Welcome to this week’s Power Rankings. If you don’t like where you’re ranked, beat an FBS team not from the Sun Belt Conference.
1. UCLA Bruins: Back-to-back victories over Top 20 teams -- including a 56-30 blowout win Saturday on the road at Arizona -- confirm the Bruins' top ranking. They showed they can win when Josh Rosen plays poorly. And when he plays well, this is a team that can do a lot of damage. We will have to see how injuries and depth impact the team five to six weeks down the road, but only one other team comes close to matching UCLA's resume. See below.
2. Utah Utes: It was said last week that the Utes could become nationally relevant with a win at Eugene. Welcome to relevancy. The Utes outplayed and outcoached the Ducks in all three phases. The defense was stifling and opportunistic. The offense was creative and efficient. I think a lot of people are still waiting for Britain Covey to catch that punt. The Bruins have beaten two ranked teams to Utah's one, but the Utes are definitely nipping at UCLA's heels.
3. California Golden Bears: One of three undefeated teams left in the league, the Bears have done good work on the road the past few weeks. There's a critical stretch coming up with Washington State at home followed by back-to-back trips to Utah and UCLA. Saturday’s win, coupled with Oregon’s loss, reshuffles the power structure in the North Division, at least for now.
4. Stanford Cardinal: Stanford is drawing a lot of comparisons to Ohio State last year -- an early-season loss leading to a playoff run. The Pac-12 blog isn’t ready to go that far. We'll just say the Cardinal have looked a lot more like the team we thought they’d be the past few weeks. Earlier in the week, David Shaw offered perhaps the most logical explanation for his team’s Week 1 collapse: “Sometimes teams just play bad.” That makes sense.
5. USC Trojans: USC played angry in Tempe, which is exactly what it needed to do. While we’ve seen the past few weeks that Arizona State isn’t as advertised in the preseason, the Sun Devils and that stadium held a lot of demons for the Trojans, and they rolled all over them. Last week, USC was down. This week, they aren’t out.
6. Oregon Ducks: The only things Oregon has on its resume right now are a win over an FCS team and a team from the Sun Belt. Any national goodwill earned from the Michigan State loss was washed away by a 62-20 home shellacking by Utah. That said, ask yourself: Would you rather your team play Oregon or any of the teams below it on this list? The Ducks are still a threat in the North, though it is safe to scratch out a repeat appearance in the College Football Playoff. Even if they win the conference, the way they lost to the Utes will haunt them.
7. Arizona Wildcats: We finally got a look at what Arizona is all about. The Wildcats aren’t a bad football team by any means. There is a lot of offensive explosion and enough talent on defense for them to stay competitive in the division, but there is no room for off-nights in the Pac-12 South. UCLA is too good a team to make those mistakes and expect to still be in the game (21 points off three turnovers). There is a big opportunity for Arizona to reassert itself next week at Stanford. Anyone else remember the 2012 game on The Farm? Chaos.
8. Washington Huskies: This team is one or two plays away from being 4-0. Much like after the Boise State game, my takeaway was Washington is further along than I thought. That said, you are what your record says. Right now, the Huskies are a bottom-half-of-the-league team.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils: The Sun Devils turned the ball over four times. The Trojans got 28 points off turnovers. The math is pretty simple. Arizona State continues to regress. Catching a USC team that was on the ropes didn’t help. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to UCLA next week -- ore could that be the moment the Sun Devils turn it around?
11. Colorado Buffaloes: A 3-1 record in nonconference play is nice for a team undergoing a culture change. But the competition ramps up significantly from here, and we’ll really get a sense of what the Buffaloes are all about. First up, an angry and embarrassed Oregon team.
12. Oregon State Beavers: There are definitely flashes. But complete games -- not flashes -- are required for advancement in the Pac-12. There are a lot of growing pains to come, but it’s also fun seeing this team grow up. It definitely isn't boring to watch.