Nice to finally get a Pac-12 win...but the season is still in question, and the win didn't answer any questions. It's likely that Oregon St. finishes the season 2-10, and really weren't the test we need to qualify the ability of this Utah team with Hays at the helm...but that's coming up this weekend. Arizona is a legitimate opponent, regardless of their current record.
As always, here's the definitions...rankings after the jump...
Tier 0 — Elite team. This team doesn’t lose a game, might have a "scare" from a Tier 2 team at worst…national championship material.
Tier 1 — Great teams. These are the teams who finish with 11 wins, go to a BCS game…finish in the top 10.
Tier 2 — Good teams. These are the teams who finish with 8-10 wins, finish ranked in the top 25 or just outside at worst.
Tier 3 — Above average teams. These are the teams that finish with 6-7 wins. Some will make a bowl game & possibly make it to 8 wins, but won’t be ranked.
Tier 4 — Average teams. These are the teams who will win 3-5 games.
Tier 5 — Below average teams. These are the teams who win 1-2 games. (Keep in mind that if they were in the MWC…these teams would likely finish with 4-7 wins)
Tier 6 -- Poor teams. A team that finishes with 0 wins in the Pac-12...(would finish with around 2-3 wins in the MWC)
Tier 7 -- Terrible teams. A team who finishes with 0-1 win in a non-AQ conference.
During "The Grind", a team from a tier up to two below your team's tier could beat you. That would be credited to "The Grind" (CLICK HERE to read more about "The Grind"). So a Tier 1 team might lose to a Tier 3 team…but never to a Tier 4 or 5.
A Tier 3 team might beat anyone or lose to anyone from Tier 1 to Tier 5…creating that "Middle" in the Pac-12 that is so hard to predict. Even a Tier 2, ranked in the top 25, team has the potential to lose to an average team.
…and with rivalry games, all bets are off. That is the nature of a rivalry.
Stanford – Nearly lost their shot at the title. Give some credit to USC, who looks to be hitting their stride. I still think that the National Championship game is Stanford's to lose. but they're going to need to beat Oregon to get back into Tier 0.
Oregon - Just another ho-hum win. Next week will be a test...Oregon better not get caught looking forward to the Stanford game, or I could see Washington tripping them up.
ASU - Not much to be said after the Colorado game. It almost felt like a second bye week.
USC - Pushed Stanford to the brink, so even in a loss I don't think they deserve to be dropped. I hope Barkley, Woods & McNeal declare for the draft this year.
Washington - Good win vs. a rebounding Arizona. Strange to think, but it may have been the Huskies best win of the year. For the moment, they're on the lower fringe of Tier 2.
UCLA - The Bruins are a very Jekyll & Hyde team. Remember that they are still somehow in the hunt for the Pac-12 South...I could see them beating ASU next week, and then melting down vs. Utah...or losing to ASU, and bouncing back for the win @ Utah. Regardless, Neuheisel needs to win both to keep his job safe...so this becomes a dangerous team every week until the end of the season.
Cal - Welcome to our world Cal. Granted, the Bears kept it interesting until the 4th Q, but ultimately the turnovers doomed them. Should be able to get bowl eligible before facing Stanford & ASU over the final 2 weeks of the season.
Utah - One more win, and I could see this Utah team as deserving of Tier 3 status...but it's going to be a tough one to get. Utah obviously has to grind out any wins they're getting going forward. I believe the defense can stop Arizona if Utah can win the TO & ToP battle. Need to keep the D off the field as much as possible...that seems to be the key to victory for us this year.
Arizona - Clinging to a slim hope of bowl eligibility, this week's game is going to be played with a lot of emotion since they can't lose another game. Foles will test the secondary, but if they don't get out to an early lead, I see Utah winning this game late.
Washington St. - Facing a pretty bleak future...but there is still the opportunity to get bowl eligible even with a loss. Big test this Saturday @ Cal...with ASU the following week. They need to get the win over Cal, otherwise the season is essentially dead to rights.
Oregon St. - Love their fans...hate their kicker. Anyone else see that clown celebrating & taunting the crowd after he missed his 2nd FG? I hope he's around next year... Unfortunately for this year, I don't see another win on the schedule for the Beavers...and they would have to win out just to get bowl eligible. Tough season.
Colorado - Slowly slipping toward Tier 6 status.
As usual...I'd love to hear your thoughts.