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SI Pac-12 Football Power Rankings: UCLA Moves to the Head of the Class

The Pac-12 South suddenly in charge; Cal retains No. 7 ranking despite loss to Nevada.

UCLA has zoomed the top of our Week 2 SI Pac-12 Football Power Rankings, as the South Division flexes its muscles by dominating the upper half of the poll.

The Bruins, coming off a 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU, climbed from No. 6 to No. 1, although the balloting is tight.

UCLA got just one first-place vote from our six-person panel of writers who cover Pac-12 schools for the SI network, but was listed second by the remaining five.

USC remains at No. 2, despite receiving three first-place votes — two more than a week ago — after beating San Jose State 30-7 in a game that was close until the end.

Oregon, after struggling a bit to put away a solid Fresno State team by a 31-24 margin, collected the other two first-place votes but slipped from first to third. None of our other four panelists rated the Ducks higher than third.

Utah and Arizona State retain the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the rankings while Colorado moves from No. 9 to No. 6 after an easy 35-7 win over FCS in-state foe Northern Colorado. Pac-12 South teams occupy five of the top six positions in the rankings.

That’s because everyone else in the Pac-12-- most notable teams from the North -- faltered on the first full weekend of the college schedule. Among North squads, Cal gets the most respect, staying at No. 7 and actually collecting two more votes (35 from 33 a week ago) following a 22-17 home defeat to a Nevada squad expected to rival Fresno State at the top of the Mountain West Conference.

The Bears are the second-highest rated team from the Pac-12 North in this week’s rankings.

The biggest fall, of course, was executed by Washington. UW, ranked No. 3 both last week and in our preseason poll, dropped to No. 8.

The Huskies, formerly ranked No. 20 in the AP Top-25, lost 13-7 to Montana, a lightly regarded FCS opponent. The Grizzlies had lost their past five meetings vs. UW, dating back to 1939, by a combined margin of 137-7.

UW needs to regroup in a hurry: Next up on Saturday is a visit to Michigan for a nationally televised game against coach Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines.

Word is, Michigan might even be better than Montana.

SI PAC-12 FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS

1. UCLA 2-0 (1) 67 points

2. USC 1-0 (3) 66

3. Oregon 1-0 (2) 63

4. Utah 1-0 55

5. Arizona State 1-0 48

6. Colorado 1-0 37

7. Cal 0-1 35

8. Washington 0-1 33

9. Stanford 0-1 23

10. Oregon State 0-1 20

11 tie. Arizona 0-1 11

11 tie. Washington State 0-1 11

DONNIE DRUIN, ALL SUN DEVILS

1. USC; 2. UCLA; 3. Oregon; 4. ASU; 5. Utah; 6. Washington; 7. Colorado; 8. Cal; 9. Oregon State; 10. Washington State; 11. Stanford; 12. Arizona

Comment: Man, what a wild weekend for the Pac-12. UCLA proved itself worthy of jumping a few spots in the rankings, while Washington's loss really stings for their chances to prove how legitimate they are. USC remains atop of my power rankings after Oregon hung on by a thread at home. It's still early on, but our power rankings are sure to see some massive shifts in the first few weeks of the season.

JAKE CURTIS, CAL SPORTS REPORT

1. UCLA, 2. Utah; 3. USC; 4. Oregon; 5. Arizona State; 6. Colorado, 7. Cal, 8. Oregon State, 9. Arizona, 10. Stanford, 11. Washington, 12. Washington State

Comment: Let’s imagine for a moment that there were no preseason polls, no preseason rankings and no preseason predictions. In that expectations vacuum UCLA’s two-game results are clearly the best of the conference, moving them from sixth to the top spot. In the same vein, Washington sinks big time, having lost its only game, at home, to an FCS team.

MAX TORRES, DUCKS DIGEST

1. Oregon; 2. UCLA; 3. USC; 4. Washington; 5. Utah; 6. Arizona State 7. Cal; 8. Stanford; 9. Colorado; 10. Oregon State; 11. Arizona; 12. Washington State

Comment: Oregon narrowly escaped against Fresno State, but they did win, which is something no other Pac-12 North school can say. UCLA looked like the real deal in its upset of LSU. Washington drops a few spots, as the season got off to a rocky start with a loss to FCS Montana after the offense struggled to put points on the board.

SAM CONNON, ALL BRUINS

1. USC; 2. UCLA; 3. Oregon; 4. Utah; 5. Arizona State; 6. Colorado; 7. California; 8. Stanford; 9. Washington; 10. Oregon State; 11. Arizona; 12. Washington State

Comment: While many of the Pac-12 North’s losses were expected, Washington’s collapse against Montana wound up being a stain on the whole conference and Oregon’s was too close for comfort and cost them Kayvon Thibodeaux. The South certainly pulled its weight, so even if USC looked iffy for three and a half quarters, they proved capable of beating a good team in a grind-it-out game. Oh, and then there’s UCLA, who’s hotter than anyone else out West and looks legit moving forward.

CLAUDETTE MONTANA PATTISON, ALL TROJANS

1. Oregon; 2. UCLA; 3. USC; 4. Utah; 5. Arizona State; 6. Colorado; 7. Washington 8. Cal; 9. Stanford; 10. Washington State; 11. Oregon State; 12. Arizona

Comment: UCLA moves up the ranks after an unbelievable win over the LSU Tigers. The Bruins drew back national attention for the Pac-12 conference, with all eyes on Chip Kelly and his team. Washington drops after a brutal loss to the Montana Grizzlies.

DAN RALEY, HUSKY MAVEN

1. USC; 2. UCLA; 3. Oregon; 4. Utah; 5. Arizona State; 6. Cal; 7. Colorado; 8. Washington; 9. Stanford; 10. Oregon State; 11. Washington State; 12. Arizona

Comment: The big news is UCLA is back, with Chip Kelly maybe moving his newer team past his old team in the standings this season. The shocking news is Washington lost. To an FCS opponent. At home. As a ranked team. I don't think the Huskies recover from this faceplant. 

Cover photo of UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet by Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo