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Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 10: UC Los Angeles just can’t get anything going right

The easiest way to get ahead in life is by doing nothing at all.

Oregon v UCLA
I try to pick pics from the recent games, but c’mon

Leland Wong: Have you ever wanted to read eight other opinions instead of just formulating your own? Then you’re in the right place! Instead of forcing you to assess the teams of the Pac-12, I’ve assembled a team of Cal fans who have done all of the comparisons for you based on the season’s overall performance with a particularly mindful eye on the most recent game. (“Most recent” as defined by the time of this writing, not necessarily when you’re reading this. You may be coming from the future in which case I hope you aren’t reading while driving your land-air vehicle. Unless self-driving carplanes do indeed become a thing, in which case, continue reading.)

Berkelium97: This was an ugly weekend for several programs. Could the Pac-12 have three head coaching vacancies this offseason? (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona).

Nick Kranz: Getting hard to distinguish the bottom six programs from each other... except for Arizona, who have reached a new level of ineptitude.

Ruey Yen: There are basically four tiers. Washington is in its own tier at the top. Then you have the quintet of Utah, Colorado, Washington State, USC, and Stanfurd. Behind them are Cal, ASU, UCLA, Oregon, and Oregon State. For symmetry, Arizona is also in a tier by itself at the bottom.

Leland Wong: Oh wait, I probably should have made a connection about votes and elections.

The rankings

In the event of a tie, those teams are listed alphabetically. The parenthetical number next to each voter’s name is where he (not she because we have no female writers as they’re all repulsed by me) ranked that team.

1. Washington Huskies ↔ (8 first-place votes)

Fuck this school.

Last week: 1

Berkelium97 (1): If I don’t have to spend another four hours listening to Rod Gilmore drone on and on about their strength of schedule, I will die a happy man.

Nick Kranz (1): They’re going to have to go undefeated because the Pac-12 is down and the playoff committee is too dumb to use margin of victory and efficiency profiles.

Leland Wong (1): Spoiler alert: I’m going to use the phrase “absurd offensive showing” to describe WSU and compliment their defense. And yet both of those units were eclipsed by this team. Gross.

Nik Jam (1): There is no way the team misses the playoff with a 12–1 record, but I do understand that the tough games for them are still to come, only having really beat Utah so far and having maybe the most ridiculously easy non-conference schedule outside the state of Arizona. I do see them beating USC and WSU though, but I’ll save that talk for my Pick-em article.

2. Washington State Cougars ↗

Last week: 4

Berkelium97 (2): Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the fact that Luke Falk completed 32 of his 35 passes on Saturday. That’s absurd.

Nick Kranz (2): Man, Wazzu was losing games by this score for like half of the last decade.

Leland Wong (2): On top of that absurd offensive showing that Bk97 touched on, their defense racked up five sacks and two interceptions as they continued their domination over the conference.

Nik Jam (2): I think it’s already time to look forward to the Apple Cup, but I might be able to convince myself Cal can beat these guys.

3. Colorado Buffaloes ↔

Last week: 3

Nick Kranz (3): I’m still high on Colorado, but their offense has been on the downswing for a couple weeks now and they’ll need it back for Wazzu and Utah.

Leland Wong (3): They had a pretty unimpressive showing this week, but they still rank above the other teams in this tier (i.e., Utah and USC) because they’ve been executing well all year.

4. Utah Utes ↘

Last week: 2

Leland Wong (4): Don’t fret, Utes fans—you’re in a great spot and have a reasonable shot at ending the regular season with 10 wins. You’re solely dropping here due to inactivity, which is fair in Power Rankings.

5. USC Trojans ↔

Last week: 5

Berkelium97 (3): I miss the bad USC teams we enjoyed over the past several seasons.

Nick Kranz (4): If I didn’t hate both teams I’d really be looking forward to seeing USC vs. UW.

Leland Wong (5): The offense looked great, but the defense was a sight to behold, shutting down the Oregon offense. Kudos to Clancy. I miss him. Do you think he ever thinks about us that way?

6. Stanfurd Cardinal ↔

It's hideous, I know.

Last week: 6

Berkelium97 (6): The Lobsterbacks accumulated a whopping 60 passing yards. This offense is incredibly one-dimensional. It’s too bad none of their remaining opponents will be able to stop this offense.

Nick Kranz (6): It says a lot about how far this conference has fallen that this year’s version of Stanfurd already has four conference wins.

Leland Wong (6): Hey, at least they got a win over Oregon State (and that’s more than Cal can say…). And if they squint, then all they see is the win and not the laughable performance.

Nik Jam (6): Them being at #6 says more about how weak this conference is than how decent Stanfurd is. They could just as easily beat Oregon and Cal as they could lose to both. The latter would be pretty awesome.

7. Arizona State Sun Devils ↗

Last week: 10

Leland Wong (7): The Sun Devils are the kind of team that astounds me when I remember they’ve got a winning record and are one game away from bowl eligibility. They’re on a three-game losing streak that’s probably going to turn into a five-game losing streak thanks to Utah and the #1 team in the Pac-12, but they’ll likely secure their sixth win against their archrival, Arizona, while the teams that I ranked below ASU don’t have as easy of a path to bowl eligibility.

8. California Golden Bears ↘

Last week: 7

Berkelium97 (8): Surrendering 14.4 yards per passing attempt is not a good look when the Air Raid is next on the schedule.

Nick Kranz (8): I feel dumb for ever entertaining the idea that the game might’ve gone differently.

Leland Wong (9): Lack of defensive depth is certainly a valid excuse, but you can’t use that year after year and at the end of the day, the final score is all that matters.

Nik Jam (8): Putting the Bears at 8, despite their nightmare performance on Saturday, says more about teams 9–12 than does about respecting the Bears.

9. UC Los Angeles Bruins ↔

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

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (10): Colorado did everything they could to hand this to the Bruins—dumb penalties, four turnovers, a blocked kick—and UCLA still wasn’t very competitive.

Leland Wong (8): The defense had a pretty good day, but they have a walk-on back-up quarterback and no run game to speak of. I’ll at least give them credit for keeping the score close with Colorado through halftime, until Colorado outscored them 13–0 in the second half.

10. Oregon Ducks ↘

Last week: 8

Berkelium97 (9): Oregon fails to break the 300-yard mark for the first time since Chip Kelly’s first year.

Leland Wong (10): Speaking of streaks, the Ducks continued a run of 39 straight games with 20+ points (the longest active streak in FBS) thanks to a touchdown run by Dakota Prukop in garbage time. And that’s the only nice thing I can say about their performance, which is why they’re down here.

Nik Jam (10): Stanfurd, Utah, and Oregon State to end the season and the Ducks HAVE to win all 3 to go to a bowl game. Only the Furd game is at home. I wouldn’t bet on any of them.

11. Oregon State Beavers ↔

Last week: 11

Nick Kranz (11): Shows you how low expectations were that OSU is significantly better than I expected and still 11th in our rankings.

Leland Wong (11): Not the only team to bemoan their lack of depth. (This time at quarterback.) And they aren’t not the only team for whom I’ll say that the only thing that matters is performance.

12. Arizona Wildcats ↔

Last week: 12

Berkelium97 (12): Basketball season can’t start soon enough.

Nick Kranz (12): If ever there could be one game that would, by itself, justifying a coaching change, it would be that game. Year 5 at Arizona for RichRod!

Leland Wong (12): I always wondered if they’d muster up some play to resemble something slightly better than an embarrassment if they had some health at quarterback, but their presumed starters of Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins had QBRs (which scale from 0–100) of 1.4 and 1.0, respectively. Plus, that doesn’t explain their flimsy defense.

The data

First and foremost, let’s take a look at the ballots from the fine and fancy CGB voters:

Bk97 boomtho Kevin Leland Nick Kranz Nik Jam Piotr Ruey
1 Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash Wash
3 USC USC Utah Colorado Colorado Colorado Utah Colorado
4 Utah Colorado Colorado Utah USC USC Colorado Utah
5 Colorado Utah Stanfurd USC Utah Utah USC USC
6 Stanfurd Stanfurd USC Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd
8 Cal Cal UC L.A. UC L.A. Cal Cal Cal Cal
9 Oregon Oregon Oregon Cal UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A.
10 UC L.A. UC L.A. Cal Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
12 Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona

We take the mathematical average of votes for each team to determine the Power Rankings that were listed above. Which is fascinating if you’re all boring and junk, but we can also learn more by taking a finer look at the data to see teams that are closer together—or further apart—than those rounded integer rankings suggest. For instance, here we see that Colorado, Utah, and USC are all ranked pretty closely for what’s a near-tie for third, while rounding the rankings places them rigidly at third, fourth, and fifth places.

Figure 1. More bars than downtown of that one major metropolitan city. I don’t know, why are we having the non-drinker make an alcohol reference?

We can also follow the trends of these precise rankings over time to see how the teams have performed over the season. And as my skinny jeans can attest, I’m all about following trends!

Figure 2. If slow and steady wins the race... than the frontrunner and the most vile team in the conference still wins.

For the sake of being complete, we’ll also take a look at the full season’s rounded rankings.

And oh how lucky Arizona State is. Despite taking the week off, they moved up three spots due in part to the terrible play of our beloved Bears. Utah—which will be facing Arizona State this week—had the same vacation, but did not enjoy the same post-vacay buzz. Instead, the Utes dropped a few spots as they were passed up by teams that put on great performances. But going back to Cal, how fair is it for them to drop only one spot after getting clobbered—granted, by the best team in the conference—on national television?

Figure 3. Mesmerized by the pattern of teams #2–4 since Week 8.

And last, but not least (Least is Twist’s appalling fashion sense.), we record the movements of the teams in Figure 3 and quantify that for a degree of Madness—how volatile each team is performing in 2016.

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 0 0 5
ASU 2 1 -1 3 -4 5 -3 1 -4 3 27
Cal 2 -3 4 -2 2 -4 0 2 0 -1 20
Colorado 4 -1 1 1 2 -3 3 1 0 0 16
Oregon 2 0 -3 -2 -2 -1 0 1 2 -2 15
OSU 1 -1 0 0 0 2 0 -1 0 0 5
Stanfurd 0 0 0 0 -2 -3 0 -3 3 0 11
UC L.A. -2 0 0 0 2 -6 0 0 -1 0 11
USC -7 4 -2 -2 2 3 0 0 0 0 20
Utah 2 0 2 0 -3 3 0 -1 2 -2 15
Washington 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
WSU -6 1 0 0 4 5 0 0 -2 2 20
Total Madness 29 12 13 11 26 35 7 10 14 10

Next week, your faithful-ish team of voters will be back at it again as USC tries to tackle the king of the Pac and a battle for the bottom in the form of Oregon State–UC Los Angeles. So check back next week because the nine minutes it took you to facepalm at my writing has to be a better distraction that filling out another spreadsheet at work.