Pac 10 Rankings - 11/24/09

November 24, 2009

This week's Pac-10 rankings reflect the conference chaos.

1. OREGON DUCKS (2 weeks ago: 1st)

The Ducks showed the toughness and heart necessary in their 44-41 road victory at Arizona to stay #1 on this list. QB Jeremiah Masoli has fought through injuries to be a real leader for Oregon and he made all the clutch plays down the stretch to survive this scare. This team deserves to be the favorites to go to the Rose Bowl and defeat Ohio State. However, the close victory revealed once again what a wide open conference this is....nobody can simply expect to win easily in the Pac 10 this year, especially on the road.

That said, the Ducks have been the best team in the conference to this point, having only suffered a close loss at Stanford. It really does appear to be their year....but of course last year it did seem like the Beavers were the team of destiny.

2. OREGON STATE BEAVERS (2 weeks ago: 4th)

The Beavers breezed through a 42-10 blowout of Washington State to set up the big showdown in the Civil War. Last year, the Beavers appeared poised to break the USC Rose Bowl tradition before getting trounced at home by the Ducks. This year the Beavers have the opportunity to return the favor by beating an Oregon team that has seemed destined for the Pac-10 crown this year. Of course, the Beavers are motivated by more than just revenge or spite as a victory in Autzen Stadium would send them to the Rose Bowl instead. If underrated QB Sean Canfield and RB Jacquizz Rodgers come up big, it just might happen.

3. CAL GOLDEN BEARS (2 weeks ago: 6th)

The Bears schizophrenic season was typified by their 34-28 victory over the red-hot Cardinal last Saturday at Stanford Stadium. Cal's impressive road victory without star RB Jahvid Best may have raised as many questions as it answered.

Are the Bears just now reaching their potential? How can this team resemble the one that got hammered by Oregon and USC? Is this evidence of a program with character that has overcome a tendency to collapse when things don't go well (as they did in 2007)? Or just another example of how the Bears only play well when very little is expected of them? Should the Bears feel fortunate for close victories this season against ASU, Stanford, and Arizona? Or should they wonder whether they might have had a chance at the Rose Bowl if Jahvid Best wasn't injured in the loss to OSU? A season ending game at Washington in two weeks may suggest some answers.

4. STANFORD CARDINAL (2 weeks ago: 3rd)

The Cardinal suffered a deflating loss to Cal in the Big Game on Saturday. It was the 7th defeat to Cal in the last 8 years and provided a sour end to the Pac-10 season for a Stanford team that showed dramatic improvement this year. Clearly Andrew Luck's 10 for 30, 1 INT performance was a disappointing step back for the Cardinal. However, the Freshman has been very impressive in victories over USC and Oregon and it really is too much to expect that level of consistency. Thankfully for the Cardinal, they still have a nice high profile showdown with Notre Dame to end the season and redeem themselves. Expect RB Toby Gerhardt to have a huge day against the Irish.

5. USC TROJANS (2 weeks ago: 2nd)

A Trojan victory over their Bruin rivals would please their fans....and keep them right where they are on the DSH rankings list. That's because the Trojans no longer get a "reputation" pass. Other than one impressive conference road game (at Cal) and one solid home victory (OSU) the Trojans have looked very mediocre this year in conference. A loss to UCLA might officially bury the Trojans in the bottom half of the conference rankings. A subsequent loss on top of that to Arizona could drop them as low as 7 or 8.

6. ARIZONA WILDCATS (2 weeks ago: 5th)

The Wildcats came quite close to changing the Rose Bowl race...or did they? Even a victory over Oregon wouldn't have changed much, as it is unlikely Arizona will win both of its final two road games and the winner of Oregon-Oregon State would earn the Rose Bowl bid anyway. That said, Arizona actually looked quite impressive in losing to Oregon, and definitely earned more respect in our eyes. The problem is that the DSH rankings didn't respect them all that much to begin with. Nonetheless, Arizona is a quality bowl team that has been competitive in all of its games this season. Expect one or two more competitive losses to close out the season.

7. UCLA BRUINS (2 weeks ago: 7th)

The Bruins have slowly picked up the pieces after a rough start to conference play. A 23-13 victory over ASU gave UCLA its 3rd straight conference victory after 5 straight defeats. That pattern can mostly be explained by the schedule, as the young Bruins played all of its toughest conference opponents at the beginning. Now, with a few victories under their belt, it will be interesting to see if UCLA is actually capable of taking the next step. Nearly all of the season's struggles will be forgiven by Bruin fans with a victory at USC on Saturday. Although it seems hard to imagine the inexperienced Bruin offense scoring enough points to get the job done on Saturday, you must remember they aren't exactly playing a powerhouse in USC.

8. ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (2 weeks ago: 8th)

The Sun Devils came off an "impressive" 14-9 loss to the Trojans and suffered an "ugly" 23-13 defeat to the Bruins. At least that's the initial reaction most people would have. However, we should reserve judgment on which game was "ugly" and which game was "impressive" until after Saturday's USC-UCLA showdown, as maybe by then losing a close game at home to USC will appear more embarrassing than a loss to UCLA on the road. In any case, ASU can perhaps salvage some of this disappointing season by defeating a bruised and disappointed Wildcats team on Saturday. An upset here is very possible.

9. WASHINGTON HUSKIES (2 weeks ago: 9th)

The Huskies were off last week and that is a good thing. That's because, although they may not realize this, they need to take some time and realize that their season is on the line next week. The early season defeat of the Trojans, which was the shining glory of this year's Washington team, is becoming less and less impressive as the Pac-10 season moves on and the Trojans continue to struggle. More importantly, the DSH will officially forget any positives accomplished by the Huskies and new head coach Steve Sarkisian if they inexcusably choke for the 2nd year in a row to a totally inferior Washington State team. Jake Locker has great potential, but has struggled often enough this season. That should change next week as there is no way the Huskies will lose if he is on the field.

10. WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS (2 weeks ago: 10th)

Another week, another crushing defeat. This time to Oregon State, 42-10. The Cougars hope lightning strikes twice against the Huskies next week. Don't bet on it.

Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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