The Pac-12 had an up-and-down week three of the college football season that included upsets of Colorado and USC, while Arizona State earned a massive Power-5 win on the road, Arizona locked down a Big 12 offense, and Washington State held serve in the state of Texas. That means plenty of movement once again in another edition of Judah’s Pac-12 Power Rankings ahead of Week Four. Lines from Bovada.
JPPR Trending: NO CHANGE
Last Week: Won 45-7 vs Cal Poly
This Week: Bye
Encouraging performance from the Beavers last week, rolling off 38 unanswered points in a blowout win. The defense impressed by holding Cal Poly’s triple-option attack to 3.5 yards per carry, and Champ Flemings burst on the scene in a major way with touchdown catches of 47 and 75 yards including a great Mossing. The Beavs punted just once all game, and should be feeling good about themselves as they get two weeks to prepare for a regressing Stanford team.
Last Week: Lost 45-14 vs No.5 Oklahoma
This Week: at #19 Washington State – 7:30pm (ESPN) Line: WSU – 19
On Oct. 5th we’ll find out if this an accurate spot for Chip Kelly’s Bruins, or if they should be in the cellar (UCLA vs Oregon State). A blowout loss to Lincoln Riley was far from surprising, which is sad, because Jalen Hurts went for 439 yards by himself and scored 4 touchdowns. UCLA’s offense looks lost. Dorian Thompson-Robinson ranks 124th in the country in QB rating, running back Josh Kelly, who averaged 5.5 yards a carry last year, is down to 3.2 yards a rush through two games, and Jerry Azzinaro’s defense is allowing 10.5 yards per pass attempt (120th). That’s a bad recipe for this week’s late-night matchup on the Palouse.
JPPR Trending: DOWN 2
Last Week: Lost 30-23 vs Air Force (OT)
This Week: at #24 Arizona State – 7pm (Pac-12 Network) Line: ASU – 8.5
Mel Tucker’s Buffaloes tried to mount a 4th quarter rally for a second straight week, but got upset in OT by an Air Force team that won in Boulder for the first time since 1968. The Buffs used a 17-point comeback to stun ranked Nebraska, and a week later scored 13 in the final period to force OT with the Falcons, but let’s face it, Colorado did not deserve to win. They trailed 23-10 with 10:23 remaining in regulation, only forced two Air Force punts, and allowed 5.6 yards per carry. Colorado’s defense does a good job forcing turnovers (3.3 takeaways per game, 5th in FBS), and I’ve got my eye on them as two-score underdogs in Tempe.
JPPR Trending: UP 1
Last Week: Won 28-14 vs Texas Tech
Wait, does Arizona actually have a defense? After their atrocious opener at Hawaii and mediocre performance vs Northern Arizona, the Wildcats held a traditionally strong Big 12 offense to just 14 points and 5.6 yards per pass attempt. I’ve called out defensive coordinator Marcel Yates before, but that effort reminded me of the way his united suffocated a ranked Oregon team last October in a blowout upset win (Arizona won 44-15). I’m still skeptical of UA’s offense, as two of their touchdowns vs Texas Tech were a 84-yard Khalil Tate burst and a late 99-yard drive that helped seal the victory. But they are pounding the rock and playing solid defense, and now gets two weeks to prepare for UCLA.
JPPR Trending: DOWN 1
Last Week: Lost at No.17 UCF 45-27
This Week: vs #16 Oregon – 4pm (ESPN) Line: Oregon -10.5
This isn’t your grandpa’s David Shaw Cardinal, ladies and gentlemen. Ok, Shaw hasn’t been there that long, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen Stanford struggle like this. They played a regular season game in the state of Florida for the first time and it did not go well, giving up 28 first quarter points to the Knights and UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel finished with 347 yards and 4 touchdowns. Stanford is now outside the top-100 college defenses in passing yards allowed/attempt and offensively continue to look underwhelming despite having KJ Costello return to action. I hesitate to lay points with a double-digit road favorite on The Farm, but just might do it here.
Last Week: Lost at BYU 30-27 (OT)
This Week: vs #10 Utah – Fri., 6pm (FS1) Line: Utah -4
As much as I liked Kedon Slovis’ debut performance vs Stanford, I didn’t like his three-interception day in Provo, including the final pick to end the game. He only threw seven incompletions, but his decision-making remains suspect. Also not thrilled by SC’s defense allowing 430 yards to the Cougars and forcing no turnovers. Defensive end Christian Rector returns to action this week for the Trojans, and they’ll need all the help they can get against a powerful Utah team this Friday night.
