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Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 1: Body language says it all for the UC L.A. Surrender Cobras

Nothing makes you feel better than stumbling out of the gates of your super-hyped coaching hire.

Cincinnati v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Leland Wong: Hello, data! Now that football is upon us, we finally have data on the 2018 versions of the Pac-12 teams thanks to the Week 1 slate of games:

  • Utah def. Weber State, 41–10
  • #13 Stanfurd def. San Diego State, 31–10
  • Colorado def. Colorado State, 45–13
  • #5 Ohio State def. Oregon State, 77–31
  • #9 Auburn def. #6 Washington, 21–16
  • #24 Oregon def. Bowling Green, 58–24
  • Washington State def. Wyoming, 41–19
  • California def. North Carolina, 24–17
  • Cincinnati def. UC Los Angeles, 26–17
  • Arizona State def. UTSA, 49–7
  • BYU def. Arizona, 28–23

Using these games, we seek to rank the Pac-12 teams based on their overall strength and performance, but with a strong emphasis on the latest result.

With one data point... I actually found this week tougher to judge than the preseason. In the preseason, every team is on the same page and can all be judged on coaching and recruiting. One week in, there’s a conflict if we should base entirely on the scores or try to guess the unquantifiable aspects like coaching. And even if we do want to base on scores, how can we evaluate when we don’t know anything about their opponents other than this one very data point? That would become somewhat circular...

Berkelium97: A quick note on my voting strategy: I start my ballot from scratch each week and only base the ratings on results on the field. This tends to make for some odd rankings in the first few weeks, as teams can only be as good as the opponents they schedule (and beat). Beating P5 teams is better than G5 teams and beating bowl teams is better than beating teams with losing records, etc.

This week is particularly odd because the final scores often did not tell the full story of the game. Cal had a 21-point lead after 53 minutes, but ended up winning by 7; USC had a 5-point lead going into the 4th quarter, but won by 22; LSJU had a 2-point lead at halftime and won by 21; Arizona trailed by 18 at the start of the 4th and lost by a more respectable 5 points; and Wazzu had a 1-point lead heading into the 4th, but cruised to a 22-point win. So we have a bunch of teams that put up maddeningly inconsistent performances. So my rankings this week will probably look rather odd.

Alex Ghenis: I’m going to go with a combination of strength-of-resume and trajectory of recent results (so if a team A and B are both 4–4, but team B has a 3-game win streak while A has a 2-game losing streak, B gets the nod). This week is, of course, tough… how do we rank an Oregon team that beat Bowling Green 58–24 (playing back-ups somewhere in the second half, though I didn’t watch it so can’t say exactly when) with a so-so 504-to-389 yard margin and also three turnovers, compared to Cal who beat a reasonable Power-5 opponent by one score with a first-half shutout, forcing four INTs and juggling QBs to hopefully get better results at BYU... versus UW who lost by five points to a top-10 SEC title contender?

For this week, I’m going to rank the teams that are 1–0 over the 0–1 teams and do my best to balance opponent quality and point margin to get the rest of the order (though of course, UW could still likely beat Colorado or Utah 8 or 9 times of 10, so that’s still messy). With regards to the “winners”: Furd is #1 because SDSU got some preseason top-25 votes and got beat up by Furd, with some really lopsided stats along the way, and the Furd TEs and Arcega-Whiteside were damn scary; Cal is then #2 because UNC is from the ACC and actually still has bowl potential (while all the other winners’ opponents were FCS or non-spectacular G5 teams), and we showed defensive dominance in one half and started to find offensive potential in the second. The rest are pulled together best I can, order-wise, without seeing a bigger body of evidence. Related note: watching all the Pac-12 games is tough when Cal plays at home, but I’m going to do my best to record other teams’ games and review them going forward.

By the way, last week I used ESPN’s FPI as a gauge of Power Rankings (but bumped Cal above UO by one spot). This week’s FPI (before Monday’s FSU-VT game) has the Pac in this order (#Pac/#FBS): Wash (1/6), Furd (2/10), USC (3/19), UO (4/20), Cal (5/33), Utah (6/34), WSU (7/40), ASU (8/41), Arizona (9/55), UCLA (10/61), Colorado (11/66), OSU (12/103).

