It was a mostly quiet week of Pac-12 action last weekend, but that's not going to stop us from pumping out more content. Gotta get those page views, so here's our Power Rankings! This week especially, it's important to note that this isn't our assessment of these teams' abilities or ranking them out by who's better; there's a large component of recent performance, so don't freak out when you see a certain team rather high...
But since we're starting to tease this week's rankings, let's just say that things aren't so pretty for UCLA this week. They've got a little egg on their face, which is almost as embarrassing as showing up on national TV looking like this:
The following Power Rankings are averaged out by the votes of 15 CGB writers. The parenthetical number next to each team's name is the number of first-place votes and you can see how each writer ranked each team as it's listed parenthetically next to that writer's name.
1. Utah Utes (13)
Last week: 1
William Bennet Perry: (1) With UCLA losing at home, the Utes stand alone as the best team in the conference. College GameDay will be there when Cal travels to Utah this weekend.
Leland Wong: (1) The Utes have the best résumé in the conference and have a pretty little bye week to rest up before College GameDay comes to their campus for a top-25 undefeated-vs.-undefeated contest.
Nik Jam: (1) Despite not playing a game this weekend they're still tops for me. Plus, typically when I put teams at #1 they stumble (Oregon, UCLA, USC), so why not put them there?
atomsareenough: (1) Coming off a bye week, the top-10 Utes have College GameDay coming into town and a chance to beat a ranked, undefeated Cal team.
mpeters10: (1) Playing Cal will be an interesting test for the Utes. Jared Goff, Kenny Lawler and co. are a much more dangerous threat than the Ducks' passing attack. Where do the Utes fall on the spectrum? Are they more like the 62–20 win against Oregon or 24–14 against Utah State? This match-up with Cal will make that picture clearer.
Benwemer: (1) As of now, the Utes look like the best team in the Pac. GameDay is coming to Salt Lake City in a highly anticipated match-up. If Utah can beat Cal, they have a legit shot at making the College Football Playoff.
Ruey Yen: (2) The Utes had a bye week to think about being highly ranked and feel that pressure.
Sam Fielder: (1) Head and shoulders above so far.
KWBears: (1) Utah didn't even have to play a game for UCLA to fall out of contention for the top spot.
ragnarok: (1) The Utes had a great week, getting to sit at home, watch the South race get upended as UCLA blew it at home vs. Arizona State, then learned they get to host College GameDay the following weekend.
Solomon Kim: (1) The Utes are honestly pretty terrifying. Not only does their offense produce effectively, but their defense is proving itself to be the top squad in the conference. Coming off of a bye, they'll have had plenty of time to study up on our Bears.
Rob Hwang: (1) By default even though they didn't play this week.
2. California Golden Bears (2)
Last week: 3
Berkelium97: (1) Weaknesses continue to fester, but this is the only 5–0 team in the Pac-12. And I wanted to put Cal at 1st because this is quite likely our last chance to do so.
Nick Kranz (3) If I were not a Cal fan, I'd look at this team and think that they might be in for a rude awakening soon. But I am a Cal fan so WOOO UNDEFEATED KING IN THE NORTH.
William Bennet Perry: (3) Came away with the W after a score against Wazzu. They disrupted our offensive line a good amount and that worries me coming into Utah, who has a much more physical defense than WSU. On a positive side, Cal's defense has forced nine turnovers in the last two conference games.
Leland Wong: (3) I have to echo that this vote is less about how good I think each team is and has that emphasis on "what have you done for me lately". Simply put, the Bears are on a hot streak, but it's a bit unsettling to "only" manage close wins against mediocre competition.
Nik Jam: (3) Until they lose, I'm still gonna give Cal a high ranking. 5–0 (2–0) is 5–0 (2–0), but of course, they will be tested this month.
atomsareenough: (2) Cal is the only undefeated team in the Pac-12 North and a division championship is suddenly conceivable. The opportunity is there—will the Bears grab it?
mpeters10: (3) 5–0 (2–0)! Now the hard part begins for our Bears. Utah, away; UCLA, away; USC home; Oregon, away. I know it is a lot to ask, but if the Bears can go 3–1, then the match-up with Stanfurd could be for the North Championship (as long as we could beat Oregon State and Arizona State, too). Anyways, we should focus on Utah for now. College GameDay is at a Cal game! It should be fun to see how our Bears handle this test on national television.
