The Pac-12 featured USC and Oregon as consensus top-five teams entering 2012, but only one other team appeared in the Associated Press top-25 poll -— Stanford at No. 21. And only Washington garnered any mentions in the “Others receiving votes” category, which effectively ranked the next 19 teams.
Now, after last Saturday’s games, the conference is much better represented in the poll, with five ranked teams — USC at No. 2, Oregon at No. 4, Stanford at No. 21, UCLA at No. 22 and Arizona at No. 24. Oregon State and Arizona State also earned notice with 77 and 10 points, respectively.
The upward movement resulted from a weekend in which each of these teams, except Oregon, defeated opponents from BCS automatic qualifying conferences, including three upsets of ranked schools.
The conference’s weekend showing wasn’t completely positive, however, as its newest members Colorado and Utah both lost to significant underdogs, and Washington was beaten handily by No. 3 LSU, 41-3.
Oregon stayed at No. 4 in the poll, but its secondary suffered a substantial loss when news broke early Sunday morning that senior safety John Boyett needed to undergo season-ending knee surgery to repair partial tears of both patellar tendons. With 278 career tackles and 10 interceptions, he is one of the premier safeties in the nation.
Boyett, a 2011 Pac-12 first-team selection, played in Oregon’s opening 57-34 win over Arkansas State, registering an interception. He did not dress for last Saturday’s 42-25 win over Fresno State.
“The hope was, through different treatments and certain types of rehab during this past offseason, [my knees] would heel up and I’d be ready to go for my senior year,” Boyett said in a prepared statement to the Napa Valley Register. “But unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned.”
Boyett has yet to decide whether, following his recovery, he will declare for the 2013 NFL draft or apply to the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver that would allow him to return to Oregon for another year.
In other Pac-12 injury news, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham announced Monday that starting senior quarterback Jordan Wynn will retire from football following a left shoulder injury he suffered last Friday night in an overtime loss to Utah State.
There’s a possibility his injury will require surgery, which would mark Wynn’s fourth shoulder surgery since 2009.
Wynn starred as a freshman, capping his season by earning MVP honors in Utah’s Poinsettia Bowl victory. But injuries soon took their toll, as Wynn managed to start a mere 14 combined games from 2010-11.
Wittingham will name his new starting quarterback at some point this week. The two primary candidates are senior Jon Hays and freshman Travis Wilson.