Joshua.Morgan: As for my voting strategy, I definitely take into account the previous week’s rankings. If Team A were ranked higher than Team B and both had convincing wins—but Team B had a slightly better win—then I am likely not going to put Team B in front of Team A. I won’t move teams down for a win unless it is a truly bad win, but I could move teams up for convincing wins. Same goes with losses—and that is why I still have UW very high on my list.

By the way, if you were wondering, USC is Team A and Stanfurd is Team B.

Piotr T Le: My voting strategy is based on the strength of wins/loses (#QualityLoses) and—especially early in the season—whether the team has a viable quarterback or is still trying to find its identity. Hence Cal’s low ranking despite a quality win. We won’t be playing with a 4+ turnover ratio every game. In future weeks I weigh past performance together with present and as time goes by, the further in the past a game was the less weight it carries.

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.

I’m tired of fighting with the SBN Editor to incorporate pictures of the team, so they’re on time-out for the time being. We’ll see if I feel like bringing them back ever.

1. Stanfurd Cardinal (1–0; three first-place votes) ↘

Last week: 3

Berkelium97 (1): The Pac-12’s best win of the week, as SDSU has won at least 10 games in the past three years. SDSU shut down Bryce Love, but the Lobsterback passing game was surprisingly productive.

Joshua.Morgan (2): Great win for the Trees, but I don’t think the win was good enough to put them over USC (yet).

Alex Ghenis (1): What Berk97 said… the Trees’ defense was solid and WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside would be First-Team Pac-12 if voting were today. Watching Friday night, my roommate and I were both going “holy hell” at some of his catches.

FPI #10. This week: Win v. SDSU (FPI 60) 31-10. Next week: v. USC (FPI 19), 70.0% win probability

Nick Kranz (2): SDSU somewhat reasonably decided that they were going to sell out to stop Bryce Love and trust their inexperienced, undersized cornerbacks to stop a 6’3’’ tank of a WR. That went poorly.

Mike Foiles (2): It was a weird game for them Friday night against San Diego State. The Aztecs stacked the box and shut down Bryce Love and let the Cardinal receivers play 1-on-1. QB K.J. Costello built on his strong finish to 2017 and made them pay with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside terrorizing the secondary in the second half. Their defense looked better than I expected, particularly up-front where I was concerned heading into the season.

Leland Wong (2): It looks like Stanfurd finally discovered how to throw the ball downfield—unfortunately to great success. They didn’t look perfect—they suffered through a slow start and had trouble stopping the run—but I think this development makes them a more complete team than in past years. San Diego State is a quality opponent, so I nearly placed Stanfurd at #1.

2. Washington Huskies (0–1; seven first-place votes) ↘

Last week: 1

Berkelium97 (9): A slow start and some inopportune turnovers made the difference here. This was the conference’s best loss of the week, but the Huskies are sure to climb back up the rankings eventually. A win over Utah in a couple weeks will certainly help.

Joshua.Morgan (3): I couldn’t move UW down too low after a close loss to an elite football team. They played very well all game, but in the end they learned what makes SEC football what it is today. They’ll be fine, but this might show that they aren’t a playoff team this year.

Alex Ghenis (9): The best loss of the four teams that lost a game. They’d be #1 or 2 if I was following Piotr’s #QualityLosses math instead of the #WinsBeforeLosses methodology.

FPI #6. This week: Loss v/@ Auburn (FPI 8) 21-16. Next week: v. North Dakota (FCS), 99.7% win probability

Nick Kranz (1): Some very un-Petersen-like mistakes from UW, though to be fair, asking Jake Browning to run the option against a good SEC defense is asking for trouble.

Mike Foiles (1): The Huskies looked like the team I thought they would be. They had the tall task of playing Auburn in what essentially was a true road game with about 90% Auburn fans in Atlanta. Unfortunately for the Huskies, they will have to continue most of the season without All-American LT Trey Adams, but their WR corps looked much improved and QB Jake Browning will have a strong Senior season to cap off a stellar career. I firmly believe they will win the conference.

