After Week 1 (After Week 2 responses come later on after the jump)
Which division would you consider the best in the Pac-12?
There was a lot of hype about the North being the best division in college football going into this year, but at first glance it's starting to look like that prediction could be an absolute bust. Washington and Stanford struggled with pedestrian opponents. Cal laid an egg at home against Nevada. Washington State looks another year away after getting pantsed by BYU. Barring a massive rehaul in Corvallis, Oregon is in prime position to cruise to the Pac-12 Championship once again.
But what about the South?
Utah's defense looked absolutely dominant against a crappy foe, which should be enough to carry them to eight-nine wins. Arizona State's offense is starting to look like an alternative Oregon with the way they rack up points and their fresh new get-ups. UCLA is probably a step behind those two, but you have to like the talent they have now that they have a gamer at quarterback. Arizona has at least proven they can rack up yards, even if capitalizing on that offense is still an issue. Only Colorado looks overwhelmed by the proceedings. But that's four teams that could at least give USC a heck of a time on the way to the Pac-12 Championship.
Which division would you pick as the better one, top to bottom?
thecassino, UW Dawg Pound: I think it's dangerous to draw too many conclusions from Week 1 games. So many teams are still figuring stuff out, and you never really know just how good the nonconference foes actually are.Last season, the North was completely dominant over the South, and that's not going to completely change in the span of one season. The North teams didn't look as good, but they also played teams that are head and shoulders above who the South played. San Jose state is a program that is improving under Mike MacIntyre. San Diego State has been a very good MWC for a few years now. BYU wins a ton of games every year. Nevada has gone to 7 straight bowl games. Those are dangerous teams to open against, and it's a lot easier to look good against Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona and Rice. When all is said and done the North is going to win the majority of the cross divisional matchups, though it probably won't match the 17-9 record it posted against the South in 2011.
Jack Follman: While I did think the North division would be pretty strong heading into the season, I think best in the country would be a huge stretch with Alabama and LSU, maybe the nation's two best team along with Arkansas and some other good teams all being in one division in the SEC. I think both of the Big 10 divisions are fairly strong too and the Pac-12's best team isn't even in the North.
I don't think you can take too much from an opening weekend, but the Pac-12 overall didn't look very good, especially the North. Going into the season, I would have said that the North was overwhelmingly stronger than the South, but after one week, I would give a slight edge to the South. I think USC is a little better than Oregon and Utah possibly the third best team. I think there will then be a group of average teams that are very similar with Washington, Oregon State, Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State and two bad teams with Colorado and Washington State, but I think the South's average teams looked better in week one than the North's did.
Overall though, I think with the possible recession of Stanford, that the conference will be viewed as "USC, Oregon and everyone else" unless Stanford can sustain or a school like Utah, Washington or UCLA can step up. While I don't think this is ideal, it is a step up from recent history when it was always just viewed as "USC, and everyone else.
Cory Williams, House of Sparky: If you're comparing from top to bottom, you must give the nod to the Pac-12 South. USC and Oregon can be considered equals, so you must go bottom 5 in each.
For all the talk (hope?) of chinks in the armor at both Oregon and USC, both teams are still as explosive as need be. California has come up with some clunky play (which wasn't that big of a surprise), but Stanford might have snapped out of their opening day funk. We'll know a lot more after they face the Trojans. Washington's issues could be a product of how good their opposition was as much as any problems they have. And of course Oregon St. has a win of national importance, and Colorado has a loss to Sacramento St. And while it wasn't pretty, Washington St. is right where they were expected to be, and how that happened won't matter in a month.
The Pac has a tendency in modern times to balance itself out over time, and the incomplete evidence so far doesn't suggest that it has changed.
In the South, four teams have looked really solid so far. The Arizona schools have wildly exceeded my expectations, and UCLA is playing with an edge on defense they haven't had recently. Sure, Colorado is awful, and Utah lost a game they shouldn't have, but Colorado is really the only bad team in this division at this point.
We'll get a better feel in a few weeks, but at this point, I would put the South on top in a Power ranking.
norcalnick: The South Division somehow found out what I wrote last week, because Arizona, Arizona St. and UCLA look to have proven that my skepticism was badly misplaced.
Much of the North's perceived pre-season advantage rested on the troika of Stanford, Washington and Cal battling it out behind USC and Oregon. Many (most?) have dismissed Cal and Washington after four iffy performances, and that trend will only intensify as Cal and UW pick up losses to ranked teams because of front-loaded schedules. While there's no doubting that UCLA, Arizona and ASU have proven much more, I'm one of the few who believe that both Cal and Washington will bounce back to at least be competitive with the rest of the teams fighting for the scraps left behind by the Trojans and Ducks.
Jeff Nusser, CougCenter: How dare you suggest that WSU has been flat-out bad! We beat one of the best teams in the country! (What? That was an FCS team?)
In all seriousness, when talking about the strength of a division, I look at the bottom, and right now, WSU, UW and Cal all aren't good -- none of them have loaded/reloaded the way we expected. The Air Raid has sputtered in Pullman, Washington's line is a flat-out disaster (if you're trying to run a pro style offense, you better have good line play), and while I didn't see Cal's loss to Nevada, the view from 800 miles is that it's fair to wonder if Tedford's message is getting through anymore.
In the South? Colorado might be the worst major conference team in the country, and Utah is fairly screwed without competent quarterback play. But where the three seemingly upwardly mobile schools in the North have struggled, ASU, UCLA and Arizona all look not just better, but much better than we expected. And even Utah will continue to be a tough out for people with that elite defense.
Gun to my head, I'd say the South, simply because of the quality depth that doesn't appear to be there in the North.