Personally, as a Leland Wong, this was a very tough week to grade as there were so many close games (even if not on the scoreboard, then based on performance). I went through several drafts of my personal ranks and couldn't stop revising.
- UCLA 62, ASU 27
- Oregon State 10, USC 35
- Washington State 28, Utah 27
- Stanfurd 20, Washington 13
- Colorado 56, California 59
As always, tied teams are listed alphabetically and the number of first-place votes for each team is listed parenthetically.
1. Oregon (6)
Sam Fielder: BYE
atomsareenough: Ducks were on a bye, they're still undefeated and very good.
boomtho: Looked really impressive on their bye!
Leland Wong: Personally, I almost had the Ducks drop below #1 (which would be a first for me), but I just don't think any other Pac-12 team did enough to usurp that title, even with the Ducks taking a break. Their bye week will get them rested before a revenge game against Arizona, but I think that's a little overblown because I don't think the Wildcats have the formula to beat them again.
Berkelium97: The LA schools have put in some head-scratching performances this season, but I can't seem to find anyone else to put between them and Oregon.
Nick Kranz: If you take their big play potential into account, UCLA might have the best defense in the conference. The offense won't always play up to that standard, but when they do they'll blow people out. Just ask ASU.
Sam Fielder: Dominating performance against a previously thought good ASU team.
atomsareenough: UCLA finally starts living up to some of the hype. How much of it was UCLA playing great and how much of it was ASU playing really poorly? I'm not exactly sure. Credit the Bruins' playmakers like Ishmael Adams, Brett Hundley, and Jordan Payton, they played very well, but the Sun Devils made some absolutely awful mistakes, and weren't the same without their starting QB. The bottom line is, though, the Bruins had a great week, are still undefeated, and took full advantage of the Taylor Kelly injury to assert themselves as the frontrunner in the Pac-12 South. A tough Utes loss also must have the Bruins feeling pretty good this week.
boomtho: Biggest test of the season so far for UCLA and they passed with flying colors. It sucks we couldn't see them play ASU at full strength (with Taylor Kelly) but their offense looked incredibly explosive with five 80+ yard plays.
Leland Wong: It took three underwhelming games, Jerry Neuheisel, and a returning Brett Hundley, but they finally put together the kind of performance we've been expecting from them. It was the kind of performance that had me this close to giving them my first-place vote, but I just couldn't do it when I saw ASU put up over 600 yards with their back-up quarterback.
Nick Kranz: 4th in my rankings by default more than anything else. There's a huge gap between the top 3 and the rest.
Sam Fielder: Came out and dominated Oregon State for a good win.
atomsareenough: The Trojans righted the ship a bit this week after their hugely embarrassing loss to Boston College, by putting together a solid win against Oregon State. I like the Trojan defense a lot, and they have enough playmaking talent to score points on offense. They're still undefeated in conference play, so they go above Stanford on my power poll.
boomtho: Their defense is performing at a really, really high level and that's pretty scary for the rest of the conference.
Leland Wong: The Trojans made it look easy against the Beavers. The offense put up a ton of yards and the defense forced Beavers QB Sean Mannion into turning in a terribad performance. Apparently the bye week was enough to teach the Trojans how to stop the run.
Berkelium97: That is a terrible, terrible offense. Their defense, however, is good enough to win games for them (although their shutout of Army is looking less impressive after they lost to Yale on Saturday).
Nick Kranz: :snore:
Sam Fielder: Won a tough game on the road so that gets them some points here.
atomsareenough: The Stanford defense may be the best in the country. The Stanford offense, on the other hand, is pretty questionable. So far, the defense has been so good that they've mostly been able to get by, but at some point again against Pac-12 competition, the offense won't be good enough to win. They won on the road against a talented Washington team, so credit to them for that, but this doesn't look like a conference championship contender right now.
boomtho: Furd dominated statistically but struggled to translate that to points, much like their loss to USC. Their defense looks legit but their offense is a mess. I fully realize that it's weird having Furd above USC in my ballot, but I think Furd winning on the road is more impressive than USC winning at home.
Leland Wong: I don't think it's just my blue and gold showing, but I don't think the Cardinal really deserve this spot. Their defense is intimidating, but their offense is just so utterly meh. They put up tons of yards on UW, but continued their trend of struggling to get points out of that, giving the ball away three times.
Nick Kranz: If that hail mary is knocked down, Arizona is probably 10th. The margin between these teams in the middle is so, so thin.
