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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Upsets are waiting

The conference’s best haven’t quite separated themselves from the rest of the Pac.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 14 USC at BYU Photo by Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Week 3 was difficult for the Pac-12. Despite having a manageable schedule conference-wide, four teams lost, and only one of those was to a major conference opponent. Both Colorado and USC were outplayed by Mountain West teams and lost in overtime, Stanford was embarrassed by UCF, and UCLA didn’t have a chance against Oklahoma. Otherwise, the only impressive wins were Washington State winning at Houston and Arizona State winning an eyesore against a badly overrated Michigan State team.

12. Oregon State Beavers

LW: W, 45-7 vs. Cal Poly

11. UCLA Bruins (0-3)

LW: L, 48-14 vs. Oklahoma

At the bottom of the conference, UCLA has actually moved up following their 48-14 loss to Oklahoma. That’s because Dorian Thompson-Robinson didn’t look like a JV quarterback playing in the 5A state championship. That’s improvement enough for UCLA to win maybe a game or two this year. (OSU and UCLA play on Oct. 5, which is appointment viewing.)

10. Arizona Wildcats (2-1)

LW: W, 28-14 vs. Texas Tech

9. Stanford Cardinal (1-2)

LW: L, 45-27 at UCF

8. Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)

LW: W, 10-7 at Michigan State

7. Colorado Buffaloes (2-1)

LW: L, 30-23 (OT) vs. Air Force

6. USC Trojans (2-1)

LW: L, 30-27 (OT) at BYU

The lower middle of the Pac-12 is loaded with teams that should be much better than they are. Stanford was in the preseason Top 25, USC has five-star talent and JUCO functionality, Colorado has one of the most stars and scrubs teams I’ve ever seen, and Arizona State’s horrendous offense is wasting a great defense. Arizona only escapes the basement because they did beat Texas Tech, but they’re easily the worst team in this bunch.

5. California Golden Bears (3-0)

LW: 23-16 vs. North Texas

4. Washington State Cougars (3-0)

LW: W, 31-24 at Houston

Here’s the upper middle class of the conference, just two teams that could cause (more) upsets this season with two very different styles. Cal struggled to beat North Texas, but honestly, a 6-point win for them is basically a blowout. Washington State, meanwhile, traveled to Texas and got the Pac-12 best non-conference win against a pretty good Houston team. (ASU beating Michigan State on the road is not as good, because the Spartans are secretly a bad team.)

3. Utah Utes (3-0)

LW: W, 31-0 vs. Idaho State

2. Oregon Ducks (2-1)

LW: W, 35-3 vs. Montana

1. Washington Huskies (2-1)

LW: W, 52-20 vs. Hawaii

The top of the Pac-12 remains unchanged. Utah’s unbeaten start looks better after BYU's win over USC, but I still don’t trust their offense as much as I do Oregon and Washington’s. The Ducks and Huskies both have one loss each, but Oregon outplayed Auburn (now ranked #8) and Washington lost because Cal has a way of bullshitting gross wins. All three of these teams could finish 10-2 or better, but upsets are waiting.


Conference play starts this coming week. Here are the upcoming matchups:

  • Utah at USC (Friday)
  • California at Ole Miss (non-conference)
  • Washington at BYU (non-conference)
  • Oregon at Stanford
  • Colorado at Arizona State
  • UCLA at Washington State

Expect these rankings to change next week after a somewhat stable Week 3.