Benwemer: (2) Cal is off to such a good start, but they may go downhill fast. Starting off next week at Utah. After that they play ucla, usc, and then Oregon. A very hard slate.
Ruey Yen: (1) I have had the Bears here all season long. I hope I can justify having them here this time next week. This ranking includes a huge leap of faith that the Bears will continue to improve each week.
Sam Fielder: (2) Can't argue with no losses.
KWBears: (4) Barely beating Wazzu is not good, but winning is still a good thing.
ragnarok: (2) The Bears are probably only the 5th-best team (or so) in the Pac-12, but 5–0 is still perfect. As the schedule takes a step up in difficulty, I expect that the Bears are likely to go no better than 4–3 the rest of the way.
Solomon Kim: (2) As the only undefeated team in the North, the Bears are building up a whole lot of hype. It's because of that fact that I can say I'm sort of happy we're barely squeezing by our opponents since it keeps us on edge and unsatisfied with where we're at. That being said, we need to get much better at starting our engine and learn to floor it till that final whistle ends the fourth quarter.
Rob Hwang: (2) Hey, we're pretty good.
Last week: 4
Berkelium97: (3) Who are you and what have you done with David Shaw's offense?
Nick Kranz (2) Worst nightmare coming true. Defense doesn't look significantly downgraded despite talent drain and the offense is no longer hamstrung by conservatism.
William Bennet Perry: (2) Absolutely embarrassed the Wildcats at home. Since their catastrophic offensive performance at Northwestern, the Cardinal has averaged just over 42 points a game. Scary when you combine that with a consistently solid defense.
Leland Wong: (2) I don't think Arizona is a particularly tough opponent at this point in the season (thanks to various injuries), but averaging 8.3 yards per play in non–garbage time is madness that you just have to respect.
Nik Jam: (2) Hate to say it. They're the favorites in the Pac-12 North and it may already be over unless Cal can survive the October gauntlet.
atomsareenough: (3) I am still shocked that the Cardinal offense is looking as good as it is. But here we are—Kevin Hogan is completing passes at a ridiculously high rate and their stable of running backs is racking up yardage like a vintage Harbaugh team. Must be nice having an O-line like that.
BTW Nik Jam, "it may already be over"?? Of course it isn't over. We have a tough stretch, but who knows—Stanfurd could lose to UCLA or Washington or anyone, really. They've already lost once this season. Even if we lose one, we could still beat them and win the North. We have no idea. That's why they play the games. At this point, each team's destiny is still in its own hands, with so many games left to play.
Nik Jam: Very true. But let me be negative! It'll make it sweeter if I'm wrong lol. I have my reasons to be worried.
mpeters10: (2) David Shaw must be a wizard because his team looks entirely different from the squad that was lambasted by Northwestern to open the season. Stanfurd is on a bye this upcoming week, but the schedule looks soft after the home game against UCLA. The Bruins appear to have one too many injuries on defense at this point to be expected to beat Stanfurd, though it could happen. What does this mean? The Cardinal could be 9–1 (8–0) when they face Cal late during the season and are the favorites to win the North at this point.
Benwemer: (3) In all honesty, I think Kevin Hogan's team is the frontrunner for the North crown. Just be ready when the Bear Raid comes.
Ruey Yen: (3) That Northwestern game looks more and more like a fluke with every week.
Sam Fielder: (3) This was more fun in week 1 when they were terrible.
KWBears: (2) Furd looks really good now, and that's not good for the rest of the conference.
ragnarok: (3) The opening weekend faceplant at Northwestern looks more and more inexplicable.
Solomon Kim: (3) I think I forget that Northwestern is ranked and undefeated too. Regardless, the Furd is absolutely soaring under the radar and seems ready to blow up the conference.
Rob Hwang: (3) I hate this pick but they are definitely the most balanced team on both sides of the ball in the Pac-12.
