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Pac-12 Week 9 Power Rankings: Cardinal cling to top spot

Welcome to this week's Pac-12 Power Rankings. If you don't like where you're ranked, play better. You can see last week's rankings here.

1. Stanford Cardinal: For a while there, it looked like Stanford decided to dress up as Week 1 for Halloween. Then we all remembered that Kevin Hogan can run the football. Washington State is no easy out. Nor is playing in bad weather in Pullman. Tip your cap to WSU for a great effort, but also tip your cap to Stanford for finding a way to win Saturday. The Cardinal are still perfect in league play, and the Pac-12 still has two teams in the playoff hunt.

2. Utah Utes: The Utes bounced back from their first loss of the season with a good -- not great -- win over visiting Oregon State. Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker were efficient and, most important, the Utes didn’t turn the ball over. Utah is in the fortuitous position of not needing help from anybody. If the Utes win out -- including the conference title game -- they probably get into the playoff.

3. USC Trojans: The Trojans appear to be getting their sea legs under Clay Helton after a 27-21 win over Cal on Saturday. USC has won two in a row, but the injuries are starting to accumulate. The Trojans still need someone else to beat Utah for their head-to-head tiebreaker over the Utes to mean something. But the schedule sets up nicely for USC with games against Arizona and Colorado before closing out the season against Oregon and UCLA.

4. UCLA Bruins: Beating Colorado has become a tougher prospect than it used to be. That said, the Bruins let a 21-3 lead slip away and actually trailed at one point 31-28 in the fourth quarter. Unlike the majority of the league, the Bruins still have a win-out scenario. It's noteworthy that three of the final four are on the road, with the only home game left against Washington State.

5. Washington State Cougars: Say what you want about the weather and the officiating, but Washington State had several opportunities along the way to win Saturday night's game against Stanford. Right now the Cougars are a decent football team -- which is a huge upgrade from where they’ve been the past 14 months. You have to think of their final four games, there’s at least one more win out there to get them back to the postseason.

6. Oregon Ducks: The offense has a totally different vibe with Vernon Adams Jr. at the helm. In a weird way, his erratic play makes them more efficient. They aren’t out of the Pac-12 North hunt yet, but they’ll need help. And they’ll need to win their final four games, which include showdowns with Cal, Stanford and USC before the Civil War.

7. California Bears: Yikes. The Bears have now dropped three straight and the offense isn’t putting up the same points it was during Cal’s five-game win streak. Over the last three games, Jared Goff has a 7-7 touchdown-interception ratio. Cal is still looking for win No. 6, which would get the Bears to a bowl game for the first time since 2011. You’d think that could come against Oregon State in two weeks. But are they going to win any others?

8. Washington Huskies: Anyone else get a sense that this (Saturday's 49-3 bashing of Arizona) is what we can expect from the Huskies in the next couple of years? They probably are too young and inexperienced to do that consistently the rest of the season. But when everything comes together on a week-to-week basis, this team is going to be challenging for the division by 2017.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils: One step forward against UCLA, two steps back against Utah and Oregon. Coaches say you can’t let a loss beat you twice. But as far as the 24-hour rule goes, Thursday's loss to Oregon is going to be tough for the Sun Devils to let go of. The sheer wackiness of how Oregon beat them in triple-overtime in Tempe will take some time for everyone to digest. Writers included.

10. Arizona Wildcats: With just three games left against USC, Utah and Arizona State, you have to wonder whether the Wildcats can find just one more win and get to the postseason. If they turn the ball over the way they did Saturday against Washington, the answer is no.

11. Colorado Buffaloes: Another week, another coulda-woulda-shoulda-been for the Buffs. Saturday's 35-31 defeat to UCLA was Colorado's second loss in three weeks by one possession.

12. Oregon State Beavers: I don’t think I’m alone in the thought that I came away fairly impressed by Oregon State's defensive front seven on Saturday. Tough environment on the road, and I thought the Beavers held up pretty well against Utah for most of the game. They just didn’t have the offense to keep up.