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Pac-12 Football Power Rankings, Week 5: Stanfurd’s all sad and junk

Ding dong the witch is dead! Oh, wait. There’s just another witch.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington
David Shaw is basically ready to be Charlie Brown for Halloween this year.
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Leland Wong: Let’s cut to the chase—Stanfurd is no longer on top! But I won’t tell you who’s our new #1 team because I have to maintain that intrigue.

Okay, now back to formalities. These are Power Rankings, yadda yadda yadda. Ranking Pac-12 teams based on season performance, sweet uniform swag, and the latest game. Something-something group of CGB writers and experts led by the most handsome and charming member of the bunch. I think you get the gist, so away we go.

Berkelium97: I expected several close games this week and instead we saw a bunch of blowouts and an instant classic in Berkeley. The Pac-12 is the conference of parity this year: any of these ridiculous teams can annihilate or be annihilated by any other team this season. Except Oregon State. They’re terrible.

Leland Wong: There’s such a massive gap between the first- and second-place teams this week that I’m tempted to rejigger the whole voting methodology and introduce some scoring system to truly capture the teams’ performances.

Piotr T Le: This one one heck of a week for college football. It started with some sweet schadenfurd and ended with Cal winning in an instant classic against Utah. Memorial Stadium = graveyard of ranked teams.

boomtho: I agree with Leland—it’s Washington, a clump of second tier teams, and then a whole lot of meh through the rest of the conference.

Nik Jam: I actually like my answers today! I should save some insight for my Pick-em article, but I wanna share them nooooow.

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 (9 first-place votes) ↗

Fuck this school.

Last week: 2

Berkelium97 (1): Thank you, Huskies. Thank you.

Leland Wong (1): A massive gap between them and the second-best team. Unfortunately.

Piotr T Le (1): I have been ranking the Huskies #1 since day one for this exact reason: competent, Alex Smith–esque offense and a monster defense.

Nik Jam (1): All of a sudden that November 5 game is the scariest game on our schedule. Can UW run the table?

Ruey Yen (1): Clear leader of the Pac right now. I don’t think they will run the table. It is just a matter of who will upset them.

boomtho (1): My name is boomtho and I was wrong about the Huskies… dead wrong.

atomsareenough (1): Huskies look preeettty legit. Petersen still a great coach.

2. UC Los Angeles Bruins ↗

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

Last week: 4

Berkelium97 (6): The defense continues to look strong, but this offense is wildly inconsistent.

Leland Wong (2): I’m going to regret saying this when he throws for six touchdowns against us and gets drafted #1 overall in 2018, but Josh Rosen didn’t look too impressive against Arizona from what I saw. That being said, they still came out with a win and don’t have any bad losses this year.

Nik Jam (3): Easily the most promising team in the Pac-12 South… That Texas A&M loss is looking better and better.

Ruey Yen (3): Beat a bad Arizona team this week to bounce back from the loss to Stanfurd.

boomtho (2): I don’t WANT to jump them up to 2, but who else can go there? If Stanfurd had lost in even a remotely competitive game I would not have jumped UCLA this high...

3. Stanfurd Cardinal ↘

It's hideous, I know.

Last week: 1

Berkelium97 (2): LOLOLOLOLOL

Leland Wong (6): Not the sixth-best team in the conference, but they fall extra far for being humiliated on national TV. (Although they don’t fall as far as USC did after the Alabama loss because we have more data points on the teams.)

Piotr T Le (3): First, let me have some basic fun: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…. HA! That was a fun game to watch. I do not expect this to be the new standard for the Furd. Washington’s edge rushers are top notch players. Furthermore, as I have said repeatedly, their offense runs through McCaffrey, if you erase him, then Stanfurd might as well punt and hope the defense gets a Fumble/INT TD.

Nik Jam (5): Have to respect them still, but that was bad. I hope they continue to be bad, but realistically they will still be in the Pac-12 North race to the very end.