Leland Wong (1): I’m not going to ding them too much for losing to a top-tier Auburn team basically at Auburn.

3. USC Trojans (1–0; two first-place votes) ↘

Last week: 2

Berkelium97 (8): UNLV has had one winning season in the past decade, yet they kept up with USC for about 45 minutes. Clancy Pendergast had one of his patented unscheduled bye weeks as UNLV ran for over 300 yards against the USC defense.

Joshua.Morgan (1): Did they play an entirely clean game of football? No. However, I can’t penalize them for a 43–21 win. Coming into the year, I said they might be the best team in the conference if they put it together—and the fact that it looked like they did near the end of the game bodes well for next week and the season as a whole.

Alex Ghenis (7): What Berk97 said. It’s just a step above Oregon because UNLV is a better opponent than Bowling Green, most likely.

FPI #19. This week: Win v. UNLV (FPI 95) 43-21. Next week: @ Furd (FPI 10), 30.0% win probability

Nick Kranz (3): USC moves down a spot in my poll for allowing 300 rushing yards to anybody, let alone a low-end MWC school. No, this probably won’t matter later in the year at all.

Mike Foiles (3): Not a great game for them at home vs. UNLV and I expected more from their defense. I have not gotten to watch the tape on this game, but it looks as though QB will not be as big of a concern as some feared with true freshman J.T. Daniels having a strong game surrounded by a talented cast. Next week we will learn a lot more when they play Stanford on the farm.

Leland Wong (4): What a dominant performance by the Trojans defense to allow fewer than 100 yards passing (to former–Cal commit QB Armani Rogers). Let’s not pay too much attention to the fact that they allowed over 300 yards on the ground, though. Good start to slowly transition true-freshman Daniels into the college life, but the Trojans slip due to their poor run defense and because they needed a great fourth quarter to escape with the win.

4. Oregon Ducks (1–0) ↔

Last week: 4

Berkelium97 (7): Herbert had 6 TDs and over 300 total yards, but completed fewer than half his passes. It’s hard to read too much into a blowout win over a team that won two games last season.

Joshua.Morgan (4): So what that he had six touchdowns? Justin Herbert did not play a great game of football. I am not worried about him, but it’s going to bother me when people don’t realize that he was actually pretty mediocre in a 58–24 win. The reason I still have them high is they proved that they can play well even if they don’t have to fully rely on Herbert. This is a good football team.

Alex Ghenis (7): Bowling Green went 2–10 last year and Herbert was 10/21 passing and had 2 interceptions despite his TDs. Burmeister was 1/5 once he came in. Hard to gauge the team, but they should have won by more if everything was in good order, and they’ll be in trouble if Herbert gets hurt again.

FPI #20. This week: Win v. BGSU (FPI 113) 24-17. Next week: @ Portland State (FCS), 99.7% win probability.

Nick Kranz (4): No surprise that a MAC team couldn’t deal with Oregon’s skill position talent. Still, I’d imagine the Ducks were hoping for a stronger defensive performance to start the season.

Mike Foiles (4): Was not dazzled by their performance vs. Bowling Green, but they still put them away early. A lot of big plays for QB Justin Herbert and the offense. The Ducks will certainly be a contender.

Leland Wong (3): I also expected a bit of a better performance from DC Jim Leavitt’s group, but this was still a solid win over a much-weaker opponent; meanwhile, the offense put up great stats. As expected, it looks like Oregon won’t be regressing under Mario Cristobal.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils (1–0) ↗

Last week: 11

Berkelium97 (4): The Herm era started exactly how I expected: they somehow had a delay-of-game penalty before running their first play from scrimmage. After that, things looked surprisingly good as the offense and defense were dominant against a mediocre UTSA team.

Joshua.Morgan (9): Hmmmm. That was convincing, even if UTSA might not be the greatest of opponents. I’m not going to go crazy because of one game that they should have won anyway, but I’ll be watching closely in the weeks to come. If they are competitive next week at home against Michigan State, then this could be an interesting team. I’m not confident that will the case, however.

