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Pac-12 Football Power Rankings, Week 8: All our nightmares come to life—just in time for Halloween

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There are no words for this week's terror.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Leland Wong: Hello from the other side. Of the computer screen that is. Or tablet screen. Or smartphone screen. I can probably cover all of my bases by saying of the device screen, but that just sounds weird.

Welcome to ye olde Power Rankings. In which ye olde and ye young writers doth ranketh thine teams by overall body of work, with some emphasis on the most recent week. The rankings listed below are averaged out by our team of 14 writers. The parenthetic number next to each team's name is the number of first-place votes they received. That other parenthetical number—the ones next to the writers' names—will tell you where that writer ranked said team. And in the event of a tie—which happened this week for the first time all season—those teams will be listed alphabetically.

The rankings

1. Stanfurd Cardinal (14) Arrow_up__9-8-14_medium
Pac-12 logos- Stanfurd

Last week: 2

Nick Kranz: (1) There is a very significant margin between Stanfurd and everybody else. I fully expect them to enter the Pac-12 title game 11–1.

Berkelium97: (1) Hello darkness, my old friend...

perryscope: (1) Best team in the conference by far.

boomtho: (1) Hate to say it, but they're the best team in the conference. It's not even close and the gap appears to be widening.

Leland Wong: (1) At this point, they're simply rolling more than Limp Bizkit. I'm not reading into their defensive performance because Wash is already bad, especially with their backup quarterback. Their offense underperformed relatively—since they were up against a tough defense—but still looked pretty good.

Nik Jam: (1) I wonder if there's anything I can sell to get Stanfurd to stop being good forever. My soul? My left arm? My chances of finding true love and happiness? Oh wait.

Sam Fielder: (1) I've run out of snarky things to say about this team being so good.

Ruey Yen: (1) Okay, okay. I have given up on ranking Cal first and have to replace us with Furd at the top. May their reign of terror be a short one. I don't see them going undefeated in Pac-12 play.

atomsareenough: (1) Blah.

mpeters10: (1) Best team in the Pac-12 by a mile. Legitimate threat for the College Football Playoff.

KWBears: (1) Is there any Pac-12 team playing better than Furd right now? With Utah falling from the national scene, Furd is the Pac-12's closest hope for getting to the CFB Playoffs right now.

Benwemer: (1) Showing why they are the best team in this conference. Christian McCaffrey is an absolute beast.

2T. USC Trojans Arrow_up__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- USC

Last week: 10

Nick Kranz: (3) I have them 3rd to dock them for their Sarkisian-related follies, but they're at least the 2nd–most talented team in the conference and they have a coach that looks unlikely to get in the way.

Berkelium97: (3) Death spiral averted.

perryscope: (4) Huge win for a reeling program. Without Sark, the Trojans look motivated and flat-out better.

boomtho: (2) Big, potentially season-changing win for the Trojans, potentially putting them back into the Pac-12 South race

Leland Wong: (3) This is what we've been saying all along—they have the raw talent to win any game. Even with Utes QB Travis Wilson having a good year, I think every team had the plan to stop Devontae Booker and force Wilson to make plays—but they were the only team with the talent to execute it.

Nik Jam: (4) What a win over Utah! Still putting them under UCLA because they have more losses than UCLA, but they might have a better shot at the Pac-12 South than the Bruins.

Sam Fielder: (2) Thank Utah for giving SC newfound confidence right before they play Cal.

Ruey Yen: (4) Dysfunctional, but talented. I would not be surprised either way if they play very well or very poorly the rest of the way.

atomsareenough: (4) Almost impossible to get a read on the Trojans right now..

mpeters10: (3) So that's what USC looks like with a competent coach? When they are firing on all cylinders, they are extremely good. They're hardly ever firing on all cylinders, though.

KWBears: (3) Without Sarkisian, the Trojans seem to have finally found their form again.

Benwemer: (2) Cal should have a chance to beat whatever USC team shows up.

2T. Utah Utes Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- Utah

Last week: 1

Nick Kranz: (2) It's unfair to say that Travis Wilson is the fulcrum that decides how Utah performs, but it's easy to see the difference between the Utes when they have efficient Wilson vs. can't-see-a-linebacker Travis Wilson.

