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Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 6: Arizona, we get that you aren’t feeling well, but this just reeks of desperation

A fierce battle for second place and Oregon State leaves the basement. Does Cal occupy that vacancy?

NCAA Football: Arizona at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Leland Wong: Let’s go back in time for a minute. Last week, I wrote:

My crystal ball predicts a quieter Power Ranking next week, with Colorado–USC as perhaps the only likely chance for an upset. Oh wait. That’s gonna make you less likely to check out these rankings next week. Noooo wait lemme take that back next week is going to be insane so much unpredictability who knows what’s going to happen?

Well, that’s exactly what happened, right?

Instead, we had three upsets, none of which was Colorado–USC. Clearly, I know what I’m doing.

I’m getting closer and closer to finding a way to emphasize just how much better the #1 team is than the rest of the conference. I nearly ranked my second- and third-place teams (whom I won’t name cuz I gotta build that suspense) as tied at third, but I ultimately caved since that’s not the traditional way that tied teams are treated. Still, I imagine it’s only a matter of time until the chasm becomes so pronounced that I’ll have to resort to that.

Berkelium97: Once again we have a dominant Washington and a bunch of teams from the bizarro world.

boomtho: I’m putting no effort into blurbs this week since the team put no effort into attempting to beat the cellar-dwelling Beavs. And no, I’m not at all personally bitter since 18 of us flew up from the Bay for the game.

Piotr T Le: Drink tra la la, Drink tra la la, Drink.

Ruey Yen: 2016 is shaping up to be a year when every team not named Washington is susceptible of a bad loss on the road.

Nik Jam: Don’t be a road team in the Pac-12. Washington schools need not apply.

The rankings

In the event of a tie, those teams are listed alphabetically. The parenthetical number next to each voter’s name is where they ranked that team.

1. Washington Huskies (10 first-place votes) ↔

Fuck this school.

Last week: 1

Berkelium97 (1): It must be a tremendous feeling to drop 70 on a hated rival to end a 12-year losing streak. Somehow I doubt we’ll perform similarly when we try to end our 12-year streak to USC.

Leland Wong (1): Honestly, there’s no explanation necessary.

Ruey Yen (1): Apparently, it doesn’t take that much time to climb to the top of the Pac.

2. Washington State Cougars ↗

Last week: 7

Berkelium97 (2): If the Air Raid can blow out Furd, surely the Bear Raid can, right? Oh right, Wazzu has some semblance of a defense.

Leland Wong (3): As much as I’d like to continue punishing the Cougars for their early-season faceplants, as I’ve stated every week in this series, the conference is so weak this year, that there’s no other choice

3. Utah Utes ↗

Last week: 6

Berkelium97 (3): How on earth does a team get eight first-half false starts at home?

Leland Wong (2): Phenomenal day running the ball and their offense picked off the ball thrice and over the season as a whole, they’re looking like the best 5–1 team in the Pac-12.

4. Arizona State Sun Devils ↗

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (5): ASU gets outgained by almost 200 yards, loses another quarterback to injury, punts nine times, and still wins. Because Pac-12.

Leland Wong (4): Not to mention, their run attack was non-existent and this win pushed them into a three-way tie for first in the South.

Ruey Yen (5): Not an impressive win, but it’s a big win nonetheless.

5. USC Trojans ↗

Last week: 8

Berkelium97 (6): The Pac-12’s random-number generator is back on track for a bowl game.

Leland Wong (6): A pretty ugly game, but it’s starting to look like they’ve turned the corner and are on the rise, which gets a little Power Ranking bump.

6. Stanfurd Cardinal ↘

It's hideous, I know.

Last week: 3

Berkelium97 (4): The juggernaut’s reign is coming to an end. Praise Oski.

Leland Wong (5): If there were any doubt, this game showed that one star player doesn’t save the team, especially when that player goes down with an injury.

Ruey Yen (4): Unfortunately, Furd will likely right the ship by the time of the Big Game. They have been exposed as being rather one-dimensional, though.

7. Colorado Buffaloes ↘

Last week: 4

Berkelium97 (7): A missed opportunity against a USC team that turned the ball over four times.

Leland Wong (7): The Buffaloes had trouble moving the ball and even more trouble in stopping the USC offense. Steven Montez’s streak of beginner’s luck may be running out, which may start a QB controversy with Sefo Liufau.

8. UC Los Angeles Bruins ↘

You are going to get banned if you don't compliment this logo right now.

Last week: 2

Berkelium97 (8): Are those the Santa Ana winds or is Mora’s seat heating up in a hurry?

Leland Wong (8): Even worse than the loss is dual injuries to Josh Rosen’s leg and throwing shoulder. Back-up Mike Fafaul was not able to recreate Jerry Neuheisel’s performance when he was thrust into the game, but they’ll need Fafaul to put up points considering their next opponent—the high-scoring Cougars.

9. California Golden Bears ↘

Last week: 5

Berkelium97 (12): When you lose to the basement, you spend the following week in the basement. All the ridiculous things Cal has been getting away with in wins—atrocious run defense, stupid unforced penalties, an offense that disappears for long stretches at a time—came back to bite them in one of the most embarrassing losses of the Sonny Dykes era.