Alex Ghenis (3): A rout of an average C-USA team was the most lopsided win of the week for any Pac-12 team. We’ll see how they actually look in their coming contests… although MSU just barely escaped Utah State this week, so even gauging next week will be tricky.

FPI #41. This week: Win v UTSA (FPI 118) 49-7. Next week: vs. MSU (FPI 13), 34.8% win probability.

Leland Wong (7): I told y’all not to sleep on Herm Edwards… but I didn’t expect this. Granted, the UTSA Roadrunners are a mere low-level FBS team, but a rout is still phenomenal. They get bonus Power Ranking points for the hype around that N’Keal Harry touchdown and for a huge win to kick off a new coaching regime.

Nick Kranz (8): From my limited reading, UTSA is undergoing a pretty intense rebuild after losing a ton of talent from a team that barely made a bowl last year, so I’m not going to overreact to this win. But I am distressed that I can’t make any Herm jokes yet.

Mike Foiles (7): I did not get to watch the tape from this game yet, so I do not want to get too generous for a team that thumped a weak UTSA squad. However, they absolutely controlled this game start to finish and have a huge opportunity in Week 2 hosting a Michigan State team that may be a bit overrated. We will see about this team next week but so far, so good for Herm Edwards in Tempe. By the way, N’Keal Harry is the best WR in the country.

6. Utah Utes (1–0) ↗

Last week: 7

Joshua.Morgan (5): They are going to fly under the radar—and I even considered putting them over Oregon at #4. This is a good football team.

Alex Ghenis (6): Weber State is a powerhouse as far as FCS teams go and Utah had almost 10 times as many yards(!) and looked very good in the process. Hard to gauge against that team, but a strong win regardless.

FPI #34. This week: Win v. WeberSt. (FCS) 41-10. Next week: @ NUI (FPI 78), 76.6% win probability

thedozen (5): Speaking of long runs, how about Utah’s Zack Moss with the 86-yard rush? By contrast, Weber State’s Clay Moss ran for 26 in the entire contest and the Wildcats managed only 13 passing yards.

Nick Kranz (5): It’s worth noting that Weber State debuted a new QB fresh out of high school who looked 100% completely overmatched. Having said that, it’s still an impressive defensive performance even against an FCS school.

Mike Foiles (5): Not a great performance Thursday vs. a weaker Weber State team than a year ago, but their defense shut down everything. Their season will revolve around the play of QB Tyler Huntley. The guy has plenty of talent, but needs to demonstrate more maturity and avoid costly turnovers. There will be a few games where he plays lights out and the Utes win big, but there will probably also be some games that they lose because of his decision-making.

Leland Wong (8): It was a terrible first half for the Utes thanks to an array of turnovers—ultimately giving the ball away four times to an FCS opponent—but the defense had a performance you’d expect out of an EA Sports video game by not even allowing 60 yards. This is a tough team to judge because they failed with all of the turnovers… but the defense was insane… but it was against an FCS team.

7. California Golden Bears (1–0) ↘

Last week: 6

Berkelium97 (5): They’d probably be in the top-3 if they held on to the 24–3 lead (after all, they were the only team with a P5 victory), but a late defensive lapse adds further disappointment after the offense looked woeful. The Toyota Tercel offense needs a major tune-up.

Joshua.Morgan (6): An opening-week win is an opening-week win, but why doesn’t it feel like a true win? Well, Cameron Goode’s injury hurt (no pun intended), the offense sucked, I hated the three QB system, and the defense—which was the only reason we won this game—fell off at the end. Not to mention the fact that it looked like a lot of the “good defense” was just horrible offense by UNC. Call me a pessimist, but Cal definitely doesn’t deserve to move up just because they won.

Alex Ghenis (2): I know that Cal is almost certainly not the second-best team in the Pac, but as I mentioned in the intro, the opponent is possibly the second-best of the teams that were beaten (behind SDSU)—and the ONLY Power-5 team beaten by a Pac-12 school this week. Our defense was dominant until they switched to prevent later on—so there’s lots of potential there and hopefully players can step up in place of Goode. (Related note: UNC’s QB had a QBR of 7.8.) The offense was kind of baffling, but Chase Garbers seemed to find a groove later on... and we have other RBs and TEs to work with moving forward, since it can’t be solely Patrick Laird and Ray Hudson was dropping some passes. I still think we beat BYU on the road next week, despite others’ pessimism.

