The Pac-12 has descended into anarchy. No team is the same from week to week and it’s more or less impossible to predict any outcome. We thought we had two great teams, but they keep alternating between blowing out teams and just scraping by. The middle class has some semblance of order, but that order is only theoretical when you don’t know which version of each team will show up.
There’s a chance that the Pac-12 has 10 or even 11 bowl-eligible teams, and yes that would take a bit of chaos to get there, but it would be very on-brand for the Pac-12 to cannibalize and have the standings littered with 6-6 records.
Anyway, here’s your power rankings for the week:
1. Washington Huskies (7-1)
Last week: 44-23 win over UCLA
Jake Browning is apparently bad now, but that doesn’t matter when Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman can barrel through the anemic UCLA rushing defense. Despite a struggling offense, Washington continues to play like a Top 10 team because their defense is ridiculous. I can’t tell which stat is more impressive, so I’ll write both: (1) This was their first game of the season allowing more than 16 points, (2) the 23 points they allowed to UCLA was 23% of the points they’ve allowed all season. They’re about to play Oregon, who does not use a quarterback in their offense, so you have to like their chances of shutting down Royce Freeman with their dominant defensive line.
Next week: 11/14 vs. Oregon (FS1)
2. USC Trojans (7-2)
Last week: 48-17 win at Arizona State
USC dismantled Arizona State on Saturday. Sam Darnold had arguably his best performance of the season (of non-Oregon State games) and he was supported by Ronald Jones’ 216 yards on 12.0 yards per carry. Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu led the defense in relentlessly harassing Manny Wilkins. We don’t know if this version of the Trojans is for real, but for the sake of CU winning on Senior Day, we can hope they revert back to where they were earlier this season.
Next week: 11/4 vs. Arizona (ESPN)
3. Arizona Wildcats (6-2)
Last week: 58-37 win over Washington State
Khalil Tate keeps on doing the impossible. Against #15 Washington State, he had 275 passing yards and 146 rushing yards as he led the ‘Cats to scoring 58 on a defense that just shutout the Buffs. Tate has 840 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns in the past four games and he might be the best player no one (outside the Pac-12) is talking about. Also of note, Arizona only has two losses this season and they were both one-possession games in which Brandon Dawkins struggled mightily. Arizona would very likely be undefeated if Tate had started those games — so Colorado’s 45-42 loss to them looks fairly impressive in hindsight.
Next week: 11/4 at USC (ESPN)
4. Stanford Cardinal (6-2)
Last week: 15-14 win at Oregon State
Stanford needed a last minute touchdown to beat Oregon State. Stanford is ranked #18 in the nation. Oregon State might be the worst Pac-12 team since Jon Embree was in town. The lesson here is that Bryce Love might be the most valuable player in all of college football and the Cardinal need him back ASAP if they’re going to contend for the Pac-12 North.
Next week: 11/4 at Washington State (FOX)
5. Washington State Cougars (7-2)
Last week: 58-37 loss at Arizona
Wazzu has now been brutally beaten down in two of their last three games. After losing to Cal 37-3, the Cougars thought they got back on track in a shutout of Colorado, but they found themselves in disbelief trying to contain the legendary Khalil Tate. Wazzu still has Stanford and Washington on their schedule, so they can still the Pac-12 North, but they have to figure out their defense.
Next week: 11/4 vs. Stanford (FOX)
6. Oregon Ducks (5-4)
Last week: 41-20 win over Utah
Oregon blew out the Utes despite not playing with a quarterback, but it’s hard to tell if we should give credit to the Ducks or make fun of Utah, or both. After Justin Herbert broke his collarbone, their offense has been Royce Freeman and his lightning quick backups. Herbert is set to come back soon and the Ducks will need him to resuscitate the passing offense if they’re going to win challenge Washington and Arizona in the coming weeks.
Next week: 11/4 at Oregon (FS1)
7. Colorado Buffaloes (5-4)
Last week: 44-28 win over Cal
The Buffaloes offense finally found its form. Steven Montez had his best game of the year as he was 20-26 passing for 347 yards and 3 TDs, plus a rushing touchdown. Phillip Lindsay was also incredible. Cal’s offense isn’t the best in the conference, but the Buffs looked fantastic on that end and they may have finally found success on the defensive line. The Buffs can clinch bowl eligibility against Arizona State this upcoming weekend. If they play like they did against Cal, we should be celebrating.
Next week: 11/4 at Arizona State (Pac-12 Networks)
8. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-4)
Last week: 48-17 loss to USC
The Sun Devils beat up Washington and Utah the past two weeks, so many of us thought they might actually be good, but USC showed us that ASU is still sketchy. The Devils have struggled all year in the trenches and they’ve been dominated there in their losses. Winning in Tempe is always difficult, but the Buffs could win if Phillip Lindsay runs loose and the CU pass rush is as good as it was against Cal.
Next week: 11/4 vs. Colorado (Pac-12)
9. UCLA Bruins (4-4)
Last week: 44-23 loss at Washington
Josh Rosen is the Bruins and they’re inept without him. UCLA was never going to beat Washington, but they were hopeless offensively after Rosen left with an injury in the third quarter. UCLA has three very winnable games left on the schedule, but if Rosen misses any more time, their chances at a bowl game are precariously low.
Next week: 11/3 at Utah (FS1)
10. Utah Utes (4-4)
Last week: 41-20 loss at Oregon
Utah is falling apart. They’ve now lost four games in a row and they’re looking more and more hapless with each passing week. Injuries have ransacked their defensive depth and the Utes offense isn’t nearly good enough to make up for it. They could get back on track next week against UCLA, but only if Rosen isn’t healthy enough to roast their struggling defense.
Next week: 11/3 vs. UCLA (FS1)
11. California Golden Bears (4-5)
Last week: 44-28 loss at Colorado
One of the greater mysteries of this college football season will be how Cal beat Washington State 37-3 two weeks ago. The Bears have played like a mediocre team for most of the season and they were exposed by a resurgent Buffaloes offense. They can still bowl, but it’s not looking great in Berkeley.
Next week: 11/4 vs. Oregon State (Pac-12)
12. Oregon State Beavers (1-7)
Last week: 15-14 loss to Stanford
Poor Beavers. We were rooting for them to upset Stanford, but their defense collapsed in the final minute against a previously non-existent passing game. For the sake of chaos, we’ll be rooting for OSU the rest of the season, especially against Oregon.
Next week: 11/4 at Cal (Pac-12)