Now, the Huskies face a 53-point spread at home against FCS Idaho State – and that’s only the third-largest in the nation this week.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) 48 points

Last week: 32-30 W vs. No. 20 Wisconsin Badgers

This week: @ No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (2-0)

“The knumble,” as it has been described by House of Sparky. Did Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave’s knee hit the ground? Did the officials have a deal with “the man”? We’ll never know! (OK, maybe we do know his knee hit the ground.) What we do know is that the officials responsible have been “reprimanded” by the league, which most are speculating means they won’t officiate this week.

6. Oregon State Beavers (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12) 36 points

Last week: 51-48 W @ Utah Utes

This week: @ San Diego State Aztecs (0-2)

Just like the AP top-five, there was no disagreement or change in our top-five. All the ballots, except Paul’s, were identical up until the sixth slot. Oregon State and USC looking better complicate things. So does the 3-0 start from the Arizona Wildcats and 2-1 start by the Washington State Cougars. Only Oregon State and Arizona received sixth place votes, but the four teams are only separated by five points.

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  • rossb

    The ASU game was a tough one for the refs. It sure looked like his knee didn’t hit the ground. This made the decision by the ASU player to jump on the ball quite reasonable. There was plenty of confusion going on amongst the players. This made the refs decision quite reasonable. Basically, the refs had a few choices:

    1) Call timeout and review the play (did his knee hit the ground?). But one of the refs (the head ref is my guess) probably nixed that idea, and said Wisconsin ball, even if his knee didn’t hit the ground (since someone probably blew the whistle anyway).

    2) Call a penalty against the ASU player for delay of game. This is rather harsh, considering it wasn’t clear that he was delaying the game. It is quite likely that the players really thought it was a fumble.

    3) Grab the ball before the Wisconsin player had a chance to jump on it. This was the best course of action. The play doesn’t start until the refs say so, and they should have acted with a greater sense of urgency. If they knew that the ball belonged to Wisconsin (still) then they should have been all over it. If the refs grab the ball — tell the Wisconsin players to wait, then say “go”, then everything works out fine (assuming the Wisconsin players get ready in time). This is why they are being reprimanded.

    But as much as the refs are at fault, so too is Wisconsin, especially the quarterback. There is no reason to place the ball like that, without making it clear to everyone, everywhere, that you are on your knees. Heck, in the pros they curl up in that sort of play (granted, the rules are different). But he made the situation ambiguous, and the team suffered. Then, after the play, he didn’t hustle his guys up until only a few seconds remained. Immediately after placing the ball, he should have rallied his guys to set up. Instead, he first had to convince the referee that Wisconsin really had possession, then rallied his teammates at the last second. I’m not sure if he understand just how few seconds he had left. Or that his “taking a knee” was so ambiguous. Why do that? Why not flip the ball to the referee with your knee on the ground. I guess it might save a second, but in this case, that is simply being penny wise and pound foolish. Not very smart (but I guess the kid hasn’t graduated college yet, so…)

    Meanwhile, ASU did everything possible to lose this game, but still won. The last play seemed to be their smartest. Guys walking around, suggesting there is no hurry, guys diving on the ball, etc. Great stuff. They worked the refs and took advantage of the situation.

    Amongst the obvious mistakes made by ASU has to be the decision(s) to go for two, so early in the game. Quick Tip: Don’t go for two until you can count the possessions. Down by 8 with two minutes left, go for two. Down by 11, with four minutes left, go for two (kickoff, stop, field goal, overtime). Well, you get the idea. With a whole quarter to go, you have no idea what will happen, especially with modern football, where teams routinely score in the thirties or forties. The decision to go for two essentially cost them two points. They got one back when Wisconsin (correctly) went for two but failed. So, all in all, it cost them a point. But it meant that ASU would have lost if Wisconsin hit a field goal. Totally unnecessary and totally stupid. I know you have power rankings, and not stupid rankings, otherwise the boys from Tempe would top the list.

    • Evan Webeck

      Haha, great comment! I’ll say, yes, ASU played awful for much of the game (dropped passes on dropped passes, oh my), but there were also a few scenarios that should have played out but didn’t that would’ve allowed ASU to win the game without that mess at the end.

      On the play that put them in such spectacular field position, it looked like the Wisconsin receiver stepped out of bounds TWICE before he even got to the 50. Even after review, the refs didn’t notice.

      Like you pointed out, if ASU simply kicked the extra points when it should have, it wins the game, regardless. Or if it converts on ONE of those. Needless to say, it was a damn entertaining game and I’m grateful I was able to experience it from the student section. That was fun.