Jordan Bianucci’s Pac-12 Power Rankings
Everyone said the Pac-12 was stacked, and after week 1 it appears everyone was right. What a bummer that this is the last year the west coast will have a major college football conference. But in the end we’re going to get what we want: Cal vs. Georgia Tech on the ACC Network and UCLA vs. Purdue on the Big-10’s Tik Tok account. If that’s not your definition of hell, I don’t know what is. So let’s enjoy the final year of Pac-12 football, shall we?
The Trojans defense has been suspect but they’ve scored 122 points through two games against Mountain West opponents. Their first real test doesn’t come until week 5 at Colorado. For now I’ll keep them at the top of the rankings.
The Utes dismantled Florida with their second and third-string quarterbacks. Is Florida a good football team? Not by a long shot but it was still an impressive performance. This weekend Utah takes on a Baylor team who is coming off a home loss to Texas State and is starting their backup QB. Yet, the Utes are only an 8-point favorite. To paraphrase the late Senator Howard Baker: what does Vegas know and when did they know it?
A drubbing of Boise State doesn’t tell us a whole lot about the Huskies. However, a week 3 trip to Michigan State will give us an idea as to how high we should be on Michael Pennix Jr. as a Heisman candidate, as well as whether Washington can overtake SC and Utah to win the conference.
4. Oregon State
A win over San Jose State in week 1 was a sneaky good win for the Beavers. And based on that, I have them ahead of their rivals in Eugene. OSU’s first true test doesn’t come until week 5 when Utah travels to Corvallis in what could be a Friday night classic. Also, Oregon State got screwed in conference realignment, and that’s a good enough reason to root for the Beavers in 2023.
The Ducks are good but their rout of Portland State told us nothing. Maybe less than nothing. Is that even possible? Let’s see how they look against FBS football players when Texas Tech comes to town this weekend.
Week 1 of what is sure to be a traveling circus was a success for the Buffs. They beat national runner-up TCU on the road as a 20 point dog. I may move them up in the rankings as soon as I have a better handle on how good the Horned Frogs are. However, Coach Prime and Colorado are number 1 in my Entertainment power rankings.
The Bruins’ win over Coastal Carolina wasn’t exactly pretty but they did it in front of a
raucous energetic live crowd at the Rose Bowl. UCLA comes to Salt Lake City in week 4, and that’s when we’ll really know how good this team is.
8. Washington State
The Cougs aren’t supposed to be anything special but I give them credit for going on the road to Fort Collins and crushing Colorado State. Also, Wazzu took a croquet mallet to the proverbial crotch when it came to conference realignment so I’m hoping they make a little noise this year, but I think Cougar fans would settle for (one last?) Apple Cup win come November.
We finally arrive at the portion of the rankings we’ve all been waiting for. Ranking these bottom four is kind of like listing your favorite symptoms of food poisoning – some are better than others but they’re all going to ruin your Saturday. The Cardinal get the top spot of the bottom four simply for traveling to Hawaii and winning. I don’t know how good the Rainbow Warriors are, but like every year, I’ll find out when I lose a concerning amount of money wagering on the Aloha Bowl.
The Niners are Super Bowl contenders, the youngsters coming up in the Giants farm system have promise, and we’ll see if Curry and the Dubs have one last Finals run in them. I’m sorry, I assumed only Bay Area sports fans would be reading the section on Cal and even they don’t care about Cal Football.
Arizona blew out Northern Arizona at home to start 1-0. But when they visit Mississippi State, the Wildcats will witness something they’ve never experienced before: actual human beings in a stadium who willingly show up to watch a last place football team.
12. Arizona State
I had the Sun Devils as high as 7 prior to the season. However, they barely beat an FCS opponent at home. Yes, there was a weather delay and Southern Utah is a solid FCS team. But let me repeat: they barely beat an FCS team at home. If they beat Oklahoma State on the road this weekend, I’ll move them up.
Brice Larson’s Pac-12 Power Rankings
It is the Pac-12’s swan song in 2023 and they are looking to go out with a bang. Will they get a team into the College Football Playoff? They might have what it takes to get there this season with some serious firepower at the quarterback position. To preface these rankings, I have leaned heavily on my preseason and week one evaluations of each team and until proven otherwise will continue to lean on those evaluations. Lets get into it.
The Trojans have the top QB in the country, but do they have a defense? We will find out in the weeks to come but for now the offense looked good enough to carry this team.
I am one of the few who respect G5 football. Washington absolutely dismantled a good Boise State team in Seattle over the weekend and Michael Penix Jr. looked like he could challenge Caleb Williams in that Heisman race. The Huskies were impressive.
I have Utah at 3 because of their situation with Cam Rising. If he is able to go this week the Utes instantly jump Washington for the second spot. Since the situation surrounding Utah’s top playmaker is unknown, the Utes remain in the third spot this week. They showed what they have on the defensive side of the ball and if they can cruise past Baylor they will be in the early conversation for a CFP berth.
Oregon absolutely blew past Portland State and hung 81 points on the Vikings. They will have a much tougher test vs Texas Tech where we will learn a lot more about Bo Nix and Co. Will they rise or fall?
The Buffs exit week one as the team with the most hype nationwide. They jump way up the rankings with the huge road win over TCU, but can they keep the train on the tracks with another P5 opponent coming to town in Nebraska? Once again, all eyes are on Boulder to see if they can replicate a near perfect start to the season.
6. Oregon State
The Beavers should be Americas team this season. While their future conference fate has yet to be determined, they looked clean in their season opener vs San Jose State. DJ Uiagalelei looked crisp and many are starting to wonder why Clemson showed him the door after last season. The Beavs also have an elite defense that will win them games down the stretch. Watch out for Oregon State to be the Pac-12 Darkhorse.
As I said before, I am a respecter of G5 football. UCLA beat Grayson McCall and Coastal Carolina 27-13, but they can pass their first big test in Week 4 when they take on Utah.
8. Washington State
Another P5 (for now) team that went on the road to a hostile G5 environment, but actually got the job done (cough cough Texas Tech). It is sad to think what the futur might look like for the Cougs, but this is another team that America should be rooting for this season. Unfortunately, for WAZZU, they might not have the jimmy’s and joes to get it done in a deep Pac-12 this season.
Arizona claims to be a basketball school when things are bad. Let’s see if Jedd Fisch will be able to turn things around soon to give the Arizona faithful something to look forward to in the fall instead of having to wait for the winter to come around. The Cats added a few big pieces in the portal this offseason. They are set for their first big test on the road this weekend at Mississippi State.
Cal football has been a tough watch in the past few seasons. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. They need some magic to turn it around and quick.
I don’t expect Stanford to stay here long. I liked what they did on the island, they just weren’t dominant enough for me to move them one way or another. Former Sac State Head Coach Troy Taylor has what it takes to build a program, it’s just really tough to do so in year one. Lets see how the tree grows up on the farm in the next few weeks and go from there.
12. Arizona State
Yikes…. if that impromptu press conference to announce the schools move to the Big 12 wasn’t bad enough, the start to the Kenny Dillingham era at ASU has gotten off to a rocky start. The self-imposed bowl ban announcement that came right before the season killed all hype around this program this year and it showed in ASU’s home opener. The Sun Devils barely made it out of the haboob alive and with the win over FCS powerhouse SUU 24-21.
Nevertheless, the Pac-12 is sitting at 13-0 to start the season. An impressive and ironic feat considering the turmoil of the past few months.