Leland Wong (10): Partial credit for a fourth-quarter rally and stellar performances by the running backs, but the run defense is a glaring weakness for this team that will be exploited in future games. I think the one bright spot is the return of the marching fake punt—this time successfully.

boomtho (12): Swinging from potentially tenure-defining wins to a potentially tenure-ending one in mere weeks: the Sonny Dykes experience!

Piotr T Le (11): This is one of those games where I question whether or not I have done something wrong or angered some god…

Ruey Yen (9): The only silver lining from the OSU game is that the Bears did not quit. Bears are also capable of pulling off some big upsets this year when teams come to Memorial.

10. Oregon State Beavers ↗

Last week: 12

Berkelium97 (10): That was a vintage Oregon State performance against Cal: go wild in the running game, injure a couple of Cal’s biggest playmakers, and crush our spirits in the most agonizing manner possible. Great job, guys. It’s nice to have you back.

Leland Wong (9): The Beavers must be ecstatic about securing a conference win and running the ball at will, but a season of poor performance will keep them from climbing too high.

11T. Arizona Wildcats ↔

Last week: 11

Berkelium97 (9): It’s probably not a good sign when reporters start asking about morale in the post-game press conference.

Leland Wong (11): They racked up the yards, but are in dire need of finding a quarterback who can protect the ball and had a pretty weak day on the ground, which is mind-boggling considering RichRod’s run-first spread offense.

11T. Oregon Ducks ↘

Last week: 10

Berkelium97 (11): Dressing up like Cal isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking that the Ducks didn’t just suffer a 48-point loss to a rival that hasn’t beaten them since 2003.

Leland Wong (12): I’m not even going to discuss the final score or the fact it came against their archrival because the ugliest part of this loss was that the Duck players had the demeanors of broken men during the game—which I can say with confidence because it takes one to know one.

Nik Jam (12): Washington’s a great team, but they looked bad and since I still believe Cal can beat them, I’m putting them below the Bears.

The data

Here’s how the ballots looked this week:

benwemer Bk97 boomtho KWBears Leland Nick Kranz Nik Jam Piotr Rob Ruey
1 Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash
2 WSU WSU Utah Utah Utah WSU WSU WSU WSU Utah
3 Utah Utah WSU WSU WSU Utah Utah Utah Utah WSU
5 USC ASU Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Colorado ASU Colorado USC ASU
6 Stanfurd USC USC USC USC USC Colorado ASU Colorado Colorado
7 Colorado Colorado Colorado UC L.A. Colorado UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. Cal UC L.A.
8 Cal UC L.A. UC L.A. Colorado UC L.A. Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd USC
9 UC L.A. Arizona Oregon Cal OSU OSU OSU OSU UC L.A. Cal
10 OSU OSU OSU Oregon Cal Cal Cal Oregon Arizona Arizona
11 Oregon Oregon Arizona OSU Arizona Arizona Arizona Cal Oregon Oregon
12 Arizona Cal Cal Arizona Oregon Oregon Oregon Arizona OSU OSU

We averaged out the individual votes for each team to order the teams for the Power Rankings shown up above. However, we can also study the precise rankings that each team earned to learn a little more about how we perceived the teams. The error bars on each column are a representation of 1 standard deviation—a measure of how varied our perceptions were for team.

Figure 1. A higher-resolution look at how we looked at the teams, based on how they looked in the Week 6 games.

From the precise rankings (Figures 1 and 2), we see there are four classes of teams through Week 6. The best team of the conference is in a league of their own; the Cougs and the Utes are in a contentious battle for second place; there’s a five-team logjam after that (ASU, USC, Stanfurd, Colorado, and UC L.A.); and a fourway basement with Cal, OSU, Arizona, and Oregon.

Figure 2. It gives me the heebie-jeebies to see the mid-conference mess that invariably happens during the season.

When we clean up the ranks a little (by using the low-resolution, rounded rankings), we see one interesting development from Week 6—teams #2–5 from Week 5 all moved down the rankings while teams #6–9 from Week 5 all moved up. This kind of movement really messes up the graphic and makes it difficult to track movement and discern the teams!

Figure 3. The top half of the conference played switcheroo with the bottom half.

Now, let’s go back in time a few minutes to when we went back in time by one week. Instead of having a nice, quiet week, the Pac-12 World fell apart and we have the Maddest week of the 2016 season! As mentioned above, there was a nice group of eight teams where the four top teams went to the bottom and the four bottom teams went to the top. This Maddness was only offset by two teams holding steady this past week.

Change on week
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Post Team's Madness
Arizona 0 -1 0 1 -2 0 4
ASU 2 1 -1 3 -4 5 16
Cal 2 -3 4 -2 2 -4 17
Colorado 4 -1 1 1 2 -2 11
Oregon 2 0 -3 -2 -2 -1 10
OSU 1 -1 0 0 0 2 4
Stanfurd 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 6
UC L.A. -2 0 0 0 2 -6 10
USC -7 4 -2 -2 2 3 20
Utah 2 0 2 0 -3 3 10
Washington 1 0 0 0 1 0 2
WSU -6 1 0 0 4 5 16
Total Madness 29 12 13 11 26 35

After my last prediction, I’m not even going to attempt to guess what effects the games of Week 7 will have on the Power Rankings. I’m just going to command that you return next week so I can get more views—a five-minute post on Aaron Rodgers representing Cal got upwards of 70x the number of views the Power Rankings typically get, so I need a lot of you to check out my work if I want to prove that to be a reproducible indicator of my CGB-worth.