Martin's Musings is back as the Pac-12 starts to shape itself with conference play. This week we take a look at the weekly pecking order, the games to watch, and more.
1A and 1B) Washington (4-0, 1-0) LW: 1 & Stanford (3-0, 2-0) LW: 2 - I fully admit to taking the coward's way out this week. The truth is that Washington and Stanford are the best two teams in the conference and both played down to their opponents on the road this week and could have easily lost their respective games.
3.) Utah (4-0. 1-0) LW: 3 - The Utes nearly let the Trojans fool them with their wooden horse, but it took a pair of big conversion down the stretch and some ballsy playcalling from Kyle Whittingham down the stretch to stay undefeated. The next few weeks shape up favorably for Utah and it wouldn't be a surprise to see it with an 8-0 record heading into a matchup with Washington.
4.) Colorado (3-1, 1-0) LW: 5 - I should have had more faith in Colorado last week. The Buffs looked good and won on the road against Oregon without a starting quarterback. Steven Montez stole the show and earned Pac-12 offensive player of the week for his performance. With a game against Oregon State at home, expect Colorado to continue its rise.
5.) Arizona State (4-0, 1-0) LW: 6 - The Sun Devils may be one of the most lackluster 4-0 teams in the country. To their credit, they have found ways to win the close games and managed to keep composure in those situations. ASU gets the rapidly crumbling USC this week and then UCLA at home next week with both being very winnable games.
6.) UCLA (2-2, 0-1) LW: 7 - It's not every day that you see the winning team completely fall apart in the waning minutes of a game, but UCLA gave the fans at the Rose Bowl a treat against Stanford. The Bruins are in a weird spot where they haven't quite been able to get over the hump the last few seasons and seem to have regressed a bit so far this year.
7.) California (2-2, 0-1) LW: 8 - The Golden Bears couldn't make it out of Tempe with a win, but they did manage to prove what everyone already sort of knew. Cal is a good offensive team with a terrible defense. Sure, ASU's offense is a little better than decent, but the Sun Devils dropped a 51 spot on the Bears. That's rough.
8.) Arizona (2-2, 0-1) LW: 9 - If Arizona pulls out the win over Washington it probably leap frogs into the 5th spot ahead of ASU, but a late flurry in the desert couldn't save the Wildcats. They are a weird team right now because they are showing improvement and the season isn't lost just yet, but a tough road trip stands in the way. If Arizona can win one or both games, it might just be alright moving forward.
9.) Oregon (2-2, 0-1) LW: 4 - At this point you may be wondering why the last three teams ranked ahead of Oregon moved up despite losing this week. There is a simple explanation for that and it is the Ducks plummet from the top of Mount Olympus. Back-to-back late game blunders by Oregon doomed them to their fall from grace. The Ducks will have to regroup quickly because the upcoming trip to Pullman is no joke.
10.) Washington State (1-2) LW: 12 - Jumping two spots in a bye week says nothing about the Cougars and everything about the teams below them.
11.) USC (1-3, 0-2) LW: 10 - Juju Smith-Schuster said it the best this week when discussing the Trojans' lack of willingness to attempt fourth down conversions, "It's like playing the Madden. Do you ever punt the ball? No. When it's fourth-and-five ad you've only punted one time, I would say go for it." The Trojans aren't playing with a sense of urgency and it is showing in their poor performance.
12.) Oregon State (1-2) LW: 11 - It is easy to write off Oregon State after the start that it has had, but there were a few positives in the way that the Beavers played. They are still another year or two away from being a mid-level conference team, but the foundation is there.
Pac-12 Coach Power Rankings
The Pac-12 had a decently quiet week in terms of news that we can make hot takes about. You may also notice this comes during the Mike Leach bye week, but I digress. The slow week and the coaching messes at Oregon and USC allow us to look at who the best and worst coaches in the conference are.
1.) David Shaw - This one is kind of a gimme. Shaw is at the top of the conference every year and hasn't looked back yet.
2.) Kyle Whittingham - The only knock against the Utah skipper is that his teams fade away towards the end of the season, but his team is nearly always in a position to win each game.
3.) Chris Petersen - Some have said he needs to prove himself in the Pac-12, but his resume speaks volumes about his coaching ability. His Washington teams have progressed each year and it shows that he is rebuilding the Huskies' program.
4.) Jim Mora - His NFL mindset will get him in trouble in some situations, but Mora has found success at UCLA. However, he hasn't been able to get over the hump and it doesn't look like this is the year for that either.
5.) Mike Leach - His philosophy evolves over time, but his teams never lack a devastating passing attack.
6.) Rich Rodriguez - One of the innovators of the up tempo read option offense, Rodriguez hasn't been able to field the right personnel to play the game he wants it to be played during his time in the desert.
7.) Todd Graham - Graham and Rodriguez are incredibly similar in coaching style and offensive philosophy, but Graham's mouth has gotten him in trouble a few too many times.
8.) Sonny Dykes - Since joining the conference as a young head coach Dykes hasn't quite been able to build on his smaller successes. While Cal may improve in one area from one season to the next, there is an equal amount of drop off somewhere else.
9.) Mike McIntyre - The Buffs' leader isn't a great coach, but he is slowly bringing Colorado back around to relevancy, which is something easier said than done.
10.) Gary Andersen - See McIntyre. Anderson has the foundation in place at Oregon State, but needs a few more years to show what he's got.
11.) Mark Helfrich - When your own fans boo you when lining up for a two-point conversion, there is a problem. Helfrich may have been the coach that the Ducks wanted, but he isn't the coach they needed.
12.) Clay Helton - Helton just isn't cut out to be the Head Coach at a major university right now and it shows week in and week out.
Games to Watch - Week 5:
Stanford at Washington: If you noticed, I strategically positioned Washington as 1A this week and that is because of this pick. Both teams barely managed to come out of last week unscathed. Both teams match up well and in a game that is likely a toss up, the home team gets the nod.
This one is going to be a defensive battle all game. Washington kicker Cameron Van Winkle makes up for his two missed kicks last week and wins this one late. Washington 16, Stanford 14
Oregon at Washington State: Coming off a bye week, look for the Cougars to throw a few different looks at the Ducks and try to get them off guard early on. With Oregon on the ropes in terms of having a successful season, this one should definitely be interesting to watch.
Both teams trade haymakers throughout the night, but in the end the Ducks don't have enough to pull out the win. Washington State 41, Oregon 35null