One wild, upset-filled week is in the books, and it’s shaken up the national and PAC 12 pecking orders. A few more weeks are needed to settle this down, but here’s what it looks like at the moment.
1. Stanford (last week: 1)- After a commanding 13 point win, no one in the panel so any reason to knock Stanford down a peg. On their bye this week, they shouldn’t lose ground, but that doesn’t mean no one is nipping at their heels.
2. Washington (last week: 5)- Washington looked like the real deal, cruising to a 36 point victory over Rutgers. The Idaho Vandals should fold like a wet napkin and give voters little insight.
3. UCLA (last week: 2)- Josh Rosen struggled in the first outing of his sophomore season, but UCLA kept it close and still looks like the team to beat in the South. The Bruins get UNLV at home in what promises to be a get-right game.
4. Utah (last week: 4)- Our panel didn’t dock the Utes anything for going through the motions en route to a 24-0 win over SUU. Utah remains poised to leap into the upper echelon with one elite performance. BYU on Saturday could be such an opportunity.
5. Oregon (last week: 6)- The Ducks struggled early, but ultimately put up a ton of points on UC Davis. However, their defensive struggles look all too real, as a bottom rung FCS team was still able to hang 28 on them. Virginia didn’t look good last week, but still present a stiffer challenge than UC Davis.
6. USC (last week: 3)- The Trojans were exposed and embarrassed by the Tide, suffering a loss that may cost several people their jobs. Utah State has to go better for USC, because the Trojans are staring a losing season right in the face.
7. California (last week: 8)- Cal opened the season in Australia and handled Hawaii comfortably, a result our panel knew about before preseason voting. They get an early bye this weekend to deal with the jet-lag.
8. Colorado (last week: 11)- The Buffs dismantled their rivals and looked dangerous on offense and defense last week. Might Colorado have finally become a competitive PAC 12 team? Idaho State next week won’t provide much in the way of answers.
9. Arizona State (last week: 10)- The Sun Devils handled their business in a comfortable win over Northern Arizona. Texas Tech looms in a game that will help establish the pecking order between the PAC 12 and the Big 12.
10. Washington State (last week: 7)- Our panel was ready to believe in the Cougars and their aspirations towards a PAC 12 North title… and then they lost to FCS EWU. Eastern Washington fields a very dangerous team, and it’s risky to read too much into losing game one, but their low ranking this week is justified.
11. Arizona (last week: 8)- The Wildcats lost by a hair to BYU, which is normally a respectable way to go. It’s how they looked that alarmed our panel: Anu Solomon was lost on offense, the defense couldn’t tackle, and despite a BYU team that seemed vulnerable the Wildcats just couldn’t put anything together.
12. Oregon State (last week: 12)- Oregon State showed up to play, but was still handed a loss by Minnesota, who we generously place in the middle of the pack in the BIG 10. They’ve got so far to go to become competitive, no one is holding their breath on the Beavers.
Each week, we’ll share with you several bowl projections from major news services, as well as adding a new feature. We use ESPN’s FPI win probabilities to calculate the odds of final records for each team. These numbers let us formulate our own bowl projections. Percentage odds of achieving a particular record are used as tie-breakers for who gets what bowl. The records odds will shift as games are won or lost, and as the FPI formula refines its projections for the rest of the season.
FPI projects a record of 7-5 for the Utes, but because of a handful of surprisingly poor performances in the South, that puts them in contention for second. UCLA is projected to cruise to a comfortable division championship. The North looks like a clear win for Washington at the moment, and the Huskies are the only team with a decent shot at the playoffs. However, that’s why they play the games.
BlockU and the news services project the Utes to land between the Vegas and Foster Farms bowls. ESPN and CBS both have two teams making selection committee bowls; this isn’t due so much to excellent play by the conference (where teams lost several critical out of conference games), but by the massive rash of upsets throughout the country, seeing 4 of the top 11 go down. Next week provides an opportunity to make a statement; come away with a big win and they will have positioned themselves for a run at the wide-open PAC 12 south.