Leland Wong: With two big upsets in the Pac-12 this week, it's an exciting time for Power Rankings! Or at least that's how I'm going to sell it to try to get those page views up.
But this is your weekly feature to see how the CGB team have graded the performances of each of this conference's teams, generally with some consideration of the season as a whole with special recognition of the most recent week.
But this week (and this season overall) has been tough for me. While I do weigh the most recent game more than the past ones, I try not to lose sight of the season as a whole. I'm torn if I've been weighing recent losses too heavily, or if it's in-line with my philosophy since they've seemed like more than flukes—they feel like soul-crushing losses for once-powerful programs that are actually indicative of their trajectory this season.
The parenthetical number next to each team's name is the number of first-place votes that team received. The rank that each voter gave each team is listed parenthetically next to the voter's name and our complete ballots are collected further down the post in Table 1.
And note, we responded at different times of the USC-Sarkisian saga. For some of us, he was still HC. For some of us, he was on leave. For some of us, he was gone. Like everyone I've ever loved.
Ruey Yen: I suspect that I may lose whatever little credibility that I have had with my rankings for this week, but someone has to do the sunshine pumping around here.
1. Utah Utes (12)
Last week: 1
Berkelium97: (1) That punting unit is incredible. Consistently getting 50+ yards through the air on rugby punts? That's a marvel to watch.
perryscope: (1) When you force six turnovers and Devontae Booker has 222 yards rushing with two touchdowns, one would assume that Utah is blowing out the opposing team. However, they could not put up significant points after Jared's career-high five interceptions. In such a sloppy game (nine total turnovers), Utah found a way to win, which is all they have been doing.
Leland Wong: (1) I was tempted to actually put the Utes in a tie for second and with no team at first. It just doesn't feel right to bestow upon Utah such a prestigious honor when they get six takeaways and only win by six points.
Nick Kranz: (1) Objectively (undefeated) and subjectively better than everybody else by a solid margin at the moment.
Nik Jam: (1) Ranked #4 and was able to find a way to thwart Cal's upset. They will probably get upset sometime this season, but it's hard to not see them winning the Pac-12 South at this time.
Sam Fielder: (1) They are a team that doesn't have overwhelming talent, but also doesn't have any weakness.
Ruey Yen: (2) The lone undefeated team in the Pac did show some flaws, but a win is a win.
KWBears: (1) Utah didn't play well against Cal, but still pulled off the win. The Utes' D-line is amazing and is going to cause headaches for a lot of teams. Travis Wilson needs to make more throws to take some load off of Devontae Bookers' shoulders.
mpeters10: (1) When you force six turnovers and you're playing at home, shouldn't you win by more than six points? Utah has a good team. Utah has a great coaching staff, but something is missing that could make this team truly great. If Utah had a better quarterback and receiving corps, then they would be phenomenal because Devontae Booker is a beast. As of now, I don't think this team is good enough to go undefeated through the conference. We gave them every opportunity to blow us away and they couldn't do it.
atomsareenough: (1) Avoided a loss in a tricky matchup with Cal. On track for a playoff spot.
Solomon Kim: (1) I think this goes without saying.
Last week: 3
Leland Wong: (2) They move up by virtue of the play of the rest of the Pac-12. I miss the days of the early season when we thought they were a bad team.
Nik Jam: (2) Last undefeated team left in the North. As great as it would be if Cal won out, I'd like to see the rest of the conference step up and give us some help and hand Furd a loss or two or three before Big Game.
Sam Fielder: (2) Again, no major weaknesses on this team. Why can't you just be terrible for once?
Ruey Yen: (3) Bye week for Furd before a midweek game against the Baby Bears.
KWBears: (2) While Furd didn't play this week, they still left a very positive lasting image from last week's dismantling of UofA.
mpeters10: (2) This week's matchup with UCLA looks like it will be their last true test before playing Cal in late November. Unless they pull a Sark and lose at home to the Huskies, which is unlikely.
atomsareenough: (2) Cal lost, leaving Stanfurd the only team in the North with no conference losses yet.
Solomon Kim: (2) The Pac-12 is truly a roller coaster of emotions and this week, the Furd is just enjoying the ride.
