The 2012 college football campaign is roughly half over and the Pac-12 still appears to be in pretty good shape overall. The schools up in Oregon continue to be the class of the league, but there are still several teams looking to compete for an opportunity to play in the conference title game.
With both the north and south divisions still competitive, here is how the dozen teams rank after seven weeks of play.
The Ducks come off a bye week to face Arizona State this Thursday. It’s a pretty solid test for UO, but it should be able to come away with the victory against an ASU squad that hasn’t really been tested quite yet.
2. Oregon State
The Beavers went into BYU and came away with an 18-point victory in their non-conference affair. Oregon State continues to roll and remains undefeated at 5-0 overall. Despite losing quarterback Sean Mannion to a knee injury, OSU was able to pick up a big road victory with backup Cody Vaz running the show.
The next few weeks are going to be a tough test for the Beavers without Mannion, but luckily for them, Vaz looked more than capable of stepping in and leading the way.
As they continue to win games, the Trojans prove to be one of the best teams in the conference. Their victory over Washington was one of the more convincing performances of the season from USC as the Trojans jumped out to a big first half lead and cruised from there.
After games against Colorado and Arizona, USC has a couple of tough games remaining against Oregon and Notre Dame. Add in the rivalry affair against UCLA and the Trojans have a few teams left that could make them fight hard to win. The talent is there, but now USC must show it’s clearly above the middle-of-the-pack in the coming weeks, rather than being on the fringe.
4. Arizona State
The Sun Devils host the Ducks this week with a chance to gain some respect and attention. ASU has yet to defeat a FBS team that currently holds a winning record, but its 5-1 record certainly looks impressive given the team’s expectations heading into the season. A win would legitimize Arizona State’s strong start and surprise the entire country.
The Cardinal came back to earth with a loss to Notre Dame, but luckily for Stanford it was just a non-conference affair. It still remains 2-1 in Pac-12 play and right in the thick of things with a rivalry game at California approaching. With games against Oregon and Oregon State still left on the schedule, the Cardinal can’t afford any misfortune against the Golden Bears.
After getting blown out in Berkeley, the Bruins were able hold off Utah at home to move to 5-2 overall, but just 2-2 in conference play. UCLA still looks like a shell of the team we saw just a few weeks ago and the offense doesn’t look nearly as impressive. With two games remaining versus squads who are currently ranked, UCLA must regain the offensive explosion it had earlier in the season.
With two straight victories, Cal has evened its conference record with five games remaining. It’s hard to imagine the Golden Bears fighting their way into contention in the highly competitive Pac-12 North given the rest of their schedule, but the team has looked much better in its recent two games. Unfortunately those two games were against sputtering teams and the schedule gets tougher down the stretch.
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wildcats, who are currently suffering through a three-game losing streak to open the Pac-12 schedule. UA has coughed away two straight games that could have went in its favor and will have to avoid any more letdowns if it wants to avoid a home loss to a Washington squad that has been severely inconsistent.
The Huskies have been given beatings from their previous two opponents after an impressive home victory over Stanford. The UW offense has been mediocre, but faces an Arizona defense that has struggled to stop opposing offenses. It should be interesting to see if Washington can muster up enough offense to pick up the road win over an Arizona team that has lost three straight to three very tough opponents.
The Utes gave UCLA a scare this past weekend, but ultimately fell short. Utah’s fall from high expectations has been predictable since the loss of Jordan Wynn and the lack of production from John White IV doesn’t help matters either. The Utes have a favorable schedule down the stretch, but it’s a wonder if that even matters given how they have performed.
After two straight blowout losses to ASU and UCLA, the Buffaloes will now face a three-game stretch where they go up against USC, Oregon and Stanford. Good luck with that, Colorado.
12. Washington State
Wazzu has at least been able to keep its last two games respectable. As for the rest of the season, it’s hard to see where the Cougars can pickup a victory.