Jacob Thorpe’s weekly Pac-12 power rankings
We’re back with our first Pac-12 power rankings of 2014 and because it’s the first, this one is going to be a little different.
Normally I remind readers that these are not necessarily a predicted order of finish, but rather a weekly snapshot into which teams are playing well and which teams are struggling.
But no Pac-12 teams have played yet, so we’ll start out this week with a predicted order of finish and move on from there.
1 Oregon: The Ducks have the best offense in the conference, the best player in the conference and, for now, the best team in the conference.
2 UCLA: The Bruins lost a number of defensive stars from last season. They return enough stars on both sides of the ball to make a national title run. There are always more stars in Hollywood.
3 Stanford: The Cardinal will once again be one of the Pac-12’s best teams but the toughest road schedule of anyone in the country will keep Stanford from its third consecutive conference title.
4 Arizona State: The Sun Devils may not have the dominant defense of last season but quarterback Taylor Kelly seemingly always finds a way to win.
5 USC: Steve Sarkisian will win big in Troy but not until he can find a better quarterback.
6 Washington: The Huskies have the talent and experience at most positions to rank much higher on this list, but quarterback questions could see them finish even lower.
7 Washington State: The Cougars will return to a bowl and have improved significantly since last season. Unfortunately, so has everyone else.
8 Arizona: A deep and explosive group of wide receivers will give Arizona a chance to win each week, but there isn’t enough elsewhere to consistently win in this year’s Pac-12.
9 Oregon State: Almost beating a checked-out Oregon last season doesn’t hide the fact that the Beavers had some real issues at the end of the year. Losing Brandin Cooks isn’t going to help.
10 Utah: Getting quarterback Travis Wilson back will keep Utah in the hunt for a bowl game, but until the supporting cast improves the Utes can’t expect much better.
1 1 Colorado: Mike MacIntyre is building the Buffaloes the right way but it’s going to be a long process.
12 California: Sonny Dykes just can’t catch a break. The injury bug that bit the Bears last season has already returned to the team least equipped to handle it.