Leland Wong: Welcome to the final Pac-12 Football Power Rankings for the regular season! We're ranking the Pac-12 teams by overall strength/résumé and most recent result. Plus, you can tell the (long) season is coming to an end by a record-low number of responses and write-ups this year. People can only handle so much of me for so long and this is my warning to all of you.
The parenthetical numbers (number) next to the teams' names (team name; there's only one applicable team) is the number of first-place votes they received. The parenthetical number next to each voter's name (beneath each team, because this isn't confusing enough as is) is how each voter ranked said team.
Onto our Power Rankings and analyses!
1. Stanfurd Cardinal (11)
Last week: 1
Berkelium97: (1) UGH.
Leland Wong: (1) Even if it were only a close win, they still took down a top-ten opponent.
boomtho: (1) This Saturday presented some awful rooting options. Root for Furd? Ugh. Root for ND and eliminate the slim chance the Pac-12 could send a team to the CFP? Double ugh. Thanks Stanfurd for making me miserable—always in creative ways.
Nick Kranz: (1) Sigh. I really, really wanted Stanfurd to get tagged with a third loss, AND wanted the chaos of Notre Dame making the playoffs and denying two power conferences of playoff participants.
Nik Jam: (1) Admit it, while we make fun of Stanfurd's small fanbase, we ALL know a bunch of them. They get to celebrate another Pac-12 title berth, and will gleefully annoy your News Feeds all day Saturday. While most of the damage is already done, I would love to see the Trojans shut them up for a little bit... but then again, we ALL know annoying USC fans too right? Ugh.
Ruey Yen: (1) Furd beating Notre Dame is good for the Pac-12. Furdies are again the favorite to make it to the Rose Bowl. Ugh.
2. USC Trojans
Last week: 5
Berkelium97: (3) A good but not great team—like most of the Pac-12.
Leland Wong: (2) Great win over UC L.A. for the first time in four years and winning the Pac-12 South in the process? I almost put them at #1 for that.
boomtho: (3) With all the upheaval, 8–4 and a chance to steal a Rose Bowl berth is a pretty decent outcome
Nick Kranz: (2) I wasn't particularly impressed with what Clay Helton got out of USC (A couple solid wins, one bad loss, and a bunch of wins that were way closer than they should have been) and you would think that USC could name their new coach, but I guess I understand not wanting to be a part of this year's coaching circus. Here's to hoping for another few years of USC mediocrity.
Nik Jam: (2) Are they the second best team in the conference? No, but they're going to the Title game. Good enough for second to me.
Ruey Yen: (2) Won the de facto Pac-12 South championship game against UCLA. Why can't they have kept Sark???
3. Oregon Ducks
Last week: 2
Leland Wong: (3) Getting pushed to the limit by Oregon State is not a good thing, but there's frankly no other team that makes a remote case for the third spot.
boomtho: (2) I debating switching every team in the 2–4 tier... no clear answers to me. Keeping Oregon over USC due to the head-to-head a few weeks ago
Nick Kranz: (3) Struggles with Oregon State aside, they beat both championship game participants late in the season. Definitely the best offense in the conference.
Nik Jam: (3) Wish they wouldn't have stumbled against Wazzu and they'd be in the Championship game instead.
Ruey Yen: (3) The Civil War result was closer than expected, but I will give them a pass since that's a rivalry game.
4. Utah Utes
Last week: 6
Berkelium97: (4) Another underwhelming performance.
Leland Wong: (4) Maybe the Utes shouldn't be so worried about missing Devontae Booker thanks to the rise of Joe Williams. But Travis Wilson had the kind of performance we would expected out of him in 2014 (and we all wonder why he couldn't play like that against Cal).
boomtho: (5) I'm really impressed by Wittingham and the Utes, but they've got to feel like they let a really great chance slip through their fingers
Nick Kranz: (6) One loss to Arizona in overtime kept them out of the Pac-12 title game, against a team that they seem to match up well with. Alas.
Nik Jam: (6) A disappointing ending doesn't mean they shouldn't be happy about the season they had. Not a whole lot of people expected they'd be a real contender.
Ruey Yen: (5) Barely defeated the Buffs, Utes might regret not making to the Pac-12 Championship game this year, especially if Kyle Whittingham get poached by another school.
5T. UC Los Angeles Bruins
Last week: 4
Berkelium97: (6) Another true-freshman performance by Josh Rosen dooms UCLA.
