Things were more settled this week, but the conference slate is setting up to be total chaos; it’s hard to say anything definitive about anyone just yet.
1. Stanford (last week: 1)- Still holding strong in the top spot, Stanford is the cream of the crop until proven otherwise. A critical matchup with USC awaits.
2. Washington (last week: 2)- Washington has looked great, but they haven’t played anyone of note yet. That doesn’t project to change with FCS Portland State looming (inasmuch as Portland State can loom, which aint much).
3. UCLA (last week: 3)- The top three stood strong this week with UCLA taking care of business against UNLV. They go on the road to BYU as mere three point favorites; the Bruins have a lot to prove.
4. Oregon (last week: 5)- The Ducks looked sharp in dismantling Virginia and have leapfrogged the Utes to land in the top third of the conference, according to our panel. Nebraska should be a tougher game.
5. Utah (last week: 4)- The Utes played a sloppy and mistake-filled offensive game en route to a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over BYU, but with only six undefeated teams in the conference right now, a win is a win. The Spartans will hopefully provide an opportunity to work out the kinks headed into conference play.
6. USC (last week: 6)- Southern California didn’t prove anything against Utah State, but they didn’t fail either. This week they get the opportunity to right the ship by eliminating #7 Stanford on the road. Dogs by more than a touchdown, it doesn’t seem likely.
7. ASU (last week: 9)- The Sun Devils proved they at least know how to put up points, and that’s going to be good for at least a few wins this season. Our panel stuck them here, in the highly volatile middle of the conference. UTSA tonight should be an easy win for Arizona State.
8. Colorado (last week: 8)- The Buffs slaughtered a lesser foe to the tune of 56-7. Don’t sleep on the Buffs, whose early returns suggest they may be a threat to beat anyone in the South.
9. California (last week: 7)- Cal fell on the road to a Mountain West school, albeit one of the best teams in that conference. Our panel knocked them two places. They get the Texas Longhorns at home, a chance to make a massive statement about conference pecking order leading into the playoffs.
10. Arizona (last week: 11)- Down 21-0 early to Grambling State, the Wildcats were able to knock out the Tigers’ starting quarterback. Six turnovers later, they had scraped out an ugly ten point win. This weeks foe, Hawaii, may be one of the worst teams in football this season… hopefully that’s enough.
11. WSU (last week: 10)- The Cougars are 0-2, Coach Leach is throwing his team under the bus in press conferences. The dumpster fire is ablaze in Pullman. They get what’s virtually a bye week against Idaho before they hit the meat of their conference schedule.
12. Oregon State (last week: 12)- The Beaver’s bye week almost snuck them out of the cellar (where I believe they have dwelled since the very first time I wrote a power ranking post last season). This week it’s Idaho State, which should be a sure win. Not much opportunity for a shakeup down here, but with as badly as 10, 11, and 12 have played thus far anything is possible.
The PAC 12 South is virtually undefinable chaos. UCLA is favored to win the conference, but it’s not hard to see them winding up at the back end. Anyone could come out on top, although FPI doesn’t give any team even a .1% chance of finishing the season unbeaten. The Utes have equal odds to go 7-5 or 6-6, either of which most Ute fans would consider a disappointing season.
In the North, Washington is looking to take advantage of a weak conference and a buttery out of conference schedule, and sports about a 14% chance of finishing the season undefeated. Even at 11-1, they would be a good candidate for a playoff berth, which is where our bowl algorithm projects them.
BlockU’s panel, our algorithm, and every press service were in disarray as to where to project the Utes, and other teams in the South are similarly all over the place. There’s not a lot of confidence in projecting the PAC 12 South this season, which means it’s going to be a fun and wild ride.