4. USC Trojans
Last week: 5
Leland Wong: (4) Their one loss came at the hands of one of the conference's top teams and they have the kind of elite talent to always play well and feel pretty comfortable.
Nik Jam: (4) The best shot for a non-Utah team to win the Pac-12 South. Should be able to hold serve against Washington, but who knows?
atomsareenough: (4) Trojans are off, but the Bruins and Wildcats both lose. The team they already beat last week—ASU—looks a lot better. Not a bad week for USC.
mpeters10: (4) USC should handle Washington this week, but we'll see how it goes since Sark could Sark at any moment. After that, USC plays Notre Dame, Utah, and Cal. USC could win all three of those games and launch themselves back into the playoff picture, but are they capable? USC hasn't been able to do that sort of thing in a while now.
Benwemer: (4) Had an off week, but still have plenty of time to win the South.
Ruey Yen: (4) Another team with a bye. They move up due to that UCLA loss.
Sam Fielder: (4) Suddenly that ASU win looks better.
KWBears: (3) USC still has more athletes than anyone else.
ragnarok: (4) A nice week off for the Trojans as well.
Solomon Kim: (4) So UCLA lost. To ASU at that.
Rob Hwang: (5) Kessler is playing well, but yet has not been really tested by being in a close game.
5. UCLA Bruins
Last week: 2
Berkelium97: (6) Hello darkness, my old friend...
Nick Kranz (6) Josh Rosen is clearly talented, but still too young to carry an offense. Can UCLA get the run game going again next week vs. Stanfurd?
William Bennet Perry: (5) Disappointing loss to a team that hasn't had success all year. UCLA plays better on the road than they do at home in the Jim Mora era and this does not bode well for the chances of a Pac-12 team in the playoff. The Pac-12 South continues to be a merry-go-round.
Leland Wong: (6) The Bruins struggled moving the ball and converting on third down against a dangerous Sun Devils defense that kept Josh Rosen rattled. UCLA just has to hope this isn't their new normal with so many key players injured.
Nik Jam: (6) Horrible loss to Arizona State, but they still control their own destiny.
atomsareenough: (5) We all knew the Bruins were going to have a game like this, right? Right??
mpeters10: (5) UCLA under Jim Mora seems allergic to the Rose Bowl ... which is a bit of a problem when the Rose Bowl is your home stadium and a major target for Pac 12 teams. Can the Bruins overcome a deflating defeat to Arizona State and pick themselves up for match-ups with Stanfurd and Cal? Or will injuries derail a once promising season?
Benwemer: (5) That's college football for you. One week you're on the top of the world, the next you're losing by 15 to ASU.
Ruey Yen: (5) The Bruins almost pulled off a win there. That saved them one spot in my ranking this week.
Sam Fielder: (9) All those injuries finally catch up.
KWBears: (6) Losing—and looking bad—to ASU is not a good thing. QB Josh Rosen is going to get his lumps in now.
ragnarok: (6) A complete team effort—in that no one part of the team outperformed any other part. There's still plenty of chance to get back into the South race, but the Bruins have pretty much used up their playoff margin of error.
Solomon Kim: (5) So UCLA lost. To ASU at that.
Rob Hwang: (4) Josh Rosen once again showing he's still a true freshman, but the defense is starting to melt down without Jack, Vanderdoes, and Moreau.
Last week: 9
Berkelium97: (5) A great win in Pasadena revitalizes a team that has mostly looked terrible this year.
Nick Kranz (5) The ASU defense we expected preseason finally came to play and stoned UCLA's previously dominant run game.
William Bennet Perry: (6) Terrific win in Pasadena and for a team that has underachieved behind all reason to go on the road and knock off the #7-ranked team in the country is outstanding. Mike Bercovici had a great game in the air and on the ground.
Leland Wong: (5) I was just talking with valued CGBers the federer express and Raptor Apocalypse about how scary the Sun Devils would be when everything clicks for them. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they were on the other side of the field for that game. The most significant question is if they can keep playing at this level for a run of games—if not the season.
Nik Jam: (5) Are the Sun Devils back or is "road team magic" really a thing in the Pac-12?
atomsareenough: (6) That was more like the team we were expecting before the season. Does this mean that ASU has found its legs or was it just one good performance by an inconsistent team?
mpeters10: (7) Will the real Sun Devils please stand up?
