This is it! The final Power Rankings for the season! Here's a quick refresher for bowl season:
- No bowl: California, Colorado, Oregon State, Washington State
- Utah 45, Colorado State 10
- Nebraska 42, USC 45
- Arizona State 36, Duke 31
- Maryland 21, Stanfurd 45
- Boise State 38, Arizona 30
- Florida State 20, Oregon 59
- Washington 22, Oklahoma State 30
- Kansas State 35, UCLA 40
- Ohio State 42, Oregon 20
As always, tied teams are listed alphabetically and the number of first-place votes is listed parenthetically. With that out of the way, onward to the final Power Rankings! Grab a tissue, cuz it's gonna be sad saying goodbye to us!
1. Oregon (6)
Last week: 1
Nick Kranz: The formula for beating Oregon is still the same: Have better football players and coaches than they do.
Leland Wong: Yeah, it sucks to get steamrolled with all eyes on you in the National Championship, but they're the clear kings of the conference and got a pretty little blowout win in the semifinals/Rose Bowl and a Heisman in their postseason. I couldn't make an argument for any other team to take the #1 spot.
boomtho: ARGH! Was pulling for the Ducks, but a trip to the first ever CFP finals is a darn impressive showing. Helfrich & Co enter next year as the prohibitive favorite (stop me if you've heard that before).
Berkelium97: Although Duck fans are disappointed with the outcome of the championship game, they have to be very excited about their future. I wasn't sold on Helfrich coming into the season but I now think he can maintain the Ducks as an elite team.
Sam Fielder: Second in the nation is good enough for first in the Pac-12.
Last week: 7
Leland Wong: The Bruins turned a 31-6 halftime lead into a 5-point win and an awkward handshake. But, Kansas State is a top-15 team and it would be pretty hypocritical if I punished them for being awkward. Their offense was a-hummin' to the tune of nearly 7.5 yards-per-play and their defense stymied the K-State run game to about 1/3 their usual output. As a whole, their season was a success with their only losses coming to strong teams.
boomtho: Finished 10-3 with a nice win over a solid KSU team... and many Bruins fans are probably mourning what could have been
Nick Kranz: I bumped UCLA up to the top of the Pac-12 South bunch because they beat the best team in bowl season, and the game was only close because of their own self-inflicted bumbles.
Berkelium97: Mora locks up back-to-back-to-back 10-win seasons, but some UCLA fans are (understandably) disappointed with this season.
Sam Fielder: Held on to beat KSU, but still underachieved.
Last week: 2
Nick Kranz: Losing to Boise St. was a bit of a let down, but they were still outright South champs. Can't punish them too much.
Leland Wong: I had faith in Rich Rod having a big year with his system in place, but I didn't expect their season would be this successful. However, they looked utterly impotent against a good Boise State team, which was nearly enough to knock them down a peg here. 2015 has the potential to be even better with a lot of talented players coming back on both sides of the ball.
boomtho: Slight edge over the rival Sun Devils due to 1) a better bowl win and 2) a better conference record. I definitely thought about it though.
Berkelium97: I am delighted we don't have to play them next year.
Sam Fielder: Spotted Boise State a 21-pt first quarter and almost came all the way back. RichRod has them rolling now.
4. Arizona State
Last week: 4
Nick Kranz: Felt like they should have beaten Duke more easily, but still an excellent season for ASU.
Leland Wong: I was tempted to give the Sun Devils the edge over the Wildcats based on their performances in the bowls, but something about the final rankings makes me give a little more consideration to the season as a whole and Arizona has better wins and not such bad losses.
At times, the Sun Devils were dominant against the Blue Devils, only to give up points and let the latter close the gap. Head coach Todd Graham took a team that should have been rebuilding on defense and suffered an injury to their starting QB, laughed in our faces, and turned in a great season. Unfortunately, they've got a big blemish in the form of that late-season loss to Oregon State.
boomtho: 10-3, 6-3 conference, and a bowl win over a better-than-I-thought Duke team. ASU is going to be a force to reckon with in the South, I think.
Berkelium97: I am not looking forward to playing them next year.
Sam Fielder: Beat a decent Duke team and look like they're going to be a force next year.
Last week: 6
Nick Kranz: Impressive destruction of a not-bad Colorado St. It sets up Utah for their 5th straight year as 'Pac-12 South off-season dark horse!'
