Leland Wong: You know what's all the rage on the internet nowadays? Lists. It helps writers be lazy with writing and transitions, it fuels our shortening attention spans, and it makes it easier for us to say "omgz I identify so much" when we can easily pick out one or two things that we like!
So, let's get our list on here at CGB. Oh wait, we already do in some articles. But let's list it up some more by powerly ranking the Pac-12 teams. This is not our list of which team is the best; it's a combination of overall strength and the most recent result.
Parenthetically next to each team name is the number of first-place votes they received. Parenthetically next to each writer's name is how we ranked that team.
And away we vote!
Berkelium97: The Pac-12 is a muddled mess right now. Utah and furd are clearly the top teams, with Cal sitting outside the top tier, Oregon State is a disaster, and everyone else can sit anywhere from 4th to 11th on my ballot, depending on recent performances.
Nick Kranz: Picking my top 3? Easy. Picking my bottom 3? Easy. Ordering the 6 teams in the middle? Damn near impossible, and any order could be justified. I may have spent more time deciding on my rankings this week than every previous week combined.
Sam Fielder: Totally agree with previous statements about how impossible it is to rate these teams. I feel like almost any team other than OSU could beat most other teams any week.
1. Utah Utes (12)
Last week: 1
Berkelium97: (1) Two games ahead in the loss column of all other Pac-12 South teams. Is this finally the year of the Utes?
Nik Jam: (1) I was debating about whether to give Stanfurd the #1 slot over Utah, but undefeated is undefeated and Arizona State is a quality win. It looks like they will now run away with the Pac-12 South, barring a major collapse.
Leland Wong: (2) I've long called QB Travis Wilson a weakness of the team, but he had a solid day statistically to help get the comeback win for the Utes.
boomtho: (1) Utah looks incredible this year, and even though they weren't as dominant as games past vs. ASU, they still have the most complete body of work in the Pac-12.
Nick Kranz: (1) Held ASU to 3.7 yards/play and a couple of field goal drives. Don't let the score in the 3rd quarter confuse you: they were clearly the better team. And I'll just assume they won't intentionally commit a safety any more.
Sam Fielder: (1) I'm putting them here over furd by virtue of them being undefeated, but those two are clearly the class of the conference right now.
KWBears: (1) A great come-from-behind win for the Utes. Their run defense is just superb.
atomsareenough: (1) The Utes are in the driver's seat in the South.
Ruey Yen: (2) Utah stayed undefeated, but did allow ASU to stay close for the bulk of the game.
mpeters10: (1) The special teams looked fallible for once, but they overcame it by playing typically great defense. I'm still not sure they are playoff material because the offense is not overly impressive, but they keep winning. They look a safe bet for the South Division championship at this point.
benwemer: (1) Undefeated and pending this week's result will determine if they make the playoff. If they can knock off usc, I don't see them losing to anyone else.
Solomon Kim: (1) As the only undefeated team in the Pac, the Utes have more than earned this spot.
Rob Hwang: (1) UN.DE.FE.AT.ED.
2. Stanfurd Cardinal (2)
Last week: 2
Berkelium97: (2) How did this team only score 6 against Northwestern?
Nik Jam: (2) It certainly wasn't fun seeing them romp all over UCLA. Hopefully this says more about UCLA, but at the moment Stanfurd looks unstoppable. A lot can change between now and November though.
Leland Wong: (1) They embarrassed UCLA in a top-20 showdown on national television. The Furd scored on defense and RB Christian McCaffrey alone made them scary-good on offense and special teams.
boomtho: (2) After the loss to NW, Stanfurd has somehow rediscovered a hidden source of offensive mojo. David Shaw is even dialing up trick plays! I am much more worried about Big Game now than I was a few weeks ago.
Nick Kranz: (2) If my vote in this poll was based solely on how well each team is playing, and not on resume, Stanfurd would get my first-place vote. Damn them.
Sam Fielder: (2) I officially hate everything.
KWBears: (2) Walloping UCLA on national TV is always great resume-building. The Cardinal are getting really good really fast.
atomsareenough: (2) Not quite in the driver's seat, but the Cardinal control their own fate in the Pac-12 North.