3. California Golden Bears (1‽ Seriously?)
Last week: 2
Berkelium97: (3) Jared Goff has arguably the worst performance of his career, receivers can't catch anything, and yet Cal nearly put together a game-winning drive in the closing minutes. That and strong wins by UW, Wazzu, and Texas suggest that maybe this Cal team is better than I thought...
perryscope: (3) If you told me that if Jared threw five picks (four in the first half), Cal would still have a chance to win the game with a touchdown the last series of the game, I would've scoffed. I am extremely proud with the way we continued to fight. Jared had probably the roughest game of his career, but you never saw his confidence waver. He continued to make throws and keep the offense calm. The defense has been nothing short of outstanding. I believe they [LW: "They" refers to Utah, not our own defense. That would just be weird.] only scored 10 points off of those four first-half interceptions. Cal will address their offensive issues on the buy week [LW: Gotta get that sorted out in time for the sell week!] where they will look to redeem themselves on a Thursday night ESPN game @ UCLA.
Leland Wong: (4) One of those circular-logic games where you want to drop Cal more for giving the ball away six times and playing ugly football. But then you want to boost them for flashes of brilliance that kept us close. I probably would have dropped them a bit more if there were another team that had played just a bit better and with consistency.
Nick Kranz: (3) Third place doesn't quite feel right, but the UW win looks solid and everybody else has a worse conference loss.
Nik Jam: (3) Cal proved they can hang tough with anybody in the conference. Now it's just a matter of finally winning a game against one of our ranked foes. Beat one or both of the LA teams please!
Sam Fielder: (4) If the offense can get sorted on the bye week, I really like our chances against anyone.
Ruey Yen: (1) I choose to look at the glass as half full. The Bears played well enough against a Top-5 team on the road. I feel somewhat confident that if we rematch against Utah at a Bear Territory (let's say, Levi Stadium in Santa Clara) this season (how about December 5th), I like our chances. Bears control their own destiny to make that happen.
KWBears: (3) Cal should've beat Utah this week. If Goff weren't getting so much pressure every single snap, he would've made the one or two more plays Cal needed to pull off the upset victory. Cal's defense is doing great so far.
mpeters10: (3) So, who would have thought that Jared Goff and the receivers would play such a bad game and Cal would have a good chance to win the late in the fourth quarter? The defense was impressive outside of the couple of big plays they gave up in the first half. Cal is good enough to win the conference. The schedule is difficult, sure, but this team is mentally tough. The defense does exactly what you want a defense to do if they are not great at suppressing yardage, and that is get after the quarterback and force turnovers. If the defense continues to play like it did against Utah, then we have a shot at going to the Rose Bowl. Will it happen? It's going to be tough.
atomsareenough: (3) The Bears lost a game that was in their grasp, but the fact that a road game against a top-5 team was in their grasp is still a huge step forward. Nonetheless, they will need to cut down on the mistakes in order to take the next step and compete for the conference title.
Solomon Kim: (3) Jared Goff is human and while his fall from Olympus was a harrowing one, the Bears still almost won. Not only did our defense prove itself stalwart in the face of adversity and fatigue, the offense kept on fighting. Though that last drive didn't turn out how we would've liked, clock management seemed pretty good too.
4. UCLA Bruins
Last week: 5
Leland Wong: (3) I still think this team will be one of the better teams in the conference thanks to pure talent all around.
Nick Kranz: (5) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BE USEFUL AND BEAT STANFURD.
Nik Jam: (5) Losing to Arizona State may not be that horrible of a loss, but they may not be able to afford a loss to Cal. Not that I'd feel bad about giving them that blow.
Sam Fielder: (5) Interested to see if the bye week helped them get a little healthier and reset their heads.
Ruey Yen: (5) Bye week for UC Los Angeles.
KWBears: (5) UCLA got the week off to prepare for Furd this coming Thursday.
mpeters10: (5) UCLA is facing what seems like a must-win road game against Stanfurd. Not exactly the team you want to face when needing a win.
atomsareenough: (7) Tough matchup coming against Stanfurd this week. How will UCLA bounce back from their bad loss against ASU?
Solomon Kim: (4) The Bruins had this week to lick their wounds and prepare for the trip to Stanfurd. If they can find their consistency again, they should put up an interesting fight.
Last week: 6
Berkelium97: (4) After an atrocious September, the Sun Devils are finally playing as well as many of us had expected.
perryscope: (5) Took care of business at home against Colorado. Nonetheless they're starting to find some rhythm on offense and this is the type of play people were expecting during the preseason hype.
Leland Wong: (5) A big win over Colorado isn't going to impress anyone, but it was exactly what they needed to help them get their groove back—and they looked good doing it. Still, their progress is about to hit a brick wall with Utah coming up.
