A huge North matchup and some other surprising victories have transformed the power rankings. Colorado continues to rise.
1. Washington (last week: 2)- Washington looked pretty flawless, scoring easily against a strong Stanford D and completely stifling their offense. UW stands as the PAC 12’s lone legitimate playoff contender, at this point. They are solid favorites at Oregon this week as they look to upset a long winning streak for the Ducks.
2. Colorado (last week: 5)- Raise your hand if you thought Colorado would be up here preseason. Me neither. Will USC bring them back to earth or will the Buffs prove themselves to be the real thing on Saturday?
3. UCLA (last week: 4)- UCLA put together a thorough, 21 point whooping against the Wildcats. They visit Arizona State next week and attempt to put another nail in the Sun Devils’ coffin.
4. Stanford (last week: 1)- Stanford looked shaky on offense against UCLA, and that trend continued as they met a stifling Washington defense. With Washington State rounding into form, the Cardinal’s plans for a top 10 season could be on the ropes.
5. Utah (last week: 2)- The Utes had the ball and enough time to make three plays from the 2 yard line, but couldn’t get it done on the road against a Cal team that’s putting it together. No reason to get off the bandwagon just yet, but that changes if Arizona beats them in Salt Lake City this weekend.
6. Cal (last week: 8)- Cal struggled to get the Utes off the field and didn’t score many points, but they were efficient and explosive when they had the ball and could put a few more ranked opponent notches in their belt this season. Not next weekend, though; the Bear get Oregon State.
7. USC (last week: 7)- The Trojans put the hurt on the Sun Devils, and their offense looks to have it all figured out under Sam Darnold. If they can maintain the turn-around and knock off more teams in the South, the Utes’ win over USC could prove critical. Colorado, next week’s opponent, is a perfect example.
8. WSU (last week: 11)- The Cougars are making an annual tradition out of taking embarassing out of conference losses and then disrupting the conference pecking order. Winning their game at Stanford would solidify the tradition.
9. ASU (last week: 6)- Those observers that maintained that the Sun Devil’s 4-0 start was a mirage got a feather for their caps as ASU got run out of the stadium by USC. UCLA comes to town next Saturday in what is shaping up to be another blowout.
10. Arizona (last week: 9)- Arizona looked bad to begin with, and now they into their third string at a number of critical positions. The head to Salt Lake City next week; if the Utes are really a top 25 team this year this one shouldn’t be close.
11. Oregon (last week: 10)- The swankiest uniforms in the world can’t save the Ducks from having to occasionally play defense. They’ve given up 42 points per game in their last three, all losses. The Ducks may be cooked this year. Washington is next in Autzen to try out their recipe.
12. Oregon State (last week: 12)- The Beavers are just so, so bad.
A few big games have caused the South to round into form. Colorado and UCLA are at the top of the division right now, both projecting to 6-3 records. UCLA visits Colorado in November in what might turn out to be the surprise South rubber match. Utah is the only other team that’s still really in the race, projecting to a 5-4 record including a likely 1-2 stint against the Bears, the Buffs, and the Huskies. Knock off the South heavyweights and the Utes will be well positioned to take the crown themselves.
Colorado’s win over Oregon and Stanford’s beat down at the hands of Washington have virtually put to rest any suspense in the North. Washington will be the representative... the only question is if they will be a playoff contender when they do.
The algorithm and national experts were more favorable to the Utes than our panel, who talked about the Vegas and Sun bowls as likely landing spots. There are no big-time projections yet, but the Utes are still in the thick of the race for those accolades. Knock off Arizona and it’s likely 6-1 and highly ranked when they head to Los Angeles to take on the Bruins.