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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 4, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Pac-12 Rankings —- Week 5

Here they are. …

1, Stanford — I keep hearing how Stanford’s offensive line isn’t quite what it was the past two years, yet the Cardinal has the second-best per-carry average in the conference at 5.3 and has allowed two sacks all season. Obviously, the schedule hasn’t been the most taxing to date, and Andrew Luck makes everything better. We won’t find out much more about the Cardinal this week with beleagured Colorado coming to town.

2, Oregon — Ducks were off last week and now get a Thursday night home game against Cal, the one conference team that held them down defensively last year, allowing just 15 points. But I’m sure Chip Kelly doesn’t remember that at all.

3, Arizona State — Kind of looked like the same old Devils when Oregon State jumped out to a 13-0 lead last week. But the Devils then showed their wares by rallying for what turned out to be a fairly comfortable win. ASU now can take complete control of the South with a trip to Jordan Wynn-less Utah this week.

4, Washington — Huskies took yet another step in the right direction last week, with a convincing win at Utah, of which the most encouraging sign for UW fans had to be the way Washington controlled the game up front. Pass defense remains an issue — of the seven teams UW has left on its schedule, six rank among the top eight in the conference in pass efficiency. But a bye week should have the team well-rested for Colorado and a chance to be 5-1 heading to Stanford on Oct. 22.

5, USC — For the first time in its history, USC has allowed 40-plus points in two straight games — an amazing stat on every level. What’s really missing is the ability USC always had under Pete Carroll to force turnovers — USC has just five, and is tied for last in the conference in turnover margin at minus-one per game, minus-five overall. USC is off this week before traveling to Cal on Oct. 13.

6, Cal — Stat ripped from John CanzanoJeff Tedford had never been more than a 13-point underdog until Thursday’s game at Oregon, in which the Ducks are favored by 24. Cal, though, has four of five at home after this, all winnable.

7, Washington State — Cougs needed a late rally to win at Colorado, but frankly shouldn’t have needed it as they looked like the better team throughout. The most encouraging sign for WSU so far may be a run defense allowing just 3.6 yards per carry, down from the 5.6 of a year ago. But that will get a stiff test this week against UCLA’s Pistol offense.

8, UCLA — A positive spin could be that the Bruins showed some signs of life in not being completely blown out in Palo Alto. A cynic might note that it says something about where UCLA’s program is that there could be a positive spin about a 26-point loss. UCLA now has a must-win game at home against WSU. If the Bruins win it, though, it’s not hard to see them being 4-1 in conference play before a home game against ASU on Nov. 5 — UCLA plays at Arizona on Oct. 20 and hosts Cal on Oct. 29.

9, Utah — The former Mountain West Conference power looked out of its league last week in its home Pac-12 opener against the Huskies. And now it has to play at least two weeks with a backup QB. The season could turn pretty non-celebratory in a hurry.

10, Colorado — The Buffs are kicking themselves for blowing winnable home games against Cal and WSU, which would obviously paint a different picture of the season to date. The even worse news, though, is that now the schedule turns really tough the next four weeks — at Stanford, at UW, home to Oregon and at Arizona State. Simply having a chance to blow any of those games in the final quarter might be a victory.

11, Arizona — The Wildcats can really throw the ball, ranking third in the nation in passing at 384 yards per game. That ability alone may keep them in every game the rest of the way now that Oregon and Stanford are off the schedule. But Arizona obviously has to get a heck of a lot better on defense to win any of those games, allowing an astounding 7.3 yards per play — that’s more than a yard per play more than the next Pac-12 team on the list (UCLA at 6.1).

12, Oregon State — Beavers showed some life with the competitive game at Arizona State. And considering that OSU has played at Wisconsin and at ASU as two of its four games, some of its defensive stats indicate that the Beavers could be competitive throughout — OSU ranks seventh in the conference in defense overall but has a respectable 3.8 yard per rushing attempt average. But OSU’s offense ranks as the worst in the Pac-12, scoring just 67 points in four games, and having thrown just two touchdown passes all season.

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