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Pac-12 Power Rankings, Week 2: U–C–L.–A. WATCH–THEM–FALL!

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I really wanted to avoid leading with UC L.A. two weeks in a row, but after that performance, how can I not?

UCLA v. San Diego State

Leland Wong: Let’s start using some comparative data to rank teams! In our power rankings, we’re evaluating Pac-12 teams by factors like strength of performance and pulse of the fanbase across the whole season, but especially in the last week. This is the first week we have some comparative data between teams—between the two in-conference games and Hawaii having beaten two Pac-12 teams. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say we don’t usually have this many comparative data points this early in the year.

  • Arizona State def. Sacramento State, 19–7
  • #13 Utah def. Northern Illinois, 35–17
  • Colorado def. #25 Nebraska, 34–31 OT
  • San Diego State def. UC Los Angeles, 23–14
  • #22 Washington State def. Northern Colorado, 59–17
  • #16 Oregon def. Nevada, 77–6
  • California def. #14 Washington, 20–19
  • USC def. #23 Stanfurd, 45–20
  • Arizona def. Northern Arizona, 65–41
  • Hawaii def. Oregon State, 31–28

Personally, I’m still finding it tougher to rank with insufficient data than with no data—maybe because I accept that the latter is pure, baseless speculation. I usually don’t emphasize the latest results to have a huge amount of variability compared to the previous week, but things just felt really volatile this week. Maybe because I wanted to be a homer and over-reward Cal—spoiler alert.

Alex G: So first off, each of my posts will start with the score, records, then the team’s rankings both nationally and in conference for SP+, FPI and their averages. Each will end with ESPN FPI’s projected win chance, in the next week. I’m still mostly running with the undefeated teams at the top, followed by the 1–1 teams, and finally the winless duo of UCLA and OSU. The only exception is Arizona State, which falls below Washington, Stanfurd and Oregon—all of which have looked much better than Sun Devils’ unimpressive play against bad opponents.

Christopher_h: I’ve been ranking teams according to who I think would win in a theoretical match-up more than 50% of the time, so I imagined that my rankings would be less prone to week-to-week variance… but it was really hard to resist ranking Cal #1 this week.

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. Utah Utes (2–0, six first-place votes) ↔

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 30 Pac-12 Championship Game - Washington v Utah Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 1

Berkelium97 (1): After irritating Cal fans to no end by letting Ross Bowers look like a world-beater in the first half, Utah clamped down in the second half.

Nick Kranz (1): Big ups to Ross for balling out in the first half. But Ross couldn’t do anything about the fact that NIU couldn’t run the ball and Utah could, which made the final result inevitable.

Alex G (3): W 35–17 v. NIU. 2–0 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 19/2, FPI: 17/2, average: 18/2. Utah has thrown down good-but-not-otherworldly wins against reasonable-but-not-otherworldly competition. Just for context, BYU barely won against what’s looking like a horrendous Tennessee team and NIU’s only other win was against Illinois State by 14. Weeks 4 (USC on the road) and 5 (WSU at home) will set the stage for judging the quality of the Utes. Next game: vs. Idaho State, 99.4% win chance.

Christopher_h (2): I’ve been really high on Utah because of the improvement of QB Tyler Huntley late last season, but he seems to have taken a small step back since then. Still, it doesn’t look like anyone in the Pac-12 is going to be able to stop their monstrous defensive line. Utah, as always, made great adjustments at halftime and shut down the Ross Bowers show by making him very uncomfortable in the pocket. I don’t envy the bowling pins masquerading as quarterback for Utah’s opponents.

2. Oregon Ducks (1–1, four first-place votes) ↗

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 13 Washington at Oregon

Last week: 4

thedozen (1): Nevada may not be a quality football team, but I’m giving the Ducks the benefit of the doubt based on Justin Herbert’s transcendent play. He piled up five touchdowns despite being lifted in the third quarter.

Berkelium97 (7): Oregon must have heard my recent complaints about their offense’s inconsistency because they went out and scored on an absurd eight consecutive drives. Now that is some consistency! Once they build up their resume (or others ahead of them start losing), they’ll climb in my ballot.