Nick Kranz: (4) Week 2 ASU would have struggled to put away Colorado, so more impressive progress for the Devils.
Nik Jam: (4) All of a sudden the Sun Devils are Sun hot!
Sam Fielder: (3) They seem to have finally put things together.
Ruey Yen: (6) Took care of business against Colorado. Ho hum.
KWBears: (4) ASU got to beat-up on lowly Colorado this week. Pretty pedestrian win, but at least they won.
mpeters10: (4) Is Arizona State finally playing up to its full potential? The Sun Devils could throw a huge wrench into the South Division championship race if they can beat Utah in Salt Lake City.
atomsareenough: (4) Sun Devils back on track? Is it too late?
Solomon Kim: (5) This Sun Devils offense is hot as hell right now. We'll see if they can do some damage against that Ute defense.
Last week: 8
Berkelium97: (6) With a competent QB, they would have won by at least three TDs.
perryscope: (6) Great win at USC where their defense look incredible. Cody Kessler and the Trojans offense couldn't get anything going all day as he threw interceptions on the first two possessions. They have the most athletic defense in the conference and that will be their identity as they have a rivalry game versus Oregon next week.
Leland Wong: (8) The beneficiaries—and executors—of the second-biggest upset in the conference. The defense didn't allow a single touchdown, but the offense still needs work. A lot of work.
Nick Kranz: (6) Best defense in the conference? Utah is probably the only competitor. Now the question is if Jake Browning can go from bad to mediocre within the season.
Nik Jam: (6) Amazing win against USC! Hopefully they can be the first team Cal has beaten in the Sonny Dykes era that would go on to qualify for a bowl game.
Sam Fielder: (8) My only gripe with them is that they ended Sark's career at USC three weeks too soon.
Ruey Yen: (4) Not only did the Huskies bested the Trojans, they get bonus points for ousting Sark.
KWBears: (7) U-Dub pulled off the surprise win over USC this week. But, given the disarray that USC is in, you have to wonder if the Huskies just got lucky in facing a downward-trending team.
mpeters10: (6) UW has a legit defense. Their offense? Not so much. The Huskies have a huge opportunity to heap misery on the Ducks this week and keep themselves alive in the race for the North division.
atomsareenough: (5) Big win over a suddenly reeling USC team. Defense is legit, can the young offense develop enough to contend this year?
Solomon Kim: (6) I definitely underestimated the Huskies this season. That defense is proving to be amongst the best in the conference by far.
Last week: 9
Berkelium97: (7) They allowed fewer than 50 points!
perryscope: (7) Absolutely routed the Beavers like they were supposed to. Nice to see Anu Solomon playing again who came back from a concussion. The rushing attack was relentless and the Beavers got nothing on the offensive side. They play at Colorado next week.
Leland Wong: (7) A win over the Beavers this year isn't much of an accomplishment, but how sweet is it to get one of your key star players back? QB Anu Solomon didn't play perfectly, but this was probably the best opportunity to shake off the rust. (As an aside, how crappy is Sports Illustrated's box score if the payer who scored the most TDs in this game—RB Orlando Bradford—isn't mentioned in the Rushing section?)
Nick Kranz: (9) I'm not going to overreact to a beat down of Oregon State, but having Anu Solomon at least makes them dangerous. Will be interesting to see if they can pull off some upsets.
Nik Jam: (8) Nice rebound win against Oregon State, although the Beavers aren't very good. They will play spoiler for other teams this year.
Sam Fielder: (6) A game against OSU is exactly what the doctor ordered for this ailing team.
Ruey Yen: (7) Took care of business against Oregon State. Nothing to see here.
KWBears: (6) The Wildcats walloped OSU, as they should. Good news is that QB Anu Solomon is back from injury.
mpeters10: (7) The defense looked incredible! Oh, wait, it was against Oregon State? Well, that explains it. Anyways, what looked like it could spiral into a lost--and exceedingly embarrassing--season for the Wildcats now looks somewhat promising. The next four games are Colorado, away; Washington State, home; Washington, away; USC, home. All four are winnable, though the Wildcats do not seem a solid enough team to win all four.
atomsareenough: (8) Arizona looked competent this week, but a win against Oregon State doesn't buy a whole lot of credibility just yet.
Solomon Kim: (7) The Wildcats did a good job bouncing back from two tough losses and should win against the Buffs.
