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Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 8: Cougs are synchronized-dancing their way to the top

Hopefully everyone remembers the moves to the Victory Cha Cha!

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Leland Wong: After another week of great Pac-12 action, we’ve got another edition of mundane Pac-12 Power Rankings. Here, a team of uniquely unqualified CGB writers will rank the conference teams based on every performance this season, with emphasis on said latest week of action.

Berkelium97: With the Cal game ending just before 3 a.m. and only one Pac-12 game airing outside the Pac-12 Networks on Saturday (THANKS LARRY), it was a tough week for those of us outside the Pac-12’s footprint. Instead of developing profound insight by watching the games, I’m mostly relying on box scores this week.

Nik Jam: RIP Home Team Magic! Cal one of only two winners at home this weekend, with the other being UW over a hapless Oregon State team.

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): If anyone is going to beat UW this year, they’re going to do it by running the ball. Run defense is this team’s only weakness. The Huskies should be worried about visiting a Utah team coming off a 360-yard, 7.35 ypc performance.

Leland Wong (1): Another dominant win and Ohio State’s loss is a big benefit to getting them to the Playoff. Hooray.

Nik Jam (1): Not sure Cal is going to get a chance to be the first team to knock off the Huskies. I think the Utes will be a HUGE test for the Huskies and I’m not sure they’re really that great.

Nick Kranz (1): A really interesting two-week road stretch coming up for a team that has done very little travelling so far. The Huskies are solid favorites in every game left, but most of them aren’t slam dunks—plenty of opportunities to screw up a special season.

2. Washington State Cougars ↔

Last week: 2

Berkelium97 (2): I almost ranked Wazzu first for rustling Todd Graham’s jimmies so thoroughly.

Leland Wong (3): Overall, the Cougs are in a good spot, but I’ll still ding them a bit for a sloppy day offensively and because I’ll never forget that Eastern Washington loss.

Nik Jam (2): Keeping the dream alive for an Apple Cup match that decides the Pac-12 North.

Nick Kranz (3): Nobody is going to mistake this defense for a lights-out unit, but their climb from awful to respectable is exactly what Cal needs to take the next step. If they can do it, why not us?

3. Colorado Buffaloes ↗

Last week: 4

Leland Wong (2): I’m not ready to give the defense a good grade since their performance had a lot to do with the opposition, but they get a bonus point from me for the feeling of elation their fans must have right now for earning bowl eligibility—and doing so this early in the season. (Meanwhile, I’m just sitting here feeling envious of their turnaround vs. ours because I’m a petty, terrible human being.)

Nik Jam (5): Congrats on Buffs fans for finally getting to experience a bowl game after nearly a decade! Also had their first win ever at Stanfurd Stadium, which is always nice.

Nick Kranz (2): Colorado is the second-best team in this conference and with three of their last four games at home, I believe they’re the favorites to win the South. Incredible.

4. Utah Utes ↘

Last week: 3

Berkelium97 (3): Meanwhile in the bizarro world, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Utah-Colorado game will decide the winner of the Pac-12 South.

Leland Wong (4): I’m not sure what happened to that famed Utah defense; maybe their performance was purely due to preparing for the “pro-style” offense of UC L.A. and got totally confuddled by the Bruins reverting to a spread offense. Regardless, thank God for retired running backs. Can we do the same now that Vic Enwere is out and bring back that retired Marshawn guy?

Nik Jam (3): I’d like them to keep winning and making that Cal win look really really good.

Nick Kranz: (4): Utah is having the type of charmed season I always dream Cal will have, which perhaps makes it funnier that Utah’s only loss in five close games is to the Bears.

5. USC Trojans ↔

Last week: 5

Berkelium97 (4): It’s not USC’s fault that they get 13 days to prepare for a Cal team that gets 6 days’ rest and has to travel for the game. But I’m still going to blame them.

Leland Wong (5): The Trojans are in a good spot right now thanks to their midseason revival and aforementioned fortuitous scheduling bye.

6. Arizona State Sun Devils ↗

Last week: 7

Berkelium97 (7): You’d think that a team stealing its opponents signals would have something slightly better than the worst pass defense in the nation.

Leland Wong (6): Kudos to this attacking defense for getting to the quarterback enough times to take the emerging Cougar run game and give them a negative total rushing yardage on the day.

Nik Jam (6): Arizona State’s luck at home runs out—Washington State is just better. Still, no one should sleep on this team.

Nick Kranz: (7): ASU has four more shots at their 6th win, but with three of those games on the road and the only home game against Utah, there are no gimmes. How wonderful would a six-game losing streak to end the season 5–7 be?

7. California Golden Bears ↗

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (6): The wackiest team in the Pac-12 wins the coin flip this week.

Leland Wong (7): The bipolar performances of the defense continue. This week, I was impressed as it seemed like the players were in the right position and tackling well on the majority of plays, but Cal’s not gonna get that big of a boost since they let a struggling Oregon team stay competitive.

Nik Jam (8): Certainly will take coin flip games against USC and UW.

Nick Kranz: (8): If Cal continues to alternate wins with losses, then I very much look forward to our 6–6 final record with wins over Stanfurd and Washington.

8. UCLA Bruins ↔

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

Last week: 8

Berkelium97 (8): How does this run defense keep going back and forth between allowing under 100 yards and over 200 yards?

Leland Wong (8): Playing your backup quarterback when your run game can’t even muster up 50 yards means said backup quarterback will have to have to attempt 70 passes. That seems like a reasonable proposition.

