The better teams held serve this week while a big chunk of the PAC rested up. Next week could provide much-needed separation in the South… or make it even more of a mess.
1. Washington (last week: 1)- The bye week didn’t cost the Huskies anything and they are still the team to beat in the PAC 12. They get a tune-up at home against Oregon State next.
2. USC (last week: 4)- USC shook off whatever lingering struggles were plaguing them and laid the lumber to a cratering Arizona squad. They get their bye week and are poised to enter the stretch run in great position and with furious energy.
3. Utah (last week: 2)- Utah comes away with an ugly win in ugly weather and remains atop the PAC 12 South. A difficult matchup in the Rose Bowl presents an opportunity to prove something they haven’t quite this year- that they belong there.
4. Colorado (last week: )- Colorado looked every bit the PAC 12 contender as they exposed the Sun Devils. They visit a Stanford team on the rebound next week.
5. WSU (last week: 6)- WSU did the PAC 12 South a favor and knocked UCLA virtually out of the running for their fourth win in a row. The visit ASU next week in what’s going to be a shootout- or a blowout.
6. Stanford (last week: 8)- Stanford still looks flawed, but a win over Notre Dame on the road is worth something, even this year. They get a shot at disrupting the PAC 12 pecking order against Colorado Saturday.
7. UCLA (last week: 7)- Without Josh Rosen, UCLA has no reliable weapons on offense and hasn’t been able to ride their impressive defense to any marquee wins. They need him back now. If they don’t win against Utah this week, even going bowling is in doubt.
8. ASU (last week: 5)- Our panel seemed to take a certain amount of glee in dropping ASU to where they belonged. Their two critical divisional matchups have been blowout losses. Another similar score might be on the horizon as the surging WSU Cougars come to town.
9. California (last week: 9)- The Bears didn’t move after their bye week. They get a Friday night tilt against Oregon which is going to be must-see TV for those who like offense.
10. Oregon State (last week: 10)- The Beavers acquitted themselves well against a ranked foe and didn’t lose any ground in these power rankings. Washington on the road doesn’t promise to be so kind.
11. Oregon (last week: 12)- Oregon moves up by virtue of being on bye and not looking as awful as the team below them. If they can beat Cal on the road, they can turn their season around. If they can’t…
12. Arizona (last week: 11)- The Wildcats are hapless and out of control. An Arizona media member counted 279 fans in the Zona Zoo in the 4th quarter. They get a desperately needed bye week to get healthy, if nothing else.
Colorado continues to win games in impressive fashion and they haven’t dropped a game they should have won yet. USC is perhaps playing better than anyone else right now, but with 2 conference losses they are going to need some help to get there. Utah enters a tough stretch where they must win at least one of the next two to stay in the running, and UCLA is essentially an afterthought, along with ASU and Arizona, for the division title.
Washington State is getting a lot of buzz, but the shine has come off their marquee wins over Stanford and Oregon and FPI doesn’t see them getting to the end of the season anywhere near undefeated. Other than that, there is no one worth talking about with regard to the big picture. The North still belongs to Washington.
The prognosticators are satisfied the Utes are going to stay on top, but the 8-4 record FPI projects them to, coupled with better odds of going 9-3 for a bunch of the other teams in the PAC’s middle means my algorithm still isn’t buying it. How to change that projection? Win a game FPI says you won’t, starting with UCLA or Washington.