Ruey Yen: (3) When will the Furdies revert back to their Northwestern game form?
mpeters10: (2) What the hell got into Stanfurd? It's a bit sad that my only hope for the Cardinal losing a game before they play Cal is a matchup with Washington State. They look really, really good right now. I hated saying that.
benwemer: (2) Goodness. I guess they get better as the season goes on.
Solomon Kim: (2) With McCaffrey putting up numbers like that...
Rob Hwang: (2) I hate to say it, but they DEMOLISHED UCLA and are still undefeated in conference play.
3. California Golden Bears (1. Why, Ruey? Why?)
Last week: 3
Nik Jam: (3) Idle Cal still found a way to boost their resume with Utah's win over Arizona State and Washington State blowing out Oregon State (although Washington looked pretty bad). Looks for now like Cal must go 6–0 in the second half to win the Pac-12 North (I really want them to do it, if only because I cannot handle another Furd Rose Bowl)
Leland Wong: (3) Still no quality wins, but their one loss is better than the losses that belong to other teams vying for this spot.
boomtho: (3) Time for the Bears to play some better opponents and show us what they're really made of.
Nick Kranz: (3) For the 2nd straight week, Cal's resume and statistical profile improve without notching a win. Oh how sweet it would be if the Bears could prove the numbers right and win in the Rose Bowl on Thursday.
Sam Fielder: (3) Move up by virtue of not playing. Bye weeks are wonderful.
KWBears: (3) Even with a bye week, you can't help but think Cal can probably beat everybody in the conference (except for Utah and Furd).
atomsareenough: (3) Somehow the Bears also control their own fate in the Pac-12 North, but they have no margin for error now.
Ruey Yen: (1) I have had the Bears on top all season long. A bye week is not going to change that.
mpeters10: (3) We moved up in the national polls for not doing anything! Now we have a matchup with a reeling UCLA squad. Does Jared Goff redeem himself on national TV? I hope so. We should win this game, which scares me.
benwemer: (3) Did nothing and moved up in the rankings, so a great week for the Bears.
Solomon Kim: (3) Strength of schedule and general FBS madness bumped us up to the top 20--and I love it.
Rob Hwang: (3) Coming off the bye and rolling into the Rose Bowl this week will be tough. But still only lost to Utah by six.
Last week: 8
Berkelium97: (4) After the Portland State loss, would any of us have thought Wazzu would have a top-four record in the conference after week 7? At 4–2, the Cougs are in a great position to earn a bowl game, as every game on their schedule is winnable (including the home game against Stanfurd).
Nik Jam: (4) Washington State is red hot and may be able to sneak in a bowl game, which was unthinkable after they lost to Portland State. They might be our best hope at Stanfurd getting a loss before Big Game, giving us a little breathing room. In fact, at this point Stanfurd at Washington State could be the Pac-12 game of Halloween, not USC at Cal.
Leland Wong: (4) They didn't face the stiffest opposition this week, but the Air Raid impressed by trying a school records for TD passes in a game—doing so in the first half.
boomtho: (5) I don't find WSU that impressive, but all you can do is beat the teams ahead of you.
Nick Kranz: (5) I'm enjoying the Cougar resurgence, but we do have to acknowledge that it's mostly about barely beating a Vernon Adams–less Oregon team that had a running game and nothing else.
Sam Fielder: (6) Blew out a bad OSU team, which is pretty much what we expected.
KWBears: (9) Mike Leach has got this team firing on all cylinders, albeit against subpar competition recently.
atomsareenough: (4) How did this team lose to Portland State???
Ruey Yen: (6) Yes, this is the same team that lost to Portland State.
mpeters10: (4) Nice job taking care of business against Oregon State. Now they have a road matchup with Arizona. Can the Cougs take a huge step towards a bowl game? I feel like I might be overrating the Cougs, but the rest of the conference (after the top 3) has major issues at the moment.
benwemer: (10) That Air Raid offense will get you, but I still feel like this is not a bowl-caliber team.
Solomon Kim: (5) That offense is looking potent.
Rob Hwang: (6) THE FALKANO. This team might be for real. They even got votes in the polls this week.
5. Oregon Ducks
Last week: 9
Berkelium97: (5) Suddenly the Ducks' offense has life again.
