You may have done a double-take when seeing this name atop the rankings, but it's hard to go with anyone else at this point. The Buffaloes are the Pac-12's only undefeated team in conference play and have given Washington its lone Pac-12 defeat in this early season. Who knows where Colorado ends up in two months, but for now it's the best team in the conference.
The Golden Bears' lone loss was to a very talented, but struggling Oregon State squad. Outside of that, Cal has been sharp in Pac-12 play. Led by Allen Crabbe, the Golden Bears should remain a threat in the conference race throughout the course of the season.
The Huskies' only loss was to first-place Colorado, but Washington has looked very solid otherwise. Freshman Tony Wroten has been huge for UW and is a big reason why the Huskies are looking stronger as the season progresses.
Stanford stands at 3-1 in the Pac-12 and still look like a strong contender in the conference. Josh Owens, Aaron Bright and Chasson Randle continue to lead a balanced attack and provide the Cardinal with plenty of firepower. The loss to Oregon does stand out a little, but Stanford has taken care of business in the rest of its games and should remain in the hunt as long as it stays the course.
The Wildcats looked flat against UCLA, but were able to handle business against Arizona State and USC. UA has a severe lack of size that could come back to haunt it, but it has plenty of talent on the rest of the roster to make up for it in order to compete in the Pac-12. If Arizona can overcome its lack of size, the Wildcats have a good shot at the conference crown.
The Ducks have a victory over Stanford, but have dropped their two toughest tests in Washington and Cal. Oregon has received a nice boost from Devoe Joseph, but whether or not he's enough to put UO over the top is to be determined.
After a rough start to the conference schedule, the Bruins have been able to get back on track with home victories over Arizona and Arizona State. The biggest positive sign for UCLA has to be the play of the Wear twins over the last two games. If those two can continue to improve, the Bruins can potentially replace the loss of Reeves Nelson.
8. Oregon State
The Beavers have been one of the league's most disappointing team early, losing three out of their first four conference matchups. OSU has handed Cal its only defeat in conference play thus far and that indicates that the Beavers still have what it takes to compete in the conference race. They are coming off a four-overtime loss at the hands of Stanford in a game that could have gone either way.
9. Washington State
As expected, the Cougars struggled out of the gate. The low point of the early season for Wazzu has been dropping a game to a hapless Utah squad that had trouble hanging with sub-par mid-major squads. Wazzu did beat a talented Oregon State squad, but losing to teams like the Utes doesn't bode well for when the Cougars face the better teams in the Pac-12.
The Utes scored 33 points for a full game in their Pac-12 debut against Colorado, but to their credit, they have played better since then. Utah defeated a struggling Wazzu squad in overtime and actually stayed competitive with Washington in their most recent game. Even with the improvement, Utah will need to show a lot more in a short period of time if it wants to battle with the better teams in the conference.
11. Arizona State
The Sun Devils lost Jahii Carson before the season began and now Keala King is leaving the program. Well, at least they beat USC.
The Trojans have lost all four of their Pac-12 games, including a nine-point defeat to lowly Arizona State. USC must start showing signs of a turn around quickly, or this season is going to end sooner than the schedule does.