Sam Fielder: BYE BYE
atomsareenough: The bye week was also kind to the undefeated Wildcats, with the Utes losing to a lower-tier conference team. Maybe Zona is now the dark horse in the South, behind the Los Angeles schools? Unfortunately, they'll have their hands full against the Ducks next week, who are also coming off a bye week and are looking for payback for last year's unexpected loss in Tucson.
boomtho: I have them slightly above Wazzu but the margin is quite thin. Blargh!!
6. Washington State
Berkelium97: The Cougs don't deserve to be this highly ranked in my ballot, but my ballot is strictly obeying head-to-head outcomes for one more week. A gutsy win in Salt Lake City gives them the edge over the Utes this week.
Nick Kranz: A road win!
Sam Fielder: Speaking of come from behind wins...wow, the Cougs really took it to Utah in the second half.
atomsareenough: The Cougs also went out and had a gutsy comeback win. Theirs was even more impressive than the Bears', as it came on the road, against a solid Utah team, and it from 3-TDs down, as the Utes started out with a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Wazzu started the season about as poorly as possible, getting beaten at home by Rutgers, and then only scoring 13 points in a loss against Nevada in Reno. But the last two weeks have been much better, with a highly competitive game against one of the best teams in the nation, and now a comeback road win against a good Utes squad. They're 2-3, so I put them behind the Bears, but they're also 1-1 in conference and may have just salvaged their season. Next week's game between the two programs should prove highly instructive, or at the very least, highly entertaining.
boomtho: Gritty, impressive come from behind win on the road against a very solid Utah team. Almost odd they were able to pull it out given their collapse against Rutgers and their other struggles this year.
Leland Wong: Have we been too tough on the Cougs? They nearly upset Oregon and lost to a Rutgers team that's sitting pretty at 4-1 and the always unexpectedly tough pistol-wielding Wolfpack of Nevada. The offense is humming along like only a Leach offense can, but they've just got to cut down on those turnovers.
Berkelium97: Don't let the first 2.75 games fool you, this defense is still a mess. The offense, however, could be one of the best in the conference.
Nick Kranz: Right now, the focus is on celebrating a wonderful, thrilling win. We can worry about flaws the win revealed later.
Sam Fielder: Way too high of a ranking considering how bad our D is but they stood tough and delivered a great come from behind win.
atomsareenough: The Golden Bears get a much-needed, long-awaited conference win. Yes, it was against the Buffs. Yes, it went to double-overtime. Yes, they allowed 56 points. But after last week's heartbreaking loss to Arizona, and a sluggish first half, the Bears showed some growth, got it together and pulled off a 2-TD comeback victory. The Buffs came into Memorial Stadium ready to play, and probably played at the upper bound of their abilities, while the Bears were sloppy for much of the game, but California still managed come out on top. At 3-1, a bowl game is still in the picture for the Bears. We're seeing progress: FBS victory? Check. Competitive conference game? Check. Conference win? Check. Next step: a non-stressful conference victory.
boomtho: Our home win over Colorado, while fun (and tense!), is not as impressive as Wazzu winning at Utah.
Leland Wong: I think this has to be filed away as an ugly win. Kudos for coming back from a 21-7 deficit and for a double-overtime win, but let's not overlook the fact the Bears made bottom-dwelling Colorado look like an offensive monster that put up over 600 yards and over 50 points.
Berkelium97: After the first quarter I was ready to put Utah atop the rankings again. Then Wilson showed that he still turns in a complete meltdown of a performance a few times every season.
Nick Kranz: Nobody knew just how bad Fresno State and Michigan would be. Wazzu is the best team Utah has played, and that's amazing.
Sam Fielder: Their win last week looks less impressive as Michigan implodes and then they collapse and Coug it against WSU.
atomsareenough: Poor Utes. I had them #1 in the power poll last week, and down they go to #8 this week. This really goes to show that you can't just sit on a lead, you have to keep playing aggressively for 4 quarters to win a Pac-12 game. I think the Utes are still a good team, but losing to a non-upper echelon conference team really dings their chances of competing for the Pac-12 South. They still have games remaining against UCLA, USC, Oregon, AND Stanford. This wasn't a loss they could afford to take.
boomtho: Tough loss to Wazzu, but they've still got a pretty impressive resume to date
Leland Wong: Does this finally answer the question of just how good Utah is? As I suspected, their wins have all come against middling teams. But was the loss to WSU a fluke or a more accurate evaluation of the team?
Berkelium97: They play up or down to their opponent every week. I would be very worried about that offense if I were a UW fan.
Nick Kranz: I'm not going to kill them for losing a close game to Stanford, but if they lose to Cal in two weeks they will plummet.
