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Christian Caple’s Pac-12 power rankings

Welcome to the first annual edition of our Pac-12 power rankings, which attempt to rank each conference team in order of which is playing the best football in any given week.

The first edition will resemble a predicted order of finish, although that won’t necessarily be the case throughout the season. For example, a four-loss team that defeats a two-loss team handily might jump above that team in the rankings, even if it still trails in the official standings. The idea is to give a weekly snapshot of who’s playing well – and who isn’t – in the Pac-12. And to give you something for which to taunt me when my rankings go sideways halfway through the season.

1. Oregon: Going out on a limb here, but it’s possible the Ducks will hold onto this spot after another notoriously difficult season opener against Nicholls State.

2. Stanford: Won’t be tough for Cardinal to hold onto No. 2 spot next week – the smart guys don’t being their season until Sept. 7 with a game against San Jose State.

3. UCLA: Sounds like stud linebacker Anthony Barr will be good to go for Bruins’ opener. That’s bad news for Nevada.

4. Arizona State: Give Todd Graham some offensive weapons like Taylor Kelly and Marion Grice and he can wreak havoc on Pac-12 defenses. Sun Devils are South sleepers.

5. USC: Opener at Hawaii will be good test for a Trojans team about which nobody seems all that excited.

6. Washington: Probably hasn’t been a more important season opener in last decade than Saturday night game against Boise State.

7. Oregon State: Can the Beavers overcome loss of Jordan Poyer and Markus Wheaton?

8. Arizona: Until Wildcats show defensive improvement, hard to know if they can be trusted. Bet on Rich Rodriguez offense to score points, though.

9. Utah: Kyle Whittingham admitted last season’s loss to Utah State lingered too long. Win or lose, Utes can’t have similar reaction this year.

10. California: True freshman quarterback in a new offensive system? Sonny Dykes might have just enough athletes at his disposal to make it work, but progress might be slow.

11. Washington State: Trouble spots from last season – offensive line, running game, overall continuity – should be improved. Tough early schedule will tell a lot.

12. Colorado: Could be another long season in Boulder. Mike McIntyre better hope administration has more patience for him than it did for his predecessor.

Christian Caple