FPI #33. This week: Win v. UNC (FPI 45) 24-17. Next week: @ BYU (FPI 70), 70.9% win probability

thedozen (6): The Tar Heels could have definitely used suspended QB Chazz Surratt, among others. Nevertheless, Cal’s stifling defense was inspiring and I rarely saw efforts like that during the Sonny Dykes era. On one hand, it was jarring to see Garbers and Brandon McIlwain used so early, but Wilcox did seem to be preparing them for game action over the last few weeks.

Leland Wong (9): I had the Bears as low as ninth for almost giving away the win, but I ultimately bumped us up a little higher due to Alex’s point that we still beat a Power Five team. Our drop in my rankings parallels how down the fanbase is after seeing our offense through one game. Is it time for posters to (hilariously) parrot “Justin Wilcox doesn’t care about offense” yet?

Piotr T Le (10): “When you have two quarterbacks, you have none. When you have three quarterbacks, you don’t have an offense.” Despite the quality win, I cannot give Cal a higher ranking until it is able to pair this defense with a viable option at QB and therefore a viable offense. Eking out a +7 point differential on a +4 turnover differential is a terrible outcome in the grand scheme of things. These kinds of wins are just as unsustainable as they were in the past.

Nick Kranz (7): It’s still a win over a P5 opponent that isn’t Rutgers or Kansas or some such, so this is a meaningful data point. I’m just not quite sure if the glass is half-full or half-empty.

Mike Foiles (6): The Bears’ defense was lights-out led by a phenomenal secondary. The hope for the Bears defense is that OLB Cameron Goode is not injured too badly—he is a star and the depth behind him is young. As for the offense, the Bears played very conservatively while protecting a second-half lead. I would not expect the three-man QB rotation to be the norm and believe Ross Bowers is clearly the best passer of the group and the most consistent with his reads. I still believe this offense is improved from 2017, but not by as much as Cal fans had hoped it would be.

8. Colorado Buffaloes (1–0) ↗

Last week: 10

Berkelium97 (3): Steven Montez had a phenomenal stat line (22/25, 13.9ypa, 4 TD, 1 INT) and the Colorado defense shut down a Colorado State team that is usually a decent, bowl-bound team. I’m discounting the quality of the win somewhat because CSU lost to a questionable Hawaii team the prior week.

Joshua.Morgan (8): I was so close to putting them over WSU at #7, but I decided I couldn’t move WSU down after a convincing win. That is no fault to the Buffaloes, as they definitely showed that they can still play a competitive game of Pac-12 football.

Alex Ghenis (4): Looked good on both sides of the ball and QB Montez had great numbers, with a strong score against a G-5 team… but also only put up two more points than Hawaii did the previous week, so hard to gauge the offense despite the stats. (Hawaii also beat Navy 59–41 this week, so they’re not awful either).

FPI #66. This week: Win v. CSU (FPI 115) 45-13. Next week: @ Nebraska (FPI 52), 25.5% win probability.

Leland Wong (5): A big win over a rival leaves plenty of reasons to be happy in Boulder. The defensive performance showed that they may be a strength for the team by only allowing fewer than 300 yards and only one touchdown.

Nick Kranz (6): CSU returned almost nobody from last year’s pretty good offense and almost everybody from last year’s pretty bad defense, which is to say that this is a team that Colorado should beat authoritatively. Kudos for actually doing so, but again this isn’t a result to overreact about.

Mike Foiles (8): The Buffs looked great in their annual rivalry match-up with Colorado State in Denver. Colorado State’s defense is awful, but the Buffs offense still looked great. I have long been intrigued by the potential of QB Steven Montez and he put together a phenomenal game. And if you do not know who WR/H-Back Laviska Shenault is, you will soon. He is an absolute specimen. I do not want to be too generous with their ranking yet, but the nation’s eyes will be on their Week 2 game when they travel to Lincoln to play Scott Frost in his first game coaching at his alma mater at Nebraska.