Ruey Yen (2): “SchadenFurd” is always fun but we can’t write them off just yet. This could still be the Pac-12 champs, much to the dismay of Cal fans everywhere.

boomtho (3): Schaudenfurd, you taste so good.

atomsareenough (4):

4. Colorado Buffaloes ↗

Last week: 6

Berkelium97 (3): They’ve beaten a middling Oregon team and an awful OSU team, but they’ve looked great doing it. A win at SC next week would be huge for Mac.

Leland Wong (3): The past two games have been pretty impressive for the Buffs, especially considering they did it all with their back-up quarterback. Who wants to think about what this team would look like if Davis Webb did indeed transfer to Boulder?

Piotr T Le (5): They humbled a sputtering Oregon and a terri-bad OSU. Did it well and in style and were rewarded with their first Top-25 ranking in years. I think their game against an SC that is showing signs of life will decide whether this resurgence in Boulder will stand.

Nik Jam (2): On one hand, they haven’t been tested yet. On the other hand, they have yet to play any of their five division opponents and can you really say the Buffs can’t beat any of them? I really think it’ll be a missed opportunity if they can’t get six+ wins. Like Cal, the sky's the limit for them even if the expectations should be less than high.

Ruey Yen (4): Not much to infer from this past weekend since OSU is bad. I see Colorado and Cal as in the same tier in the Pac this year.

boomtho (5): Really happy for Coach Mac and the Buffs. Offense looks legit even with multiple QBs having to take reps.

ragnarok (4): I don’t expect the Buffs to hold on to the South lead through October, but they’re no longer the unfortunate schedule miss they were last year. Will be a tough out all year long.

atomsareenough (2): Buffs continue to win and look respectable. They’re in 1st place five weeks in!! When will reality intervene and the whole facade come crashing down? Or maybe they’ll find a way to beat flawed Pac-12 South competition.

5. California Golden Bears ↗

Last week: 7

Berkelium97 (4): DEFENSE, BEARS! DEFENSE! Cal finally put together 60 minutes of solid defense. If the offense could stop taking a quarter off per game, Cal could make some noise in the North.

Leland Wong (4): I’m trying to find reasons to bump Cal lower down my Rankings because I think I’m just being a homer, but I can’t justify it… A goal-line stop and a home upset over a Top-25 team is the kind of performance that just warrants an extra boost in a Power Ranking. A boost right in the taint.

Piotr T Le (4): Cal defense winning in a gritty seven-plan end-zone stand. Yup. Totes our MO. The upwards progression of the defense is giving ‘em hope for the future.

Nik Jam (4): Four seems about right at this time. Washington is clearly better, I’ll explain my high Colorado pick, UC L.A. has a more promising future. My only doubt is whether I can actually say Stanfurd is not worthy of a higher pick, but hey, even if its just for now, I’ll enjoy Cal having a higher spot right now than the trees. A shame San Diego State, Texas, and Arizona State made Cal look a tad bit worse though.

Ruey Yen (5): Bears still need to prove that they can win a true road game. Oregon State this weekend may not be a gimme.

boomtho (4): Cal won’t settle as high as 4 by season end given how backloaded the schedule is, but still a great win for Dykes at home. Memorial Stadium is where ranked teams come to lose!

ragnarok: (5): I’m anticipating a string of one-possession games for the rest of the season (hopefully Oregon State is bad enough that this weekend is excepted). I can think of a plausible route to victory in just about every game this season, but I expect they won’t be nearly that lucky.

atomsareenough (3) Yeah, I’m a homer, but we had an exciting win over a good team and OMG DEFENSE!!!

6. Utah Utes ↘

Last week: 3

Berkelium97 (5): The Utes completely controlled the tempo of this game, won the turnover battle, and still lost. That must have been a tough one for Utah fans.

Leland Wong (5): I don’t think Utah should feel too bad about the loss (Because Cal is such a football powerhouse!) because they executed their gameplan (almost) perfectly and almost pulled out the win.

Nik Jam (6): Tough loss, but they should still be an above-average team or better this year. That defense really limited Cal and hopefully didn’t give other teams a blueprint on how to stop us.

