The regular season (i.e. conference games) hasn't fully started yet, but we are two games into what is usually the out-of-conference slate for most teams (except those SEC schools that schedule cupcakes before their rivalry games). It is still not a very large sample, but at least we waited two weeks before putting out some kind of a poll. It is still too early to get a picture of how the Pac-12 will pan out, but pretty soon every team is going to start showing its true colors.
Player of the Week: Darron Thomas, Oregon - Thomas went 13 of 19 for 295 yards and...6 TDs, all of which were passes. Our famous alleged backpack thief Paul Richardson had 11 receptions for 284 yards and 2 TDs for Colorado in the matchup against Cal, but you could kind of argue that he is ineligible since this game was not a regular season game, and hence technically Colorado is not part of the Pac-12 yet. His QB Tyler Hansen also had a nice game, going 28 of 49 for 474 yards and 3 TDs.
Stat of the Week: 6 of 13 - That's how many of Darron Thomas's completion were TDs. When almost half your completions are TDs, it kind of needs to be mentioned. He is probably very bummed to not be playing against UCLA this year.
Game of the Week: Texas at UCLA, 12:30 pm PDT, ABC - Last season UCLA put the hurt on Texas, but it turned out that was a deceptive win. This season, UCLA needs to show that it has improved and Texas is hungry for revenge and to show that last year was a fluke. It will be a hard fought game and hopefully the Bruin fans will show up in force to support the team. There are other candidates here, such as UW visiting Nebraska, Utah visiting BYU and Stanford visiting Arizona. All have interesting story lines, but I'm biased.
Non-Game of the Week: Presbyterian at Cal - the Bears should be embarrassed.
With that, here is the inaugural 2011 Pac-12 Power Poll, after the jump:
Pac-12 Power Poll (First Place Votes in Parentheses)
1) Stanford Cardinal, 2-0 (6) - Well this is a bit surprising, but Oregon has lost a game so it seems appropriate. Stanford hasn't had a true test yet, but Andrew Luck seems locked in and the Cardinal looks like they have picked up where they left off last year. It was interesting to see that their stats against SJSU were not too different from UCLA's, but the results certainly were.
2) Oregon Ducks, 1-1 (3) - After a tough matchup in week 1, where LSU proved its mettle and was able to contain "the blur" [rolling eyes], Oregon came back and put on a spanking on Nevada, scoring 69 points. It looks like Oregon can do that to any team not in the SEC, where the defenses have athletes fast enough to contain the Ducks. Granted, they have played elite teams each time. Their game against Stanford should be a doozy...but for now, they play, um, Missouri State. Only second to Cal for non-game of the week.
3) California Golden Bears, 2-0 - A big dropoff after Oregon for 3rd place. Cal was in a shootout against...Colorado, so it's not clear whether we should be worried about Colorado or happy that Cal's defense is vulnerable. This week's game against Presbyterian should show...nothing.
4) Washington St. Cougars, 2-0 - The Cougars have matched their win total from last year in convincing fashion, scoring 64 points against Idaho St., and 59 points against UNLV, allowing only 121 yards rushing in the process. This team is my personal dark horse for 3rd place and I am quite worried about them, as a UCLA fan. They have lost their starting QB Jeff Tuel to a broken collarbone, but his backup is senior Marshall Lobbestael and he has performed admirably. This week, the Cougars get a stiff challenge from SDSU and will get a chance to show that their improvement is for real.
4) Washington Huskies, 2-0 - While Huskies have been able to put points on the board, relying on Chris Polk's efficient running and Jermaine Kearse, the reliable WR, they have allowed team to pass over 400 yards per game...those teams being Hawaii (somewhat understandable) and...Eastern Washington. It is doubtful that they can carry on like that in the Pac-12, but on the bright side they have only allowed 86 yards rushing in two games. A stiff test awaits them at Nebraska, even though they beat the Cornhuskers at the Holiday Bowl last year.
6) Oregon St. Beavers, 0-2 - The voting here was unanimous. Mike Riley is facing the biggest challenge of his career at OSU. The Beavers have historically been slow starters, but they have always improved throughout the season behind very good coaching. That being said, it is hard to deny that losing to Sacramento State is a huge step back for the program, and that was followed by laying an egg against a tough Wisconsin team. OSU gets a break this week before facing UCLA at home.
1) Arizona St. Sun Devils, 2-0 (9) - The voting was unanimous here as well, but it speaks more to the parity (or mediocrity) in this division. ASU is now ranked 22nd and boasts a victory against Missouri (while sporting some pretty cool uniforms). Still, this is a team that is still plagued by a tremendous lack of discipline, which Dennis Erickson seems to encourage on his teams. ASU is putting up some big number on offense, over 500 yards per game, and the defense is led by freak-athlete-penalty-magnet Vontaze Burfict. Traveling to Illinois will be a bit tougher but the Sun Devils should prevail.
2) U$C Trojans, 2-0 (1) - probably the most boring 2-0 team in the conference. They have barely won their two games, but if they don't suffer any injuries they will be a pretty good team. Matt Barkley remains efficient and Robert Woods is quite good. Mr. TMZ himself, Marc Tyler, was allowed to come back after a one-game suspension (just in time!), and helped the Trogans beat Utah last week. This week the Trogans get Syracuse for their 3rd straight game at home (out of 7 home games this season). How convenient. Here's to Flame Kitten sticking around.
3) Utah Utes, 1-1 (1) - This team is pretty hard to read, but their Pac-12 debut was a trip to the crapiseum, which is not a very gracious way to welcome a new team to the conference, Mr. Scott. Word is that the fans are not too happy with Norm Chow's offense. I'm not sure that the personnel is quite right for Chow's system...or that his system can be successful anymore. It remains to be seen, but in this division they still end up 3rd for now. They travel to BYU for a tough game.
4) Arizona Wildcats, 1-1 (1) - Arizona was trounced 37-14 by Oklahoma State last week, failing to find the end zone consistently and falling behind 21-0 early. QB Foles had a good game but couldn't find his receivers for the score and was sacked 6 times. The Wildcats barely rushed the ball in that game, playing from behind early on. It was a tough matchup but we expected more from the Arizona offense. Arizona's brutal early schedule continues with Stanford coming to town. Yikes.
5) UCLA Bruins, 1-1 - Not much more to add here, we all know the story for the last two games. The Bruins have played one good half of football, out of 4 so far. Texas comes to town for revenge, and as big a game as it is, the one against OSU the following week is even more important. We will see which team shows up, the Coleman cannonball or the clown on the vespa...
6) Colorado Buffaloes, 0-2 (1) - a trip to Hawaii is always tough and Colorado lost their first game, then lost a heartbreaker to Cal in a non-conference game. It is too soon to know much about this team, but their passing game seems to be clicking. Everyone is clamoring over Paul Richardson, the ex-UCLA commit. But for some reason, people forget to mention that PAUL RICHARDSON LEFT FOR COLORADO AFTER HE WAS DISMISSED FROM UCLA FOLLOWING AN ALLEGED BACKPACK THEFT. He didn't "de-commit" or have a change of heart. I hope that's clear for everyone.
That's it, enjoy this week's games! And if you're wondering why the 1st place votes don't add up for the South division, it's because smarty pants Achilles voted everyone 1st except UCLA. The logic is hard to refute, though...