Berkelium97: (4) They're still in the driver's seat for the Pac-12 South, but the margin for error has narrowed. Fortunately for the Utes, the remaining schedule is fairly light.

perryscope: (3) Blown out by USC. Still controls destiny to win Pac-12 South, but now it's very wide open.

boomtho: (4) Not going to penalize them too much given their body of work so far. I just want to know—how did Vegas know how this game would play out?!

Leland Wong: (2) Not only did they fall from the top, but boy did they have a glorious faceplant. The defense was pretty good at limiting the Trojan's yards per carry, but still allowed touchdowns on the ground and didn't have any answers for the passing game.

Nik Jam: (5) No shame in losing at USC, but the way they lost wasn't very becoming of a potential playoff team. Still, they can bounce back.

Sam Fielder: (7) A good-but-not-great team that had their flaws thoroughly exposed.

Ruey Yen: (2) Still a solid team that controls their own destiny to win the Pac-12 South.

atomsareenough: (2) Utes still in control of the Pac-12 South.

mpeters10: (4) Travis Wilson holds this team back. After watching their game against Cal a few weeks ago, I didn't think they were good enough to run the table through the Pac-12 regular season. It turns out they were not good enough. They were exposed a bit against USC, but they still control their own destiny in the South division.

KWBears: (4) Get shellacked by USC is not a good look. Is Utah headed back to their normal obscurity after a few weeks in the limelight?

Benwemer: (3) Now on the outside for a playoff birth, but still in the thick of things for the South.

4. UC Los Angeles Bruins Arrow_up__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- UCLA

Last week: 8

Nick Kranz: (4) One understandable (if ugly) loss to Stanfurd and a marginally more perplexing loss to ASU. I expect them to race through their next three games to set up critical games against Utah and USC to decide the South in November.

Berkelium97: (5) Apparently they can still be pretty good despite the mountain of injuries.

perryscope: (5) Steamrolled Cal and looked great offensively and defensively.

boomtho: (5) UCLA looked rejuvenated playing against a much less imposing side, Cal, than the week before vs. Stanfurd. (That sentence was so painful to type out.)

Leland Wong: (4) They looked great on offense and the defense was able to stop the famed Bear Raid. The Bruins get a tiny ding for having so many injuries, but that doesn't really matter since they can apparently just win regardless.

Nik Jam: (3) Statement win over Cal puts them right in the thick of things in the South because of USC's win.

Sam Fielder: (3) They certainly looked every bit the class team we thought they'd be at the beginning of the year.

Ruey Yen: (3) Bruins have yet to play Utah and can control their destiny to win the Pac-12 South.

atomsareenough: (3) Big win against Cal could portend a turnaround for the Bruins, but I suspect the injuries are going to be too much to overcome over the course of the season.

mpeters10: (5) Huge win for the depleted Bruins against a flat Cal team. They are still alive for the South division championship.

KWBears: (2) Josh Rosen is back—and that's a scary thought for all opposing teams.

Benwemer: (4) Big W and losses around the South shake things up for the Bruins.

5. Washington State Cougars Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- WSU

Last week: 4

Nick Kranz: (5) Thrilled that the Cougs are a competitive outfit again. Still—don't get carried away—winning coin flip games against Arizona and Oregon doesn't mean you should expect Wazzu to hand with Stanfurd. Not that I WANT to crush all hope . . .

Berkelium97: (2) Are the Cougs the second-best team in the league? Probably not. But winning three in a row—including two on the road—is no small feat in conference play this year. Averaging 600 yards per game during the streak, the Air Raid is flying high as the Lobsterbacks get ready to visit Pullman.

perryscope: (2) They've been rolling offensively and winning games because of it.

boomtho: (3) Don't look now, but Mike Leach's squad has three wins in a row, including two road wins.

Leland Wong: (5) Let's not read too much into their win since Arizona is struggling this year, but it was a big win for the oft-struggling program and QB Luke Falk continues to put up monster stats.

Nik Jam: (2) Like Cal, they are taking advantage of an easy schedule, but given expectations after losing to Portland State, being 5–2 and on a recent tear gives them the number-two spot. I hope they beat Stanfurd, but if not, they'll probably fall near the bottom for me.

Sam Fielder: (4) Wow. This team is really coming on.