Ruey Yen (6): Utes were right there at the end of a tough road game.

boomtho (6): I’m so proud of how Cal responded vs the Utah run game, and have to be honest, I’m less than impressed with the Utah pass defense. As well as Webb played, he missed a bunch of additional opportunities to hit Demetris Robertson and Chad Hansen running free.

7. Washington State Cougars ↗

Last week: 11

Berkelium97 (7): After a rough start to the season, it looks like the Cougs have righted the ship.

Leland Wong (9): Oregon apparently no longer is the team they used to be, but you can’t deny Wazzu’s impressive performance in the air, defensively, and on the ground.

Piotr T Le (9): Their performance is so wild that all I can say is: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Nik Jam (8): The Cougars won’t be an easy out for anyone, but there may be too much depth in the conference for Wazzu to have a really good season. Same problem for us, really.

Ruey Yen (8): Beating Oregon doesn’t mean what it used to mean, but Wazzu has apparently corrected course after another inexplicable loss to a FCS team to open the year... basically a repeat of 2015.

boomtho (8): Classic middle-of-the-Pac team that can still definitely play spoiler.

atomsareenough (5): That was a fun beatdown of Oregon! I was actually mighty impressed with their run game. Like, “Geez, why can’t Cal run the ball like Mike Leach’s Air Raid Cougars?” kind of impressed. But then, that may have had more to do with the hapless Ducks on the other side of the ball; I don’t know.

8. USC Trojans ↗

Last week: 10

Berkelium97 (10): This team is ridiculous.

Leland Wong (7): This is the kind of dominant win offensively and defensively that USC needed if they want to turn their program around—and subsequently have some coaching stability for a change.

Piotr T Le (7): High volatility, thy name is SC.

Nik Jam (7): Still not sure this team is all that good, but the Pac-12 might just be bad enough that any team can win—dominantly—at home. That makes the USC road trip at the end of this month still worrying.

Ruey Yen (9): Maybe the Trojans won’t just roll over when the Bears visit later this season.

boomtho (7): Still gonna beat Cal.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils ↘

Last week: 5

Berkelium97 (8): This is a very bad road team.

Leland Wong (8): No run game and no defense is bad news. The on-field debut of Brady White—who was once courted by Cal—is good news for CGB since a recruiting story we have on him from 2014 is somehow still getting page views regularly.

Nik Jam (9): Not a good look for Cal in losing to these guys, although I wouldn’t be surprised if road games are tough league-wide in the Pac-12.

Ruey Yen (7): Looked really bad on the road this week.

boomtho (9): I admit this is probably an overreaction to a one-week performance, after all USC does have a lot of playmakers on offense… in theory. ASU had such a hollow 4–0 start before this week that they were bound to come crashing down.

ragnarok (9): Cal at 5 over ASU at 9 seems like an overreaction, but I needed to put Cal above Utah and USC above ASU (WSU is also in the middle of this looks-good-some-days-other-days-not-so-much sandwich), and so here we are.

10. Oregon Ducks ↘

Last week: 8

Berkelium97 (9): Oregon fans must be filled with dread this week, as that 12-year winning streak over Washington is very likely to end this week.

Leland Wong (10): Royce Freeman had a great day… and that’s about it.

Nik Jam (11): They may not even have a winning season this year. Wow.

Ruey Yen (10): How many down years do the Ducks need to have before NorCal reverts back to a true Bear Territory in a future Facebook map?

boomtho (10): this is… so weird. I don’t really know how to process this?

atomsareenough (8): They still have enough offense to be able to beat people, but their defense is looking mighty Cal-ish these days. I think UW is gonna take the Ducks out to the woodshed and exact 13 years’ worth of frustrations on them next week.

11. Arizona Wildcats ↘

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (11): Arizona burned QB Khalil Tate’s redshirt in the second half and got a couple TDs out of it (not that it really mattered). Have the Wildcats waved the white flag already this season?

Leland Wong (11): The Wildcats are in desperate need of developing a quarterback because the run game was otherwise fine.

Nik Jam (10): I don’t see six wins on their schedule. They played UW well… so maybe they can score an upset at home. They do host Stanfurd!

boomtho (11): UCLA had struggled most of the year… until they got a date with the Wildcats at home.

