By Justin Spears, Arizona Daily Star
The Oregon Ducks will have to rely on freshman quarterback and former UA commit Braxton Burmeister against No. 11 Washington State Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
While Arizona is still figuring out its quarterback situation, Burmeister could take down the Cougars in his debut.
Arizona returns to action after a bye week and will play at Colorado at 5 p.m. Unlike the Wildcats and most teams in college football, the Arizona Daily Star's Pac-12 power rankings never take a bye week.
The voting panel: Zack Rosenblatt, Michael Lev and yours truly. Let's take a look!
1. WASHINGTON (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 1
Last week: Won at Oregon State 42-7
This week: vs. Cal (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN)
Comment: As expected, the Huskies took care of business at Oregon State behind Dante Pettis' 105-yard, three touchdown performance. The Huskies are No. 10 in FBS for scoring offense, averaging 44.1 points per game. With USC falling to Washington State last week, it's safe to say the Huskies have moved into the driver's seat in the Pac-12, for now. Last year, UW was a College Football Playoff team and this year, it looks every bit of a national title contender.
2. WASHINGTON STATE (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 3
Last week: Won vs. USC 30-27
This week: at Oregon (Saturday, 5 p.m., Fox)
Comment: Mike Leach might be the best thing to ever happen to college football. Upon Washington State's home upset over USC, Leach said the atmosphere, "looks like Woodstock, except everyone has their clothes on." On a serious note, usually the offense revolves around quarterback Luke Falk, but against USC, the most valuable player was arguably running back Jamal Morrow who contributed 91 yards on six carries and had a key touchdown late in the game. The Cougars are rolling and as long as they don't fall to Oregon this week, it will remain like that for quite some time.
3. USC (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 2
Last week: Lost at Washington State 30-27
This week: vs. Oregon State (Saturday, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: Sam Darnold took himself out of the Heisman Trophy race last week in USC's road loss to Washington State. He has nine touchdowns, but eight interceptions this season so the Heisman committee probably scratched his name off the list unless Darnold goes ballistic to end the season. However, playing against the worst team in the Pac-12 this week should give USC confidence moving forward.
4. STANFORD (3-2, 2-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 4
Last week: Won vs. Arizona State 34-24
This week: at No. 20 Utah (Saturday, 7:15 p.m., FS1)
Comment: Stanford was down to its second-string quarterback and had one mission against ASU last week: Feed Bryce Love the ball. Love reached the 1,000-yard mark and became the fastest running back in Stanford history to reach that milestone on 87 carries in five games. Love will have to repeat his performance against a tough Utah defense that is known for stopping the run.
5. OREGON (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: T-5
Last week: Won vs. Cal 45-24
This week: vs. No. 11 Washington State (Saturday, 5 p.m., Fox)
Comment: It's officially Braxton Burmeister time in Oregon. Justin Herbert is out 4-6 weeks with a collarbone injury he suffered against Cal so the freshman Burmeister, a former UA commit, will show what he's made of. Unfortunately for Burmeister, one of the most crucial games of the season is this week. If the Ducks were to win, maybe Willie Taggart keeps Burmeister in even when Herbert gets back, which is a slap in the face to Arizona. That would mean Oregon actually has two solid quarterbacks while UA is still seeking for a starter.
6. UTAH (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12)
Previous rank: T-5
Last week: Bye
This week: vs. Stanford (Saturday, 7:15 p.m., FS1)
Comment: Utah fell this week solely because of the bye week. The Utes last played against Arizona and sneaked into Tucson for a win even changing quarterbacks mid-game after Tyler Huntley went out with injury, and installing last year's starter Troy Williams. Utes' defensive front has another challenge ahead of them with Bryce Love coming to town. Let's see if Utah can remain unbeaten this week.
7. UCLA (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 10
Last week: Won vs. Colorado 27-23
This week: Bye
Comment: The Bruins couldn't of asked for a better time for a bye week. After two early losses, winning their first conference game of the season and taking a week off this week is an ideal situation to regroup. Quarterback Josh Rosen is the Pac-12's leading quarterback with 2,135 yards and has thrown more times than Luke Falk, and that's saying something. The Bruins will take a week off before playing Arizona in Tucson.
8. COLORADO (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 8
Last week: Lost at UCLA 27-23
This week: vs. Arizona (Saturday, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: The defending Pac-12 South champions are struggling this season. It appeared to be another season where the Buffaloes could sneak up on USC for the division title, but two losses to start conference play set Colorado back. Quarterback Steven Montez had 243 yards passing, but had a 47.2 completion percentage. Against Arizona, Montez could have a bounce-back game, which is a must if Colorado wants to get its season back on track.
9. CAL (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 7
Last week: Lost at Oregon 45-24
This week: at No. 6 Washington (Saturday, 7:45 p.m., ESPN)
Comment: The Golden Bears fell this week and will probably continue to descend, because of their difficult start to the conference schedule. Playing USC and then back-to-back road games against Oregon and Washington is brutal, and it doesn't get any easier next week against Washington State. Fortunately for Cal, it only needs three wins to earn a bowl bid, which is doable.
10. ARIZONA STATE (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 9
Last week: Lost at Stanford 34-24
This week: Bye
Comment: The Sun Devils had a perfect opportunity to take down Stanford on the road, which didn't have its starting quarterback, but ASU couldn't capitalize, because of Bryce Love. ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins threw his first interception of the season against Stanford -- two of them -- and the Cardinal did just enough to hold off. Being sub-.500 isn't the best situation in the first half of the season, but at least ASU heads into the bye week with a conference win before its showdown the following week against Wahsington.
11. ARIZONA (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 11
Last week: Bye
This week: at Colorado (Saturday, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: Even in what was supposed to be a down week for the Wildcats, freshman defensive back Scottie Young was arrested and charged with domestic violence. Bad look for a bye week, but the investigation is still on-going so Young's status is still unknown. Now on to football. Arizona is coming off a bye week after its Pac-12 season opener loss against Utah. A week of recuperation should call for an improved performance, but the altitude in the Rocky Mountains could effect Arizona this week.
12. OREGON STATE (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12)
Previous rank: 12
Last week: Lost vs. Washington 42-7
This week: at No. 14 USC (Saturday, 1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: The third year under Gary Andersen isn't what some expected and a lopsided loss at home to Washington was embarrassing. Guess what? How about a road trip to a top 15 team that was recently upset by Washington State? Sorry, Beavers, but this is shaping up to be another forgettable season.