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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Pac-12 power rankings


FROM PULLMAN -- With the season kicking off today, it's probably a good time to debut our weekly Pac-12 power rankings. Read on.


1. Southern California -- An obvious pick for the top spot. Lots of offensive firepower, and enough on defense to inspire belief that the Trojans could return to the national championship game for the first time in the Lane Kiffin era. Yep, there's a Lane Kiffin era now.

2. Oregon -- Could see the offense take a slight step back with a freshman quarterback, but scouting reports on Marcus Mariota are positive and it's hard to imagine anyone containing an Oregon team with players like Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas in the backfield. And their defense should be better, too.

3. Utah -- A disruptive defensive line, the return of Jordan Wynn at starting quarterback and an experienced running back like John White make the Utes a potential top 20 team.

4. Stanford -- Graduation hit the offensive line pretty hard and Andrew Luck isn't a guy you simply replace. Cardinal isn't what it was, but defense should still be solid.

5. Washington -- The Nos. 5-10 spots are iffy. The Huskies return one of the conference's best quarterbacks in Keith Price, and have reliable pass-catching options Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins back. But there are questions defensively, as well as along the offensive line. Still, UW appears to have enough talent back to lead the middle of the pack. Maybe.

6. California -- A lot of the Bears' success this season rides on whether Zach Maynard takes a step forward. Cal has the talent on both sides of the ball to compete, but their past inconsistencies have me a little hesitant to slot them any higher than this.

7. Washington State -- The conference's great mystery. Most expect an improved offense -- though it wasn't bad last season, especially the passing game -- but defense is a question-mark at this point. Cougars have a higher ceiling than this, but judgment will be largely reserved until they play a game, perhaps more so than any other team in the conference.

8. UCLA -- It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bruins finished higher, since I think Brett Hundley is going to be a pretty solid quarterback. It's just a matter of whether Jim Mora finally gets the results out of this group that Rick Neuheisel didn't.

9. Arizona -- It's my belief that Rich Rodriguez is going to win at Arizona. But he needs to get his guys in there first.

10. Arizona State -- Yet another team breaking in a new quarterback, with a new coaching staff to boot. Sun Devils have enough athletes on defense to be interesting.

11. Oregon State -- I keep repeating this, but the Beavers are another team that might surprise this year. They played a ton of freshmen last season who produced and should only improve. But plenty of folks in show-me mode when it comes to OSU, too.

12. Colorado -- The Buffaloes are going to be so young that it's hard to see them improving a whole lot. They'll be a consensus pick here, i'd think.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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