Pac-12 power rankings: Oregon owns the Horseshoe

Oregon earned its first ever victory over Ohio State on Saturday as they ran over the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio. While the final score was 35-28, the Ducks were the more physical team as they averaged 6.7 yards per carry — compared to the Buckeyes 4.1 — on their way to 269 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns.

CJ Verdell was an absolute nightmare for the defense, as he continued to quickly hit the holes his offensive line opened up and then exploded out for big chunk plays. His longest was a 77-yard touchdown run that saw him outrun the safety — who’s desperation dive barely caused Verdell to flinch.

The two touchdown hole forced Ohio State out of its comfort zone and their offense struggled to get into a grove until the later parts of the third quarter. This was despite the excellent play from quarterback CJ Stroud.

Stroud absolutely picked apart the Ducks secondary as he averaged 9 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and one interception, which essentially ended the game. The freshman completed 64.8% of his passes while being harassed fairly consistently by an Oregon defense that kept up the pressure throughout the game; which left their secondary venerable to the explosive plays.

Quarterback Anthony Brown had a quietly efficient day that kept the Ohio State defense from clogging the running lanes. He completed 17 of 35 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He kept the offense moving while not turning the ball over and that’s really all he needs to do with Verdell, Travis Dye, and Anthony Brown in the backfield.

Next up for the Ducks, they wrap up their non-conference schedule with their FCS match-up against Stony Brook.

1) Oregon Ducks

A week after doing exactly enough to beat Fresno State, the Ducks marched into Columbus and upset the 14.5-point favorite. It was an impressive offensive showing. But there are still questions about quarterback play and that defensive secondary. Despite those questions, it’s clear that Oregon is the best squad in the conference through week 2.

2) UCLA Bruins

UCLA had the bye week in week two, but their upset home victory over LSU in week one was an impressive accomplishment for Chip Kelly’s squad.

3) Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State’s comfortable 27-point win against perennial Mountain West cellar dweller UNLV didn’t give us a lot to go off of in-terms of evaluating the type of squad that Herm Edwards has in Tempe. Their defense continues to impress, and their offense looks competent; but they haven’t truly been tested yet.

4) Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffaloes led 7-3 in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter but were unable to pull of the upset of No. 5 Texas A&M at home. Colorado absolutely stifled the Aggies offensive attack as they only scored one touchdown while averaging 4.8 yards per attempt and 3.3 yards per rush. That’s kind of defensive production can give you a chance to win a lot of games…but only if the offense can improve on it’s horrific passing attack — the Buffs averaged 3.6 yards per attempt.

6) Stanford Cardinal

After getting completely shut down by Kansas State in their first game, the Cardinal offense came back with a vengeance against USC. Stanford averaged 10.2 yards per attempt while tossing two touchdown passes. Quarterback Tanner McKee appeared to be more comfortable in the pocket and progressing through his reads. The offense put up 42 points in route to a 16-point road win.

6) Utah Utes

Utah’s winning streak in the Holy War ended at 9-games on Saturday, as the Utes offense was ineffective against the Cougars defense. Despite averaging 7.7 yards per carry, the offense was hampered by 5.7 yards per pass; in a game where they trailed by multiple possessions at the start of the final quarter. The loss included a questionable decision to kick a field goal when down by 12 late in the fourth quarter.

7) Oregon State Beavers

The Beavers picked up their first win of the season by beating Hawai’i 45-27 in Corvallis, Ore. OSU’s three possession lead at the half slipped away quickly in the third quarter thanks to an aggressive passing attack from the Rainbow Warriors — the Warriors averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt. But Oregon State put the game away with a couple of key touchdowns in the fourth.

8) USC Trojans

Clay Helton’s seat has to be insanely uncomfortable after his Trojans were out played, out coached, and out efforted by Stanford on Saturday. There was very little for USC fans to like from an effort where the offense averaged 5.3 yards per pass with an interception; sure the running game averaged 5.6 yards per carry but that wasn’t going to help USC dig out of the hole it found itself in at the half. This came after a sleepy week one win against San Jose State

9) Washington State Cougars

A week after Nick Rolovich got too cute against Utah State, the Cougars bulldozed hapless Portland State on Saturday. The offense averaged 9.5 yards per attempt and 4.8 yards per rush in a game where the run and shoot actually looked as advertised. Washington State’s defense forced a pair of turnovers despite inconsistent play from its line.

10) California Golden Bears

Two games, two narrow losses where the offense was completely and utterly ineffective on its final drive. Cal has been outscored 45-13 in the second and third quarter, while they have outscored their first two opponents 36-9 in the first and fourth; it’s almost like the offense goes into hibernation in the middle of the game and hangs its defense out to dry.

11) Washington Huskies

Washington followed-up its one touchdown performance against Montana…with a one touchdown performance against Michigan. The 21-point loss was a result of a defense that wore down throughout the game with little, to no, support from its offense. While Dylan Morris and the passing attack looked better in week two, the rushing attack was horrific (1.6 yards per carry); the Huskies offensive line has easily been the biggest area of concern on Montlake through the first two games.

12) Arizona Wildcats

Arizona has gotten absolutely rocked in its first two games of the season and their offense is clearly the weakest unit in the program. The Wildcats went 1-13 on third downs while averaging 5.0 yards per pass attempt in a game where they were unable to score until they were already down 21-0. With the Cats’ FCS match-up coming, it looks like that could potentially be their only chance at a win in 2021.

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