Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 1: USC takes the early lead

Connor Pelton

The city of Los Angeles owns the top two spots in our Pac-12 power rankings.

The Pac-12 went 10-2 in the first week of the season, but a closer examination shows that it was a fairly ugly 10-2. Washington State fell to a mediocre Rutgers team in a de facto home game, Colorado lost to rival Colorado State by two touchdowns, and UCLA's offense looked inept at Virginia.

With that being said, there were a few great performances. USC, which had to deal with multiple distractions throughout the week, hung 52 points on Fresno State. In addition, California went on the road and handled a Northwestern team that should compete for the Big Ten west division title.

At the end of the week, it looks like there are three front-runners in the conference, and then another five solid teams. But of course, it is early. Things will change. But here is how it looks at the moment.

1. USC (1-0)

Fresno State, a team that could easily win the Mountain West this December, came into Saturday's game in Los Angeles with thoughts of an upset after USC had been through a tumultuous week. Instead the Trojans slaughtered the Bulldogs, gaining over 700 yards of offense and winning 52-13 in the first game of the Steve Sarkisian era.

2. UCLA (1-0)

A sexy pick to crash the inaugural College Football Playoff, UCLA's offense disappointed on Saturday morning in Charlottesville. The Bruins lost two fumbles and only scored one touchdown, but we'll keep them high in the rankings as better times are surely ahead for this ultra-talented squad.

3. Oregon (1-0)

Oregon did what Oregon does on Saturday, scoring quickly and often against over-matched South Dakota. The final was 62-13 and quarterback Marcus Mariota was pulled at halftime.

4. Stanford (1-0)

I wasn't as high on Stanford as most people were coming into the season, and we will have to wait until later in the month (or maybe even this week) to find out what kind of team this really is. In the meantime, they handled in-state rival UC Davis with ease. Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan threw for over 200 yards and had three touchdowns in its 45-0 win. The Cardinal will host USC this weekend.

5. Arizona State (1-0)

Nothing too spectacular for the Sun Devils on opening night. But nothing too terrible, either, and I think No. 5 is a good spot for them right now. While there were some sloppy moments, it's easy to nitpick against a bad FCS team like Weber State. The only thing that matters is the fact that injuries were avoided and they got out with a win.

6. Arizona (1-0)

Freshman Anu Solomon and Arizona impressed me on Friday in the Wildcats 58-13 victory against UNLV. The gunslinger threw for four touchdowns and combined for 475 yards through the air and on the ground.

7. California (1-0)

If someone were to argue that the Golden Bears be ranked a few spots higher, I wouldn't necessarily disagree. They were really fun to watch as they dominated Northwestern for the majority of the game. I'm just hesitant to rank a team that won a single game last season higher than seventh after a week of football.

8. Washington (1-0)

The Huskies will be better than they showed they were on Saturday night in Honolulu. They get quarterback Cyler Miles back from suspension this week and games at Hawaii are never easy. The important thing is that they got the win. But man was it ugly.

9. Utah (1-0)

Its defense was a bit suspect early, but Utah eventually figured it out and rolled over Idaho State for a 56-14 blowout. Senior kick returner Kaelin Clay had a career day, returning a punt for a 46 yard touchdown, then returning a kickoff 100 yards for another. Things now get real for the Utes, who host Fresno State on Saturday before taking a trip to Ann Arbor to face Michigan. We will learn much more through those two games than we did in their win against the Bengals.

10. Oregon State (1-0)

Oh, Oregon State. It has been a perpetual struggle against Big Sky opponents for Mike Riley's program, but at least this time around, they escaped with a win. Portland State led the Beavers at halftime, but Oregon State's defense stepped up in the final two quarters, pitching a shutout en route to a 29-14 win.

11. Washington State (0-1)

The last time we saw Mike Leach, he was mismanaging his team to a puzzling loss against Colorado State. The Cougars opened 2014 with another head-scratcher, falling apart on defense and dropping a 41-34 decision to Rutgers.

12. Colorado (0-1)

For 35 minutes on Friday, Colorado looked like a very good team. It led Colorado State 17-7 and had all the momentum in the world. Then the Buffaloes allowed 24 consecutive points, 17 of which came in the fourth quarter, sending them back to their losing ways to open the year.

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