Ruey Yen: (6) The Cougs don't have to play Utah this year. I, for one, would love to move them up after this weekend. Wazzu faces Furd this weekend. Portland State who?

atomsareenough: (6) Can the Cougs stop the Cardinal freight train?? I feel like they're singlehandedly standing in the way of a Stanfurd division title... which isn't a great feeling.

mpeters10: (2) I can't believe I have them ranked second, but they're playing really well at the moment.

KWBears: (5) The high-flying Air Raid is back!

Benwemer: (6) Three straight wins. All I can say is wow.

6. California Golden Bears (0? I'm a little concerned for Ruey's health at this point...) Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- Cal

Last week: 3

Nick Kranz: (7) It was a bad match-up—UCLA brought their A game and Cal brought their F game, so it's very tempting to overreact. It's important to remember that we have seen this team compete this season. It's not time to give up on them yet.

Berkelium97: (7) The Bear Raid has been stuck in neutral for about a month now.

perryscope: (7) They need to find rhythm offensively or the rest of the season is in jeopardy. The defense didn't play well, but they got no help from the offense and was forced onto the field for far too long.

boomtho: (6) Sonny is going to have to prove, sooner rather than later, that he's at least on a path to put together a team that can compete with the California schools

Leland Wong: (8) All season, we've been saying that it's hard to gauge the Golden Bears since they didn't have any wins over any quality teams; they missed their opportunity to do that by looking completely impotent on offense and defense.

Nik Jam: (7) They still have the potential to do great things, but need a miracle to get back into the Pac-12 North race. Might just have to hope Wazzu or Oregon can steal the title from Stanfurd and not let Furd's success spoil any kind of bowl bid that Cal might get.

Sam Fielder: (11) The other shoe always drops because Cal. Hopefully that beatdown serves as a rallying point for the team.

Ruey Yen: (5) I still believe that this year will be quite special. Finally beating USC would mean so much.

atomsareenough: (5) Did the Bears lay an egg against UCLA? Yes. Are we nonetheless 5–2 with a great opportunity to beat USC this week? Yes.

mpeters10: (6) I expected so much more against UCLA. Extremely disappointing.

KWBears: (8) Cal's O- and D-lines are just disasters. Until Cal gets those two elements figured out, expect Cal to keep on losing. Other teams now have the blueprint for defeating the Golden Bears.

Benwemer: (5) Back-to-back losses in the hardest part of their schedule. Time to see what the Bears are made of.

7. Oregon Ducks Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- Oregon

Last week: 5

Nick Kranz: (8) Oregon fans spent their bye week hoping that a healthy Vernon Adams is the answer to most of their problems.

boomtho: (7) Expect them to rise, but hard to justify a higher ranking given the body of work (and the fact they were on a bye).

Leland Wong: (6) They get a tiny bye-week boost for feeling better about getting their quarterback back.

Nik Jam: (6) Need some good bounces to win the Pac-12 North, but I think they are a potential candidate at knocking off Stanfurd.

Sam Fielder: (5) I expect they'll have a huge game against The Devils to get their mojo back just in time to play us.

Ruey Yen: (8) It might be too early to write this year's Ducks off. I still think Cal is a favorite next weekend.

atomsareenough: (8) Bye week.

mpeters10: (7) The Ducks have a big matchup with Arizona State this week. The offense looked a lot better with a healthy Vernon Adams at QB last week against the Huskies. We'll see how they perform against an Arizona State defense that held up well for the most part against Utah one week ago.

KWBears: (6) As long as the Ducks have Adams under center, they will be good.

Benwemer: (7) Hopefully they win this week so Cal can beat them at their best.

8. Arizona State Sun Devils Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- ASU

Last week: 7

Nick Kranz: (6) Not really sure what to make of this team. They looked bad in all of their losses, but those losses came against potentially very good teams. With every South contender in the rear view mirror, ASU might be favored in every single game down the stretch.

Leland Wong: (7) The Sun Devils can be a great team if they get out of their own way.

Ruey Yen: (7) A dangerous team that is probably good enough to beat anyone in the Pac.

atomsareenough: (7) Bye week.

mpeters10: (8) Their matchup with Oregon should be interesting as both teams have had extra time to prepare.

KWBears: (7) Are the Sun Devils ready to live up to their preseason hype? Recent results appear to be so.

Benwemer: (8) They have the talent, just not producing.

9. Arizona Wildcats Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 SBN logos- Arizona

Last week: 6

Nick Kranz: (10) Again—we didn't learn much new about Arizona. The offense is frisky enough to maybe pull an upset, but my goodness is the defense going to make that unlikely.

