1. Oregon (+2)- Despite Vernon Adams’ broken finger, Oregon was able to take care of business against their lowly FCS opponent. Questions linger about the Ducks’ defense, and Utah comes to Autzen next Saturday hoping to knock them off their perch.
2. UCLA (no change)- Josh Rosen showed his freshman side against BYU, but the Bruins pulled out a win against a ranked non-conference opponent, the first such victory for the PAC this season. With USC going down, UCLA is the presumptive favorite in the South.
3. Arizona (+1)- Arizona was dominant wire to wire and looks to be rounding into form as the conference schedule approaches. A major game awaits as UCLA comes into town next week.
4. Utah (+1)- Despite some sloppiness in the fourth quarter, the Utes showed their physical dominance as they pounded Fresno State into submission. The Utes could begin their conference schedule with a blast if they put down the Ducks at home.
5. Stanford (+3)- The Cardinal have left behind their embarrassing loss to Northwestern (who are starting to look like a contender themselves) and toppled the Trojans in Los Angeles. Next week’s game against Oregon State should be an easy win if they are anywhere near as good as they looked on Saturday.
6. USC (-5)- The Trojans looked disjointed and overmatched as they fell to the Cardinal. In the wild South, a loss outside the division can spell the end of any hope of the divisional title. USC had better figure it out in a hurry; ASU is next.
7. Cal (-1)- Cal put a late rally together that looked to put the Texas game out of reach, but they let the Longhorns creep back into it. A shanked extra point was the difference between a win and overtime. The Bears have yet to log a signature win that shows they can compete for the conference title.
8. ASU (-1)- The Sun Devils won by 24 against New Mexico, but it was a much tougher road than it should have been. ASU continues to underperform week in and week out, and they continue to slide in the polls as a result.
9. Washington (no change)- Washington looked explosive and complete against Utah State at home. Next week’s game against Cal, who also has to head to Husky Stadium, promises to straighten out the North pecking order.
10. Oregon State (+2)- The Beavers looked good against San Jose State, a team that isn’t a total pushover. Stanford’s trip to Corvallis will give us a lot of information about both teams.
11. Washington State (-1)- WSU beat Wyoming pretty soundly, but didn’t do more than expected against one of the weaker Cowboys teams in recent memory. They continue to linger at the bottom of the conference; they’ll have to wait a week before they get a chance to make a statement.
12. Colorado (-1)- The musical chairs at the bottom of the conference continues. Colorado struggled to put away their rival, but ultimately came away with the W. Wins promise to be harder to come by after next week’s laugher against Nicholls State.
The Utes’ schedule stiffened, and FPI was not impressed with their performance against Fresno State. There’s a glut of 9-3 projections at the top of the conference, and Cal and Arizona are attempting to separate themselves from the pack and project to an 8-4 record.
The Utes still project as most likely a 7-5 team, but are starting to lean towards a 8-4 or better record being more likely than a 6-6 or worse. A bowl game looks like a near lock at this point; the Utes have over a 91% change to get at least six wins. As FPI starts to settle in, the Utes are going to need a big upset to shift their projections. A win at Oregon, where FPI projects only about a 20% chance of victory, would be a huge step in the right direction.
The Mountain West is not the class of the G5 conferences this year, and their best team will likely have too many losses to make it past the Vegas bowl. The PAC 12’s tendency to eat itself and poor non-conference showing have cost the conference, as a 10-3 conference champion is not projected to make the playoff by any press service or BlockU’s projections. Except for SBNation, Utah is slotted for interesting bowl games against Big 12 opponents or a team from the ACC. The general outlook will improve dramatically if the Utes can pull off the upset in Autzen.