Leland Wong: The Utes made one of the top teams in the MWC look like an outclassed joke. QB Travis Wilson ended the season with a string of solid performances coupled with 162 yards on the ground from RB Devontae Booker. The defense held strong and kept the Rams scoreless for the final three quarters of the game with no meaningful rushing game. They do lose some points in my book for their crazy postseason coaching dramaz.
boomtho: Wittingham's team came in with low expectations, and despite that, they are probably a bit disappointed with the end of the season. They did crush a good CSU team though.
Berkelium97: A strong year, but administrative kerfuffles keep me from being too optimistic about the Utes' future.
Sam Fielder: Seem to have resolved the Whittington coaching contract issue, but still played really well all season and finished strong.
Last week: 3
Nick Kranz: Struggled beating a rudderless Nebraska, but a win is a win.
Leland Wong: Oh, Sark. How kind of him to always try his hardest to give wins to his opponents. They played a good Nebraska team well, but decided to go scoreless in the fourth quarter because Sark. They're comforted to know they've got one of the best returning quarterbacks for next year.
boomtho: Nearly let the bowl game slip away, but not a bad first season under Sark. Can he break through and get to 10 wins, though? Coaching is really what's holding USC back from being my favorite in the South.
Berkelium97: The Trojans ended the season by narrowly avoiding disaster. That pretty much sums up their year with Sark as head coach.
Sam Fielder: Beat a decent Nebraska team to get to 9 wins and now we'll see what Sark can do with "his" guys.
Last week: 5
Nick Kranz: The Cardinal dominated over their last three games, which made me consider jumping them ahead of some of the Pac-12 South teams. But crushing Cal and Maryland isn't really that impressive, so I eschewed the temptation. That said, they clearly figured something out on offense towards the end of the year, and I'm very much hoping that offensive line and quarterback defections help stifle any positive changes they might have made.
Leland Wong: Kudos for a strong finish to make a disappointing season a little less disappointing. They finally figured out how to run an offense and are thrilled to have a senior mediocre quarterback return for next year!
boomtho: I'm giggling as I think this might begin a downturn under Shaw, though... and I'm not too upset that Hogan is coming back, honestly.
Berkelium97: It's hard to tell if this season was an aberration or the new normal in Palo Alto.
Sam Fielder: Let's all hope this is the beginning of a long and horrible slide.
Last week: 8
Nick Kranz: Ding dong, Shaq Thompson's gone.
Leland Wong: They gave up 24 unanswered points in the first half of their bowl game against Oklahoma State and that just ended up being too much to overcome. The Petersen era has started solid, but unspectacular, although Husky fans may have been hoping for immediate and earth-shattering success. Their offense generally struggled without LB Shaq Thompson and due to QB Cyler Miles's underwhelming play, which held true in the postseason. They've got a good coach, but are losing a lot of talent for 2015.
boomtho: Rocky debut Pac-12 season for Petersen ended with a loss to an equally uneven OSU team.
Berkelium97: Can Petersen effectively replace the big holes on defense next season? That will speak volumes about UW's position in the Pac-12 pecking order with Petersen at the helm.
Sam Fielder: Losing a ton of talent on D. We'll see how Peterson does in the Power 5 now.
Last week: 9
Nick Kranz: Never has their been such an encouragingly discouraging year of Cal football.
Leland Wong: The Bears showed improvement in 2014, but they must prove that this is steady progress--not just beating up on regressing or struggling bottom-feeders. Flirting with bowl eligibility was fun, but the team is dying for the kind of win to show they've taken teh step to the next level.
boomtho: Lots of promising signs in year 2 under Dykes before a late season swoon ended dreams of bowl eligibility. Can Dykes 1) get a marquee win and 2) get bowl eligible next year?
Berkelium97: The Bears climbed out of the basement this season but did not beat a single FBS team with a winning record. Dykes needs to get a signature win next year (against Texas, Oregon, or one of the California schools) or he may not survive the offseason.
Sam Fielder: Arguably one of the best teams to not get bowl eligible.
10. Oregon State
Last week: 10
Nick Kranz: Between a talent drain, generally sub-par recruiting, and a coaching staff transition, OSU would be my pick for last place in 2015.
Leland Wong: Mike Riley certainly wasn't a bad coach for the Beavers, but I think Gary Andersen will be a breath of fresh air and a step-up. Plus, he's building a good staff around him, like Utah DC Kalani Sitake, whose Utes defense was in the top half of the conference in points and yards allowed. Still, the Beavers aren't exactly in great shape as they're gonna have to break in a new quarterback.
boomtho: Interesting times for the Beavers. They lose their longtime coach in Mike Riley but appear to have an upgrade in Gary Andersen.
