Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Four … Colorado 34, No. 24 Arizona State 31 … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Everyone Chipped In, Everyone Did Their Job” can be found here

Pac-12 Power Rankings

For comparison’s sake, here are links to 247 Sports Pac-12 Power Rankings … and to ESPN’s Pac-12 Power Rankings … and to Jon Wilner’s Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (3-1, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 3

This weekendDefeated Stanford, 21-6. It what was often the Game-of-the-Year in the Pac-12, the Ducks did what they needed to do to take out the hapless Cardinal. Justin Herbert threw for three touchdowns, while the Oregon defense held its third straight opponent without a touchdown. Now, the three offenses Oregon faced were from Nevada, Montana, and Stanford, but such a streak begs attention. The Ducks now get a week off before taking on – at home – the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12, the Cal Bears.

Up next … Idle … then v. No. 15 California (10/5).

2. California (4-0, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 5

This weekendDefeated Ole Miss, 28-20. It took a goal line stand on the final play of the game to keep the Rebels from rallying from 15 points down with five minutes to play, but a win is a win, and this one was on the road against an SEC team. No team from the Pac-12 had defeated an SEC team in a true road game since 2010 (admittedly, not a large number of games, but still). While the Bears were lackluster in a 23-17 win over North Texas, and almost blew the game against Ole Miss, they are the undefeated, something no other Pac-12 team can claim just four weeks into the season.

Up next … v. Arizona State, Friday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

3. Washington (3-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekendDefeated BYU, 45-19. It was perhaps a tough ask for the Cougars of BYU to dip into the well three straight weekends. BYU had posted last minute wins over Tennessee and USC, but was overmatched by the Huskies. Jacob Eason threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but it is the Washington defense which has had an impressive September. The Huskies have held each of their four opponents under 400 yards in total offense, and are giving up only 18.3 points per game. Will the Washington rebound tour continue this weekend against the visiting Trojans?

Up next … v. No. 21 USC, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox

4. USC (3-1, 2-0) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendDefeated No. 10 Utah, 30-23. They suck … no, they’re back! They suck … no, they’re back! It’s been a real roller coaster of a September for the Trojans. With Clay Helton clearly on the hot seat, USC opened with a lackluster win over Fresno State, and the pitchforks were out. Then … the Trojans mauled Stanford, and all was good again. Then … the Trojans lost to BYU in overtime, and the Helton watch was renewed. Then … the Trojans beat Utah, and USC is now the Pac-12 South favorite … at least until next weekend.

Up next … at No. 17 Washington, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT, Fox

5. Utah (3-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendLost to USC, 30-23. While much of the rest of the Pac-12 South was imploding (Arizona losing to Hawai’i, CU losing to Air Force, USC losing to BYU, UCLA losing to … everybody), the reigning Pac-12 South champions sailed through non-conference play unscathed. A win over USC, in the Coliseum (where the Utes have never won), on national television on Friday night, would not only cement Utah as the South Division favorite, but keep the Utes in the conversation for a possible playoff berth …


Up next … v. Washington State, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., MT, FS1

6. Colorado (3-1, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekendDefeated No. 24 Arizona State, 34-31. The formula is simple: Let the opposing team score 31 points … and the Buffs win! It worked with CSU (52-31), Nebraska (34-31, OT) and Arizona State (34-31). If only it was that simple. The Buffs, though, did show tremendous heart and strength of will in posting their first road win against a ranked team in 17 years. ASU came back to tie the score at 14-14, 21-21, 24-24, and 31-31 before the Buff offense scored the final points of the game, and the Buff defense made it hold up. The Buffs get a week off to prepare for Buff-killer Kahlil Tate, which is a good thing, as a number of Buffs have suffered injuries.

Up next … Idle … then v. Arizona (10/5).

7. Washington State (3-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekendLost to UCLA, 67-63. Hard to say what is more remarkable … that the UCLA offense, which was averaging 14 points per game (exactly 14 points in each of its first three losses), scored 67 points … or that Cougar quarterback Anthony Gordon threw for nine touchdowns – and lost … or that Washington State had a 49-17 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, and gave up 50 points in the final 20 minutes to lose to left-for-dead UCLA? This could well prove to be the equal of CU’s Oregon State game last year, where the loss was so mind-numbing that the team doesn’t recover. We’ll find out soon enough, as Washington State must now travel to Salt Lake City to face an equally upset Ute team.

Up next … at No. 19 Utah, Saturday, 8:00 p.m., MT, FS1

8. Arizona State (3-1, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 6

This weekend Lost to Colorado, 34-31. Arizona State came into the weekend as one of four undefeated Pac-12 teams, but emerged with more question marks than answers. The Sun Devils had given up only seven points a game – a neat one touchdown to each of its first three opponents, with all three touchdowns not coming until the fourth quarter of their games. Then the Buffs hit town, and outdid ASU’s first three opponents … by halftime. Colorado scored on its first two possessions, and had 24 points by halftime. The Arizona State offense had one of its best games with its freshman quarterback, but now must face an undefeated Cal team, on the road, on a short week. We’ll see if the media darlings from a week ago don’t end up with an 0-2 start to Pac-12 play.

Up next … at No. 15 Cal, Friday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

9. Arizona (2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekend … Idle. It appeared to be a soft landing for Arizona. Putting a Week Zero loss to Hawai’i behind them, the Wildcats took care of business against Northern Arizona and Texas Tech before getting a second week off (out of three on the season). Arizona would then get an easy tune up game against UCLA before heading to Boulder to take on the Buffs. The Bruins looked like one of the weakest teams in FBS football in falling to Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Oklahoma, then looked like world-beaters in the final 20 minute rally from oblivion against Washington State. Will the Wildcats put the Bruins back in their place, or will Arizona come to Boulder with an 0-1 Pac-12 record?

Up next … v. UCLA, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

10. UCLA (1-3, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendDefeated No. 19 Washington State, 67-63. There are few things which could keep me away from writing up the story about a huge CU victory – at near midnight, no less – but the UCLA/Washington State game did just that. It was 49-17, Washington State, late in the third quarter, which was just about right, as the Cougars were about a 20-point favorite. Then all Hell broke loose, and the Bruins, aided by some of WSU’s six turnovers, scored 50 points in the final 20 minutes of the game. Is this a turning point for UCLA under Chip Kelly … or an anomaly? UCLA’s next five games are: at Arizona; Oregon State; at Stanford; Arizona State; Colorado. These are arguably the “easiest” five games the Bruins could ask for in Pac-12 play – will the Bruins make a run?

Up next … at Arizona, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

11. Stanford (1-3, 0-2) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendLost to No. 16 Oregon, 21-6. A number of preseason magazines thought that there might be some chinks in the armor of the powerful Stanford offense … but then they went ahead and put the Cardinal in their Top 25, anyway. Such is the nature of the faith in David Shaw to crank out nine win seasons year over year. There is still time for Stanford to right the ship this season, but time is running out. A loss to Oregon State this weekend – with Washington up next – could be crippling for any bowl chances Stanford fans may still be harboring.

Up next: … at Oregon State, Saturday, 5:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

12. Oregon State (1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendIdle. The Beavers drop despite not playing, only because the No. 12 team, UCLA, pulled off a miracle comeback against a ranked Washington State team. The Beavers will have a chance – perhaps their best chance of the season – to climb out of the basemen this weekend, with spiraling Stanford coming to town. The Cardinal have defeated the Beavers nine straight seasons, but it was an odd 15-14, last minute touchdown game two years ago when the teams last played in Corvallis. Who knows?

Up next … Stanford, 5:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks


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