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Power Rankings and Bowl Projections

The six better teams won this week, and there was almost no movement in the power rankings. The Utes victory has moved them back into the New Year’s conversation, which is nice. Also, we’re introducing a new feature: division win probabilities.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings

1. Stanford (no change)- Stanford was on a quest for style points on Saturday, and they earned plenty. Colorado had no chance in this lopsided matchup, and now Stanford has just two conference games remaining. Beat Oregon and the North is locked up.

2. Utah (no change)- There was some sloppiness, but the Utes broke their turnover drought and Booker had one of his best games of the season in the cold and rain. They are running out of games to lose, and the playoff is in reach.

3. USC (no change)- Utah’s loss to USC looks better and better as the Trojans keep winning. Arizona gave them a scare, but 6-3 is a solid record, and USC is likely to finish with 8 or 9 wins. That will be good enough for the conference championship if the Utes drop another. Conference play gets an early start on Friday when the Trojans take on Colorado.

4. UCLA (no change)- UCLA showed no mercy to the Beavers, setting up for what they hope will be a win-out scenario to the conference championship. Washington State is a surging program with their own designs on a big run to close out the season, and they’ll look to trip up the Bruins.

5. WSU (no change)- Speaking of the Cougars, they sit right here under the Bruins in our power rankings, ready to move up into the upper echelon. The defense is performing, and the offense is as good as ever. The Rose Bowl awaits.

6. Oregon (no change)- Oregon is finally putting up points, and they managed to stymie the excellent Cal offense all night. It’s probably too little too late, but if they can beat Stanford on Saturday, they’ll be one step closer to the South crown.

7. Washington (+1)- Huskies looked good in a loss to the Utes this weekend. They and Arizona State both sit at 4-5. Next Saturday’s matchup will lead to bowl game desperation for the loser.

8. California (-1)- After a hot start, the spiral continues; the Bears have dropped four straight. Jared Goff couldn’t take advantage of the Oregon secondary and Cal’s defense continues to struggle. Oregon State comes to Berkeley this weekend, so that will hopefully solve Cal’s problems.

9. ASU (no change)- ASU has completely missed their preseason expectations. The rest of the schedule is no cakewalk, and the Sun Devils may miss the post season this year. If Washington takes them down in Tempe, there’s little left to root for.

10. Arizona (no change)- Arizona gave it everything they had, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the firepower of the Trojans. With only two games left, if they can’t beat the Utes this week, they’ll have only one more try to make a bowl game.

11. Colorado (no change)- No upset was in the works this week. Stanford totally destroyed the Buffs, and they only stay at this spot thanks to an even worse performance against a lesser team by their counterpart in the PAC 12 cellar. USC on Friday won’t be any easier.

12. OSU (no change)- OSU didn’t catch a break, but even if they had it wouldn’t have been enough. Cal is desperate and much more talented than the hapless Beavers. 2-10 seems a foregone conclusion.

Bowl Projections

Washington was the big one. The Utes are favored going forward and have a good record projection. UCLA still has a win out path to the championship, but they haven’t played well enough to make it a likely result. Knocking Oregon State’s teeth in doesn’t help much.

With three games left for three eligible teams, there’s only a few dozen paths to the crown and the math is finally manageable. That means I can use FPI to calculate specific division win probabilities. The Utes moved into the favorite position with a tough win over Washington. USC and UCLA still have plenty of ways to get in, but UCLA’s tough schedule makes their odds remote indeed.

The win over Washington convinced everyone but SBNation that the Utes would earn a New Year’s Bowl berth by season’s end. Most have the Utes in the PAC 12 champion, but to a man they all pick Stanford to win that game and head on to greater glory. The Utes still have a lot of people to prove wrong.