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Power Rankings and Bowl Projections

The teams that were supposed to win did, for the most part, but the manner in which they won has introduced a lot of chaos into the power rankings. Meanwhile, the divisional races are looking surprisingly settled and the Utes are in the driver’s seat in the South.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings

(Daniel will be back next week)

1. Utah (no change)- Utah’s win over ASU was pretty dominant- the ‘Devils offense only managed 3 points they really earned, and Travis Wilson handled the ‘stop Booker at any cost’ defense very well indeed. A win over USC would almost seal the deal in the South.

2. Stanford (no change)- Stanford put the hurt on UCLA, and are looking like the team to beat in the North this year. They’ve only got a one game conference lead, so they have to keep winning to keep it that way. Next week’s Washington game would be a nice North victory.

3. Cal (no change)- Cal didn’t lose any ground on their bye week. They head to the Rose Bowl with an opportunity to make a statement that they can hang with Stanford in the north.

4. ASU (+1)- The Sun Devils loss looked a little better than the teams behind them, and they continue to look like the team with the best chance to take over the Utes’ spot, although they now need some help. They get a bye week, something of a trend for teams after they play the Utes. Coincidence?

5. WSU (+4)- The Cougars might be pretty good this year, awful FCS loss notwithstanding. They are picking up the turnovers they need to stay solvent on defense, and the air raid is as tough to stop as ever. They travel to Arizona in a game that suddenly looks like a toss-up.

6. Oregon (+4)- Washington State and Utah both look like decent losses, and Oregon beat a Washington team that looked to be on the rise. The return of Vernon Adams has allowed this team to be part of the discussion again.

7. UCLA (-3)- The injuries that decimated the interior of the UCLA defense were on full display against Stanford, who ran over, around, and through them all game long. They get Cal at home, an opportunity to make a statement and stay relevant in the South race.

8. Washington (-2)- The Huskies made it 12 in a row, and just can’t shake the Oregon curse. They head to Stanford hoping to rack up another major upset in a season that feels a lot like Utah’s in 2013.

9. USC (-2)- USC fought valiantly (fought on?), but couldn’t overcome a few Notre Dame swing plays en route to a loss in this epic rivalry. Utah comes to town next, an opportunity for USC to reassert itself as the true power in the conference, now that the distractions of Coach Sarkisian are gone.

10. Arizona (-2)- The Wildcats didn’t lose, but they easily could have. There doesn’t look to be anything about this team that separates them from Colorado. They are favored against the Cougars by more than a touchdown, but that seems a little high with how they’ve played of late.

11. Colorado (no change)- Chalk this up in the ever-grown ‘close but no cigar’ column for the Buffs. Next up is Oregon State. Colorado should really win this game because…

12. OSU (no change)- This is a bad football team.

Bowl Projections

Utah’s win was pretty dominant, statistically. Apart from a handful of unusual swing plays on special teams, the Utes stifled the ASU offense and put plenty of points on the board. Pretty much what you expected. Bowl projections are still holding the undefeated Utes out of the playoffs, likely awaiting the result of this game. Another Oregon performance would turn the Utes into a team everyone could expect to finish the regular season undefeated. Even without it, though, the Utes are looking at a very good record and a New Year’s bowl as the most likely landing spot.

These numbers make it look like USC is totally out of the mix, but since last week’s loss was to Notre Dame, it doesn’t impact the conference race. There are still countless paths to the South championship for multiple teams. I’ll start giving you conference championship odds updates after the Oregon State game. Right now, with a two game lead and only six to go, it’s the Utes to lose.

Mostly very attractive bowl matchups, with the Mountain West having fallen on hard times. If the Utes play a Group of 5 team, it’ll be an intriguing matchup like Houston or Memphis, not a Mountain West rematch. Iowa is a unique team, with a jello-soft schedule and an excellent shot at heading to the Big 10 championship undefeated and totally over-matched. Only ESPN has the Utes in the playoff; the national media seems to have adopted this weekend’s tilt at USC as the ‘show me’ game. Knock off the Trojans and the Utes are truly in business.