Pac-10 Power Rankings: Week 7

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No. 1: Oregon

A bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Ducks, who left Pullman, Wash., licking their wounds - not in the loss column, though their 20-point victory was far from comfortable.

Rather, Oregon's personnel took a huge hit.

Both quarterback Darron Thomas and backup tailback Kenjon Barner were knocked out of the game. Barner was leveled on a kick return and had to be carted off in an ambulance.

The only good news out of the Palouse? Nate Costa was proficient commanding the offense in Thomas' place, rolling up total 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He looks ready to step up if needed against UCLA, which has had success defending the spread this year.

-Ed Yevelev

No. 2 Stanford

Andrew Luck continued to win over the hearts of NFL draft scouts with his home outing against the Trojans. Stanford's signal caller was deadly efficient - 20-of-24, 288 yards, three touchdowns - and effortlessly marched his team down field for a winning field goal.

Even if he revels at taking three of the last four from USC, Jim Harbaugh will no doubt use the off-week to address his defense. The Cardinal have given up well over 1,000 yards in the past two weeks.

-Ed Yevelev

No. 3: Oregon State

Uh-oh: The Beavs might be back, but they suffered a tremendous blow to their hopes of winning the conference. After notching an impressive 29-27 victory over then-No. 9 Arizona, the Beavers played some of their best football of the season, but lost one of its top targets in wide receiver James Rodgers. Rodgers was sixth in the nation entering last week with 176.754 all-purpose yards per game and was the most dynamic threat on the field besides the Beavers running back, his brother Jacquizz.

Despite the critical loss, Oregon State looks like it found its quarterback in Ryan Katz, who had a career night against the Wildcats, going 30-of-42 for 393 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

The Beavers are known for excelling late in the season, and Saturday's performance offered a look into how well the team can play.

-Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 4: Arizona

Arizona is good. But it wasn't was No. 9 in the country good.

The Wildcats (4-1, 1-1) came back down to earth with a close loss to Oregon State last week, but in the process proved the competitiveness of the Pac-10 this season. Luckily for Arizona, even though the loss badly damaged any BCS hopes it might have briefly had, it doesn't hurt its chances at a conference crown.

The Wildcats still have one of the best defenses in the Pac-10 and possess the conference's leading passer in Nick Foles. It's doubtful any team will be able to run through the Pac-10 unscathed, which should have Arizona hopes riding high in spite of the Beavers' victory.

-Katie Dowd

No. 5: Arizona State

This is what happens, Dennis. This is what happens when your team plays disciplined football. Rainy Seattle could have been a nightmare setting for the error-prone Sun Devils, but Arizona State minimized its miscues during a 24-14 win over Washington.

Steven Threet threw more touchdowns than interceptions for only the second time this fall, and the team committed just four penalties - ASU's lowest total in two years. Even linebacker Vontaze Burfict showed restraint after missing part of the contest with unsportsmanlike conduct against Oregon State - said conduct being headbutting quarterback Ryan Katz.

Let's see if the Sun Devils retain their composure next weekend at Memorial Stadium, where middling teams always seem to self-destruct.

-Ed Yevelev

No. 6: Cal

The old football adage "defense wins championships" should be making the Cal football team (3-2, 1-1) feel pretty good right about now.

The Bears currently rank first in the conference in total defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense and sacks, thanks hugely to new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's hyper-aggressive pressure-heavy schemes. The results speak for themselves: in Pac-10 play, Cal has only given up 17 total points in two games.

Now, it's up to the offense to get the team close enough to a championship for the defense to win it. Quarterback Kevin Riley's inconsistencies must be ironed out going forward, and his ability to marshal his team to victory will likely be the determining factor between wins and losses from here on out.

-Katie Dowd

No. 7: USC

To see USC with a 1-2 conference record barely makes sense, even in writing. But the fact remains that USC is in the bottom half of the Pac-10, and may stay there for a while unless itcan shore up a laughably porous pass defense.

The Trojans showed on Saturday that they are capable of putting up points in their 37-35 loss at Stanford, but there is no sign that their defense will soon stop anybody.

USC might find the pass coverage it needs when it faces a struggling Kevin Riley this Saturday, but for now there is not a whole lot to look forward to in the Land of Troy.

-Gabriel Baumgaertner

No. 8: Washington

This much we know: Washington lives and dies by Jake Locker.

When the senior quarterback struggled with a cold - reverting back to mediocrity in completing 23 of his 38 passes for 209 yards - the Huskies' 24-14 home loss to Arizona State,

He matched his lone passing touchdown with an interception in the pouring rain. Locker did add another score on the ground, but managed just six yards.

With Pac-10's eighth-ranked defense, Washington needs some superlative performances out of him in order to make a bowl game.

-Jack Wang

No. 9: UCLA

The fantasy had to end sometime.

Any hope that UCLA had taken a step forward with its upset of Texas has been virtually extinguished. For the most part, the Bruins are still running in place. It won't be long until they trip and fall.

There's now a clear formula for beating UCLA. Run it up the gut and force whomever's under center to pass.

After the decimation by Cal, Rick Neuheisel isn't even sure about having Kevin Prince starting anymore. Throw in the fact that at least three starters will reportedly be suspended for violating team rules and the approaching pain becomes palpable.

Oregon, Arizona and Oregon State are up next for the Bruins in what could conceivably become a season-ending winless streak.

-Jack Wang

No. 10: Washington State

Washington State is an easy target but, to its credit, it is certainly improving.

Quarterback Jeff Tuel has led a surprisingly competitive squad this season. The Cougars (1-5, 0-3) stuck with (an albeit injury ridden) Oregon until late in the contest last week, and scored more than 20 points against two of their three conference opponents.

Tuel leads the fifth-best passing attack in the Pac-10--better than both Oregon and Cal--and is averaging over 240 yards passing per game.

Washington State's days of mediocrity certainly aren't over. But it looks as if their years of complete ineptitude might be.

-Katie Dowd


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