Last week: 10
Berkelium97: (7) MIKE LEACH IS OFF THE HOT SEAT!
perryscope: (8) Great win for Mike Leach and the Cougars who were in need for a conference win. Luke Falk threw for 500 yards and five touchdowns as the Ducks continue to be an embarrassment in pass defense.
Leland Wong: (6) Even though the Cougars' Air Raid offense is perfectly suited to exploit the Ducks' inadequacies in the secondary, the final result was still unexpected and the kind of win that will give a little boost to the fanbase. Especially considering the game-tying touchdown at the end of regulation to force (double) overtime.
Nick Kranz: (7) This is probably just a one-week bump, but kudos to the Cougars for FINALLY winning a close game.
Nik Jam: (7) Redemption for the Cougars after failing to upset Cal. Really happy for their program. Can they get to six?
Sam Fielder: (7) Couldn't be happier for this fanbase to get a huge win, even in a down year for Oregon. I definitely have a soft spot for the perennial underdogs.
Ruey Yen: (8) Big road win for the Cougs.
KWBears: (8) WSU beat Oregon in Eugene. That sentence would not have been written in anyone's minds before this miracle double-OT win. The Air Raid is back!
mpeters10: (8) For a minute there it seemed like the Cougars were going to blow it again. What a win for their program (even though it was against a down Oregon, it is still Oregon).
atomsareenough: (6) Big win over a suddenly reeling Oregon team. After playing Cal close and winning at Oregon, suddenly the Cougars are looking a lot more frisky.
Solomon Kim: (8) The Cougs are a lot more tenacious than I think any of us cared to believe. It's time to start caring.
9. Oregon Ducks
Last week: 7
Berkelium97: (8) Royce Freeman runs from Eugene to Pullman, but that pass defense once again lets them down. If I were Helfrich, I'd start looking for a new defensive coordinator. Immediately.
perryscope: (9) Surprising and disappointing.
Leland Wong: (9) O my... The crazy thing is that despite being completely impotent at quarterback, the Ducks are so stacked at RB that they were nearly saved.
Nick Kranz: (10) A great rushing attack and literally nothing else about this team is above-average for a power conference squad. They need Vernon Adams back desperately so that they can try to develop a dangerous passing attack.
Nik Jam: (10) Suddenly this team's bowl chances look dicey with Cal, Stanfurd and USC still coming up.
Sam Fielder: (9) Things are not good in Nike-land. I assume they'll get straight and healthy just in time to play us.
Ruey Yen: (9) That Oregon game looks more and more winnable every week.
KWBears: (10) This is actually becoming commonplace now--Oregon playing poorly, that is. The Ducks are exemplifying why every team needs at least a decent QB to be competitive. Too bad for the Ducks--they don't have one.
mpeters10: (10) They have hit rock bottom. Looking at the schedule, it is now very possible that the Ducks could miss out on a bowl game. They need three wins from Washington, away; Arizona State, away; Cal, home; Stanfurd, away; USC, home; Oregon State, home.
atomsareenough: (9) Coug'd it, er... Ducked it up against Wazzu?
Solomon Kim: (9) Common sense is failing in the Pac-12.
10. USC Trojans
Last week: 4
Berkelium97: (12) Hello darkness, my old friend...
perryscope: (10) Ha! Overrated like always.
Leland Wong: (11) A terrible game by the Trojan offense and QB Cody Kessler as the team only converted a single third down out of 13 attempts. Plus, this week just got a whole let messier for the USC community with all this Sark hullaballoo.
Nick Kranz: (8) Anybody who says they know what this team will do week-to-week, game-to-game is an absolute liar. Nothing would surprise me.
Nik Jam: (9) They are in a lot of trouble. Notre Dame, Utah, Cal, Oregon and UCLA remain on the schedule and probably needs three of those to have a winning record this year and it's hard to see that happening with the tragic circumstances with Sarkisian.
Sam Fielder: (12) Bad loss that leads to Sark's removal. (Call it what you want, no way he comes back after all of this) So do they pack it in or rally around the new coach Oregeron-style?
Ruey Yen: (12) If there is one other team that I would love to see dwell the Pac-12 cellar than Stanfurd, it's the dysfunctional mess that are the Trojans.
