The 2015 college football season is now officially over. I am not one for eulogies, but before I move on I would like to hold a minute of silence to contemplate all that it has given us and how much we will miss its passing...
As hard as it is for us college fans to say goodbye to football season, I feel it's part of the grieving process to look back and argue about the season and its results - which brings me to the reason for this post. The ESPN Pac-12 blog recently published the Final 2015 Pac-12 Power Rankings: Stanford finishes on top with the preface that:
This takes into account the entire season -- conference record, head-to-head results, final standings and other elements. If you don’t like where you’re ranked, play better next season.
The writer, Kevin Gemmell (who actually is one of the better bloggers next to Ted Miller) then ranks the PAC-12 teams in this order:
- Washington State
- Oregon State
Now while I respect Kevin (and am thankful he has taken a few of my questions and input in his mailbag), I disagree with his rankings. I think that final rankings should not factor in injuries and their 'what-if" impact on performance, and should factor in bowl performances, all while weighing most heavily on total in-conference and out-of-conference performance. With this is mind, here are my Final PAC-12 rankings for the 2015 Football Year:
Stanford: there is no argument on who should be the number 1 PAC-12 team, it is the one who won the conference championship and thoroughly embarrassed Iowa in the Rose Bowl - and I am not just talking about the band performance. Stanford hands down had the most solid team this year, and if it weren't for the slip-up at Northwestern, likely would have had a chance to represent the PAC-12 in the College Football Playoffs. Overall, a 12-2 season with a 8-1 conference record earns them the top spot.
Utah: this is were the arguments start, and while yes I am a biased Ute fan, hear me out. First of all, Utah had the second best overall record of 10-3 and beat two end-of-the-season (AP Poll) ranked teams in Michigan and Oregon compared to Oregon who may have had a slightly better conference record (7-2 vs Utah's 6-3), but only beat 1 ranked team (Stanford) along the way - and may I say, lost to Utah 62-20! Plus Utah won their bowl game, representing the PAC-12 well. If the rankings are not based on talent potential/hypothetical what-ifs, but on cold, hard results, Utah should be put up in the 2nd place spot.
Oregon: despite their mind-blowing loss to TCU in the bowl game, Oregon had a great season with just a few pitfalls. When Oregon was banging on all cylinders, A.K.A. Vernon Adams was healthy, they were a team to be reckoned with, beating the PAC-12's top team Stanford and taking the college-football-playoff recognized Michigan State to the wire. Unfortunately, Oregon did have a few injuries and ended up with a 9-4 record, including giving up a 35-0 point lead in a nationally televised game. Let's face it, Utah was in a very similar bowl situation, but they finished right, and so I say the Utes also finished right in my rankings.
USC: this is where I have and likely will receive a lot of push back in the rankings with the argument of "USC beat Utah and was the South's representative in the conference title game." To that I say while USC may be arguably the most talented team in the PAC-12, they did not perform that way on a week-to-week basis like a top team should. Or translated into comment section speak "6 losses - nuff said." USC's went 8-6 in the overall season with a conference 6-3 record . Yes, USC lost their head coach mid-season and yes they only lost to top-tier teams (except the Washington game, which is another argument in itself), but in the end, they lost six games and ended with nearly the same season record as CAL and UCLA. USC may have gotten the better of Utah (who was the only ranked team they beat), but Utah performed better if you are looking at the season as a whole, and not just one game, ending with the same 6-3 conference record. In other words, USC may have won the battle vs Utah, but they lost the war.
Washington State: this pass-happy team made great strides in defense this year, and nearly beat Stanford if it weren't for a botched field goal. WSU boasts a 9 win season, like Oregon, finishing with a impressive 6-3 conference record. While the loss to Washington was a set-back, they performed much better than many anticipated and beat 1 ranked team in Oregon. I personally am glad Utah did not have to face this pass-happy team, as it tends to be a the Ute's kryptonite.
UCLA: if there is one team who had a bad case of injury-bug luck, its UCLA. UCLA lost three NFL-caliber players at all three levels of the defense, which resulted in a 8-5 total season and 5-4 conference record. Plus, they lost to a 5-7 Nebraska in their final game of the year. If there is any consolation for this team with such high potential, it is that their young QB Josh Rosen has shown incredible potential with what I believe was the most impressive touchdown pass of the season.
CAL: oh CAL, you stared off the season so well - which us Ute fans thank you for as it brought Game-day to Rice Eccles - but then your 2-5 end-of-the-season skid left you with a 4-5 conference record and a 8-5 total season (thanks to the bowl win against Air Force, which was thoroughly one of the most entertaining games in a bowl season full of duds). In the end, CAL won games but not enough and didn't beat anyone impressive. That being said, 8-5 looks much better than 1-11 which they were a few years ago.
Washington: if there is one team that impressed me, it was Washington. Not only did they boast a statistically better defense than Utah, they did so after losing so much NFL-defensive talent. This team is young, and played like it sometimes, but showed us this season of their scary potential. I predict this team to end much higher these next 2-3 years. As for this year, they ended with a 7-6 season, with a 4-5 conference record, hence their 8th place ranking in 2015.
ASU: might I just ask, what happened? It appears the 38-17 Texas A&M season whomping (a mixture of whooping and stomping as A&M did both) to start the season was a bad omen of the 6-7 overall season (4-5 conference record) to come. If I didn't have a bias against this team because of some of their fans, I would feel sorry. That being said, at least thy didn't too bad as their in-state rival, speaking of which...
Arizona: this is the only other team that can argue against UCLA over which team had worse injuries; losing Scooby Wright in week 1 is as bad as you can get. Plus they fell victim to a God-awful 12-game stretch with no bye week. They can take consolation in that beat Utah (DAMN you!), and ended with an above .500, 7-6 season (3-6 conference record). Plus the defense can't really get worse can it?
Colorado: to be ranked higher in the PAC-12, you need to beat some PAC-12 teams - and no an Oregon State win does not impress. However, eyebrows should be raised in the number of close losses to good teams such as Utah, USC, UCLA and Arizona. While they are a PAC-12 bottom-cellar team, no team is foolish enough to take that label for granted and not prepare for this game, as they are an upset ticking time bomb. That being said, a 4-9 season with 1-8 in conference play earns you the 2nd worst team in the PAC-12...but at least you're not Oregon State!
Oregon State: while I personally like Gary Anderson, many a Ute fan has a smirk on their face when lookin at Oregon State's season. A 2-10 season with 0 conference wins almost makes you feel bad for the former Ute, that is if he and Sitake didn't come to poach Utah's recruits. All we can say is Thank you for making us look good on "The Drive" and to steal from Gary's philosophy "WE GOT CANDY BARS"
That is my humble, yet accurate, PAC-12 final rankings. But I posted this mainly to hear from all of my BlockU buddies' to hear their opinions and personal rankings for the 2015 football season - may you rest in peace.
.....this is the awkward part while I wait for comments....