Nik Jam: (5) Great bounceback win against Washington. A healthy Oregon team is scary. Could they find their way back into the Top 25? Time will tell.
Leland Wong: (6) With QB Vernon Adams back, a lot of their offensive issues may disappear as he was able to throw for more than Oregon's season average—and against a quality defense.
boomtho: (8) 26 points reflects their offensive performances this year, but UW has quite a good defense.
Nick Kranz: (6) Is Vernon Adams going to survive the season? He's the difference between "Oregon that can beat anybody in a shootout" and "Oregon that can beat Colorado, Oregon State, and that's probably it."
Sam Fielder: (4) Managed a win against that pesky UW team, but this is still a flawed team.
KWBears: (7) Vernon Adams is back! That's all Ducks fans needed to rekindle hope in this season.
atomsareenough: (6) Was a healthy-ish Vernon Adams the difference in the Ducks not sucking?
Ruey Yen: (7) Maybe the demise of the Oregon football program has been greatly exaggerated.
mpeters10: (6) It bothers me that their offense looked competent against Washington now that Vernon Adams is healthy. I was looking forward to Cal facing an Oregon squad with zero passing threat.
benwemer: (5) Good sign for the Ducks as the passing attack was finally shown up.
Solomon Kim: (6) The Ducks pulled out a win, but they certainly struggled against the Huskies defense, and it can only serve to further lower their confidence.
Rob Hwang: (7) Last chance to right the ship this week against ASU. Both teams have a lot to lose...if they lose.
Last week: 7
Berkelium97: (7) You're not in a great position when you have to rally to beat Colorado. Fortunately for Arizona, that's a much better position than most of the conference.
Nik Jam: (7) A close win against Colorado isn't that impressive, but they should still be one of the better teams in the South.
Leland Wong: (7) The offense looked fantastic, with great balance between the run and pass.
boomtho: (4) Have them over WSU by a nose, though that might honestly be my preseason perception.
Nick Kranz: (10) My vote will probably be Arizona's lowest vote, but look at their schedule. Two wins over Colorado and Oregon State, and one of them was a close game. Meanwhile, blowout losses to Stanfurd and UCLA, which looks particularly bad now.
Sam Fielder: (5) Held off Colorado...so I guess that's something.
KWBears: (5) The Wildcats let Colorado hang around for longer than they should have. But, with Anu Solomon back, this Arizona team is certainly trending upwards.
atomsareenough: (7) The Wildcats squeaked by Colorado on the road. When does Anu Solomon get back?
Ruey Yen: (4) Wait, this team only beat the Buffs by one score and I have them at 4th in the conference?
mpeters10: (5) I've debated whether this is too high for the Wildcats since they managed to beat Colorado by only 7 points. A win is still a win, though.
benwemer: (4) They should not be this high, but I have no one else to put here.
Solomon Kim: (10) I said last week that they should win against the Buffs. They did, but it was a much more exciting match-up than I was expecting.
Rob Hwang: (5) Destroyed Oregon State. Then only beats Colorado by 7? This is the most up and down team ever.
Last week: 5
Berkelium97: (9) A dismal performance by the offense squandered a good performance (for three quarters, at least) by the defense.
Nik Jam: (6) Like Cal, they could have upset Utah if they just didn't get in their own way. Admirable effort, but a loss is a loss.
Leland Wong: (8) They gave one of the conference's top teams a good fight thanks to special teams play, but turnovers and poor offense were their doom.
boomtho: (7) Pretty competitive through most of the game against a loaded Utes team.
Nick Kranz: (9) The only impressive thing they've done is beat UCLA, which might not mean that much. Dominated by USC, A&M and Utah; clearly not ready for prime time.
Sam Fielder: (8) Utah cooled them off considerably.
KWBears: (4) ASU put up a real great fight at Utah, but came up short because they just aren't as good—so no fault of their own.
atomsareenough: (5) The Sun Devils hung tough with the Utes before falling apart at the end. Considering how bad they looked to start the year, this is progress.
Ruey Yen: (8) Looked quite competitive against the Utes.
mpeters10: (9) Their offense was awful against the Utes. Special teams and defense kept them in it longer than I thought it would.
benwemer: (8) All special teams for the Sun Devils; the offense needs to find ways to score.