Benwemer: (7) Great, great win against ucla. Are the Sun Devils back? Is this the team we were expecting to see? Most importantly can they continue to play like they did for the rest of the season?
Ruey Yen: (8) That's a nice win over UCLA... at UCLA.
Sam Fielder: (6) They finally showed what we thought they could be.
KWBears: (5) Dominant performance over UCLA gets ASU major points in my rankings. Are the Sun Devils finally back to form?
ragnarok: (5) Where has *this* team been all season? Where were they last week? My guess is they'll be some regression, but the Sun Devils sure feel a lot better now than they did a week ago.
Solomon Kim: (9) What an upset. The Sun Devils wanted it more than the Bruins this week. Kudos to them for taking advantage of critical mistakes in the Bruin mental game.
Rob Hwang: (6) Finally back on track. Can Bercovici follow up this amazing performance?
7. Oregon Ducks
Last week: 8
Berkelium97: (7) Tied with the Buffs at halftime. Oh, how the mighty (O) have fallen.
Nick Kranz (7) Won, but didn't really do much to convince doubters that this team is ready for a second-half charge.
William Bennet Perry: (7) Big win for a struggling problem against a Colorado team that hung in there for most of the game. The Ducks' QB situation is still a question mark, but in the second half they relied heavily on workhorse Royce Freeman, who had an excellent game.
Leland Wong: (7) I'm entirely confident that the Ducks will look much better once Vernon Adams returns to the field. But until he does, they have to feel queasy about the quarterback situation. (And when he does return, they can continue to worry about the pass defense.)
Nik Jam: (7) They will find a way back to relevancy. They are not an easy out for anybody and should still be considered a part of the "gauntlet" of Cal's upcoming streak of difficult games.
atomsareenough: (8) Well, the Ducks can still run the football at least, but a dogfight with the Buffs is not a good look. Passing offense and defense are still big question marks.
mpeters10: (6) So, about that game with Colorado... not overly impressive for the Ducks.
Benwemer: (6) Royce Freeman has to put the team on his back. QB situation is a little smelly. Once Vernon Adams returns the Ducks, I believe the Ducks will get back to their winning ways.
Ruey Yen: (6) I was expecting a bigger win by the Ducks over the Buffs.
Sam Fielder: (5) Thoroughly flawed.
KWBears: (8) Going into halftime tied with Colorado is no bueno. The Ducks are pretty much done for the season. Maybe they should switch to recruiting a legit QB for next year.
ragnarok: (7) Good enough to beat Colorado, but this is hardly last year's Ducks.
Solomon Kim: (6) When you go from winning the conference to tied with Colorado at the half, you're dropping in the Power Rankings.
Rob Hwang: (7) They don't have a QB. Their best QB is Addison... He's a wideout.
Last week: 6
Leland Wong: (9) You don't hear much from teams on bye (which is a good thing in this case). Things will probably get worse at that already-terrible school with an impeding road trip to USC.
Nik Jam: (8) Really looking forward to seeing this team play USC and finding out how good Cal's win was.
atomsareenough: (7) Bye week for the Huskies.
mpeters10: (8) Tough stretch of games coming up for the Huskies: USC, away; Oregon, home; Stanfurd, away. Very tough for a young team, but they were surprisingly competitive with Boise State and Cal.
Benwemer: (8) Didn't play this week. Offense still isn't good and they will most likely drop in the rankings next week after they play SC.
Ruey Yen: (7) They move up due to Arizona's fall in my ranking.
Sam Fielder: (7) BYE
KWBears: (7) This team is going to plateau as a middle-of-the-pack kind of squad. Not dangerous, but not bad either.
ragnarok: (8) Looking forward to Sark vs. UW.
Solomon Kim: (7) Nothing has happened this season that makes me think the Huskies deserve to drop anywhere below 7th in the conference.
Rob Hwang: (8) Jake Browning is the real deal. This week will be a true test to see his ability.
Last week: 7
Berkelium97: (12) 111 points allowed in two Pac-12 games.
