Five Pac-12 teams ranked in AP poll for second straight week
Five Pac-12 teams are ranked in the AP top 25 for the second consecutive week – Oregon (No. 2), USC (No. 9), UCLA (No. 12), Stanford (No. 15) and Arizona State (No. 16). The five teams are the second most of any conference behind the SEC’s eight.
The Ducks were a mere three voting points away from the No. 2 spot last week, but a convincing 46-27 victory over then-No. 7 Michigan State more than closed the gap on the Crimson Tide, which fell into the No. 3 spot previously held by the Ducks. Trailing by nine in the third quarter, Marcus Mariota and Co. reeled off 28 straight points on one of the toughest defenses in the nation. As a result, the Ducks are the new No. 2 in town. Big win for Oregon, big win for Helfrich, big win for Mariota, and of course, big win for the Pac-12. The Ducks also received 16 first-place votes.
USC started out as the fourth-highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the AP Top 25, but things change when you beat the two-time defending conference champions on their own turf. The Trojans jumped up five spots to No. 9 after dispatching Stanford 13-10, making the most of their opportunities on offense and stifling the Stanford attack when it reached the red zone. This is the first time USC has been ranked in the top 10 since October 2012. Kudos to Javorius Allen for rushing for a career-high 154 yards against a stout Stanford defense and props to kicker Andre Heidari for nailing a career-long 53-yarder in crunch time.
Last week, the Bruins’ defense bailed out the Bruins’ offense. This week against Memphis, it was the offense that got it done in another closer-than-predicted 42-35 win over the Tigers out of the American Athletic Conference. UCLA expects more out of itself, and so do the pollsters. As such, the Bruins took another drop, falling one slot to 12th. On the plus side, Brett Hundley threw some dimes and Myles Jack got into the end zone on a “you’re not gonna deny me” four-yard touchdown run.
In losing a game it probably felt like it should have won by multiple scores, Stanford dropped two spots to No. 15. While the loss hurts, it certainly isn’t insurmountable in trying to get to the College Football Playoff. You’d have to think that a one-loss Pac-12 champion that also beat Notre Dame would make it to college football’s final four; of course, that means running the table from here on out with games on the road at Washington, Notre Dame (who wants to play them right now?), Arizona State, Oregon (who wants to play THEM right now?) and UCLA, not to mention a 2-0 Cal team. In other words, it’s going to be tough.
The Sun Devils haven’t had a marquee game yet, but they have done what they’ve needed to in blowing out lower-division and non-power-conference teams. The end result was a little more impressive this week, when the Forks took a trip to Albuquerque and smashed New Mexico 58-23. The five-touchdown triumph was good enough for Arizona State to move up in the polls for the second straight week, this time a one-place jump to No. 16. Todd Graham can say adios to playing perceived patsies, though, as Notre Dame and a tough nine-game conference slate is what remains.
Washington received four voting points after beating Eastern Washington in a 59-52 shootout, Utah received two points for piling up 50-plus for the second straight week and Arizona received one after beating UTSA on the road.