PAC 10 Football Power Rankings

October 19, 2009

Here's an early glimpse of how the Pac-10 teams rank so far in our estimation. Obviously because of the variety in the schedules so far we can't simply rely on the conference standings to rank the teams. In these rankings, non-conference performance also matters.

Although there are no hard rules about the criteria we use, it is important to note that a team that has an impressive road win is likely to get more respect.


It can be argued that the Ducks 3-0 start in conference play is a product of the fact that they have played the 3 teams with the worst conference records thus far (Cal, UCLA, and Washington State). But reliance on such a stat would be deceiving. First, they have been dominant at home (blowing out Cal and Washington State) and have a solid victory over UCLA on the road. Their only loss this year was during the first game of the year at Boise State, a tough place to play. Since then, they appear to have gotten their offense on track.

Although I am not one who believes either the Ducks or the Trojans are "elite" teams far better than the rest than the rest of the conference, the Ducks deserve this top spot for now. Just don't get any crazy idea that they will run through this year's deep conference undefeated. They won't.


Some may claim that the Trojans deserve the top spot due to impressive performances on the road against ranked opponents Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Cal. Certainly a valid point, although would it be fair to suggest any of those teams is better than mediocre at this point? Furthermore, the loss at Washington, a team with 3 losses already, cannot simply be ignored . . . yet.

A Trojan victory in Eugene on October 31 wlll certainly re-establish the Trojans in the top spot. However, all of this "BCS Title" talk for USC that is resurfacing is very premature. There are still plenty of Pac-10 games to play and this Trojan team will not survive those games without another loss.


The Wildcats have taken care of business at home, have lost to respectable teams on the road (Iowa and Washington), and have a big conference road win at Oregon State. At this early stage that merits them this spot.


How can a team that was blown out twice in conference games merit this spot? Well for starters, the two teams that blew them out happen to be the top 2 in the conference. Sure they averaged only 3 points in their 2 losses, but they averaged nearly 48 points in their 4 wins.

Additionally, the Bears now own a rare and valuable commodity in the Pac-10: a road conference win (at UCLA) against someone other than Washington State (no team gets credit for blowing out Washington State, at home or away). That combined with some impressive non-conference wins and a general lack of clarity in the rankings at this point allows them to take this spot.


The Cardinal have done what is expected of an average Pac 10 team: win at home and lose on the road. However, the way they have done it suggests that things are turning around in Palo Alto. RB Toby Gerhardt is the Pac 10 Offensive Player of the Year at this point and they have been competitive in every game. Although they are far from a finished product, the Cardinal get the nod at this spot for now.


Some might argue this is an unfairly low ranking for the Beavers, but they would be wrong. The Beavers were not particularly impressive in non conference games, losing the only significant one to a good Cincinnati team at home. They do indeed have a solid road victory at Arizona State as well. However, they have lost two games at home already this season and they have tough road games at USC, Cal, and Oregon left on the schedule. Despite the consistent greatness of Jacquizz Rodgers, I think the Beavers will be very fortunate to have a winning record in conference this season.


Yes, the Bruins are currently 0-3 in Pac-10 play. However, as you might tell, I believe they are also just facing some of the better teams in the conference thus far. This is still the same team that beat Tennessee on the road (a Vols team that destroyed Georgia) and has a solid win over Kansas State. The schedule is not favorable, with road games at Arizona, Oregon State, and USC. There is also almost no chance they will have a winning record in conference. However, thanks to a 3-0 non conference record, the Bruins still have bowl hopes to motivate them and I wouldn't be surprised to see them win 4 of their final 6 games.


This may seem harsh to the team that beat USC, but at the end of the day Jake Locker can only take you so far on a consistent basis. This is a team that has already proven they have the ability to beat anyone in the conference. Of course, they can lose to almost anyone as well. The Huskies are definitely turning things around, yet at 3-4 already, it will take a lot of work to achieve the 6 wins necessary to get into a bowl game. After all, they only play Washington State once.


The fact that the Sun Devils, a team that nearly beat Georgia on the road, is ranked this low speaks to the depth of this conference. Nonetheless the Sun Devils only respectable win came last week when they squeaked out a fortunate last-minute victory over Washington at home. I don't expect that to happen too many times again. ASU's schedule picks up significantly and I would be surprised if they win more than 2 games the rest of the way.


Washington State should continue to celebrate its Week 2 overtime victory over SMU. Once again they have been gifted at least one victory to avoid total embarrassment. They are actually significantly better than last year, although any conference team that loses to them should be ashamed.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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