As each week passes, the Pac-12 makes less and less sense. As soon as one team establishes themselves as a contender, another team takes them down a peg. Needless to say, trying to make an assessment on the teams in this conference has been stressful, to say the least.
As week 9 approaches, let’s take another (futile) stab at power ranking in this insane conference...
What to Watch For...
Will The Real Contenders Please Stand Up?
Seriously. It seems like there’s been a new #1 team in this poll for the past 5 articles. This conference has torn itself apart with this season. First Stanford, then Washington, then Colorado, then Oregon, no one can decide who is the top team in the conference. As it stands, Wazzu is the top dog in the Pac-12, but that could easily change this next week. Fact is, we all knew conference play would beat up the contenders, but this season has been wild, even for Pac-12 standards. Until 1 team can play consistently well week-in and week-out, your guess is as good as ours as to who will win this conference.
No Playoffs Becoming a Reality...
With the fall of Oregon this past weekend, the Pac-12 has nearly eliminated itself from the CFP. Wazzu stands as the sole contender for a shot at the playoffs. According to fivethirtyeight.com, if Wazzu wins out they would have a 75% chance at making the playoffs, and most likely needing some outside help to get in. Yet, we all know how difficult that is, so let’s assume Wazzu loses 1 more game. That number then drops to less the 1%. The next closest team to have a chance in that scenario would be Washington, who would have to win out just to have a 40% chance to get in. Basically, either the Cougs run the table for a chance, or we will go another year without a representative from the Pac-12 in the CFP.
How Many Bowl Teams Can We Get?
Joe Londergan published an interesting article this past weekend that raised the question of how many teams could the Pac-12 send bowling? Sure, missing out on playoffs (again) would suck, but if over half the teams in the conference could make it to bowl season, that could be a solid representation of the Pac-12. Wazzu and U-Dub already have 6 wins a piece, so they’re locks. Utah, Oregon, Stanford, and Colorado each have 5 wins, so 1 more win for each team will have all of them bowling. Plus, USC and Cal both have 4 wins and a strong chance to get in. That is 8 teams mentioned. Sure, all of them may not get in, but 7 or more teams in bowl season could be a much-needed good turnout for the Pac-12.
Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. #14 Washington State Cougars (6-1 Overall, 3-1 Conference)
The Cougs did it! Holy guacamole the Cougs did it! On a day where College Gameday gave love to Ol’ Crimson, the Cougs pulled off a massive upset and shook up the entire conference, again. Gardner Minshew was impressive and passed for over 300 yards and 4 TDs and carried the Cougs to a win. The most surprising part of the game was the Cougar defense showing up and holding the Ducks to only 20 points. With Stanford and U-Dub still on the schedule, Wazzu controls their own destiny to win the Pac-12 North.
Up Next: @ Stanford
2. #15 Washington Huskies (6-2 Overall, 5-1 Conference)
Washington picked up a win and stayed alive in the Pac-12 after pulling out a tough win against the upstart Buffs to make themselves bowl-eligible. The offense as a whole was meh, but the Husky defense put on a great performance and held the Buffs to just over 260 total yards. The Huskies still have a chance to win the North, as Wazzu and Stanford both remain their biggest threats in the North. Don’t rule the Huskies out of the North just yet.
Up Next: @ Cal
3. #23 Utah Utes (5-2 Overall, 3-2 Conference)
Utah put together arguably their most complete game of the season against a formidable USC team. The Utes dominated the entire game on offense and defense. Tyler Huntley had a strong performance with over 300 yards passing and 5 total TDs, while Zack Moss rushed for over 100 yards to balance the Utes offense. Meanwhile, the defense limited the Trojans to just 205 total yards. The Utes are in the driver seat for the South; just keep winning, and they’ll end up in Santa Clara for the Pac-12 Championship
Up Next: @ UCLA
4. #19 Oregon Ducks (5-2 Overall, 2-2 Conference)
It is so great watching the Ducks lose, but it is absolutely maddening to see another team we thought would be legit crumble under the pressure. The Ducks quickly went down 27-0 at halftime, and were handled for most of the game by the Cougs. After a tremendous outing against U-Dub, the Ducks came crashing down to Earth with this loss. The worst part of it all? The Ducks need losses from Stanford, Washington, and Washington State to get back into the lead for the North. Tacking on their 2nd conference loss hurt the Ducks big time.
