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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Things are backwards in the state of Arizona

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BYU v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Power rankings are often all the same, so we’re mixing things up. Each week you’ll get a rundown of 12 or fewer highlights, storylines and anything in between from the Conference of Champions.


It was a mostly uneventful Week 2 in the Pac-12, although the Arizona schools are making prognosticators re-think a few things.

USC laid a dud, Bryce Love is taking the week off, and Will Ferrell did color commentary for WSU-San Jose State. You’ll see.

On to this week’s Pac-12 Power Rankings:

1. What’s going on in the state of Arizona?

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When last season’s coaching carrousel ended, the popular opinion was the Arizona Wildcats hit a home run with the Kevin Sumlin hire and the Arizona State Sun Devils confused everybody by hiring Herm Edwards.

Two weeks into the 2018 season, ASU looks like the geniuses and Arizona finds itself in an 0-2 hole. It’s only two weeks, but raise your hand if you expected this. That’s what I thought.

The Sun Devils are off a home upset of Michigan State, while Arizona got dominated by Houston on the road a week after losing at home to BYU. Khalil Tate played hurt, but all that preseason hype has just about all gone out the window. Arizona is also playing with a depleted defense and still has time to turn it around. That starts next week when they host Southern Utah, which just lost to Oregon State. ASU goes on the road to San Diego State.

To me, the most compelling storyline two weeks in is what’s happening in the desert.

2. Stanford is most impressive team

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If not for what’s happening in Arizona, Stanford would be the owner of the young season’s most compelling storyline. Instead, the Cardinal will settle for most impressive.

They started the season with a revenge win over San Diego State, a team that went 10-3 last season, and defensively dominated USC last week in a 17-3 win. You won’t blame them for looking ahead to heading to Eugene in two weeks, but they host UC Davis this Saturday.

3. Bryce Love sits this one out

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford running back and aspiring medical student Bryce Love was back to his normal self against USC, but let’s hope he isn’t concussed:

That didn’t look good, and now Love will set out Stanford’s game against UC Davis. Uh oh.

4. Colorado gets a big rivalry win

Colorado v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

I remember when the Colorado-Nebraska rivalry had some teeth. The Pac-12 Network replayed the 2001 game all last week and I guess I drank the Scott Frost Kool-Aid because I figured the Cornhuskers would run away with it.

Alas, we were all reminded how much time it can take an exciting new coach to get some desired results. It definitely didn’t help that Nebraska had two quarterbacks transfer immediately after being beat out by a true freshman…..who had to leave Saturday’s game, leaving the game in the hands of a walk-on.

But that’s being unfair to the Colorado Buffaloes. Steven Montez gave up frozen pizza this summer. Clearly it’s the reason for his strong play.

5. Remember the name Laviska Shenault

NCAA Football: Colorado at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

How the hell did Colorado beat out Alabama for a recruit? That’s the case with the sophomore, who hauled in the winning touchdown over Nebraska last week. That got him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week accolades.

Shenault caught just seven passes last year and already has 21 catches through two games. It seems there is always a player who comes out of nowhere to impress, and so far Shenault is that guy.

6. Weak 3 in the Pac-12

NCAA Football: Weber State at Utah Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

UW at Utah is the main attraction and there are no real highlights on the Pac-12 schedule this week. In a different year, USC-Texas would have been big, but not this year. Arizona State is at San Diego State, but that’s the only close competition to UW-Utah. Five Pac-12 teams play FCS teams, and Oregon plays San Jose State so it’s basically six FCS teams.

Four games start at 7 p.m. or later, so pace yourself.

7. So, who’s going to win the South?

NCAA Football: Southern California at Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We should find out a little more about the Utah Utes this weekend when they host the Washington Huskies. The USC Trojans didn’t provide much confidence against Stanford, and Arizona is a mess. The good news for the Wildcats is their losses were in non-conference play so things could change as they get healthier.

And then there’s Arizona State, owners of the Pac-12’s best non-conference win.

There’s still a long way to go, but the South race may be a competition of mediocrity.

8. N’Keal Harry....ouch!

N’Keal Harry will have plenty of impressive highlights this season. This is not one of them.

9. Cal has played three quarterbacks already and is 2-0

NCAA Football: California at Brigham Young Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Those two wins weren’t against nobodies, either (although North Carolina is trending that way).

Ross Bowers, last year’s starter for the entire year, appears to be no. 3 this year, as freshman Chase Garbers and sophomore Brandon McIlwain have passed him on the depth chart.

Coug fans can sort of sympathize given the QB rotation during the Wulff years, but that was obviously for different reasons.

10. Ryan Leaf definitely sounds like Will Ferrell

A lot of comments after the San Jose State game made note of this. I didn’t get a chance to hear Leaf until earlier this week, and.....oh my. Close your eyes and listen:

11. Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in one offensive category

Normally that headline would be the setup for a joke. But not this time:

Jonathan Smith’s Beavers got some praise in this space last week and while their second game was against lowly Southern Utah, perhaps Jonathan Smith’s offensive mind is having a faster impact than expected.

12. I think we know why Mike Leach hired Tracy Claeys