Only two teams played last week, so there’s not much movement in the power rankings. Still, there were big results, both good and bad, and some movement was justified. This week features nearly a full slate of games, with only Stanford on a bye (darn jet lag).
1. USC Trojans-
Stanford turned a lot of heads, but not enough to unseat the presumptive playoff team from the PAC 12. USC welcomes Western Michigan to the Coliseum next, but it’s the September 9 matchup with the Cardinal that has our attention.
2. Stanford Cardinal (+1)-
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Stanford made a heck of an impression. Part of being a great team is looking great against lousy opponents. Stanford checked that box. They take a bye and then it’s a tilt with USC.
3. Washington Huskies (-1)-
Sometimes you win by not playing, sometimes you lose. Stanford had a chance to answer the questions folks were asking about them and Washington didn’t, and now Stanford is in the catbird seat. The Huskies get their shot to prove something on Friday when they visit Rutgers.
4. Utah Utes-
Utah sent a ton of players to the NFL, which raises doubts about their ability to reload- but also justifies Ute fans’ faith in Coach Whittingham’s ability to deliver wins. They take on one of the better FCS teams in the country in North Dakota next Thursday.
5. Washington State Cougars-
An all-world offense finally has a sturdy defense to go with it, and the Cougars have become North contenders. They’ve developed a very bad habit of dropping games to FCS teams, however. Montana State is no slouch as these teams go, and the Cougs better watch their backs.
6. Colorado Buffaloes-
The Buffs were excellent last year, but they haven’t been good enough long enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. They’ll have to prove they can replace crucial talent on both sides of the ball and one of the better DCs in football. They visit Colorado State in one of the better matchups of a soft opening week.
7. Oregon Ducks-
Oregon has fallen fast and hard into tough times, but they are still loaded with talent and have taken aggressive steps to right the ship. There’s plenty to be optimistic about, but it still may be a tough season for the Ducks. Southern Utah continues the trend of PAC 12 teams playing some of the best the FCS has to offer.
8. UCLA Bruins-
Like the Ducks, UCLA has fallen on hard times, but continues to pull in strong recruiting classes and has talent where it’s needed most. Unlike Oregon, they haven’t been as aggressive about changing things up. Jim Mora has to prove he can win. He gets his chance Sunday when the Bruins play Texas A&M in the marquee match-up of the week.
9. Cal Bears-
It’s been a while since a lot has gone right for Cal, but many of the critical pieces are there to make a go at a bowl game. That’s about the ceiling for the Bears, though. They start the season with an intriguing matchup at North Carolina. A win over the Tarheels would be a good sign for their bowl hopes.
10. Arizona State Sundevils-
Todd Graham’s seat is searing hot, and the stumbling Sun Devils don’t look to have the talent to cool it off. New Mexico State shouldn’t present much of a challenge, but that gentle start will turn tough in a hurry. Will the ‘Devils be ready?
11. Arizona Wildcats-
It may be small solace to ASU fans, but at least rival Arizona is in shambles, too. Despite returning plenty of talent, the Wildcats were catastrophically bad last year. Their rebuilding project isn’t going to be a success overnight.
12. Oregon State Beavers(-3)-
We called the game against Colorado State “a decent litmus test”, and it turns the Beavers are pretty basic. A brutal beat down has sent them to the bottom of this list. The bright spot is that Colorado State looked pretty darn good, so maybe this loss won’t look so bad in a few weeks. They get Portland State in town on Saturday.
It was a good appetizer last Saturday, but this week is the first full slate of games. Fifteen on Thursday, eight on Friday, and a multitude on Saturday will provide no shortage of entertainment for college football fans. We can’t wait!