Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 3: USC Falls From Grace

1. Oregon Ducks (Last Week: 2)

Oregon barely earns the top spot. They haven't played anyone yet and Arizona represents a significant upgrade from the quality of teams that have been cycling through Eugene this summer. If the Ducks fall to the Wildcats, they will be teetering at the edge of the top five.

2. Stanford Cardinal (Last Week: 4)

Big, big win over USC. You can never count Stanford out. Stepfan Taylor and the boys get a much-deserved break this weekend. Stanford avoids matchups against ASU and Utah, but gets tough games against UCLA and Arizona instead. Don't forget about their non-conference game against Notre Dame in three weeks.

3. UCLA Bruins (Last Week: 3)

The Bruins continue to roll with Noel Mazzone's offense and Jim Mora Jr.'s no-nonsense coaching. UCLA avoids Oregon in conference play, and their next several games are against mid-level Pac-12 teams. If everything falls perfectly for them, UCLA could be 10-0 going into their showdown with USC at the Rose Bowl in November. Obviously, this is all conjecture.

4. USC Trojans (Last Week: 1)

Stanford always plays USC tough, and the Trojans are not as good as we thought they were. This is a long season, and I expect USC to finish in the top three of the power rankings, but losing to the Cardinal was flat-out unacceptable for Lane Kiffin.

5. Arizona Wildcats (Last Week: 6)

While playing South Carolina State doesn't really count for anything, Arizona is still 3-0 and in a good position to make a bowl game this year. Beating Oklahoma State was awfully impressive. Next up? A road trip to Autzen to face Oregon.

6. Arizona St. Sun Devils (Last Week: 5)

Really tough loss in Columbia on Saturday to the Missouri Tigers. I think it was a character builder, and you can't fully damn a team for losing on the road to a pretty good SEC squad. It was a hostile crowd and the team is young. How they respond at home will tell us if this team is top five in the Pac-12 or headed for the bottom.

7. Oregon St. Beavers (Last Week: 7)

Still 1-0. When do these guys play another football game? Sheesh.

8. Utah Utes (Last Week: 10)

The Holy War is over, and winning against BYU is a big improvement for the Utes. Losing to Utah State still keeps Utah down in the rankings, but a road win against ASU next week would be a big sign that they are finally ready to make a difference in a BCS conference.

9. Washington Huskies (Last Week: 9)

Beating Portland State is meaningless. Up next: murderer's row. Four straight ranked teams. Stanford, Oregon, USC, Arizona. Good luck, Huskies. You will need it.

10. California Golden Bears (Last Week: 8)

I was impressed with the way Cal fought against Ohio State, but it just wasn't enough to escape Columbus with a huge win. Out of the bottom five teams on this list, Cal has the best chance to rise into the top five by the end of the season. Things don't get any easier, as they face USC and ASU to close out September.

11. Washington St. Cougars (Last Week: 11)

A close win over UNLV, who just lost to Northern Arizona, is nothing to be particularly proud of.

12. Colorado Buffaloes (Last Week: 12)

I'd make fun of Colorado, but Fresno State did enough of that for me. Losing by over 50 points to anyone should be considered grounds for immediate expulsion from the conference.

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