Berkelium97: (9) That pass defense is atrocious.

boomtho: (9) Losing at home to WSU is not a good sign in a season full of bad signs.

Leland Wong: (9) So they now have a QB battle? Are the effects of lacking a bye week starting to wear on them?

Nik Jam: (10) Not convinced this team is that good. Should be able to find a sixth win to become bowl eligible, but no longer have any cheap ones as Oregon St and Colorado have come and gone (and they are the source of Zona's only two conference wins).

Sam Fielder: (10) I can't figure out if they're just too hurt or bad or what.

Ruey Yen: (9) They pushed Wazzu last week; that means something more than usual.

atomsareenough: (9) Offense looks a little better, but another loss for the Wildcats. What a strange season for Arizona.

mpeters10: (9) The Cats could very easily be in the top four of my rankings if they had beaten Washington State, but they find themselves ninth in a very tough conference to rank teams.

KWBears: (9) Losing to WSU at home is never good. What happened to the magic the Wildcats supposedly had with Solomon back?

Benwemer: (9) How good are you?

10. Washington Huskies Arrow_down__9-8-14_medium
Pac-12 logos- Washington

Last week: 9

Nick Kranz: (9) We didn't really learn anything new from the Stanfurd game, other than confirming that UW's season is now solely about the fight for bowl eligibility.

Berkelium97: (10) A foil of our 2014 team: a great defense is continually let down by a dysfunctional offense.

perryscope: (9) Losing back-to-back games doesn't bode well for Chris Petersen's squad.

boomtho: (10) The defense competed, but Petersen's offense looks hopeless.

Leland Wong: (11) A bad team just got a lot worse without their starting quarterback. On the bright side, they know that the coaches made the right decision to start Jake Browning and their defense did a great job of holding the great Furd offense (boy does it feel weird to say that) below the scoring average that they've set for the past month or so.

Nik Jam: (9) Starting to doubt this team will go bowling...

Sam Fielder: (8) Just overmatched and undermanned against the class of the Pac-12.

Ruey Yen: (10) I'm yo-yoing UW in my ranking on a week-to-week basis.

atomsareenough: (10) Offense is still bad. Holding Stanfurd to 31 somehow seems like an accomplishment right now though.

mpeters10: (10) They had a bye week to think about how pathetic they were against Oregon. The Huskies need to beat Arizona or their season could be lost.

KWBears: (10) Losing Browning was the beginning of the end of the Huskies' 2015 season.

Benwemer: (10) I don't think the Dawgs are bowling this year.

11. Colorado Buffaloes Arrow_neutral__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- Colorado

Last week: 11

Nick Kranz: (11) Congrats to the Buffs for winning their 5th Pac-12 game in program history. Their best chance at #6 is probably a road trip to Pullman. What I'm saying is it's probably best to enjoy this one as long as possible.

Berkelium97: (11) Mac's second conference win as CU coach cements the Buffs' status as not-the-worst-team-in-the-Pac-12.

boomtho: (11) Conference win for Coach Mac!

Leland Wong: (10) Normally, a win—a close win, nonetheless—over this year's Beavers wouldn't mean much in the Power Rankings, but for a struggling team like the Buffs who broke an in-conference losing streak, they get bonus points from me.

Sam Fielder: (9) They won the battle of the weaklings.

Ruey Yen: (11) Beating Oregon State last week means the Buffs stay away from the cellar.

atomsareenough: (11) Conference win for Colorado! Yes it was against a hapless Oregon State team, but I'm sure the Buffs will take it.

mpeters10: (11) Congratulations! You are not the worst team in the conference ... barely.

KWBears: (11) The Buffs finally get a Pac-12 win—their first since 2013. Don't expect any more this year.

Benwemer: (11) They beat OSU, so now they aren't the worst team in the Pac.

12. Oregon State Beavers Arrow_neutral__9-8-14_medium

Pac-12 logos- OSU

Last week: 12

Nick Kranz: (12) If losing to Colorado at home isn't a flashing neon sign that says "multi-year rebuild", then I don't know what is.

Berkelium97: (12) The Beavs' QB situation is an utter disaster.

boomtho: (12) Beavers are straight sadness right now.

