5 Pac-12 teams ranked in latest AP Top 25
The Pac-12 has five teams ranked in the AP Top 25 poll after the first weekend of action this season – Oregon (No. 3), UCLA (No. 11), Stanford (No. 13), USC (No. 14) and Arizona State (No. 17). The five ranked teams are the second-most of any conference behind the SEC’s eight.
The Oregon offense looked as potent as ever, racking up 673 yards en route to a 62-13 pasting of South Dakota (how ‘bout that Royce Freeman kid, eh?). But, since the victory came over an FCS opponent and Florida State and Alabama beat schools from power conferences, the Ducks are standing pat at their preseason ranking of No. 3, which equaled the program’s highest ranking to start the season (Oregon was also preseason No. 3 in 2011 and 2013). That said, the Ducks did receive the second-most first-place votes with five, trailing of course only No. 1 Florida State in that department. Things figure to get considerably tougher for the Ducks this week in a big time showdown with No. 7 Michigan State.
UCLA took a tumble after its struggles in a 28-20 victory at Virginia. The offense did not score until late in the third quarter (though the defense scored thrice in the second quarter). The margin of victory did not meet the pollsters’ standards, and as a result, the Bruins dropped four spots to No. 11 (it was the biggest drop in the top 25 for a team that won last weekend). The Bruins will try to “get right” in their home opener Saturday against Memphis…only on the Pac-12 Networks (7 p.m. PT y’all).
The Cardinal made it look easy in a 45-0 rout of UC Davis (exorcising some demons in the process), but it wasn’t enough to keep Shaw’s boys from slipping two spots to No. 13; Texas A&M’s impressive road win at South Carolina, Georgia’s second-half manhandling of Clemson and LSU’s comeback victory over Wisconsin played a role in Stanford’s slight drop. Huge North-South showdown this week between the two-time defending conference champs and USC. Oh the storylines!
Speaking of which, USC is now No. 14 after an impressive 52-13 beatdown of a Fresno State squad it defeated in the Las Vegas Bowl to conclude the 2013 season (by the way, two straight years that Las Vegas Bowl participants start their seasons against each other the following year with Washington and Boise State doing the dance in 2012 and 2013). The offense was firing on all cylinders, as Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Cody Kessler passed for 394 yards and four scores. The +1 movement in the polls makes this week’s ranking the highest the Trojans have been slotted since October 2012.
Beating up on an FCS school usually won’t help you sprout up the rankings (see Oregon and Stanford), but Arizona State did what it needed to do in a 45-14 rout of Weber State and got rewarded with a two-spot jump to No. 17. The Forks will have plenty of opportunities to make more leaps in the future with a tough conference slate and No. 16 Notre Dame coming to Tempe in November. Arizona State plays its first FBS opponent Saturday when it travels to Albuquerque to pay the New Mexico Lobos a visit.
Washington did not earn enough style points in the voters’ eyes to stay ranked after edging Hawai’i 17-16 (the Dawgs received 27 voting points), while Arizona received four voting points for taking apart UNLV.