1. Utah (+3)- The Utes’ victory didn’t require crazy turnovers or improbable bounces (although a few big plays did widen the margin). They dominated Oregon in every phase of the game, on the road. A bye week provides much needed healing time.
2. UCLA (no change)- Speaking of dominant victories, UCLA marched into Arizona’s stadium and laid them out cold. There was never any doubt in this lopsided contest, and UCLA is now at the top of most post-season PAC 12 projections. ASU is coming to the Rose Bowl next.
3. Stanford (+2)- Another week, another dominant victory for Stanford. The listless, offensively challenged loss to Northwestern (who are undefeated and ranked 16, by the way) is ancient history. The North looks wide open, and Stanford could become the favorite with a win vs. Arizona next week.
4. USC (+2)- USC bounced back from a tough loss to Stanford by pulverizing Arizona State. Up 35-0 at the half, the Trojans are doing everything they can to make sure that the conversation about the PAC 12 South includes three teams. The Trojans also get a bye this week.
5. Cal (+2)- The Bears survived a late rally from Washington to stay undefeated. They don’t have a marquee victory that puts them in the discussion at the top of the conference, but they do get a soft opponent in WSU on their way to a major matchup against the Utes in week 6.
6. Oregon (-5)- Oregon’s preseason hype has completely deflated. Big wins over overmatched teams don’t mean much when you can’t beat any of the good teams you play. This team is still dangerous and talented, and Colorado is likely in for a long night on Saturday.
7. Arizona (-4)- The Wildcats are the second of three well-respected teams who have done nothing with their preseason hype. Mental errors and a lack of intensity compounded the personnel mismatch and led to an embarrassing loss by the Wildcats. Unlike Oregon, there’s no get-right game here as they head to Stanford next week.
8. ASU (no change)- There’s no respect left for the Sun Devils, who have looked pedestrian at best in every game. Is this a team struggling to find an identity, or is there just nothing there to create wins? A visit to the Rose Bowl doesn’t give them much opportunity to answer these questions; ASU is staring at a 2-3 start.
9. Washington (no change)- Washington has looked much further along than most expected, but didn’t produce a result that earned them a move up in losing to Cal. They should continue to improve over their bye week, and figure to make trouble for somebody over the rest of the season.
10. Colorado (+2)- Colorado put together a solid game against Nicholls State, handling business. They are on top of the bottom-feeder rotation this week. If they can upset Oregon at home next week, they’ll move out of the basement.
11. OSU (-1)- Oregon State showed some life against Stanford, but was clearly far outmatched. Andersen’s rebuilding project gets a breather from a bye week.
12. WSU (-1)- The Cougars couldn’t even beat the bye week, dropping down to the bottom of the conference on the strength of decent efforts by OSU and Colorado. Classic PAC 12 after dark would mean upsetting Cal on the road on Saturday afternoon.
In math as in life. The Utes took a massive jump in FPI (from 39 to 19) and won a 20% game, putting them firmly in the conference championship and playoff discussion. They aren’t quite on the level of USC and UCLA, but for the first time this season they have a real opportunity to go 12-0.
The Utes now project as a 9-3 squad, with a heavy lean towards 10-2 or 11-1. In fact, they project to end the season with a 9-3 or better record 75% of the time. There’s a 99% chance of making a bowl game, and most of that 1% is rounding error. The Utes got the upset they needed; this is what success looks like.
Welcome to the big time, Utes fans. The Utes are projected to play in the Rose Bowl by two different pollsters, and BlockU’s projections give them a marquee bowl game against an excellent TCU team which is just loaded with interesting storylines. I’m not sure who spit in CBS Sport’s soup; they give the Utes the 5th spot in the conference and a trip to the Sun bowl. A little chaos in the South while the Utes tend their wounds would be huge for their postseason hopes.