Nick Kranz (9) That defense is nowhere near good enough to make up for an injured starting quarterback. Rough, rough times in Tucson.
William Bennet Perry: (9) Got embarrassed by a very good Stanfurd team, but have gotten killed the last two games. With Anu Solomon and Scooby Wright out, the Wildcats lose their most talented players on their respective side. They also lose much of their leadership and the team needs to find their identity fast.
Leland Wong: (10) Injuries to your starting quarterback and superstar linebacker are certainly causes for playing poorly or even losing to teams you otherwise would have beaten. But making Kevin Hogan look like a god is inexcusable.
Nik Jam: (10) They could be in a LOT of trouble if their injury woes keep mounting up. Yikes.
atomsareenough: (9) I think health is a major factor here, but also this team clearly had some good fortune to win the South last year—and it's not having that kind of good fortune this year.
mpeters10: (11) They gave up 32 points to 1–4 UTSA. Should we be surprised they've allowed 56 and 55 to UCLA and Stanfurd? The Wildcats have a chance to turn their season around with four winnable games against OSU, CU, WSU and UW, but it will spiral out of control if they continue to give up between 27 and 42 points during the first half of each game.
Benwemer: (9) Ugly performance vs Stanfurd. Better step up next week against a bad Oregon State team.
Ruey Yen: (9) They made Stanfurd look too good last week.
Sam Fielder: (12) The wheels have fallen off.
KWBears: (10) The Wildcats are heading into the disaster zone pretty quickly. One more rough loss and this season is shot for RichRod et al.
ragnarok: (11) Getting their star quarterback and linebacker back will certainly help this team, but it's been a rough couple of weeks. The schedule does lighten up over the next couple weeks, though.
Solomon Kim: (8) That's a brutal loss to what is proving to be a solid Cardinal squad. I'm not going to say Anu Solomon would've won them the game, but he certainly would have helped.
Rob Hwang: (10) This team disappeared. What is going on there in Tucson? Scooby Wright is really important for that Defense... Was Anu Solomon THIS important for the offense??
Last week: 11
Nick Kranz (12) Wazzu will never be a team that can out-talent opponents, which means they need to avoid the type of constant mental mistakes that have plagued them for ... a decade?
William Bennet Perry: (11) Almost came out of Berkeley with the upset, but it's hard to win when you turn the ball over four times. Luke Falk had a great game for the Cougars and made some really nice throws.
Leland Wong: (8) I'm insane, but I really want to put the Cougars higher for playing very well against the Golden Bears. With this being only year one in their new defensive scheme, I think they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Nik Jam: (9) This team should notch an upset or two this season.
atomsareenough: (10) The Cougars looked better than previous weeks and were competitive, but still not good enough.
mpeters10: (9) Much more competitive with Cal than I expected, though they seem to match up well with us for some reason. The next three games will be huge for the Cougars if they want to make a bowl game: Oregon, away; Oregon State, home; Arizona, away.
Benwemer: (10) Winner of the three worst teams in the Pac. Almost knocked off Cal, which was scary. Won't be surprised if they knock off someone later this year.
Ruey Yen: (11) Washington State did beat the spread.
Sam Fielder: (10) Decent team with just a little too much Coug'in it in them.
KWBears: (11) Hanging with Cal is commendable. If the Cougs can hang with some more good teams, they'll move up the Power Rankings for me.
ragnarok: (9) Feels good to have escaped an upset-minded Coug team. I don't think Wazzu will be bowling this year, but they're gonna beat some people.
Solomon Kim: (10) This proved to be a much closer matchup than I expected. The Cougs offense was "SURGICAL" and reminded us not to forget that our defense still can't be considered strong.
Rob Hwang: (11) They almost beat us, but like Colorado, they just did not have enough to pull off the upset.
Last week: 10
Nick Kranz (10) Clearly better, clearly still not ready to compete even in the middle of the conference.
William Bennet Perry: (10) Played Oregon very tough but at the end of the day they just couldn't stop the run.
Leland Wong: (11) It's tempting to rank them higher for hanging tough against the reigning conference champion (even if they are in a severely weakened state). But I chose not to read into it too much because the Ducks' m.o. last year always had a close game for the first half.
