Welcome back everyone, to the 2013 edition of the Bruins Nation Power Poll for the Pac-12 football conference. Most teams have a couple of games under their belt so we thought it would be a good idea to start out poll now.
There are 2 new coaches in the conference, which makes it 6 in the last two years. Pretty incredible to think that half the teams in the conference changed coaches in two years. In any case, for now the poll is still split into South and North, but eventually we will make it conference-wide.
Player of the Week: Andrew Furney, K, Washington State - With 3:50 left in the 4th quarter, Furney kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Cougars a lead and the win in their away game at the Crapiseum. Special mention goes out to the Wazzu defense, who somehow messed with Kiffin's usually dynamic playcalling ability and limited the Trogans to 7 points.
Stat of the Week: 193 - total number of yards gained by the Southern Cal offense. And their 7 points was their lowest since 2001.
Game of the Week: UCLA at Nebraska, 9:00am PST, ABC - in what is shaping up as one of the biggest games in recent history for UCLA Football, the Bruins got no favors from the television programmers. But this squad is past making excuses. It will be an epic experience for many BNers who are planning to go!
1. UCLA (1-0, 0-0): The Bruins start the year where they ended it last year, at the top of their division. The start of the season against Nevada was eerily reminiscent of last year's start, but there is a little less enigma around this team. The question is consistency. Our punter and our secondary have not yet been tested. It would be naïve to think they will not be tested against Nebraska, but there is hope that they will be up to the task in one of the most classic and storied college football environments. The Bruins will be playing with a heavy heart against a team hungry for revenge.
2. Arizona State (1-0, 0-0): ASU wasted no time in shaking off the cobwebs, demolishing Sacramento State 55-0 in a Thursday night contest last week. Taylor Kelly had 5 TD throws and the Sun Devil defense only allowed 167 yards. Sure, it was a weak opponent but ASU played near flawlessly. Their next contest is a big one, part of a tough schedule, as Wisconsin comes to town. They do get a bit of a break with a 7:30pm game, which is late for the Badgers, but at least it will be cooler. I personally think ASU prevails here, but it should be a good game.
3. Arizona (2-0, 0-0): The Mildcats' laughable out-of-conference slate continued with a matchup against hapless UNLV, which was easily dismantled in a 58-13 beatdown. I suppose it helps RichRod to get his new QB some cupcake games to get up to speed. Unfortunately, Arizona has now lost two linebackers to multiple concussion injuries, as they had to take a medical retirement. At least it is nice to see Rodriguez change his ways in that regard. Up next for Arizona is Conference USA member UT San Antonio.
4. Utah (2-0, 0-0): It looks like the Utes have finally found their offense. It took a couple of years...and the departure of Norm Chow. But QB Travis Wilson is coming into his own, with a couple of very efficient games against Utah State and Weber State. While the Ute defense will likely not be as good as last year, it would be a mistake to disregards Utah in this division. They have a good coach in Wittingham, and it is never easy to play in Salt Lake City. The Beavers are about to find out how hard as they roll into town this week, looking not quite the solid squad we saw last year. Utah has a real chance at starting the season 3-0 before their big rivalry game against BYU, a major step up from last year's tough season.
5. Southern Cal (1-1, 0-1): The press and the fans really need to get off Kiffin's back and let him coach up his team. He is following a legend and that is never easy to do. His players can't even follow simple game plans and everyone keeps questioning his mind games, like not revealing the starting QB even to his own team. This is avant-garde stuff. He will eventually do wonders for his QBs' careers, as he did for Matt Barkley. He will figure out how to meld the talent on his team into a BCS team and will show everyone how it's done next week when Boston College visits the Southern Caliseum.
6. Colorado (2-0, 0-0): They may be at the bottom of the division, but this is not your mockable 2012 Colorado team. Coach MacIntyre may actually have turned them into a football team. Again, not a very imposing schedule to date, but the Buffaloes have already doubled their win total from last year. They have found their QB and have a good, tough, young running back and a potential standout at wide receiver. Their defense is not quite there yet, but this team might just put up some points. We'll find out Saturday when Fresno State visits.
1. Oregon (2-0, 0-0): Blablabla Marcus Mariotta blablabla De'Anthony Thomas blablabla tons of points. No slowdown yet in these Ducks. They've won their first two games by a combined score of 125-13, though basically without an opponent. They're still clicking on all feathered cylinders so far. Maybe Saturday will give a better idea with a SEC team coming for a visit, even if it is the less threatening Tennessee Volunteers version.
2. Stanford (1-0, 0-0): Not quite a dominating performance in their first game by the trees. Kevin Hogan, who tore the Bruins' heart out with one long precision pass last year, was not quite the same player we saw in the Pac-12 championship game and the BCS bowl. The score was only 17-6 at halftime, and ended at 34-13. But Stanford was never the type of team to put up huge points unless it was needed. And it wouldn't be fair to dismiss SJSU, that program was built up by new Colorado coach MacIntyre and went to a bowl game last year. Stanford also tends to improve as the year goes on. Next up Stanford travels to take on the Army's cadets.
3. Washington (1-0, 0-0): In their only game so far, the Huskies demolished 19-ranked Boise State, putting up 38 points, limiting the Broncos' offense to only 6 points and eventually taking their place in the rankings. You can say that the Huskies always play well at home, you can say that Boise State is overrated, but at the end of the day Washington played really well. This is a team that beat Stanford last year and has a redshirt senior QB in Keith Price (though...isn't this a violation?). Their bugaboo last year was away games, and they have one this week against Illinois, not a Big 10 powerhouse but putting up some points in their first two games themselves.
4. Washington State (1-1, 1-0): It wasn't your typical Mike Leach shootout, but the pirate and his crew prevailed down in the Southern Caliseum. Their defense all but shut down the Trogans and neutralized Kiffin's dynamic playcalling abilities, while their offense did just enough against a talented Southern Cal defense. The victory took the sting out of a pretty tough early season schedule, which had the Cougs travel to Auburn last week. I doubt anyone thought Wazzu would split these two away games. Now they sit atop the North division! With a couple of easy games next (Southern Utah, Idaho), they could be 3-1 by the time Stanford visits and perhaps on their way to a bowl season.
5. Oregon State (1-1, 0-0): It has been a terrible and surprising start to the season for the Beavers, who lost to FCS member Eastern Washington in their opener and were tied with Hawaii at halftime before getting things in gear. Riley's crew scored 19 points in the second half and allowed none, playing a bit more like the 2012 Beavers who roared (chewed?) their way back to the scene. The clear issue seems to be the lack of a running game, which puts quite a bit of pressure on QB Sean Mannion. But Oregon State doesn't have much time to ruminate over their issues, with a tough trip to Utah coming up. A loss here could really put them on uneven footing.
6. California (1-1, 0-0): The Bears nearly became the second Pac-12 team to succumb to a FCS opponent, narrowly beating out Portland State at home. This followed a loss to Northwestern in their opener, a game in which the Bears did score points but really struggled on defense. Not much changed last week, with Portland State scoring to go ahead 30-27 in the 4th quarter before the Bears scored 10 more points. Now, the Sonny Dikes air raid show does seem to be in full effect, running 95 plays (99 against Northwestern), throwing for 485 yards and barely running the ball, but it's doubtful that California could get in a shootout with any decent opponent. It could get quite ugly when #3 Ohio State visits next week...