Berkelium97: Mike Riley's toxic contract is gone, which is cause for some celebration in Corvallis. Andersen may be a downgrade at head coach, but I'm interested to see how he does with a struggling Power 5 program.
Sam Fielder: The coaching change was completely unexpected but they seem to have done ok for themselves there.
11. Washington State
Last week: 12
Nick Kranz: The Cougs have been sniffing around some intriguing defensive coordinator hires, so it will be interesting to see who they can actually lock down in the position.
Leland Wong: Thrust into action, QB Luke Falk performed well enough to restore some warm, fuzzy feelings in Pullman. However, if Leach struggled in Year 2 with a veteran gunslinger like Connor Halliday (thus earning this poor placement in our rankings), maybe the Cougar fans should be feeling a little pessimistic
boomtho: Next year will be an interesting test for the Air Raid as they try to replace Halliday.
Berkelium97: The Cougs took a few steps back this year.
Sam Fielder: They really didn't improve like I thought they might this year. Gotta think Leach is going to be on the hot seat soon.
Last week: 11
Nick Kranz: The best ever 0-9 team in conference history.
Leland Wong: The Buffaloes weren't able to score that one upset they were hoping for—arguably the most significant criterion for success for this team.
boomtho: Coach Mac's seat must be awful hot. Wonder if their struggles will finally put to rest the Dykes vs Mac discussion? (To be fair to him, their program had significantly less talent waiting for him.)
Berkelium97: The Buffs demonstrate that it's possible to go 0-9 in conference play but look considerably improved over the previous season.
Sam Fielder: Not their fault they play in the toughest top-to-bottom conference. They got better and still got smoked.
Here we go, the last ballots submitted for the 2014 football season!
Table 1. The individual votes from each CGB writer.
These numbers get computed and converted into the averaged out rankings. Of course, we don't have a hive mind and there's some variation in our votes. The variation for each team is quantified in the form of standard deviation, which is shown as the vertical error bars.
Figure 1. This week's averaged-out rankings, with standard deviation shown in the error bars.
Well. Look at that. CGB's a little extra hivemind-y this week, as shown by such small standard deviations across the board. We were actually unanimous on Oregon and OSU; a last-minute vote from atoms actually kept Cal and Washington out of this group as well. Arizona, ASU, Utah, and USC were all just one voter away from being unanimous as well. My uneducated guess is that it's because we each decided to go for a more comprehensive ranking (as it's the final
countdown power ranking) and de-emphasized the most recent performance.
It looks like the voters are confident that Cal is the best of the Pac-12 basement (i.e., the teams with losing records). I'm not sure if that's an accurate assessment or if our homerism is just clouding our judgments.
I charted out these precise rankings over time (Fig. 2)
Figure 2. The precise rankings as they changed over time.
We've got only a couple of big movers during the postseason. UCLA's skyrocketing to second in the conference for a blowout first half that ultimately ended up as a close game. Frankly, there were no Pac-12 teams that had a big win or upset in bowl season, so I guess UCLA managed to benefit the most. Arizona's still doing well for the most part despite a flat performance against Boise State with most voters probably looking more at their body of work. Although multiple teams had bafflingly bad moments in their games, USC got penalized the most for almost giving away the win.
I round these non-integer rankings to the more socially acceptable form of pretty little rounded numbers.
Figure 3. The rounded rankings tracked over the course of the season.
Poor ole Colorado. They had such a bad year that they managed to fall and settle at the very bottom even when they didn't play.
As Avi noted, ASU and UCLA jumped all over the place to settle into the same positions where they started. Frankly, reading that makes me question my vote for UC Los Angeles as their final form wasn't even close to what I thought it could be. Arizona and Utah are tied for best overall improvement being 5 spots higher than the Week One votes. Cal didn't do too shabby in that category, jumping 3. Wazzou had the most disappointing season, dropping 5 spots. I'm happy to report that Stanfurd also dropped compared to our first ballots, from 3rd to 7th.
From Fig. 3, we have a quantified measure of how much the teams are moving up and down. We called this the Madness:
|Change on week|
Table 2. The Madness of the 2014 season! EB stands for "End of Bowl!"
The second-least Mad week of the season! Makes sense with so many teams idling at the bottom.
Thanks for reading after all these weeks! Onward to the lull of the offseason!