Leland Wong: (12) Shhhhh... don't worry about the results or scores this year. It's a rebuilding year. Just accept your life in the basement. At least you had a chance last week.

Nik Jam: (12) Cal really needs to make sure—even if they're riding a four game losing streak—to not let Oregon State have any prayer of pulling off the upset. This team is just bad.

Sam Fielder: (12) They're just bad, man.

Ruey Yen: (12) Have I mentioned how scared I am of the eventual Cal–Oregon State game next month?

atomsareenough: (12) Brutal.

mpeters10: (12) Oh dear ...

KWBears: (12) The Beavers are a disaster. Period.

Benwemer: (12) It's just a rebuilding stage.

The data

Yup. That's right. Stanfurd at top. Our worst, most heartbreaking-est possibility possible.

Rk atoms benwemer Bk97 boomtho KWBears Leland mpeters10 Nick Nik Jam P'scope ragnarok Rob Ruey Sam
1 Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd
2 Utah USC WSU USC UCLA Utah WSU Utah WSU WSU Utah Utah Utah USC
3 UCLA Utah USC WSU USC USC USC USC UCLA Utah UCLA WSU UCLA UCLA
4 USC UCLA Utah Utah Utah UCLA Utah UCLA USC USC USC UCLA USC WSU
5 Cal Cal UCLA UCLA WSU WSU UCLA WSU Utah UCLA Cal USC Cal Oregon
6 WSU WSU ASU Cal Oregon Oregon Cal ASU Oregon Oregon WSU ASU WSU ASU
7 ASU Oregon Cal Oregon ASU ASU Oregon Cal Cal Cal Oregon Arizona ASU Utah
8 Oregon ASU Oregon ASU Cal Cal ASU Oregon ASU ASU Wash Oregon Oregon Wash
9 Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Wash Wash Wash ASU Cal Arizona Colorado
10 Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Colorado Wash Arizona Arizona Arizona Colorado Wash Wash Arizona
11 Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Wash Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Arizona Colorado Colorado Cal
12 OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU

Table 1. The ways in which we voted.

And while it looks like there's a nice little tie at second, when you look at how exactly our numbers averaged out, you see the Furd was a head and shoulders (and upper arm and elbows) above the rest.

Week 08-1

Figure 1. The precise rankings for Week 8, where the error bars represent one standard deviation—a measure of discrepancies in our votes.

Looks like we've got lots of clusters this week. Furd up top. USC, Utah, UC L.A., and WSU are nearly tied, as are the pairs of Cal/Oregon/ASU and Arizona/Wash. In fact, at one point while compiling the votes, we simultaneously had one two-way tie and a three-way tie.

Like clockwork, this is the point in the post where I include the precise rankings graphed over time. And this week, I'm including a minor old feature that I forgot all about. Labels! That should make it easier to follow the lines if it gets a little confusing. Maybe one day I'll learn how to easily place school logos there instead...

Week 08-2

Figure 2. This season's precise rankings. Now with labels!

Look at that huge skyrocketing by the Trojans! And after our great rise, Cal has dropped down almost exactly where we were ranked in the preseason.

The precise rankings—i.e., the ones given in the main text of the article—can also be graphed over time.

Week 08-3

Figure 3. Precise rankings! Time! Labels! Hurrah!

We also like to measure how far the teams bounce up and down each week because that gives us more excuses to talk about USC.

Change on week
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Post Team's Madness
Arizona -1 0 1 -2 -2 2 1 -3 12
ASU -4 -1 -1 0 3 1 -2 -1 13
Cal 3 1 1 0 1 -1 0 -3 10
Colorado 1 0 1 0 -1 0 0 0 3
Oregon -2 -2 3 -6 1 -2 4 -2 22
OSU 3 -4 1 -1 0 0 0 0 9
Stanfurd -4 1 3 2 1 1 0 1 13
UC L.A. 3 0 0 -1 -3 1 -4 4 16
USC -2 2 -5 2 1 -6 0 8 26
Utah 5 -1 -1 3 0 0 0 -1 11
Washington 0 2 -1 2 -2 2 -3 -1 13
WSU -2 2 -2 1 1 2 4 -1 15
Total Madness 30 16 20 20 16 18 18 25 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Table 2. Our measure of how much the teams move up and down our Rankings.

Well, look at that. USC makes the biggest move of the season, restoring their title as Maddest team of the conference. As per usual.