Utah’s game went more or less as expected (at least in the second half), but the rest of the league was full of surprising scoreboards. There’s upheaval in the power rankings as Utah starts to build New Year’s Six buzz.
1. Washington (last week: 1)- The Huskies have, in consecutive weeks, utterly demolished two teams who have been conference standard-bearers for almost a decade. Their bye week is upcoming, which could give them a chance to solidify their gains or put a dent in their momentum.
2. Utah (last week: 5)- Utah’s leap back into the upper echelon has as much to do with others losing as it does with Utah winning. Nonetheless, they looked thoroughly dominant in the second half against Arizona and should pick up another win at Oregon State this weekend.
3. Colorado (last week: 2)- Colorado acquitted themselves admirably in a losing effort. The loss stings, but it also proves they can hang with anyone in the South. Next week they get Arizona State at home.
4. USC (last week: 7)- USC is off the schneid after picking up a big upset over Colorado. They get a tune-up against Arizona next as they look to stay in the thick of the South race.
5. ASU (last week: 9)- Arizona State keeps winning games in bizarre fashion, but they have one of the best records in the conference. Colorado will be a stiff challenge for the Sun Devils, but a win will put them in a commanding place in the quest for the division crown.
6. WSU (last week: 6)- The embarrassing out of conference performance is a distant memory for the suddenly electric Cougars. A crumbling UCLA squad comes to town next week and the Cougars have a good shot to make it to 3-0 in conference.
7. UCLA (last week: 3)- Chosen Rosen is down and you need look no further than UCLA’s last three plays (sack, sack, INT) to see how steep the dropoff is. WSU is next; if Rosen can’t get healthy, the Bruins could lose a lot of games in a hurry.
8. Stanford (last week: 4)- Getting boat-raced by a national title contender is one thing. Getting your tail kicked by Washington State is quite another. They head to Notre Dame next in a battle of elite institutions in football crisis mode.
9. California (last week: 6)- Cal coughed up a loss to lowly Oregon State and are clearly too inconsistent to meet their goals. They get a bye week to try and right the ship.
10. Oregon State (last week: 11)- Oregon State looked gritty and competent against Cal, but they need to show a lot more to earn the continued respect of the panel. If they can do it against Utah, two weeks in a row there’s really going to be something to talk about.
11. Arizona (last week: 10)- Once their snap-count shenanigans stopped working, the injury-decimated Wildcats showed a complete lack of competitive ability.
12. Oregon (last week: 11)- The Ducks have completely imploded and are winless in PAC 12 play. They get a bye week to lick their tail feathers, but this conference never gets easier.
There’s no clear leader in the South. Colorado is the frontrunner, but one unexpected win for almost any team in the division will reshape that narrative. Only Arizona is truly out of it at this point.
The North was over last week and now the question is whether or not Washington will be able to get through their schedule unbeaten. They are heavily favored in every game moving forward, but at least one slip up is fairly likely.
The Utes are consistently placed in big-time bowls. There’s no playoff buzz yet, and Ute fans shouldn’t expect any unless the Utes meet Washington with seven wins and end the night with eight. There are worse fates than the Rose Bowl and many would relish a match-up between Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham. There’s a lot of football between then and now, however.