Posted on September 21, 2022
The landscape of the SuperWest changed in Week Three.
Washington convincingly handled Michigan State, Oregon crushed BYU, and USC dominated Fresno State.
The result in the Sonoran Desert led to the termination of Herm Edwards, while the decisions made in the Wasatch Mountains ended in the pending transfer of San Diego State’s perceived quarterback of the future.
At the same time, UCLA escaped against South Alabama to avoid a disastrous loss in front of shockingly few fans.
The results sent our Senior Writers and Broadcasters back to the drawing board to re-rank the 16 teams.
The list below is a composite of each writer’s picks, while the individual rankings appear in the table at the bottom.
1. USC (3-0, 1-0) ◄►
Dispatching Fresno State with relative ease, USC remains the Pac-12’s primary threat to make the Playoff.
Alex Grinch’s defense is No. 4 in the country in turnovers forced, leading all Power 5 teams with 10 total TOs.
The Trojan “D” was a perceived problem before the season began, but Grinch has shattered those concerns. Combined with an elite offense, SC is dangerous.
2. Utah (2-1, 0-0) ◄►
It took a quarter to get going, but the Utes throttled San Diego State in a revenge game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The blowout victory puts the Florida loss into sharper contrast as Utah fans can’t help but wonder: Where was this defense in The Swamp?
Still, the 173 yards allowed sets the defense’s expectations for the remainder of the year. As the old adage goes, defense travels.
3. Oregon (2-1, 0-0) ▲1
Dan Lanning posted his first signature win as the Ducks embarrassed BYU at Autzen Stadium.
Bo Nix had one of the strongest days of his career and the Oregon defense suffocated the Cougars’ run game.
The performance reflected the high expectations many had for UO at the start of the season, potentially indicating a Playoff appearance remains achievable.
If Georgia keeps blowing out its opponents, the Ducks still have a shot.
4. Washington (3-0, 0-0) ▲4
Utilizing an elite offensive scheme, Michael Penix Jr. and the Dawgs crushed Michigan State.
The victory over the well-respected Big Ten program turned the heads of the East Coast Media, catapulting Washington into the AP Top 25.
Kalen DeBoer’s system is almost impossible to stop when executed correctly, and the Huskies have a strong defensive front seven.
But with a secondary that’s allowing 11.1 yards per completion, it’s a bit premature to label UW as a Playoff contender.
5. BYU (2-1) ▼2
Entering Eugene confident after last year’s wins over the Pac-12, the Cougars’ momentum ground to a halt.
The defeat doesn’t officially knock BYU out of contention for the Playoff, but it substantially hinders the program’s chances.
The matchups against Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium and Arkansas in Provo provide additional opportunities to right the ship.
Yet, the margin of defeat to the Ducks could be difficult to overcome.
6. Oregon State (3-0, 0-0) ▼1
Scoring its most points since 2012, Oregon State sent a message to the rest of the Pac-12.
Chance Nolan threw the ball just 25 times, but pitched four touchdowns and added another on the ground.
Disappointingly overlooked by the AP Voters, OSU’s victories over Boise State and Fresno State are quality resume wins that should be acknowledged.
Regardless, the Beaver secondary is among the nation’s elite, forcing six interceptions through three games.
7. Washington State (3-0, 0-0) ◄►
Somewhat swept under the rug during a strong weekend for the Pac-12, Wazzu smacked lowly Colorado State in Pullman.
Cam Ward had an efficient game operating the Coug Raid and Nakia Watson posted 9.3 yards per carry.
The easy win wasn’t enough to sway the AP Voters, though, as WSU must continue to fight for respect.
Still, Washington State has exceeded all expectations by starting the year 3-0.
8. UCLA (3-0, 0-0) ▼2
Facing a capable offense for the first time this season, Bill McGovern’s defense buckled.
South Alabama is a better team than many give them credit for, but the poor defensive performance is a worrying sign moving forward.
UCLA didn’t deserve to win and its close victory was overwhelmingly disappointing.
Adding insult to injury, almost no one came to the Rose Bowl and the national narrative of the Bruins’ absent fanbase continues.
9. Arizona (2-1, 0-0) ▲1
Jedd Fisch and the Wildcats proved themselves on Saturday night.
The win over FCS powerhouse North Dakota State was a statement victory that cemented the trajectory of the program.
Over 10,000 loud NDSU fans invaded Tucson, turning the home game into a de facto road contest.
But Johnny Nansen’s defense came through in the clutch, and Jayden de Laura’s decision-making won the game.
10. Boise State (2-1, 1-0) ▲1
The Broncos learned nothing about themselves in a 30-7 win over Tennessee-Martin.
Andy Avalos remains committed to Hank Bachmeier and has refused to allow Taylen Green any meaningful snaps.
It’s a risky strategy considering what happened against Oregon State, and it could come back to bite with a rigorous stretch of games just around the corner.
Boise State should crush UTEP this weekend, leaving no excuse for a mediocre night from Bachmeier.
11. Fresno State (1-2, 0-0) ▼2
The injury to Jake Haener throws Fresno State’s season into question.
The high ankle sprain could take a few weeks to heal, giving redshirt freshman Logan Fife the keys to the car.
He posted respectable numbers against the Trojans, but faces a Litmus Test on the road against Connecticut next week, after this week’s bye.
Until Fife proves he can consistently operate Fresno State’s offense, the concerns swirling around the program will remain.
12. California (2-1, 0-0) ▲1
Blatantly biased officiating hurt California’s chances of beating Notre Dame. Still, facing a backup quarterback incapable of moving the ball, the Bears couldn’t get the job done.
The lack of offensive firepower has been a consistent theme throughout Justin Wilcox’s tenure in Berkeley, arguably costing Cal the game in South Bend.
In an era where scheme matters above all else, it’s fair to question Bill Musgrave’s offense and Wilcox’s decision to hire him.
13. Stanford (1-1, 0-1) ▲2
Benefitting from a bye week, the Cardinal had extra time to prepare for Washington’s offense.
Stanford’s run game has been an unexpected bright spot through two games, currently rated No. 5 in the Pac-12 with 195.0 yards per game.
The ground prowess might be pivotal on the road against the Huskies, where controlling the time of possession could help keep UW’s system from getting into a rhythm.
14. San Diego State (1-2, 0-0) ▼2
Humbled by another Pac-12 opponent, the Aztec program is a mess.
Braxton Burmeister got hurt again and Brady Hoke yanked redshirt freshman backup Will Haskell after one series.
That decision has spurred Haskell to transfer, creating an off-the-field spat between the head coach and Haskell’s father.
It’s a terrible look for a program already getting dragged through the mud after the rape allegations against three former players.
15. Arizona State (1-2, 0-0) ▼1
Enough was enough. Herm Edwards was finally let go after the Sun Devils dropped a shocking game to Eastern Michigan.
The decision is the right move for the program going forward, but it puts ASU into an awkward situation. The NCAA investigation remains ongoing and the impending penalties are unclear.
The onus is on Kyle Soelle, Merlin Robertson, and Emory Jones to keep the roster locked in and focused on the games ahead.
16. Colorado (0-3, 0-0) ◄►
Karl Dorrell is on his last straw.
Colorado athletic director Rick George released a statement after the 49-7 loss to Minnesota, asking fans to stay committed and hoping for a win over UCLA this weekend.
Reading between the lines, Dorrell must pull off the upset of the Bruins or his tenure in Boulder is likely over.
The quarterback controversy is an issue, but the Buffs haven’t recruited well since Mel Tucker left after the 2019 season.