By Kellan King
This may be a surprising number 1 given USC is ranked below Oregon, but I think its warranted. The Trojans beat a good San Jose State team by 23, and have the best QB in the Pac 12. As long as they can get some production from the other skill position players, they should be on track to win the conference.
The Bruins just had their biggest win in recent memory last week over LSU, and now get a bye week. They have an explosive running game, and a dynamic QB in Dorian Thompson Robinson. We also saw last week that their defense can make stops when it matters, which will be key if the Bruins want to stay at the top of the conference.
This may seem a little low, but I just wan’t impressed by the Ducks last week. QB Anthony Brown looked like a game manager, and their defense struggled when uber talented pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux went down. They will need to have an amazing performance to keep it close against Ohio State, and I could see that game starting a bit of a down year for Oregon.
- Arizona State
The Sun Devils have one of the most dynamic offenses in the country with QB Jayden Daniels at the helm, and they showed it last week against an FCS opponent in Southern Utah. However, it will come down to if the defense to get stops in a tough Pac 12 south.
The Utes are almost the opposite of Arizona State. They have a veteran QB in Charlie Brewer, and a defense that can match up with anyone. However, they are missing that dynamic athlete on offense, and that could hold them back against top teams.
I know, Washington scored 7 points against a FCS team. Thats why they are down here, when preseason they would’ve been top 3. However, its not time to totally freak out if you’re a Husky fan. They still have a talented defense, and if they make the switch to 5 star freshman Sam Huard at QB, I think they could be contenders in the North.
The Buffs have been mediocre in recent years, but under coach Karl Dorrell things are coming together. They have a talented running back in Jarek Broussard, and if their defense can hold up, they could stay competitive in the Pac 12 south, and they will have a big test this weekend against Texas A&M.
- Oregon State
Oregon State had a competitive showing last week against a solid Purdue team, but came up short. The Beavs have been better under Jonathan Smith, but if they want to take that next step, they need to find a starting QB. For now, they will have to rely on Smiths creative play calling and a solid defense.
This is where it gets hard to rank the teams. Stanford really only had one bright spot against Kansas State, cornerback Kyu Blue Kelly. However, now that Tanner McKee has been named the starting QB, the offense could turn a corner. If it doesn’t, it could be another tough year for the Cardinal.
Arizona has had a rough couple years, but the Wildcats looked better in Week 1. Freshman QB Gunner Cruz showed promise, and the defense limited a good BYU team to 24 points. However, there are still a lot of question marks for a team that hasn’t won a game since October of 2019. Until they win a game, I can’t put them higher then 10th.
Cal had a rough game against Nevada in Week 1, with the offense struggling to 3 points in the final 3 quarters. Veteran QB Chase Garbers will have to step it up, and coach Justin Wilcox will have to really get his defense into form if the Bears want to stay competitive this year.
- Washington State
What can I say about the Cougars. They have a QB who has proven to not be a winner in Jarrett Guarantano, and a coach who just seems in over his head. This could be a long season for Wazzu.