Solomon Kim: (7) The Sun Devils contended with a national-caliber team for three full quarters, but utterly collapsed in the fourth. I think that's worth something.
Rob Hwang: (4) The only edge that they get over Arizona despite one more loss is they fought well at RES. This week's game against Oregon will determine their season.
8. UCLA Bruins
Last week: 4
Berkelium97: (8) Two blowout losses in a row. That's a bad position to be in with the best offense in the conference coming to town.
Nik Jam: (10) Awful back-to-back showings by UCLA. If they lose to Cal, I think the season could completely crumble for them. Not that I have a problem with that.
Leland Wong: (5) Yeesh. That was ugly, with the score 56–20 heading into the fourth quarter. They're still loaded with talent, but paired with key injuries and a freshman quarterback, you get a bipolar team.
boomtho: (6) I'm not docking them too much because Stanfurd is really freaking good right now.
Nick Kranz: (7) The advanced stats still like the Bruins, in part because they are counting games from when the defense was still healthy. Needless to say, they aren't any more.
Sam Fielder: (10) No, they aren't the 10th best team in the Pac, but they got throttled.
KWBears: (6) UCLA dropped their second game in a row. Can Rosen et al. get it together soon? Or, will that disastrous defense let them down again?
atomsareenough: (9) Maybe Mora has a Stanfurd problem, maybe not. He definitely has an injury problem, though.
Ruey Yen: (5) Bruins are still a decent team even if they didn't put up as much of a fight against Stanfurd as I would have liked to see.
mpeters10: (8) Injuries have ravaged a once promising season. They have a big game against Cal this week and should not be underestimated. Surely they can feel their season is slipping away from them. Another home loss and it will be completely off the rails.
benwemer: (7) Losing back-to-back games is never fun, but the Bruins are still a force to be reckon with.
Solomon Kim: (9) The Bruins have been taking a beating left and right and it is making an impact in their confidence.
Rob Hwang: (10) Started from the top now we're here. Oh how the mighty have fallen with three huge losses on the defensive side. The mantra of Next Man Up doesn't seem to apply to them here.
Last week: 6
Berkelium97: (6) Once again the Huskies bow down to the Ducks. This is the best UW has looked in the 12-game losing streak, but that's probably no consolation to Husky fans.
Nik Jam: (8) I think this team will go bowling, but a poor effort at home in the biggest game of the season for Huskies fans (except maybe the Apple Cup) can't be good for morale.
Leland Wong: (9) A true freshman at quarterback just wasn't enough to exploit the weak Oregon secondary, but said freshman quarterback left the game with a shoulder injury. But as usual, we have to commend their defense, which stopped the Duck run game and Royce Freeman.
boomtho: (10) Squandered a good chance against a struggling Oregon team.
Nick Kranz: (8) Different week, same story: they have a good defense, true, but Cal and Oregon (and USC's running game, when they actually handed off) made it look mortal and it's still not enough to make up for an offense that is still maybe the worst in the conference.
Sam Fielder: (7) Had the best loss of the week...so that's something I guess?
KWBears: (10) Losing Jake Browning is no bueno for the Huskies. If he doesn't get back to full health, expect U-Dub to keep dropping in these Power Rankings.
atomsareenough: (10) This was a prime chance to beat Oregon, and the Huskies blew it. Pretty weird, sub-optimal seeming game management from Petersen at the end of this one, too.
Ruey Yen: (9) Could have stayed five spots higher had they beat the Ducks last week.
mpeters10: (10) Their performance against Oregon was extremely disappointing.
benwemer: (9) Hard-fought loss against the Ducks. To this year's Huskies, that's a positive.
Solomon Kim: (4) Yes, the Huskies suffered another loss, but it is clear that they have one of the toughest defenses in the entire conference. A close loss to even a weakened Oregon is sure to fire them up.
Rob Hwang: (8) Washington ALMOST pulled off the win against Oregon, but just falls short. Jake Browning is getting better every game, but this team still lacks a little bit of fire power on the offensive side of the ball.