JPPR Trending: UP 3
Last Week: Won at #18 Michigan State 10-7
This Week: vs Colorado – 7pm (Pac-12 Network) Line: ASU -8.5
Last week I wrote that Herm Edwards would have his team keep it close with Sparty on the road, but I didn’t expect them to actually win! MSU is terrible on offense, nothing against ASU’s defense, which held the home team to just 3.2 yards per rush. The biggest positive for ASU is the play of freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels who has yet to make the big game-altering mistake (4 TD, 0 INT). Daniels gets a Colorado defense that forces turnovers, so that interception category could get hit, but I am still high on Daniels early in his career.
Last Week: Won vs Hawaii 52-20
This Week: @ BYU – 12:30pm (ABC/ESPN 2) Line: WASH -7
I cashed a ticket on the Huskies covering the 23-point spread last week vs the Rainbow Warriors, so the big win didn’t surprise me. I still think they have holes, but Jacob Eason bounced back and is now completing over 69% of his passes and is taking care of the football (7 TD/1 INT). The run game of Salvon Ahmed (5.6 yards/rush) and Sean McGrew (6.3 yards/rush) must perform this week against a still unranked BYU team that is coming off back-to-back upsets (@ Tennessee, vs #24 USC).
Last Week: Won vs North Texas 23-17
This Week: @ Ole Miss – 9am (ESPN U) Line: Ole Miss -2.5
The final score was predictably unimpressive for the Bears last week, but keep in mind they led 20-0 after the first quarter (outscored 17-3 rest of game). The offense is still hard to watch, but damn if they don’t play great defense. They’re allowing just 4.4 yards per play to their opponent (24th FBS), but are going up against another good defense this week at Ole Miss (allowing 3.3 yards/rush). I think Cal loses this one, the morning start, true road game in SEC territory, and their offensive limitations will doom them. But it’s still a pain in the butt to play this team.
Last Week: Won vs Montana 35-3
This Week: at Stanford – 4pm (ESPN) Line: Oregon -10.5
Justin Herbert threw five touchdowns for a second straight week, hiding some troubling inconsistency on offense. Still, Herbert is completing 73.3% of his throws (11th FBS) and ranks second in the country in touchdowns with 11 (with no interceptions). The Stanford match up is a tremendous opportunity for Mario Cristobal’s team to avenge last year’s brutal collapse in Eugene and make a physical statement against a team traditionally known for its physicality.
Last Week: vs UCLA – 7:30pm (ESPN) Line: WSU -19
I wanted my hometown guy Gage Gubrud to win the starting QB job in fall camp, but goodness, Anthony Gordon is the man for the job. He’s third in the country in accuracy (78.7% completion trails only LSU’s Joe Burrow and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts), tied for the top spot in TDs with 12 (Tua also has 12), and led the Cougs to a big win away from home last week vs Houston in an NFL stadium. Wazzu continues to be under-rated on defense and are in the top-20 in the nation in takeaways (2.5/game). They might be lower in the AP Poll than Oregon, but their performance from last week was simply better than Oregon, hence the leap into the number-two spot.
JPPR Trending: No change
Last Week: Won vs Idaho State 31-0
This Week: @ USC – Fri., 6pm (FS1) Line: Utah -4
Kyle Whittingham’s nasty boys are nastier than ever. Physically, they’re proven and elite, especially on defense. They held Idaho State (Yes, I know it’s Idaho State, but still) to just 116 total yards last week, and dominated time of possession 37 minutes to 22. QB Tyler Huntley is completing a ridiculous 77.8% of his throws in Andy Ludwig’s system (4th FBS) and has yet to throw an interception or be sacked this season. Plus, senior running back Zack Moss is averaging 6.5 yards a rush and now faces a USC team against whom he’s run for 371 yards and three scores in three career games. Utah will beat USC in the Coliseum on Friday night, snapping their 103-year drought of winning a road game with the Trojans (0-8 since 1916). The Utes will take a tipped pass to the house for a pick-six in this game and will cover the spread.