Nick Kranz (2): Nevada is probably a solid MWC team and Oregon humiliated them. Between that and playing Auburn to a virtual standstill, I wouldn’t be offended if you tried to argue that the Ducks are the team to beat in this conference.

Alex G (6): W 77–6 v. Nevada. 1–1 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 14/3, FPI: 6/1, average: 10/1. The Ducks absolutely destroyed Nevada, which rocketed them back up the computer rankings (FPI at #6!). But a couple of the teams with winning records stay above Oregon, including three teams having defeated ranked opponents. It’s a shame the Ducks have a bye week before playing at home against the Bears. Next game: vs. Montana, 98.5% win chance.

Christopher_h (1): I’ve thought that Oregon was the team to beat in the Pac-12, but I gave the edge to Washington by virtue of UW being favored in literally all their games (they’re 6.5-point home favorites over Oregon, for what it’s worth). I’m dreading Cal playing them at Autzen more than any other game this year, so they get the top ranking from me. Game mismanagement aside, I don’t think any team in the Pac-12 is as complete as Oregon, although Utah comes close. Worse, they’ll be even better once their highly-regarded wide receivers (e.g. Mychal Pittman) come back from injury… probably right in time for the Cal game.

3. California Golden Bears (2–0, 1–0 Pac-12, one first-place vote) ↗

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl - Cal v Air Force
Not even being a homer—I couldn’t easily find a picture of an over-the-top Cal fan.
Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 8

thedozen (3): It seemed a bit fortunate when Washington didn’t let Kekoa Crawford score a touchdown with over a minute remaining in the game. That led to the game-winning Greg Thomas field goal with 8 seconds to play around 1:30 AM.

Berkelium97 (2): Garbers avoided turnovers and made some key passes in the fourth quarter, which is all the Cal offense needed to complement the resurgent rushing attack. If the offense can do that every week, the Bears will ride the conference’s best defense into contention for a Pac-12 North title.

Nick Kranz (4): Cal won—on the road—against a presumptive Pac-12 title contender. They now have the single best win in the conference. And they earned that win by completing exactly one pass that was caught 10+ yards downfield. Sorcery.

Alex G (1): W 20–19 @ #14 Washington. 2–0 Overall, 1–0 Pac12. SP+: 55/8, FPI: 45/7, average: 50/7. Cal is the only school with a win over a team that is still ranked, beat the highest-ranked team at the time of the contest (Washington was #14, compared to Stanfurd at #20) and broke Washington’s 15-game home winning record (the road win puts things a notch above U$C’s home win). Even though other teams are superior to the Bears on paper (Oregon, U$C and Utah), the big win and Cal’s place as one of six remaining undefeated schools places it at the top of the list. Next game: vs. North Texas, 87.9% win chance.

Christopher_h (3): Maybe just a tiny bit of a homer ranking here, but was that a semi-functional offense I saw in the second half? That’s all I’ve ever asked for. Chase Garbers looked sharp, minimized mistakes, and led Cal down the field for the game-winning touchdown… err, field goal. Garbers exceeded all my expectations and gave me a bit of hope for this season. That’s a dangerous thing for a Cal fan.

Piotr T Le (3): Another year, another giant slain. I think we can get used to the fact that the defense can bring any high-flying offense onto its knees, but it will be up to the offense to deal the finishing blow. Say what you want about the offense, but when the Huskies were up by 10, most fans—including myself—doubted we could eke out double-digits worth of points. The offense did not think so and proceeded to score 20 points on one of the premiere defenses in the Pac-12. Add in the masterful (and lucky on the PI) two-minute drill and we had ourselves a win.

4. USC Trojans (2–0, 1–0 Pac-12) ↗

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Notre Dame at USC Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 6

thedozen (5): Just when it seems like Clay Helton could become a full-blown punchline, here comes Kedon Slovis to save the day. Then again, after this many years watching the conference, I shouldn’t be shocked when the Trojans again boast depth at quarterback.