Nik Jam (9): Can’t imagine the mood in Westwood. High expectations in August; suddenly hoping just for a bowl game in November.

Nick Kranz (9): Looking ahead at UCLA’s schedule and 5–7 seems like close to a best-case scenario. Wow.

9. Stanfurd Cardinal ↘

It's hideous, I know.

Last week: 6

Berkelium97 (12): Five points? FIVE POINTS?! To the basement with you!

Leland Wong (9): I get that they’ll want a pass for the offense since Christian McCaffrey is probably still dinged up, but the once-feared Stanfurd defense allowed over 200 yards rushing.

Nik Jam (7): This can’t be for real right? They’re going to figure it out by Big Game—this is too good to be true here.

Nick Kranz (6): Stanfurd has lost to teams that sit at 1, 2, and 3 in my rankings, which is why they are as high as they are. If they drop any of their next four games, they will tumble precipitously.

10. Oregon Ducks ↗

Last week: 11

Berkelium97 (9): They clearly haven’t given up, so there remains some hope that Helfrich can salvage the season.

Leland Wong (10): The Ducks get my personal vote for best team in the three-school basement this week for their strong comeback bid to push Cal to overtime. Oregon needs some more consistency at quarterback to clean up the miscues that killed them in the first half.

Nik Jam (11): Not sure this team will earn a bowl game, but they should have a respectable second half of the season.

Nick Kranz (11): With Royce Freeman not right and a freshman QB who misses occasional throws, they just don’t have enough juice on offense to make up for their disastrous defense.

11. Oregon State Beavers ↘

Last week: 10

Berkelium97 (10): With the exception of a certain unmentioned game, the Beavs are only averaging 12 points per game in Pac-12 play. That’s bad.

Leland Wong (11): These downtrodden Beavers had to face the strongest team in the conference without their starting quarterback, causing them to be scoreless in the first half and rely on garbage time to get one of their TDs. Life really is a terrible joke.

Nik Jam (10): Similar to our feelings in Berkeley: it may not be that great of a season… but our rivalry games suddenly don’t seem as gloomy as it did in August… dare to dream?

Nick Kranz (10): Probably giving them too much Power Ranking credit for one razor-thin home win. This is still the worst team in the conference, with the single worst passing offense in the nation.

12. Arizona Wildcats ↔

Last week: 12

Leland Wong (12): The Wildcats desperately need this bye week to establish their quarterback play and to… basically fix everything on defense. They really might as well just start over there at this point.

Nik Jam (12): While I said I’d give the loser of Oregon/Cal the 12th spot… I think Arizona has less promise of coming back this season than Oregon.

The data

Here are this week’s votes. That’s a lot of Arizona on the bottom!

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

The ranks of each team get averaged to give the placement up above. The precise averages are shown below in Figure 1, with the error bars quantifying 1 standard deviation—a measure of how much we agreed or disagreed for each team. For example, Stanfurd has a pretty big standard deviation because some of us voted Stanfurd as high as 6th (see Nick’s logic) or as low as 12th (see Bk97’s reasoning).

Figure 1. Teams. Some are higher. Some are lower.

Look (either in Fig. 1 or 2) at Colorado! Just barely edging out the Utes, the Buffaloes have quite a fairy-tale story coming this far from 11th! I can’t even imagine a better Cinderella story! Oh wait. I could. If they went from 12th to 2nd. Or 1st. That wasn’t too hard.

Figure 2. The same teams. They go up and down or down and up.

We can streamline things a tad by using the rounded rankings to see it was a pretty quiet week. The week was so weird that ASU moved up despite losing; sure, they lost to a strong WSU team, but they didn’t have that strong of a performance. The biggest movement was Stanfurd dropping three spots and if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off in the corner giddy and giggling. Remember that fairy-tale story for Colorado? Well, Stanfurd’s right there having the polar opposite of a season, falling 8 spots. Which is a fairy tale for all of us! (Except for Nam, of course.)

Figure 3. God forbid, do we have some stability?

Said movement is quantified as Madness and hold onto yer butts, because we now have a tie for Maddest team! ASU’s losing effort pushed them up the rankings, propelled them into a tie with USC, and cemented their place in our hearts. Wait, is that last one just for me? Not only do we have two teams tied at Maddest, but the third-Maddest team has a mere one point fewer—and that’s Cal, for our absurd bipolar performances.

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 -1 0 5
ASU 2 1 -1 3 -4 5 -3 1 20
Cal 2 -3 4 -2 2 -4 0 2 19
Colorado 4 -1 1 1 2 -3 3 1 16
Oregon 2 0 -3 -2 -2 -1 0 1 11
OSU 1 -1 0 0 0 2 0 -1 5
Stanfurd 0 0 0 0 -2 -3 0 -3 8
UC L.A. -2 0 0 0 2 -6 0 0 10
USC -7 4 -2 -2 2 3 0 0 20
Utah 2 0 2 0 -3 3 0 -1 11
Washington 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2
WSU -6 1 0 0 4 5 0 0 16
Total Madness 29 12 13 11 26 35 7 10

What’s in store for next week? Well, I’ve got a great cashew stir-fry for the week, so I’m actually pretty booked (NSFW Broad City link goes here). Oh, and we’ll have something for the Power Rankings, I’m sure. A top-20 game in Salt Lake City. Stanfurd looking to rebound against a derptacular Arizona. And I’ll be spewing pure wisdom.