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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Easy non-conference start puts Wildcats in middle of Pac-12 power rankings

Tyler Besh /  Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Football vs Washington
Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Football vs Washington

Defeating NAU, UNLV and UTSA by a combined score of 131-26 is nice but not really relevant to the power rankings.

Three games into the season, it’s clear the Wildcats’ defense has improved and junior running back Ka’Deem Carey hasn’t lost a step from his 2012 All-American season. How much the defense has improved and how much better Carey is has yet to be determined. Saturday’s game at No. 16 Washington will shed a light on those unanswered questions.

The Huskies entered the season with similar questions, but through their non-conference schedule have answered many of them by beating challenging opponents with a combined score of 128-30, including then No. 19 Boise State 38-6 and the Illinois in Chicago. Arizona’s non-conference success is less impressive in comparison, causing Washington to shoot up in the power rankings while the Wildcats have stagnated in the middle of the Pac-12 Conference.

After a close and controversial victory at home in week three against then No. 20 Wisconsin, ASU hoped to silence doubters with a road victory at No. 5 Stanford this past week. A road win over the Cardinal would have easily given the Sun Devils an identity and a place atop the conference. However, Stanford thrashed ASU, suggesting that its victory over the Badgers the week prior was not as defining as it had hoped.

This week, the Sun Devils have another opportunity to regain some prominence as they host a struggling but always noteworthy USC team on national television.

The Cardinal this week can’t afford to overlook its opponent. Stanford is on the edge of becoming the Pac-12’s alpha dog. But its opposition this week, Washington State, is thirsty for power.

WSU hasn’t been in the top half of any Pac-12 power rankings since 2003, its last winning season. Already with a victory over a then-nationally ranked USC and a close loss to SEC powerhouse Auburn, the Cougars have almost solidified themselves as a top-half team.

If they can upset Stanford on national television at home, they would absolutely separate themselves from the clogged middle with Arizona, USC and ASU.

1.No. 2 Oregon (3-0) LW 1
Week four: Bye.
This week: vs. California

2. No. 5 Stanford (3-0, 1-0) LW 2
Week four: No. 23 Arizona State (W 42-28)
This week: at Washington State

3. No. 13 UCLA (3-0) LW 3
Week four: New Mexico State (W 59-13)
This week: at Utah

4. No. 16 Washington (3-0) LW 4
Week four: Idaho State (W 56-0)
This week: vs. Arizona

5. Arizona State (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) LW 5
Week four: At No. 5 Stanford (L 42-28)
This week: vs. USC

6. Washington State (3-1, 1-0) LW 7
Week four: Idaho (W 42-0)
This week: vs. No. 5 Stanford
7. Arizona (3-0) LW 6
Week four: Bye
This week: at No. 16 Washington

8. USC (3-1, 0-1) LW 8
Week four: Utah State (W 17-14)
This week: at Arizona State

9. Oregon State (3-1, 1-0) LW 9
Week four: San Diego State (W 34-30)
This week: vs. Colorado

10. Colorado (2-0) LW 10
Week four: Bye
This week: at Oregon State

11. Utah (3-1, 0-1) LW 12
Week four: At BYU (W 20-13)
This week: vs. No. 13 UCLA

12. California (1-2) LW 11
Week four: Bye
This week: at No. 2 Oregon

— Follow Luke Della @LukeDella

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