9. Washington State Cougars (1–0) ↔

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (2): Wyoming is a decent team, so this looked like one of those classic trap games on the road against a MWC team. This was a good defensive performance in the first game of the post-Grinch era, but the offense was oddly inefficient despite scoring 41 points. They move up an extra spot on my ballot for using this bizarro formation.

Joshua.Morgan (7): Good road win to start the year. I said it last week: this team could be better than some think.

Alex Ghenis (5): Wyoming should be decent despite losing their QB to the NFL—and the win was on the road. As far as performance goes, this is likely interchangeable with Utah, but given the opponent, they should be higher.

FPI #40. This week: Win @ WYO (FPI 82) 41-19. Next week: v. SDSU (FPI 125), 97.6% win probability

Nick Kranz (9): Leach is a good enough coach to score points against the Wyomings of the world even with talent issues, but I’m anticipating WSU struggling when the schedule stiffens.

Mike Foiles (10): The rank may be a bit low as they performed better than expected on the road at Wyoming. It was close for three quarters until the Cougars pulled away to win by three scores. This is another game I want to watch more tape of, but Mike Leach and the Cougars should feel really good about the way their team performed on the road with a bunch of new starters and new coaches.

Leland Wong (6): I had no doubt that Leach would be just fine offensively, but this was still a damn fine performance for their first game of the season. The biggest surprise was the defense—the Cougars looks to be just fine without DC Alex Grinch. Now they just have to show that they can continue this level of performance against a better opposition.

10. Arizona Wildcats (0–1) ↘

Last week: 5

Berkelium97 (10): Last week I said that I was probably overrating Arizona (ranked 4th) because I didn’t think Khalil Tate could sustain last year’s production. I didn’t expect this much of a regression, especially against a BYU team whose defense was slightly above average last year. Meanwhile the Arizona defense looks substantially worse than average— they were getting pushed around at the LoS all night.

Joshua.Morgan (10): Last week I said I thought Khalil Tate and this team as a whole were overrated. Did I expect them to beat BYU? Yes. Am I shocked they didn’t? Nope.

Leland Wong (10): Maybe I’m overreacting by dropping them to 10th (after I personally had them at 4th and we collectively had them at 5th in the preseason); it’s just hard to place them higher above teams that won. I don’t think they’ll stay this low for too long—BYU with QB Tanner Mangum is a great team and this loss will only look better with time.

Alex Ghenis (10): A close loss to an independent FBS team, while Arizona’s supposed dual-threat master had a QBR of 61.1 on 50% and 8 runs for 14 yards total. ESPN’s preseason FPI had BYU ranked in the 80s nationally with an expected win-loss around 4–8 (Post–week 1 FPI has BYU at #70 and 6.2–5.8), so this is not good for Arizona—but still better than the UCLA and OSU losses.

FPI #55. This week: Loss v BYU (FPI 70) 28-23. Next week: @ Houston (FPI 71), 54% win probability.

Nick Kranz (10): Kevin Sumlin’s use of Khalil Tate was so weird that I found myself with no choice but to agree with everything Rod Gilmore was saying on the ESPN broadcast which... is not something I am entirely comfortable with. Congrats Arizona coaches—way to neuter the most exciting player in the conference.

Mike Foiles (9): The Wildcats need to get healthy on the offensive line and Kevin Sumlin needs to have a better gameplan coaching his monster, QB Khalil Tate. They trotted out an offensive line that had seven career starts on it and it did not perform well in the season opener against a better-than-expected BYU team. However, this does not excuse the gameplan. There were hardly any designed runs for Tate and I saw him air out deep passes at least ten times into contested coverage. The defense also did not look as improved as I expected and this was an awful showing for a team in the hunt for the South. I expect things to improve, though their best lineman Nathan Eldridge may be out for the season and the OL was already an area of concern.

11. UC Los Angeles Surrender Cobras (0–1) ↘

Last week: 8

Berkelium97 (12): Their ranking was not helped at all by the fact that the announcers kept talking about how this was the easiest game on the Bruins’ schedule.

