Monday, September 5, 2011

Pac-12 Football: Power Rankings and Weekly Awards

A tumultuous start for Pac-12 football was outlined by insistent conversation about a possible Pac-16 realigment. These conversations with Oklahoma and Texas is almost like talking about having a baby the minute your wife gives birth. It leaves this semi-bitter, semi-sweet taste in my mouth at the end of a questionable start for the Pac-12 Conference.  
The "S-E-C" chants following the Oregon/LSU game pretty much says it all.  We put up our best against arguably, their best and we fell flat on our faces. It stings and it begs the question, would Stanford done any better against the Tigers?  So many arguments can be made either way.  
I applaud Oregon for taking the chance at playing this caliber of an opponent this early in the schedule. For this reason, they rank No. 1 on this week's Pac-12 Power Rankings.
No. 1: Oregon
The Ducks put up a helluva fight, but it just wasn't good enough. LaMichael James was sallowed up by LSU's defensive front, leaving Oregon looking rather one-dimensional.   This doesn't mean there weren't flashes of brilliance that the Pac-12 has come accustomed to. Although the loss severely hurts my conference pride, the Ducks are still the top-dogs until another team plays a tougher opponent or Oregon struggles again. Not sure which will come first.
No. 2: Stanford
Andrew Luck. Do I even need to say any more? This kid is absolutely amazing to watch and you are doing yourself a disservice if you haven't seen him play yet. Luck finished the day with 171 yards passing and three total touchdowns, which doesn't sound amazing, but it looked outstanding in live action. Next week, Luck gets to pick apart Duke, which is available to watch on ESPNU. I'd suggest you stay tuned.
No. 3: USC
The Matt Barkley-Robert Woods connection looks extremely promising for the Trojans.  Woods caught 17 passes for 177 yards with all of USC's TDs coming from the the conference's No. 1 QB/WR duo.   While the rest of the team definitely showed signs of hope, the overall score leaves much more to be desired from Lane's Trojans.
No. 4: Arizona State
The hype surrounding the Sun Devils this past off-season is finally set into motion.  Unlike Mike Riley, Dennis Erikson picked the correct Northern California cupcake to use as a warm-up.   Brock Owseiler will need to carry this team to glory this season, and he made a decent start to prove that he can.  However, can this team survive a ranked opponent is whole different question.
No. 5: California
Another amazing QB/WR duo emerged from the Bears game last weekend. Cal's new quarterback Zach Maynard and sensational sophomore wide receiver Keenan Allen made a splash against Fresno, connecting on eight passes for 112 yards. While the "brothers" created havoc, Marvin Jones reminded the Bulldogs that he hasn't left for the pros just yet. Jones caught Maynard's two touchdowns, gaining 118 yards on five receptions. This could finally be the passing game Cal has been wishing for since those Aaron Rodgers days.     
No. 6: Arizona
A surprise to none, Arizona set the scoreboard on fire against Northern Arizona.  Nick Foles torched the skies, passing five touchdowns to five different receivers and collecting over 400 yards. The Wildcats looked dangerous, but this result was to be expected.  Top-ranked Oklahoma State is next and this will be a rude awakening for many fans. 
No. 7: Washington State
This might be the first time ever that the Cougars have not ranked lasted in my rankings. Washington State did exactly what a BCS team should do to a cupcake school...absolutely devour them. Their defense still seemed a little shoddy, but let Pullman's faithful enjoy this win while they can. 
No. 8: Utah
The Utes first game as a member of the Pac-12 did not exactly wow the devoted conference followers. A mediocre win against a below-par opponents won't make that bandwagon any more appealing. 
No. 9: Washington
Many suspected that the Huskies' offense would struggle out of the gate. These people were kind of right. Although Keith Price threw three touchdowns, he only passed for 103 yards. Chris Polk was and will be the man going forward, gaining 125 yards to kick off the season. Like the other Washington squad, defense troubles also seem apparent early. 
No. 10: UCLA
The Bruins offense hung with one of the top quarterbacks in the league, which is either a good thing for UCLA's offense or a really terrible thing for Houston's defense. Either way the Bruins looked much better than expected in the loss. 
No. 11: Colorado
The Buffaloes received a taste of poy, and it wasn't pleasent. It is hard to pull any good out of this game for Colorado, other than, even USC struggles when they play in Hawaii. Better luck next week. 
No. 12: Oregon State
The loss to a FCS school is practically inexcusable. Mike Riley always has problems in September and Sacramento State was supposed to ail that. The shock and awe from this unbelievable loss is still resonating in Corvallis.

Offensive Player of the Week: Robert Woods (17 REC, 177 YRD, 3TD)
Robert Woods shined like a quarter flickering in a wishing pond. His continued connection with Matt Barkley brought truth to the claims that USC fans have been spouting all offseason.  Nick Foles was a close second with 5TD passes, however, at least USC was playing a BCS opponent (albeit a lower tier BCS opponent). 

Defensive Player of the Week: Desmond Trufant (11 TCK, 2BrUp, 1INT, 1 FF)
Desmond Trufant was a one-man wrecking crew for the Huskies. His pick late in the game solidified the win for Washington, narrowly escaping an unthinkable upset. Trufant proved to be the best weapon on the Huskies' rather questionable defense.