The Pac-12 South. At the beginning of the season, everyone had written off the Pac-12 South as Southern Cal + 5 other scrubs. However, the first two weeks have really brought about some interesting developments and potential conteders.
Let's take a look at the six schools of the Pac-12 South:
Southern Cal (#2)
Yes, the trogans are still considered the crown jewel of the Pac-12 South. However, after a relatively weak showing against Syracuse this past week, the trogans are looking beatable. I wouldn't be surprised if they struggle against other teams this year, as they are weak at a corner position and just lost their starting C in the Syracuse game. In my very unbiased opinion, Southern Cal is overrated relative to their ranking.
We here at BN have maintained high expectations going into the season, but I think it is fair to say that our expectations thus far have been met and exceeded. I am not completely surprised at how well things have been going, as I knew we always had the potential - but I'm still a little surprised. UCLA has one of the signature wins thus far in the Pac-12 South against Nebraska, and the future is looking rosy.
Arizona, ASU, Utah and Colorado after the jump:
One of the four 2-0 teams in the Pac-12 South; Arizona notched the other signature win in the Pac-12 South, against then-#18 Oklahoma State. They completely rolled OSU's defense and dropped 59 points on the Cowboys. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, despite his ugly departure from West Virginia and his forgettable tenure at Michigan, still has the potential to implement a potent spread offense. Definitely a team to watch out for.
ASU is quietly having a good season, with quite a bit of buzz among their fans about a turnaround on the field and a change in culture. From the WWL:
- High octane offense? The Sun Devils rank first in the Pac-12 in scoring with 54 points per game. They are averaging 7.7 yards per play. And while the schedule hasn't been daunting, Illinois was ranked seventh in the nation in total defense a year ago.
- Aggressive defense? The Sun Devils' eight sacks ranks second in the conference. Th
ey've forced six turnovers, which is tied for the most in the conference.
- Discipline? The Sun Devils are seventh in the nation and first in the Pac-12 with just 17.5 penalty yards per game. They ranked last -- 120th -- in the nation last year with 79.77 yards per game. They have been flagged just five times. Nine Pac-12 teams have been flagged at least 11 times. USC has 20 penalties in two games.
- Winning with class? Graham has told his players not to trash talk -- or counter trash talk -- during games. And he's keeping score, noting during Monday's news conference two instances against Northern Arizona when he was unhappy with players mouthing off to opponents.
- Competition? Few folks projected Taylor Kelly as the winner of the three-way QB competition. In fact, just about everyone ranked him third. But he straight won the job by asserting himself during preseason camp. And guess who is the Pac-12's highest rated passer at present?
Aside from that last bullet point, ASU's progress up until now sounds eerily similar to ours. While ASU hasn't played dominant teams yet, they did crush the Illini at Illinois, 45-14. I'm curious to see how the rest of their season pans out.
Utah & Colorado
The two newest members of the Pac-12 are off to a pretty terrible start, getting smacked around by the likes of Utah State from the WAC, Colorado State and Sacramento State. It looks like these two schools will be a lock for the last two positions in the Pac-12 South. But who knows, if Utah State knocks off Wisconsin this weekend, by extension, maybe Utah isn't that bad.
So, three ranked teams and an interesting sleeper. This season just got a lot more interesting, and for the first time, I feel like we'll be in the mix all the way throughout.