Joshua.Morgan (11): Yeah, that wasn’t good. Still better than OSU though.

Alex Ghenis (12): Losing to an AAC team that went 4–8 last year gets you a last-place vote, scoring margin relative to OSU–OSU be damned.

FPI #61. This week: Loss v. Cinn (FPI 76) 26-17. Next week: @ OU (FPI 4), 5.0% win probability

thedozen (11): I have not attended many Pac-12 football games since I moved out of the Bay Area, but on Saturday I used some free tickets and drove to the Rose Bowl. The Bruins surged to a 10–0 lead, but Michael Warren II and the Cincinnati Bearcats wore them down with a persistent running game. In the fourth quarter, the visitors scored via a safety. Then, Cincinnati found the endzone, but only after they set up for a field goal and the defense was whistled for having 12 men on the field. The fans in front of me kept grumbling about true freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, several Bruin suspensions, and receivers who dropped balls. Wasted in the 26–17 defeat was a beautiful 74-yard run to the house by another freshman, Kazmeir Allen.

Nick Kranz (11): Quarterback issues, line issues, WR issues... UCLA’s offense probably doesn’t have the personnel to make the Chip Kelly offense go in year one. Thank Oski.

Mike Foiles (11): Boy this was a bad start to the Chip Kelly era. I have to watch more of this game to see if Cincinnati is at all decent, but either way this was bad. QB play was poor and the rest of the team looked like a work in progress. Their defense will be better than last year, but not good enough to get these guys to a bowl. I will have more thoughts after I watch the game in its entirety.

Leland Wong (11): The Bruins played pretty tight… with a struggling AAC team. The offense was basically entirely RB Kazemir Allen (whom we really wanted to commit to Cal) and the defense couldn’t stop the Bearcats on the ground. Faceplanting immediately after all the hype around the Chip Kelly hire was nearly bad enough to get my twelfth-place vote.

12. Oregon State Beavers (0–1) ↔

Last week: 12

Berkelium97 (11): The Oregon State offense put up some decent numbers, but they could not keep up at all with Ohio State’s 77 points.

Joshua.Morgan (12): They scored 31 points against a Top-5 team, but you can’t convince me that a team should be moved up after losing by 46 points.

Alex Ghenis (11): An ugly super-lopsided loss, but on the road against a national-title contender stacked with talent. Less faceplant-worthy than UCLA’s loss, IMO.

FPI #103. This week: Loss @ tOSU (FPI 3) 77-31. Next week: v Southern Utah (FCS), 82.7% win probability

thedozen (12): Well, I pointed out the ridiculousness of Oregon State going to Ohio State last week and the result was 77 points for the Buckeyes. The game reminded me of Cal’s 70–22 blowout of Baylor back in 2002.

Nick Kranz (12): Well well well, six different plays of 25 yards or longer—might the Beavs have a bit of skill-position talent this year?

Mike Foiles (12): This game reminded me of when Cal played Ohio State in 2013. The defense was garbage for the Beavers, though it was not completely unexpected given they were missing some key players in the secondary. This may be the norm, however, given the defense was awful last year and they allowed 77 points in Week 1. That said, they made some plays on offense, but I just cannot see this team hanging with the rest of the pack.

Leland Wong (12): No one genuinely expected the OSU to beat OSU, but allowing nearly 80 points has gotta wear down the Beaver fanbase. Still, the discovery of RB Artavis Pierce has gotta have them feeling better about their Ryan Nall–less future.

The data

We kick off our data analysis by showing you how we each voted as individuals.

