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Power Rankings and Bowl Projections

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A bunch of top shelf teams tumble this week and the PAC 12’s playoff aspirations go up in smoke. There’s still a tremendous amount to play for in what looks to be another wild finish in the conference.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings

1. USC (+2)- USC struggled with Colorado, but ultimately came away with the win. The same couldn’t be said for the teams ahead of them. Without the toxic Sarkisian situation dragging them down, the superior talent of the Trojans is putting them in position to win the south. Utah fans everywhere are rooting hard for the Ducks this Saturday.

2. Stanford (-1)- Stanford had no answers for Oregon’s high-powered offense and lost their shot at a playoff berth. A stranglehold on the division crown has also loosened, but this is still one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Cal is looking to spoil Stanford’s quest for the North next week.

3. WSU (+2)- A big jump for the Cougars. Hard to believe this is the same squad that coughed up a victory to an FCS team to open the season. There’s no path to the North crown this year, but Wazzou has arrived in a big way. They get an easy matchup against Colorado next week.

4. Utah (-2)- Much like Stanford, Utah couldn’t slow the Arizona offense enough, and an endless parade of heartbreaking mistakes kept them from coming away with the victory. The Utes now need some help to get back into the front spot in the South. A win over UCLA is an absolute must.

5. Oregon (+1)- Oregon looks like Oregon, and they put a big time hurt on the Cardinal, preventing overtime with a pass breakup on a two point conversion. USC is next, and Utah fans are hoping that Oregon keeps looking like Oregon.

6. UCLA (-2)- WSU’s surprising defense was too much for the Bruins, and they fall hard in the power rankings as a result. Utah’s loss means that the Bruins still control their own destiny, but a pair of road games against two of the best teams in the conference is a tall order for a team that just hasn’t looked that good. Salt Lake City is first.

7. Cal (+1)- There’s nothing like a matchup against Oregon State to make a team look flawless, and the Bears did exactly that. They hope to be rounding into form as they head to Stanford for the Big Game. If they can knock off the Cardinal, they North will suddenly be wide open.

8. Arizona (+2)- Arizona pulled itself out of the cellar by knocking off the PAC 12’s last playoff hope, and locked in a trip to a bowl game this winter. The Wildcat’s bye week comes in week 13, so a matchup against Arizona State closes out a disappointing season for Rich Rodriguez.

9. ASU (no change)- ASU locked it down defensively and overcame a sizeable deficit to knock off Washington and keep realistic bowl hopes alive. It’s a lost season for the Sun Devils, but if they can beat the Wildcats next week, that will at least soothe a few wounds.

10. Washington (-4)- Just when you think the Huskies have it figure out, they remind you of how bad their offense is. They were totally unable to score in the second half, despite running out to a big lead. They’ve got to win out to make a bowl game, which starts with a road trip to Oregon State.

11. Colorado (no change)- So, so close, Buffs. Alas, Colorado is once again asking what might have been as they failed to upset the mighty Trojans. They’ll make another upset bid against the Cougars this weekend, who are 15 point home favorites.

12. OSU (no change)- Yeah. No.

Bowl Projections

Utah’s loss has knocked them out of a position of strength in the PAC 12 South and all but eliminated them from playoff contention (if Michigan were to win the Big 10 and Notre Dame loses to Stanford, Utah could sneak in at 11-2). There’s still a ton to play for, with big time bowl matchups and division bragging rights on the line.

The model figured that the Utes would lose one of these last three games, so this loss hasn’t impacted their odds very much. 10-2 is still a likely landing spot, as the Utes are favored over UCLA and have a gimme against Colorado to close out the season. That would be a regular season Ute fans can be proud of, even though there were some painful missed opportunities.

The division is far from out of reach; the Utes just need USC to drop a game. Since the Trojans square off against Oregon on the road and UCLA at home, there’s ample opportunities for them to take a fall. Meanwhile, Stanford’s loss to Oregon opens the door a crack. A lot of dominoes still need to fall to get Oregon into the title game, but there’s now a realistic chance.

No more playoff talk for the PAC 12, which is feeling the effects of critical out of conference losses by Stanford, Oregon, and USC. The conference has certainly eaten itself, but without those losses the entire landscape would be different, and there would be ample room for Stanford or even a two loss dark horse to sneak in. The Utes’ projected bowl opponents are still excellent. Barring a total meltdown to an 8-4 finish, this has been an extraordinarily successful season for one of coach Whittingham’s better teams. UCLA awaits.