12. Oregon State Beavers ↔

Last week: 12

Berkelium97 (12): Same ol’ Beavs.

Leland Wong (12): Have you heard the saying “when you have two quarterbacks, then you really have no quarterbacks”? That was certainly the case for the Beavers, but not because of split practice time or confuddling the timing with the receivers—just because both quarterbacks played terribly.

Ruey Yen (12): Confession time: this upcoming weekend will be the first time this season that I tune in to more than five minutes of a OSU game this season.

boomtho (12): Sad face emoji.

Nik Jam (12): It wouldn’t surprise me if they come into this weekend feeling like Cal is one of their most winnable games for a while. (They do also have Utah, Arizona, and Oregon at home.) Really tough to think a team like the Beavers, who had been pretty good most of the decade, would have back-to-back in-conference winless seasons… I hope the Bears aren’t the ones who prevent that.

The data

Evil fell this week! Unfortunately, that’s because evil rose. Here are the responses from the voters who helped take down the former evil and propelled the latter evil to take its place.

atoms Bk97 boomtho Kevin Leland Nik Jam Piotr ragnarok Ruey
1 Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash
2 Colorado Stanfurd UC L.A. Stanfurd UC L.A. Colorado UC L.A. UC L.A. Stanfurd
3 Cal Colorado Stanfurd UC L.A. Colorado UC L.A. Stanfurd Stanfurd UC L.A.
4 Stanfurd Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Colorado Colorado
5 WSU Utah Colorado Colorado Utah Stanfurd Colorado Cal Cal
6 UC L.A. UC L.A. Utah Utah Stanfurd Utah Utah Utah Utah
10 ASU USC Oregon Oregon Oregon Arizona Oregon Oregon Oregon
11 Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Oregon Arizona Arizona Arizona

Look at that terrible consensus for the number-one team. Conversely, look at the varied responses for the number-two team. We can highlight this conflict in responses for second place by graphing out the precise average scores that each team received as well as each team’s standard deviation (Fig. 1). And as sure as my life is an absurd, drama-filled mess, we do indeed see quite a gap between the number-one school and UC L.A. & Stanfurd, along with pretty hefty error bars.

Furthermore, cuddled up close to UC L.A. and Stanfurd, we have Colorado and Cal filling out a tier of similarly-ranked teams. I question if Cal truly played bigly enough to justify a spot in this tier, but maybe that’s just my severe self-loathing speaking.

Figure 1. Tiers bring me to crying.

But to keep on tooting my beautiful, polished and pristine horn, we can take the greater degree of information that’s captured in these precise rankings and apply another dimension—time—to glean some more information about the Pac-12 (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. I kinda wanna force a reference in here comparing Stanfurd’s sudden collapse that approaches Cal’s territory and that song “Crash Into Me”. Emphasis on force.

Alternatively, we can introduce a little more order by using rounded rankings—that is, the ones presented in the first part of this article. Figure 3 shows a lot of movement up and down the rankings. In fact, the only team that held steady was poor Oregon State. I imagine this is because with the exception of two games (Colorado vs. Oregon State and UC L.A. vs. Arizona), the remaining four Pac-12 games were won by the teams with lower ranks on Week 4—Washington, Cal, WSU, and USC.

Figure 3. And you come crash... Into me.

We term the volatility of these teams “Madness” and Week 5 was the Maddest week since the first week of the season, when we had to recalibrate our oh-so-very-off preseason assessments.

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 4
ASU 2 1 -1 3 -4 11
Cal 2 -3 4 -2 2 13
Colorado 4 -1 1 1 2 9
Oregon 2 0 -3 -2 -2 9
OSU 1 -1 0 0 0 2
Stanfurd 0 0 0 0 -2 2
UC L.A. -2 0 0 0 2 4
USC -7 4 -2 -2 2 17
Utah 2 0 2 0 -3 7
Washington 1 0 0 0 1 2
WSU -6 1 0 0 4 11
Total Madness 29 12 13 11 26

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?