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JPPR Week Three: Here comes CAL/USC, Dawgs go down

Two weeks in, and Pac-12 football already has seen a two-touchdown underdog win outright, a team put up 77 points, a backup quarterback ready to galvanize a season, and a desperate players-only meeting.  It’s time for Judah’s Pac-12 Power Rankings to parse perception from reality ahead of Week Three.  From last to first, with the AP Poll and lines from Bovada.

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12. Oregon State Beavers (0-2)

JPPR Trending: NO CHANGE

Last Week Result: Lost 31-28 at Hawaii

This Week:  vs Cal Poly – 1:15pm (Pac 12 Oregon)  Line: N/A

My over 2-1/2 on Oregon State’s win total took a brutal hit with the loss at Hawaii.  The Beavers had to win.  Needed to win.  Were desperate to win.  And they got shut out in the second half.  At some point, Jonathan Smith and company has to show me the money.  To put up 28 first half points followed by a goose egg for two quarters is unacceptable, even by their own standards.  Not even a win over Cal Poly can remove the Beavs from the JPPR cellar.  I’d be shocked if they get to three wins this year, and frankly I’d be surprised if they get two wins.  And stop punching your own teammates.  Grow up.  And if the conference perception of the Beavers can’t get any lower: Over the past four seasons, Oregon State has fewer Pac-12 victories (4) than…San Diego Freaking State (5).

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No. 12 (No Change)

 

11. UCLA Bruins (0-2)

JPPR Trending: DOWN 1

Last Week Result: Lost 23-14 vs San Diego State

This Week:  vs #5 Oklahoma – 5pm (FOX)    Line:  Oklahoma -23.5

Why, oh why, did I believe in Chip Kelly?  You dangled the carrot in front of me, Chip, I reached for it, and you gleefully pulled it away.  I’ve lost money two weeks in a row on these hapless Bruins, who got owned as an 8-point home favorite last week by two scores to a San Diego State team that beat Weber State in their opener by a measly 6-0 final.  Now there are reports of UCLA holding players-only meetings to try and right the ship.  Few things make me want to believe in a turnaround less than a bunch of 18 and 19 year olds forming a players-only meeting.  Good luck with the kids, Chip.  Of course, just watch them cover the spread vs the Sooners at the Rose Bowl this week.  I won’t be touching that one.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.11 (No change)

 

10. Arizona Wildcats (1-1)

JPPR Trending: UP 1

Last Week Result: Won 65-41 vs Northern Arizona

This Week: vs Texas Tech – 7:30pm (ESPN)   Line: Texas Tech -2.5

Their defense remains a sieve, but at least Khalil Tate kept up his hot start (8.1 yards/att, 2 TD, 0 INT).  I think their flaws get exposed this week vs Texas Tech before they hit another bye week.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.10 (No Change)

 

 

9.  Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0)

JPPR Trending: DOWN 2

Last Week Result: Won 19-7 vs Sacramento State

This Week: at #14 Michigan State – 1pm (FOX)    Line: MSU -14

Maybe I should have seen the downturn coming for true freshman QB Jayden Daniels and the Sun Devils.  But to barely survive Sac State – at home – is a problem.  If it wasn’t for Herm Edwards’ experience and ability to motivate, I’d expect the Sun Devils to get blown out this week at East Lansing.  But Herm has a way of keeping his squad close in big games, and they upset the Spartans last year.  ASU keeps it close at Michigan State this week before a great challenge at home against the team one place better in JPPR.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction:  No. 9 (No Change)

 

8.  Colorado Buffaloes (2-0)

JPPR Trending: NO CHANGE

Last Week Result: Won 34-31 vs #25 Nebraska (OT)

This Week: vs Air Force – 10am (Pac 12 Network)  Line: COL -4

Look, this is a hard-luck “No-Change” in JPPR for the Buffs, who upset a ranked team in overtime.  Last week I said No.8 would be the high-water mark for Colorado, but I really would have put them higher if I believed they would beat any team ranked ahead of them.  I don’t think they’re better than any of the teams above them, I certainly don’t think they’re worse than any teams below them, it just so happens that No.8 is the best fit.  Mel Tucker has a good thing going early in his Boulder tenure.  Air Force is a different challenge, and I expect a close game.  Really looking forward to the following week’s game at ASU.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.7.  Colorado wins and moves up.

 

7.  Stanford Cardinal (1-1)

JPPR Trending: DOWN 2

Last Week Result: Lost 45-20 at USC

This Week: at #17 UCF – 12:30pm (ESPN)   Line: UCF -7.5

It’s tough to move a team down two spots who just played on the road without its best offensive lineman and its starting quarterback.  This is just a tough part of the season for the Cardinal, visiting #17 UCF this week, and hosting a strong Oregon team next week before their first bye.  Injuries have hurt them too.  QB KJ Costello will be back this week after a “non-disclosed” – but reported – concussion suffered in the opener, but All-American tackle Walker Little is lost for the year (knee).  I’m eager to see how well Stanford competes on the road against a ranked UCF squad.  David Shaw should keep his team focused, and I’ll take them to cover the spread.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No. 8.  Lose a close one in Orlando.

