Last week, it appeared Washington and Washington State were on a collision course for one of the most anticipated Apple Cups of all time -- one in which perhaps a berth in the College Football Playoff could be on the line. This week, they combined for 10 total points in losses to Cal (WSU, 37-3) and Arizona State (UW, 13-7). Those shocking results made compiling this week’s Pac-12 power rankings an exercise in futility.
Aside from Oregon State at No. 12 and Colorado at No. 11, there is plenty of room for debate at just about every spot. Even the most logical combinations will be filled with obvious flaws -- and that’s what makes this conference so much fun.
1. USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12): The Trojans have one of the best wins (42-24 over Stanford) and one of the most acceptable losses (30-27 at Washington State). They’re the team best positioned to make the playoff considering their strong nonconference schedule, but USC now must travel to play a hot Notre Dame team that is coming off a bye.
2. Stanford (5-2, 4-1): Winners of four straight, Stanford looks like it is rounding into form thanks largely to running back Bryce Love. At this point, he’s without question the player of the year in the conference with 1,387 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
3. Washington (6-1, 3-1): Tempe has been a house of horrors over the years for the Huskies, and that continued Saturday. The Huskies hadn’t played a close game all season, and when they finally found themselves in one, they didn’t appear comfortable.
4. Washington State (6-1, 3-1): Playing back-to-back road games with the second one on a short week should not be allowed. The Cougs benefited from that scenario earlier this season against USC (still the best win for any team in the Pac-12) and were hurt by it against Cal on Friday. Just about everything that could have gone wrong against the Bears did go wrong.
5. Utah (4-2, 1-2): The Utes were a two-point conversion away from beating USC on the road with their backup quarterback and hung tight with Stanford the week before. Utah hosts Arizona State next week, which should help provide some clarity to this section of the rankings.
6. Arizona State (3-3, 2-1): It was a masterful defensive performance to hold Washington to seven points, and the Sun Devils’ three losses all came against teams that entered the week in the AP Top 25 (San Diego State, Texas Tech and Stanford).
7. California (4-3, 1-3): If these rankings were based on this week alone, Cal would be the clear No. 1. The Bears were dominant in every aspect of their game against Wazzu, but we can’t forget they dropped their first three conference games by 10, 21 and 31 points.
8. Arizona (4-2, 2-1): Quarterback Khalil Tate has made Arizona a lot of fun to watch the past two weeks, but the Wildcats' Pac-12 wins (Colorado, UCLA) have both come against teams in the bottom third of the conference.
9. Oregon (4-3, 1-3): On the one hand, the Ducks beat Cal by 21 and have the same record. On the other, Oregon has been outscored 82-17 the past two weeks.
10. UCLA (3-3, 1-2): The Bruins are allowing 40.5 points per game -- only five FBS teams are allowing more. Quarterback Josh Rosen has generally been very good, but if he struggles -- like he did against Arizona (20-of-34, 219 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT) -- the Bruins are going to have a tough time winning.
11. Colorado (4-3, 1-3): Colorado avoided disaster by pulling out a 36-33 win against Oregon State.
12. Oregon State (1-6, 0-4): In the same week in which coach Gary Andersen walked away from the program and the $12 million-plus he was entitled to under his contract through the 2021 season, the Beavers played their best game of the year. It was a loss, but the players showed they still care.