Sam Fielder: Really, they should have won that game against furd. Shame on them.
atomsareenough: An inconsistent Washington team continues to play inconsistently, and you can't do that against a good team like Stanford.
boomtho: Hung around longer than I thought they would vs furd but ultimately furd's defense was too good. Still a positive sign IMO for the direction of Petersen's team
Leland Wong: Should the Huskies be worried about only gaining 179 yards offensively and one sole touchdown? If they are, then I'm sure it's reassuring to see their defense be so completely disruptive and capable of scoring their own touchdown thanks to my almost-least-favorite Husky, Shaq Thompson. Their bye week will give them some extra time to prepare for us, which is bad for the Bears.
10. Arizona State
Berkelium97: Without Taylor Kelly (whom I am skeptical will return after this weekend's game), this team is hopeless. That defense may be the worst in the conference, and that is a serious accomplishment in the Pac-12 this year.
Nick Kranz: It's worth noting that ASU outgained UCLA by 46 yards. I'm not arguing that they should be forgiven for that performance, but the final score was a little deceptive. If Kelly comes back they'll be very dangerous, and should still be solid even without him.
Sam Fielder: I know they were missing their QB but there is no excuse for getting blown out like that for a team that had Pac-12 championship aspirations.
atomsareenough: Worst tackling and coverage I've seen since last year's Cal team. Also, how long is Taylor Kelly going to be out for? Yikes.
boomtho: Shambolic defending but I won't drop them below Colorado or Oregon State due to them missing Kelly. Still, Graham has to be really dispirited by what he saw, and they need Kelly back ASAP
Leland Wong: I don't think the Sun Devils should be this low for two reasons. One, the Sun Devils will be a stronger team with Kelly. Two, the game wasn't quite as bad as the score implies, with ASU putting up over 600 yards; it was four turnovers that kept them from pulling off the upset.
11. Oregon State
Berkelium97: The offense looked lost out there.
Nick Kranz: They have done nothing impressive with a generally boring schedule.
Sam Fielder: Just a miserable game from them. Which of course means they'll beat us.
atomsareenough: Oregon State was 3-0 but had played three thoroughly lousy teams, and although they came out with wins in those games, they weren't really dominant in any of them. So, this was the Beavers' first actual test, and they completely flunked it. Mannion was pretty much awful against the Trojans, throwing under 50%, with no TDs and 2 picks. Top WR Victor Bolden was out with a dislocated finger, and I'm sure that hurt the Beavers, but right now there's just no reason to believe that Oregon State is any good this year.
boomtho: Looked awful on the road against USC... but they'll still probably beat us :(
Leland Wong: Ouch. The Beavers must have loaded up on too much In N Out and couldn't even score a single offensive touchdown. No worries in Corvallis though, as Mike Riley will always transform his team into a monster by mid-to-late season.
Berkelium97: So close to climbing out of the basement. So very close.
Nick Kranz: The Buffs are the feistiest last place team in the country, which is likely cold comfort to their fans.
Sam Fielder: I don't know if they're the worst in the conference, especially after the performance against us, but they are not going to be even close against teams with excellent D's, which way too many teams in the P12 have right now.
atomsareenough: I have to give some credit to the Buffs for coming out and, let's be honest, outplaying Cal on the road. Even one made FG from their kicker might have gotten them the win, but as it was they just came up short. Sefo Liufau looked absolutely phenomenal, making great reads, running effectively, and dropping extremely accurate throws to Nelson Spruce and a plethora of other receivers as well. The Cal defense obviously didn't do a good job in coverage, but Liufau was absolutely on target and made them pay almost every time. They're clearly better than last year, and even though it was a painful loss, they have to be at least a little hopeful looking forward. Their coaches also had a really good gameplan. Colorado climbs out of the cellar for me this week.
boomtho: Really gutsy showing on the road and their offense looked a lot better than I thought would be (thanks Cal D!) They're going to be a tough out the rest of the year, it seems
Leland Wong: I'd love to place Colorado higher after their double-overtime loss, but I just think the rest of their season was too weak to justify that kind of move. Still, Buffaloes must feel great about the stats for QB Sefo Liufau and the play of their receivers—which saw Nelson Spruce put up career-making numbers and even some more pass-catching weapons emerge.
Well. That looks different. Five teams moved three or more spots, with the biggest change being Utah plummeting six spots. Does this demonstrate the parity of the Pac-12? We see Oregon continue to rule the conference while Colorado is beginning to settle in the basement, but with their recent close games against WSU and Cal, they may not last at these spots forever.
Look at all these clusters! We've got USC & Stanfurd; Wazzou & Cal; Utah, Washington, & ASU; and OSU & Colorado forming four near ties. As a Cal fan (and for the Cougs fans), this might make the upcoming Cal-WSU game a bit more interesting.