Leland Wong: (5) Big losses in rivalry games have more significant impacts in Power Rankings than rankings based on strength.
boomtho: (4) Awful performance with a chance to clinch a title game berth. I would be pretty pissed if I were a Bruins fan.
Nick Kranz: (4) 2–3 at home in conference play this year with losses to a couple teams with significantly less recruiting talent.
Nik Jam: (5) Disappointing to get blown out by USC. Still not a bad year for the freshman QB.
Ruey Yen: (4) Have been inconsistent all year long, but talent is there, of course.
5T. Washington State Cougars
Last week: 3
Berkelium97: (5) They really missed Luke Falk on Friday. Hopefully he is able to return for the bowl game.
Leland Wong: (6) Evidently the Cougs should be terrified as long as Falk is out.
boomtho: (6) In what was a really successful (potentially tenure-saving) season for Leach and the Cougs, losing the Apple Cup has to be extra frustrating
Nick Kranz: (5) Washington State with a healthy starting quarterback is higher than 5th place. Washington State without a health starting quarterback is lower than 5th place, so we're going with the happy medium.
Nik Jam: (4) Thought they would still play well without Luke Falk. I was wrong. Does that mean he's the MVP? I'll still keep them near the top because Luke Falk will return for the bowl game.
Ruey Yen: (6) Get a pass for missing their QB. Can't help but think about how the Bears will look next year without Goff.
7. California Golden Bears
Last week: 8
Berkelium97: (7) After an atrocious first half, Cal finally turns in a good performance against a quality opponent. It's a shame all that senior talent could only achieve fourth in the North.
Leland Wong: (8) Sure, credit is earned for a gutsy second-half performance, but questions linger regarding the offense being so out-of-sync for the first half.
boomtho: (7) 7–5, going bowling, finishing with a win... all really positive signs for Coach Dykes.
Nick Kranz: (7) Thank goodness for that second half or the mood around here would have been DARK.
Nik Jam: (7) The best of the 4–5 teams based on head-to-head. If a bowl selection committee chooses UW or ASU over them (whether it's Vegas, Cactus, or some at large bowl) they're insane.
Ruey Yen: (7) Bears won every game when favored. Lost every time when we are the underdog.
8. Washington Huskies
Last week: 9
Berkelium97: (8) This is a really good team sometimes.
Leland Wong: (7) Well, that rebuilding year didn't even last a whole year. The offense moved well against a revitalized WSU defense and the defense ended the day with seven turnovers--including five fumbles that can be dismissed as WSU breaking in a new quarterback.
boomtho: (8) Winning a rivalry game to grab bowl eligibility and doing it in a beatdown... priceless
Nick Kranz: (8) Will be the trendy off-season team in the Pac-12, so you may as well get used to it now.
Nik Jam: (9) Took advantage of an injured WSU team to get to bowl eligibility, but hey, they were dominant enough that they might have won anyway. Enjoy bowling.
Ruey Yen: (10) Tenth Pac-12 team to be bowl-eligible.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils
Last week: 7
Berkelium97: (9) Norvell called an odd game on Saturday. I know ASU likes to run to set up the pass, but their stubborn insistence on inside runs was perplexing. They have the speed at RB to exploit Cal's limited lateral speed at LB. Furthermore, Mike Bercovici was torching Cal on out routes, corner routes, and deep routes. It all worked in our favor, but I'd be pretty frustrated if I were an ASU fan.
Leland Wong: (9) Troubling for the Sun Devils to collapse and struggle so much with scoring touchdowns in the second half and their aggressive, blitz-always defense was their doom.
boomtho: (9) Todd Graham will live by the blitz, die the blitz... and ASU did a lot of the latter in the second half.
Nick Kranz: (9) Which season is more likely to be an outlier? Last year's 9–3 or this year's 6–6?
Nik Jam: (8) Both Cal and ASU fans should wonder where was that lights-out offense all year?
Ruey Yen: (8) Gave the Bears a real scare.
10. Arizona Wildcats
Last week: 10
Leland Wong: (10) We Cal fans know how great it is to get the meaningless bye week.
boomtho: (10) I literally have no thoughts or perspective on Zona. Sounds like Rich Rod may leave? Interesting.
Nick Kranz: (10) Arizona's second most impressive win this year is over Nevada. The Wildcats have to be one of the worst bowl-eligible teams in Pac history.