10. USC Trojans
Last week: 10
Berkelium97: (10) This was their chance. With a midseason coaching change, they could have upset Notre Dame to generate some momentum going into the second half of the season. Now they may not even make a bowl game.
Nik Jam: (9) Inspiring effort against Notre Dame. I really do think this team can beat Utah and by no means should Cal fans get too comfortable over this matchup. (Not that I would think anyone here would.)
Leland Wong: (10) A 10-point loss on the road to a top-15 team isn't even that bad, but they fall a little extra far for the lost preseason hopes (as a team and for QB Cody Kessler, who struggled) and until they can prove they won't collapse due to the coaching implosion.
boomtho: (9) They're going to struggle all year and still beat us by 2+ TDs.
Nick Kranz: (4) This ranking could look wildly silly in a few weeks, but does anybody really think that Washington State or Oregon are better than USC? The Trojans lost a tough game to a very good Notre Dame team on the road that could have swung either way. I blame Sark for the Washington loss, and he's gone now. If the players are willing to play for Clay Helton then I think they'll be something like the 4th best team in the conference the rest of the way. And every other team ranked 4–12 in these rankings would lose to Stanfurd and Notre Dame too.
Sam Fielder: (9) Looked like a competent team for a bit there.
KWBears: (8) Sarkisian is finally gone and done distracting this team. Too bad they had to play Notre Dame and get whooped.
atomsareenough: (8) I watched most of this one; the Trojans alternately looked hapless, talented, determined, and then ultimately worn down. Notre Dame is a better football team at the moment, but the Trojans still look a little feisty.
Ruey Yen: (10) Like to keep them lower, but they did stay close to Notre Dame.
mpeters10: (7) They played much better than I thought they would against a good Notre Dame team on the road. Can they shock the Utes this week? Probably not, but they are talented enough to do so.
benwemer: (6) Put up a good fight against ND; this team is a waste of talent unless they can prove themselves this week against Utah.
Solomon Kim: (8) At this point, I won't be surprised if the Trojans begin calling this a rebuilding season.
Rob Hwang: (9) This team is in shambles. Kessler looked good at ND but couldn't deliver in the end. Too much hype for a team that wasn't good or outside and management issues taking a toll on a talented team?
Last week: 11
Berkelium97: (11) A typical Coach Mac game: close but not quite there. Are Buff fans growing impatient yet?
Nik Jam: (11) You had it, Buffs. You had it. Reminds me of our close loss to Zona in 2013. One that they absolutely needed. They might not get another chance at a win this year.
Leland Wong: (11) I wanted to give the Buffaloes a bonus bump for keeping it close with Arizona, but I have to imagine it was just a painful gut punch for them to lose a game after leading in the fourth quarter and simply wanting more than moral victories at this point.
boomtho: (11) Kept it close against a talented Arizona team, but there may not be enough signs of life to keep Mac around much longer.
Nick Kranz: (11) The gap between Colorado/Oregon State and the rest of the Pac-12 is tremendous. The loser of next week's Beaver/Buff pillow fight will probably finish the season without a conference win.
Sam Fielder: (11) At least they aren't the worst in the Pac.
KWBears: (11) The Buffs just keep on losing. Lucky for them, they get to play the worst team in the conference next week.
atomsareenough: (11) The Buffs are great at being just not quite good enough. Pretty sure they're not going bowling this year, again.
Ruey Yen: (11) They play Oregon State for the cellar spot next week.
mpeters10: (11) I think Coach Mac might be running out of time to turn this thing around.
benwemer: (11) Coach Mac didn't get the guarantee and things with Colorado should be coming to a close.
Solomon Kim: (11) Another instance when Colorado's record does not accurately portray their potential. Still not up to Pac-12 snuff, but NOT a bad team.
Rob Hwang: (11) They're in a lot of close games. Against Oregon, Against Arizona. They stay in it but just can't seem to get over the hump and win. That being said, they'll pull off at least one upset this year.
Last week: 12
Berkelium97: (12) Should have stayed at Wisconsin, Gary.
Nik Jam: (12) Granted, no one can say "How bad are you if you lose to WASHINGTON STATE???" this season, but that was bad. I'm not sure it's going to get better for them.
