Considered a handful of subjects for this edition of the Pac-12 ratings, including a review of significant injuries and what they mean, but ultimately settled on a topic that can be best summed up in four words:
It's Oregon State's world.
(At least for this week.)
Forget beating UCLA in the Rose Bowl, entering the national rankings for the first time in two years and threatening to reconfigure the Pac-12 pecking order.
How can you not give major kudos to a team that goes to In-N-Out after victories.
Much as I love In-N-Out -- Five Guys is good; In-N-Out is better -- that's not the reason for focusing on Oregon State.
The Beavers' unexpected success after two bad years highlights the bigger picture:
Mike Riley is a very good coach, and he was a very good coach in 2010-11 even when OSU was struggling. But in Corvallis, as in Pullman and even Tucson (to a lesser extent), there is far less margin for error.
You miss on a few offensive line recruits -- either good ones sign elsewhere or players you sign don't pan out -- and it can wreck a season.
Or two seasons.
To me, what happened to OSU in 2010-11 simply underscores the remarkable job Riley and his staff did in the 2006-09 window, when the Beavers averaged nine wins per year.
(Look around the country at schools with limited tradition and small recruiting bases: There aren't many that win big year after year after year.)
If the Beavers can find a way to win in Tucson this week -- they're the only team in the Pac-12 that begins league play with back-to-back roadies -- then watch out: The remaining schedule sets up for a big year.
1. Oregon (4-0, 1-0)
Last week: 1st.
Result: Beat Arizona 49-0.
Next up: vs. Washington State (in Seattle).
Comment: It will take weeks, if not months, for the rest of the nation to catch on to the fact that Oregon's O isn't as good as Oregon's D.
2. Stanford (3-0, 1-0)
Last week: 2nd.
Next up: at Washington (Thursday).
Comment: Wouldn't read much into Cardinal opponents being 9-0 in all other games. Best win by USC, San Jose State and Duke is the Trojans over 1-3 Syracuse.
3. USC (3-1, 1-1)
Last week: 3rd.
Result: Beat Cal 27-9.
Next up: Bye, then at Utah on Oct. 4.
Comment: Abbreviated bye will allow Matt Barkley to get back to being Matt Barkley.
4. Oregon State (2-0, 1-0)
Last week: 6th.
Result: Won at UCLA 27-20.
Next up: at Arizona.
Comment: Beavers have won five in a row in Tucson. Best bet for winning No. 6: Let Arizona start every possession in the red zone.
5. UCLA (3-1, 0-1)
Last week: 4th.
Result: Lost to Oregon State 27-20.
Next up: at Colorado.
Comment: Meanwhile, the Bruins hit the road for three of their next four (Colorado, Cal and ASU) with a home date vs. struggling Utah sprinkled in.
6. Arizona (3-1, 0-1)
Last week: 5th.
Result: Lost at Oregon 49-0.
Next up: vs. Oregon State.
Comment: 'Cats played much better than score from Eugene indicates, except in the red zone.
7. Arizona State (3-1, 1-0)
Last week: 7th.
Result: Beat Utah 37-7.
Next up: at Cal.
Comment: Finally, Sun Devils face an opponent that will have its No. 1 quarterback available.
8. Washington (2-1, 0-0)
Last week: 10th.
Next up: vs. Stanford (Thursday).
Comment: Moved UW up two spots by default: Neither Utah nor Cal deserved the 8-hole after last week's showings.
9. Cal (1-3, 0-1)
Last week: 9th.
Result: Lost at USC 27-9.
Next up: vs. Arizona State.
Comment: Worth repeating: The Nevada loss was an absolute killer: Bears must win five of their last eight to get bowl eligible, and they still have Stanford and Oregon.
10. Utah (2-2, 0-1)
Last week: 8th.
Result: Lost at Arizona State 37-7.
Next up: Bye, then vs. USC on Oct. 4.
Comment: Utes had better take full advantage of their break with Trojans, Bruins (road) and Beavers (road) in succession. Season could turn ugly in a hurry.
11. Colorado (1-3, 1-0)
Last week: 13th.
Result: Won at Washington State 35-34 (!!!!!!!!!)
Next up: vs. UCLA.
Comment: All credit to Buffs for rally in Pullman. Win this week, and we might start to think you aren't awful.
12. Washington State (2-2, 0-1)
Last week: 12th.
Result: Lost to Colorado 35-34.
Next up: vs. Oregon (in Seattle).
Comment: Good thing Cougs play a cupcake this week as they recover from Colorado meltdown.