 

 

6. #24 USC Trojans (2-0)

JPPR Trending: NO CHANGE

Last Week Result: Won 45-20 vs #24 Stanford

This Week: @ BYU – 12:30pm (ABC)    Line: USC -4

Another team with a tough-luck no change in JPPR.  But let’s face it.  If you lose your starting quarterback in the season-opener, I’d expect you to drop the following week in the rankings.  But that’s not the case for the Trojans.  QB Kedon Slovis, a true freshman, is poised for success in the Graham Harrell air-raid that highlights the elite athleticism of their outside receivers like Pittman, Vaughns, and St-Brown.  I’m buying stock on the USC season.  And how about that betting line? SC minus-4?  On the road against a team that just won last week in an SEC stadium?  That shows you how much respect the Trojans are already getting.  Let’s see if they can live up to it.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No. 6.  USC wins, but the teams ahead of them won’t be tested.

 

5. #23 Washington Huskies (1-1)

JPPR Trending: DOWN 3

Last Week Result: Lost 20-19 vs Cal

This Week: vs Hawaii – 4:30pm (Pac-12 Network)   Line: WASH -21.5

Man, what a tough loss for the Huskies to Cal.  Game delayed by 2-1/2 hours, hardly any fans sticking around, and Washington’s typical home-field advantage basically dissipated.  QB Jacob Eason came back to earth, but Cal’s awesome secondary will do that to many passers this year.  I think the Huskies are pissed off and respond in a major way this week vs the Rainbow Warriors.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.5.  This will be as low as the Huskies will get in JPPR, but I can’t put them above Cal regardless of results this weekend.

 

 

4.  Cal Golden Bears (2-0)

JPPR Trending: UP 5

Last Week Result: Won 20-19 @ #13 Washington

This Week: vs North Texas – 1:15pm (Pac-12 Bay Area)   Line:  N/A

Hat tip, Justin Wilcox.  This defense gives Pac-12 offenses fits, especially in the passing game.  They are tough, gritty and under-rated.  Well, not this week.  Cal rises five spots in JPPR from No.9 to No.4 after their impressive road upset as a 14-point underdog at No.13 Washington.  Yes, their offense is limited, but RB Chris Brown Jr. has real talent (5.3 yards/rush in two games), and they have a recipe for success.  Keep opponents out of the end zone, force a couple turnovers, and out-tough the opponent for four quarters.  That can lead to a lot of wins in college football.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.4.  Comfortable win vs North Texas keeps them ahead of Washington.

 

3. #20 Washington State Cougars (2-0)

JPPR Trending: UP 1

Last Week Result: Won 59-17 vs Northern Colorado

This Week: at Houston – FRI 6:15pm (ESPN)    Line: WSU -8.5

It’s an all-Coug battle this week as WSU gets tested at Dana Holgorsen and Houston in an air-raid reunion.  QB Anthony Gordon executes the Wazzu offense brilliantly for Mike Leach, that much is clear.  This week we’ll find out if DC Tracy Claes can get his side of the ball to execute on the road as well as they can execute in practice against a similar scheme.  Wazzu is a fairly sized favorite, and they need to avoid the upset to keep the credibility, however small, of the Pac-12.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.3.  Cougs win but Houston finds a way to backdoor cover.

 

2. #15 Oregon Ducks (1-1)

JPPR Trending: UP 1

Last Week Result: Won 77-6 vs Nevada

This Week: vs Montana – 7:45pm (Pac-12 Network)   Line: N/A

Message.  Sent.   You drop 77 in a game, you move up in JPPR.  That simple.  I think Oregon is better than Washington (and JPPR reflects that), and we’ll find out for sure who rules the North on Oct. 19th (UO @ UW) and Oct. 26th (UO vs WSU).  The toughness of Mario Cristobal’s team will reveal itself over the course of the season.  Pac-12 opener at Stanford in two weeks is a fine test.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No. 2.  Why do we have to start games at 7:45?

 

1.  #11 Utah Utes (2-0)

JPPR Trending: NO CHANGE

Last Week Result: Won 35-17 vs Northern Illinois

This Week: vs Idaho State – 1:15pm (Pac-12 Mountain)   Line: N/A

Utah took over the top spot in JPPR last week after beating BYU on the road, and after handling a fiesty Northern Illinois squad, they don’t go anywhere this week.  But, circle this one: Next Friday night, Sept. 20th: Utah @ USC.  Can’t wait.

JPPR Week 4 Prediction: No.1.  ‘Nuff said.

See you next week for JPPR ahead of Week Four! And send me your thoughts on the best teams in the Pac-12.  Can someone still make a run for a Playoff spot?

 


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