KWBears: (9) The Trojans are a disaster, led by their HC Steve Sarkisian (who may be on his way out of town if AD Pat Haden has his way). Dropping this week's game to the Huskies just looks bad.
mpeters10: (9) Hiring Sark was always going to end like this for the Trojans. How can a program seemingly hold every advantage it could ever want screw things up so epically and so often?
atomsareenough: (12) I have a feeling a Sark removal could be a blessing in disguise for the Trojans, but this week has surely been a rough one for the program. Clay Helton will probably right the ship and get things back on track over the next couple of weeks though, just in time for.... let's see, that puts us at the end of October... perfect, just in time for the Cal game, I bet. Awesome.
Solomon Kim: (10) The Trojans seem to be cutting their losses this season. The fans know it, the athletics department knows it, and it seems the players know it too.
Last week: 11
Berkelium97: (10): I can't see more than one win in their remaining schedule. Will Mac survive the offseason?
Leland Wong: (10) The Buffaloes fell behind early and were forced to go one-dimensional on offense. On that note, I guess they didn't look too terrible throwing the ball?
Nick Kranz: (12) Loss to Oregon at home looks like a bad blow for Colorado—shockingly, it might have been their best chance for a Pac-12 win this season—all that's left on the home slate? Arizona, Stanfurd and USC.
Nik Jam: (11) They might not win another game but I would like to be wrong (Stanfurd???)
Sam Fielder: (10) Still a little feisty, but totally overmatched in Pac-12 play.
Ruey Yen: (10) I hope the Buffs fans had enjoyed their winning streak earlier in the season.
KWBears: (11) The Buffs are going to keep losing, but at least they're putting up good fights.
mpeters10: (11) The Buffs are horrible. The horrible-versus-horrible showdown with Oregon State on October 24 is going to depress the losing fanbase sooooo much.
atomsareenough: (10) The Buffs are still so far away.
Solomon Kim: (12) The Pac-12 is really good. The Buffs just aren't there yet.
Last week: 12
Berkelium97: (11): Does Andersen regret leaving Wisconsin yet?
Leland Wong: (12) A bad year almost got worse for Oregon State due to an injury to QB Seth Collins, but he was able to get back into the game. But when your three quarterbacks combine for below 50% completion and under 100 yards, you have a lot of problems.
Nick Kranz: (11) Bad on offense, bad on defense, blown out by Arizona...
Nik Jam: (12) If you couldn't score on Arizona who can you score on? Please don't say Cal.
Sam Fielder: (11) They're bad. But hey, at least they still have a head coach.
Ruey Yen: (11) For the record, I'm still quite scared of our game against Oregon State.
KWBears: (12) That was an embarrassing loss to the Wildcats. Expect OSU to live at the bottom of these Power Rankings from here on out.
mpeters10: (12) The Beavers are horrible. The horrible-versus-horrible showdown against Colorado on October 24 is going to depress the losing fanbase sooooooo much.
atomsareenough: (11) The Beavers seem even farther away than the Buffs.
Solomon Kim: (11) I can't help but look at the Beavs' current record and remaining schedule and feel pity.
The ranking above was determined by averaging out ballots submitted by your fearful writing staff; said ballots are shown below.
Table 1. This week's votes.
For a more precise look at where the teams ended up (more precise than just 1st or 7th), Figure 1 shows these values along with error bars to represent the standard deviation. A large standard deviation—or a large error bar here—means we were divided in our assessment of that team; small standard deviations and error bars mean agreement among the voters. USC has the largest standard deviation this week because we were torn on how much to punish them for a home upset to an offense-less team, their off-field woes, and probably a great deal of personal animosity towards them.
Figure 1. This week's rankings. But all precise and junk.
We can follow the trends of the season and from one week to the next by charting these precise values over time, shown in Figure 2. Here, we see that the top three teams in the conference—Utah, Stanfurd, and Cal—have established some spacing above the rest of the conference. Does Cal really belong in this group after a six-turnover performance? Is that a fair assessment or total homerism?
Figure 2. The season? Precisely.
We can also follow the same trends with the more widely-used rounded-off rankings (Figure 3). For those of you who enjoy a little schadenfreude every now and then, I'm sure you've already noticed that massive plummet for USC. In fact, they're the only team this year to have two drops of four spots or greater; in fact, they have two drops of five spots.
Figure 3. Figure 2's déjà vu.
These kinds of rises and falls are quantified over the season and measured as Madness. All of these falls by USC will help them continue their title of the Pac-12's Maddest team, but Oregon isn't too far behind. Apparently the trick is to get upset and have CGB writers take it out on you relentlessly?
|Change on week|
Table 2. 2015's Madness.