Nik Jam: (11) Can this team pull off a major upset and even get to six wins? Probably not, but like Cal last year it'll be fun to see them try.
atomsareenough: (11) As with Washington State, the Buffs are improved but not yet good enough to win.
mpeters10: (10) If you look at the schedule it is entirely possible the Buffs could go to a bowl game, but then you remember their opening season loss to Hawaii and it seems less possible.
Benwemer: (12) They lost again. Not surprising.
Ruey Yen: (12) Colorado is not good, but still dangerous enough to surprise a good team.
Sam Fielder: (11) They played tough for a half.
KWBears: (9) The Buffs got major points for hanging real tough with Oregon. This team isn't going to just lay down.
ragnarok: (10) The Buffs having a chance to beat Oregon in the 4th quarter is a new feeling.
Solomon Kim: (12) If I could give the Buffs a tie at 11 I would. They're not terrible. They just compete in a terribly good conference.
Rob Hwang: (9) They stayed in the game against Oregon, just didn't have enough weapons to pull off the upset.
Last week: 12
Leland Wong: (12) Heading into the season, I would have never given the Beavers a chance against the Wildcats, but given Arizona's injuries at critical positions, it wouldn't be #highlyimprobable if the game ends up being close...
Nik Jam: (12) Can't assume a victory against these guys, but still have them below everyone in the Pac.
atomsareenough: (12) The Beavers were off and are still presumably a bad team.
mpeters10: (12) If the Beavers do not win one of their next three games (UA, WSU, CU) then they will likely end the season with just two wins.
Benwemer: (11) Only reason they're 11 is because they didn't play this week.
Ruey Yen: (10) Bye week for the Beavers.
Sam Fielder: (8) BYE BYE
KWBears: (12) Can OSU make some noise against Stanfurd this weekend? If so, they'll be able to get out the conference cellar.
ragnarok: (12) Hey, they didn't lose this week!
Solomon Kim: (11) Mostly because I was impressed by WSU.
Rob Hwang: (12) Sigh. I'm still pulling for Storm Woods to have an amazing statistical season.
Yup. Cal at #2. Who wants to freak out for the inevitable crash "because Cal"? Who wants to criticize us for being overly homer? Let's take a look at the homers who put Cal up at #2.
Table 1. Los votes this semana.
The votes get pumped into my type-y machine, which churns out the ultra-official rankings listed above. Let's take a closer look at the precise rankings that determined said order:
Figure 1. This week's rankings, with the range of our responses for each team can be inferred from the error bars.
So, if it's any consolation for those of you who think we're crazy for having Cal at #2, at least you can see it was really, really close between Cal and Stanfurd. In fact, at one point before all the ballots came in, Stanfurd was actually second.
We can also chart these precise rankings over time because I get paid per word that I output. Not really. Anyone want to donate some funds based on the lengths of my posts?
Figure 2. Our precise rankings for the whole season.
Would you like an observation that's completely meaningless? UCLA and ASU—who just faced off this past weekend—are mirror images in this graph. They started off in the Preseason as nearly tied, but then had near-steady movement up and down our rankings, respectively. Until their face-off last weekend, which has them blasting in the opposite direction. Where they're almost tied again. Of course, this observation is coincidental and basically meaningless—just like my life!
But sometimes we can learn something from looking at the rounded rankings this year.
Figure 3. If you like low-res, then you'll love this figure!
For the past three weeks, the second-ranked team has taken a huge fall of at least three spots. And who's #2 this week—oh... And just in time for a big road game against a top-5 team. Um... Go Bears?
How many spots would Cal fall should we lose to Utah? Probably not many because we're all homers, but the movement up and don the list will be measured as the Pac-12's Madness
|Change on week|
Table 2. Seriously—I've used the reference before, but this part of the post always makes me think of that Muse song.
Nothing particularly notable here this week. I will note that with the exception of Week One, the past four weeks have been somewhat repetitive in total Madness—with scores of either 16 or 20. Once again, I'm making absolutely meaningless observations. Especially when I have to throw out a data point.
CGB Power Rankings: Where it's all meaningless.