No surprises this week as the PAC 12 continues to hurtle towards an electrifying finish in the closing weeks.
Not much change from last week; two voters didn’t even shift their ballot.
1. Washington (last week: 1)- The Huskies unraveled the Bears as they continue their relentless playoff march. USC comes to town in a game every Utah fan should watch closely.
2. Utah (last week: 2)- Utah’s crucial bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. They are favored against ASU, which is good because it’s almost a must-win.
3. USC (last week: 3)- USC throttled the overmatched Ducks at home and continue to lurk on the fringes of the playoff discussion. They’ve looked great lately, but they haven’t played a decent team in a month. UW is a different kind of test.
4. Colorado (last week: 4)- Colorado and UCLA was a sloppy slog by both teams, but the Buffs came out on top. Saturday night is against Arizona in what should be a tune-up for the highly ranked Buffaloes.
5. WSU (last week: 5)- WSU put the hurt on a profoundly bad Wildcats team. Cal is no contender, but they don’t plumb the same depths as Arizona and may give the Cougs a run for their money late Saturday night.
6. Stanford (last week: 6)- Stanford picked up a win over Oregon State, preserving some amount of order in the PAC. They head to Oregon this week in a matchup that we thought would be important, but isn’t.
7. California (last week: 7)- Cal had the firepower to hang with UW, but not the defense. WSU may prove to be a bit more even of a test, and the Bears will need the W if they want to revive their bowl dreams.
8. UCLA (last week: 8)- UCLA can’t score, and it’s hard to win games that way. They are heavily favored at home over Oregon State, but the way things have been going for the Bruins lately…
9. ASU (last week: 9)- ASU had a bye week to work out some of the kinks. They get a chance to test it against a fresh and rested Utah squad.
10. Oregon (last week: 10)- USC took it to the Ducks this week, who are spiraling towards their worst season in a long time. Can they beat Stanford this week? Does anyone care?
11. Oregon State (last week: 11)- Another week, another valiant loss for the Beavers. Will they put it together and knock UCLA out of bowl contention this week?
12. Arizona (last week: 12)- This team is so bad right now, and they looked it in a 62 point loss to WSU. It doesn’t promise to get easier this week against Colorado.
Colorado is the clear favorite to win the division at this point, with Utah and USC trying to win out and hang onto second. There’s more uncertainty to this than the chart gives credit for because Utah and Colorado face off at the end of the year, but Utah is going to have to win two games (or USC lose at least one) for that game to matter to Ute fans.
FPI is starting to buy what WSU is selling, but Washington is still the prohibitive favorite in the North. Similar to the South, there’s more uncertainty in the analysis than the chart indicates: it’s a near lock at this point that the winner of the Apple Cup wins the division.
Rather than talking about my algorithm, which hasn’t changed much, I will instead terrify you with doomsday scenarios similar to what happened last year:
Utah and USC both win out. An 11-1 Washington team (lost to USC) beats Utah in the championship game, bringing the Utes to 10-3. UW goes to the playoff, USC gets picked for the Rose because they are USC, beat UW, and have better losses, Utah to the Alamo. Or UW misses the playoff and Utah goes to the Holiday.
Washington State beats UW, and so does USC as they win out. Utah wins out but loses to WSU in the championship game. WSU to the Rose, USC Alamo, UW Holiday, Utah… Foster Farms with ten wins.