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Dane Miller’s 2023 Week 2 Pac-12 Power Rankings

The 12 wins emphasized the strength of the league this season and put the nation on notice

Posted on September 5, 2023

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

The Pac-12 went 12-0 in Week One with noteworthy victories over then-No. 17 TCU, Florida, and Boise State.

The wins emphasized the strength of the league in 2023 and put the rest of the country on notice.

It’s still early, but there’s no denying the quality of football being played out West this season.

With Colorado securing a respectable road win against an AP Top 25 team and Arizona State struggling to beat an FCS program, the Week Two Power Rankings have seen a bit of a shake-up.

Below is my ranking with a summary for each team. The list and order will be updated weekly through the end of the season.

1. USC (2-0, 0-0) ◄►
The Trojans handled their business against Nevada as Alex Grinch’s defense limited the Wolfpack to 14 points and Caleb Williams threw for five touchdowns.

usc logoPigeonholed on the Pac-12 Network while plenty of other games were on, USC likely didn’t draw more than a few viewers of their box score and maybe a few highlights.

In that sense, the 66-14 result met expectations. It’s early, but the USC defense is second in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss per game and tied for fourth in sacks per game.

There’s plenty left to prove, yet the transfer-heavy defensive line appears to be a strength of the questionable “D.”

2. Washington (1-0, 0-0) ◄►
Kalen DeBoer and Michael Penix Jr. may have posted the most impressive win of the weekend.

Boise State was picked to win the Mountain West in the preseason media poll and the team’s identity is elite defense. But the Dawgs dropped a 50-bucket on Andy Avalos’s unit and made it look easy.

DeBoer’s scheme carved up the BSU defense and Penix Jr. executed it to perfection. The 56-19 victory exceeded expectations and reminded the rest of the country why UW is considered a Playoff contender.

Facing Michigan State on the road in two weeks, Washington has an opportunity to bolster its reputation among the Big Ten-centric media.

3. Utah (1-0, 0-0) ◄►
Even without Cam Rising and several key players on defense, the Utes dispatched Florida with relative ease.

The dual quarterback system worked reasonably well with Nate Johnson getting a score on the ground and Bryson Barnes securing one through the air.

Over three million people watched the game on ESPN and the packed stadium indicates the quality brand that Utah Football has become. Still, the offense is a shell of itself without Rising leading the way.

Matched up with Baylor this week, the primary storyline around the program will continue to be the senior quarterback’s health and timetable for return.

4. Oregon (1-0, 0-0) ◄►
Tucked away on the Pac-12 Network while many other matchups were on “regular” television, not many people saw the Ducks drop 81 points on Portland State.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12The box score did, however, help bolster the Pac-12’s dominant image after it went 12-0 in Week One. Facing such an outmatched opponent, there’s not much that can be taken away.

The UO offensive line did not give up a sack and the Oregon defense held the Vikings to just nine first downs.

The primary takeaway, though, is new offensive coordinator Will Stein’s offense dropping 81 with 729 total yards.

Facing Texas Tech this week, a multi-touchdown winning margin is arguably expected.

5. Oregon State (1-0, 0-0) ◄►
DJ Uiagalelei showed why he makes Oregon State a legitimate contender for the Pac-12 Championship.

The Clemson transfer scored five touchdowns in his debut as the Beavs crushed San Jose State 42-17 on the road.

The 25-point victory provides a direct comparison to USC’s 28-point win over the Spartans in Week Zero. Fielding the top offensive line in the Conference, OSU appears to be a complete team.

There are no flaws on offense and the defense held a respectable SJSU roster to 279 total yards. If there’s only one questionable aspect from the opener it was the somewhat slow start on offense.

6. Colorado (1-0, 0-0) ▲5
Deion Sanders and the Colorado roster proved many people wrong in the opener against TCU. There were doubts surrounding Shedeur Sander’s transition to the FBS and the roster composition.