Nik Jam: (10) Probably should be left out of an at-large, but lucky for them there's a buttload of bowl games and it's already been clinched that all 6–6 teams (and a handful of 5–7 teams) will get a bowl. Maybe if some bowls get shut down for next season, we won't have so many subpar Pac-12 teams bowling.
Ruey Yen: (9) They do have that win over the Utes for this season.
11. Colorado Buffaloes
Last week: 11
Berkelium97: (11) Another close loss for Mac.
Leland Wong: (12) Things are rough(er) in Boulder after QB Sefo Liufau got injured and neither replacement—Cade Apsay or Jordan Gehrke after an injury to Apsay—nor the running game could get Colorado in the game. If it weren't for a late touchdown pass, this game would have looked much uglier.
boomtho: (11) Meh.
Nick Kranz: (11) There are only so many statements of resigned sympathy to write each week for Colorado.
Nik Jam: (11) Another almost isn't going to cut it.
Ruey Yen: (11) Buffs only lost to the Utes by one score.
12. Oregon State Beavers
Last week: 12
Berkelium97: (12) A competitive game against Oregon ends the season on a somewhat pleasant note.
Leland Wong: (11) The Beavers had some fight in a rivalry game against a top-25 opponent. Considering their dismal season, this brief glimmer of hope is enough to get a tiny bump in my ballot.
boomtho: (12) Awful.
Nick Kranz: (12) At least they can go out with an effort to be proud of. I'm comfortable saying that Oregon State is not the worst Pac team of the last decade or so, which was in play.
Nik Jam: (12) It was going to be really hard to outscore Oregon and clutch stops were not likely, but they gave it their best shot. I hope they keep their heads up, like 2013 Cal—they will bounce back.
Ruey Yen: (12) Beavs gave the Ducks a scare. That's something.
Hey! Who likes seeing Stanfurd up top? And up top unanimously, no less! They got there thanks to the depressing votes by our voters, which is collected in Table 1 below.
Table 1. Stanfurd at #1 eleven times is worse than the worst.
These votes get averaged out to give our main Rankings. I also like to take a closer look at how precisely the teams shook out as well as analyze how varied the votes were for each team with the error bars, which each represent one standard deviation.
Figure 1. The precise version of this week's Power Rankings, with one standard deviation shown with the error bars.
Beyond having the vile Stanfurd as a clear number one, we do see that USC and Oregon are pretty close. Not only that, but we just barely escaped having a threeway tie for fourth place between Utah, UCLA, and WSU—three teams who had great moments this season, but faltered in the last week. We can also chart out these precise rankings over the course of the season.
Figure 2. The regular season's entire precise rankings.
How disgusting that Stanfurd has been climbing the rankings steadily for the vast majority of the season with the exception of the opening loss to Northwestern and a brief blip when they fell to Oregon. And my lone non-twelfth vote for Oregon State gave them their first tiny little sign of life since Week 9.
But if you hate decimals, then I've got the averaged-out Power Rankings as a function of time this season.
Figure 3. A whole lotta averaged-out data.
One little nuance that I like about Figure 3 (vs. Figure 2) is that we get a nice little divide down the middle of the conference—we've got six teams on top and six teams on the bottom and a clear chasm between them. The bottom half is lead by three 4–5 in-conference teams with Cal at the very top by virtue of defeating the other two teams. We're the best of the worst!
We can also sum up the vertical movement of the teams as a measure of Madness for arguably the toughest conference in college football.
|Change on week|
Table 2. The Madness of the season takes a little dive this week.
The parity of the Pac-12 means we're beating each other up rather than having top teams dominate (how's that for a cliché?), resulting in more Madness than a Muse concert. (I'm gonna repeat that reference until I'm sick of it, which isn't gonna be for awhile...) This past week, however, is the second straight week with relatively low Madness. In fact, with the exception of a topsy-turvy and upsy-downsy Week 11, the second half has been much less Mad than the first. Is it because the teams are beginning to settle in their true selves? Are we just stubborn and sticking to our assessments? Are we just being lazy and making the fewest possible changes to our ballots from last week?
We'll be taking a little break from the Power Rankings to return at the end of bowl season. I know that you'll all miss me, so just go flip through the nearest magazine at hand and you'll likely find me inside wearing the latest fashion and fragrances.