Leland Wong: (12) By yardage, QB Seth Collins was basically 75% of the offense. That overreliance is gonna make it tough to win games.
boomtho: (12) Cellar dwellars, probably for the whole year. =/
Nick Kranz: (12) If you believe S&P's rankings, only Kansas prevents the Beavers from being the very worst Power 5 team.
Leland Wong: The very Kansas team that features our old buddies Coaches Likens and Yenser. Hooray?
Sam Fielder: (12) The rebuilding has commenced in earnest.
KWBears: (12) The Beavers are a bad team—there's just no way around that fact. Did Mike Riley jump ship at the right time?
atomsareenough: (12) Yup, the Beavers are still at the bottom.
Ruey Yen: (12) Play Colorado for the cellar spot next week.
mpeters10: (12) Anyone want to try to explain why Shurod Thompson committed to this dumpster fire instead of sticking with Cal?
benwemer: (12) Bleh.
Solomon Kim: (12) I understand it's a rebuilding year and all, but I didn't think the Beavs would get hammered this hard.
Rob Hwang: (12) There wasn't a lot of optimism going into this season. But they do have optimism going forward. Seth Collins will be one heck of a dual-threat QB. Just not this season.
Said rankings are obtained by polling fifteen of our averagest CGB writers. Take a look at how we each voted in a nice summarized version so you know whom you should send your hate mail to.
Table 1. Our votes.
Contrary to the perpetual accusations in the comments, there is no hivemind, so there is no unanimity in our responses (except that we all agree that the Beavers suck). So we can take a look at how conflicted we were based on standard deviation. Twist doesn't pay me enough to explain standard deviation mathematically, but just remember that if a team has a large standard deviation, then our votes for that team were all over the place. Conversely, having a small standard deviation means we all voted similarly. And there's nothing we love more than showing standard deviation as error bars!
Figure 1. This week's precisely averaged rankings with standard deviation in the error bars.
I hope you're ready for some astute observations because I'm about to spit some venom. Take a look at the error bars on the top three teams (Utah, Furd, and Cal) and the bottom two teams (Colorado and OSU). You probably cheated and already noticed this, but now take a look at the standard deviations for the seven teams in the middle—they so big! And everyone knows that bigger is not always better! Here, this shows some strong consensus about the top and bottom of the conference and indecision when it comes to the middle of the Pac due to the parity and bipolar performances this year.
When we graph out these precise rankings over time, I think the differences between the teams are more clear. (Is it because we remove the error bars? I don't know. Someone smarter than me should know. Tell me why! [Ain't nothing, but a heartache. Tell me why! Ain't nothing but a mistake.]) Plus, we get to see trends. Trends are cool, like skinny jeans and pogs!
Figure 2. Precise rankings + time = pretty-ness?
Further proving that point about having three tiers in the conference, I think it's a bit more clear here. Three at the top, seven in the middle, and two at the bottom. Do I think Cal objectively belongs in the same tier as Utah and Stanfurd? Probably not... They're above the muck, but don't yet have the quality win to belong in that top tier yet and the most accurate evaluation would probably be for Cal to be in a fourth tier on our own.
But hey, let's make things a bit more uniform by assigning the teams to 1st, 2nd, 12th rankings.
Figure 3. Averaged rankings + time = pretty-ness?
Boo Stanfurd for breaking the season-long trend of the second-ranked team falling. Why must good things happen to true evil? And let me really hammer home that point about the muddled middle much: the top three teams of this middle (WSU, Oregon, and Arizona) are all on the rise from the last week. The next three teams of this middle (ASU, UCLA, and Wash) are all on the fall since last week. And USC is staying steady, but part of me thinks we're being hard on them for a road loss to a ranked team. But hooray for the top three and bottom three teams holding steady!
|Change on week|
Table 2. Madness is up and down is madness is life.
Our Madness just keeps on hammering that point of the craziness of the Pac-12 this season. Despite half of the conference registering a Madness score of 0 this week, the middle six teams moved around so much that the Madness score this week is comparable to each other week this year.
If you enjoyed our Power Rankings, then come back next week for more data-driven Pac-12 evaluations! And if you didn't enjoy it, then stop lying because this shit's on fleek and you know it.