But Sean Lewis’ offensive system showed what it’s capable of and the defense did enough to secure the win. Travis Hunter, in particular, flashed his quality on both sides of the ball.

Perhaps the Horned Frogs aren’t as good as they were made out to be, yet there’s no denying the strength the Buffs have on their roster.

The offensive line, in particular, was stronger than expected, which substantially raises CU’s ceiling.

7. UCLA (1-0, 0-0) ▼1
The debut of defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn arguably went better than expected.

The Bruins may have struggled on offense, but Lynn’s defense forced three turnovers in key moments while holding Coastal Carolina to just 13 points.

It was the fourth-fewest points the Chanticleers had scored since the start of the 2019 season. Lynn’s defense secured four sacks and 10 tackles for loss, indicating the strength along the defensive line.

But the primary storyline around UCLA is the sensational play of true freshman QB Dante Moore. The decision to name Ethan Garbers as the starter was already questionable and his performance in the opener didn’t help.

8. Washington State (1-0, 0-0) ▼1
Ben Arbuckle’s offense put up 50 points for its debut at Washington State. Cam Ward passed for 451 yards with three touchdowns as the Cougs rolled over Colorado State.

The strong start bodes well for Wazzu’s year. Last season’s Coug Raid was woefully inefficient and Arbuckle’s scheme is a substantial upgrade.

Jake Dickert’s defense shined, too, generating two turnovers and limiting CSU to 37 yards rushing. Still, the three sacks surrendered by the WSU offensive line is not ideal.

Facing Wisconsin in Pullman this week, Dickert’s team can show the country just how good they really are.

9. Arizona (1-0, 0-0) ▼1
The Wildcats got their revenge against Northern Arizona. The Arizona defensive line displayed its strength in Tucson, limiting the Lumberjacks to just three points while posting eight tackles for loss.

Arizona football Pac-12The offense appeared to be intentionally muffled by Jedd Fisch, likely in preparation for the matchup with Mississippi State this week.

Running probably 35 percent of the playbook, the UA offense still scored 38 points with Jayden de Laura posting four total touchdowns.

Still, the Cats committed too many penalties and failed to control the time of possession. With a barometer test this week, the full breadth of the offensive playbook will be on display in Starkville.

10. California (1-0, 0-0) ◄►
Jake Spavital’s offense shined in the opener against North Texas. Starting quarterback Sam Jackson V left the game with an injury and his status remains unclear.

But the Bears scored 58 points and Jaydn Ott showed why he is arguably the top running back in the Pac-12. The California ground game posted six total touchdowns while putting up 357 yards rushing.

At the same time, the Bear defense generated three turnovers and held the Mean Green to 2-for-11 on third down.

If Spavital is able to consistently generate offensive performances like that, Cal’s season has a substantially higher ceiling.

11. Stanford (1-0, 0-0) ▲1
Troy Taylor kept Ashton Daniels under wraps during fall camp.

Reports out of Palo Alto indicated an ongoing quarterback battle and the potential to see three different players in the opener against Hawaii.

That, however, appeared to be far from the truth. Daniels looked like he had been running with the ones all camp and there wasn’t even a sniff of a quarterback controversy to be found.

Taylor’s offense played better than expected and the Stanford defense physically outmatched Hawaii. It’s only one game, but the Cardinal defensive line looks to be the strength of the team.

12. Arizona State (1-0, 0-0) ▼3
A long weather delay might have played a role, but the Sun Devils did not look good against FCS Southern Utah.

The offense was on a knife’s edge in the first half, needing a gutsy fourth-down call to swing the momentum in the latter part of the second quarter.

And after the long delay, Arizona State managed to score just three points in the second half.

Jaden Rashada has sky-high potential, but there’s no denying the shaky performance of the entire team against an FCS squad.

With the Pac-12 as deep as it is this season, ASU does not look up to par.

—More from Dane Miller—