Table 1

rk Alex Bk97 Joshua Leland Nick K. Nik Jam Mike Piotr ragnarok Rob Ruey thedozen
rk Alex Bk97 Joshua Leland Nick K. Nik Jam Mike Piotr ragnarok Rob Ruey thedozen
1 Stanfurd Stanfurd USC Wash Wash Stanfurd Wash Wash USC Wash Wash Wash
2 Cal WSU Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Oregon Stanfurd Stanfurd Wash Stanfurd Stanfurd USC
3 ASU Colorado Wash Oregon USC USC USC USC Stanfurd USC USC Oregon
4 Colorado ASU Oregon USC Oregon ASU Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Stanfurd
5 WSU Cal Utah Colorado Utah Colorado Utah Colorado ASU ASU ASU Utah
6 Utah Utah Cal WSU Colorado Cal Cal ASU Cal WSU Cal Cal
7 USC Oregon WSU ASU Cal Utah ASU Utah Utah Utah WSU Arizona
8 Oregon USC Colorado Utah ASU WSU Colorado Arizona WSU Arizona Utah Colorado
9 Wash Wash ASU Cal WSU Wash Arizona WSU Colorado Cal Colorado WSU
10 Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona WSU Cal Arizona Colorado Arizona ASU
Our votes this week. Check out all the disagreement.

We take the averages of the scores that each team received as well as the standard deviation. The averages tell us how we collectively perceived each team and the standard deviation is a measure of how varied these scores were per team. In Fig. 1, the mathematical averages are shown in the bars and the standard deviations are represented by the error bars.

Figure 1. The precise rankings of the teams after Week 1. Dems some giant standard deviations.

Figure 1 shows us three unprecedented—at least as far as I can remember—things

The standard deviation for Washington is so high that it’s literally off the chart. The standard deviations are so large that you can see them overlap between #2 (Washington) and #9 (WSU). The huge standard deviations confirm what we saw in Table 1—there’s no agreement in our perceptions of the teams.

The second observation is that our first-place team (Stanfurd) has a mathematical ranking of 2.000. Despite being ranked #1, their precise score is literally 2—they are nowhere near being #1. They weren’t even the team to receive the most first-place votes. This is my favorite of the observations because I think it highlights the importance of studying the precise rankings, but it can’t come last due to narrative flow and all that junk.

The final observation is that we have a near five-way tie in the middle of the conference. We’ve never had this many teams so tightly-packed and I think that’s further indicative of how many dissenting views we had. While the column graph of Figure 1 is great because it allows for the incorporation of the error bars, I think visualizing near-ties is easier by stacking the precise rankings vertically (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The precise rankings over the course of the season.

I previously alluded to how conflicted we were regarding the top of the conference—the #1 team did not receive the most first-place votes. That honor goes to Washington, although they received three ninth-place votes that tanked their overall rating. USC nabbed two first-place votes and only two poor votes (seventh and eighth), keeping them right up there among the greats with Oregon just a bit behind.

The next cluster is our five-way tie and I think now it’s easier to understand just how close these teams were. The bottom three teams are pretty conclusive. Arizona is pretty high up for a loss to what we expect to be a strong BYU squad. Oregon State shows some life in the basement due to their offense and thanks to UC Los Angeles’s stumbles right out of the gates of the Kelly era. Sorry, Brunis.

For completionist’s sake, we’ll recreate Figure 2 using the rounded rankings (i.e., those rankings used in the main body of the post) and call it Figure 3.

Figure 3. The simplified version of Figure 2.

Oregon, Washington State, and Oregon State all held steady; the other nine teams all moved around this week. Arizona plummeted five spots for a season-opening and regime-starting loss with their Heisman candidate. Their in-state brethren—the heathens of Herm—had a completely different week by rocketing up six spots.

Despite being one of the non-Nick garbage writers of CGB, a few years ago I incorporated the constructive criticism of one of our readers by starting to quantify these movements—the Madness of the Pac-12.

Table 2. Does table format even make sense to any non-Leland readers?

Table 2 doesn’t say much out of context, but I’d consider a week with 20-something Madness points to be a pretty active week, showing how uninformed our Preseason Rankings were and how difficult it was to grade this week. But with more data, this table will be more educational.

We’ll get another set of that data and reconvene here in a week. In the mean time, leave a comment below. Maybe I’ll incorporate it into my articles or maybe I’ll be an asshole.

Or maybe both.


Do you agree with our ranking of Cal at seventh place?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    It’s too high!
    (26 votes)
  • 34%
    It’s too low!
    (51 votes)
  • 47%
    Just call me Goldilocks because that was just right. And because my mane is pretty sweet.
    (69 votes)
146 votes total Vote Now