Up Next: @ Arizona
5. #24 Stanford Cardinal (5-2 Overall, 3-1 Conference)
The good news for Stanford: The Cardinal got back into the win column and stayed alive in the Pac-12 North. The bad news for Stanford: Bryce Love is not healthy, and the offense is sputtering without him. KJ Costello was efficient and managed to get the job done, while getting help from RB Cameron Scarlett and WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Yet, the Cardinal will need Bryce Love, or someone to shoulder his workload, in order to be competitive for a tough North division.
Up Next: Versus WSU
6. Colorado Buffaloes (5-2 Overall, 2-2 Conference)
Colorado has now suffered back-to-back losses, and has fallen out of the lead in the south. The offense was putrid against the Huskies and couldn’t get going all game. Travon McMillan had a decent game, but just about everyone else on offense struggled. The defense continues to be a strength for the Buffaloes, as they forced 2 turnovers and managed to keep a potent Husky offense to just about 350 total yards. Yet, as long as the offense continues to struggle versus stronger opponents, the Buffs can’t be taken to seriously to compete for the Pac-12 Championship.
Up Next: Versus OSU
7. USC Trojans (4-3 Overall, 3-2 Conference)
This most recent game versus Utah went badly for USC in just about every way possible. They were handled on both sides of the ball, and barely managed to get over 200 total yards against a stout Utes defense. The worst part, however, was JT Daniels suffering an injury that could limit his playing time next week against a Sun Devils team that is looking to get a much needed win. USC should be able to scrape some wins together to become bowl-eligible, but it’s hard to see them competing for the South based on the current trend of the team
Up Next: Versus ASU
8. California Golden Bears (4-3 Overall, 1-3 Conference)
After a horrific loss against awful UCLA, Cal responded in a big way with a dominant win over Oregon State. Patrick Laird was the star of the game, as the bellcow back tallied over 230 total yards and 3 total TDs. The stingy Cal defense also responded by holding a dangerous Beaver offense to under 250 total yards, while forcing 2 turnovers in the process. While Cal may be out of the North race, they still are in prime shape to get to a bowl game with 2 more wins.
Up Next: Versus Washington
9. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-4 Overall, 1-3 Conference)
Arizona State took a narrow loss against Stanford last Thursday night in Tempe. The most frustrating part has to be the fact that out-gained Stanford by over 80 yards, and were in a key drive to tie the game before pitiful clock management squandered their hopes. Still, this Sun Devils team is a feisty group. With Manny Wilkins leading an effective offense, they still have a chance at bowl contention, but they will have to start that climb with a win over a hurt Trojans team this week.
Up Next: @ USC
10. UCLA Bruins (2-5 Overall, 2-2 Conference)
UCLA has now strung back-to-back wins together after taking advantage of a hurt Arizona team. Joshua Kelley put on another strong performance with over 130 yards and a touchdown. The defense still gave up a ton of yards, but they forced 2 turnovers that limited the damage. For the second week in a row, UCLA found a way to get it done. While the wins may be nice for Kelly’s blood pressure, it’s hard to see UCLA pushing for bowl eligibility in a tough conference schedule that still has match-ups against Utah, Stanford, and Oregon.
Up Next: Versus Utah
11. Arizona Wildcats (3-5 Overall, 2-3 Conference)
Arizona gave up a tough loss to lowly UCLA this past weekend. What has been a tough season for the Wildcats was made undoubtedly worse with this game. Still, there are bright spots for U of A. The offense managed to pile over 500 total yards with the backup QB. JJ Taylor and Gary Brightwell each rushed for over 100 yards and WR Shawn Poindexter had a great game for the Wildcats with over 100 yards and 2 TDs. Arizona needs Khalil Tate back ASAP, or they could be looking at another season where they miss out on bowl season.
Up Next: Versus Oregon
12. Oregon State Beavers (1-6 Overall, 0-4 Conference)
Welp, this loss was awful. This might be up there with the Arizona loss as the worst of the season. Nothing worked for Oregon State...Not the offense, not the defense, not the special teams. Everything was all around dreadful. The offense failed to compile 250 total yards while the defense allowed over 500 total yards to a Cal team that had been struggling up to this point in the season. The only touchdown for Oregon State came when the Beavs were still down 21 points. This could be the low point of the season. Jonathan Smith may get the Beavs back on track within a few years, but it’s hard to find positives in a game like this. At least the uniforms are cool.
Up Next: @ Colorado
The Pac-12 race is heating up. Who will take control? What will you be looking for this weekend? Do you agree or disagree with the new Power Rankings?
Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!