Berkelium97 (3): I laughed at having USC at second in my rankings last week. After they scored 35 unanswered points (with their backup QB, no less) against the Lobsterbacks, maybe they actually deserve a spot in the top-half of the conference. However, it would be very Clay Helton of them to go up to Provo and lose 28–10 to BYU this week.

Nick Kranz (3): Slovis is rightly getting a ton of praise, but I fear that the hire of Graham Harrell at offensive coordinator is a big part of what makes USC dangerous now and dangerous long term.

Alex G (2): W 45–20 v Stanfurd. 2–0 Overall, 1–0 Pac12. SP+: 23/5, FPI: 20/3, average: 21.5/3(tie). One of two teams in the conference with a win over a ranked opponent—and it was a blowout at home against a traditional foe. The talent from the Trojans’ strong recruiting classes is starting to show as Stanfurd’s defense just couldn’t keep up with U$C’s receivers and running backs. Next game: at BYU, 65.3% win chance.

Christopher_h (6): I think Vegas would put them at #3 in the conference, but I’m going to leave them down here because this is still a Helton-coached team. You should never underestimate USC’s ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They’ll have a common data point with Utah this Saturday when they visit BYU, so that might give us a better idea of whether or not USC is ready for the top tier of the conference. All that said, freshman QB Kedon Slovis can ball, and he had some beautiful throws against Stanford. He dropped a deep ball in the bucket to a double-covered WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and he even went after future NFL first-rounder CB Paulson Adebo, fitting a beautiful pass to WR Tyler Vaughns into a tight window. Lastly, this team still plays dirty and talks way too much trash, so they still lack discipline and I’m pretty sure they can be successfully goaded into some Iman Marshall–like penalties during crucial moments.

Piotr T Le (6): I refuse to buy into Slovis hype on the back of a single game. Too many one hit wonders scatter across the history of college and professional football for me to take this showing seriously (Cardale Jones anyone?). However, the talent is evidently there and OC Harrell is harnessing it correctly. We’ll see, $SC has the potential of being a threat to Utah if the offensive output is sustainable.

Leland Wong (3): I hate having to do it, but I’m giving them a bonus bump for the bounce-back from stressing over losing J.T. Daniels for the season to the sheer excitement and relief of Slovis after his debut.

5. Washington State Cougars (2–0) ↘

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 27 Washington State at Stanford Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 3

Berkelium97 (6): Another expected blowout win. Wake me up when the play someone with a pulse.

Nick Kranz (6): WSU is the team most likely to be better than their rank, but I just can’t reward playing Northern Colorado and New Mexico St. to start a season.

Alex G (4): W 59–17 v. Northern Colorado. 2–0 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 22/4, FPI: 21/4, average: 21.5/3(tie). WSU is undefeated and showed that it can do yet another shellacking of a low-level opponent. The game at an undefeated Hawaii team this coming Saturday will show exactly what kind of point margin the Cougars can put up against somewhat-reasonable competition. We won’t really be able to gauge this team’s quality until week 5 at Utah, unfortunately… Plus, that matchup between offense and defense should be fun to watch. Next game: at Houston, 85% win chance.

Christopher_h (5): It’s no surprise that Wazzu once again has a great offense, but they’re about to be tested against Houston, a team that blew Arizona out of the water last year (it was 38–3 by the time Houston put their back-ups in). Houston has a very good QB in D’Eriq King and this will likely be a shootout between strong offenses against mediocre defenses.

6. Washington Huskies (1–1, 0–1 Pac-12) ↘

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual - Washington v Ohio State Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Last week: 2

Berkelium97 (7): The Huskies made some uncharacteristic unforced errors (tons of dropped passes, missed tackles, a critical false start on 4th and 1 in the red zone, bizarre clock management) atypical of Chris Petersen teams. The ground game looks strong, but the passing game looks like it may struggle against good defenses.

Nick Kranz (5): I’m still reasonably confident that UW will be a high end Pac-12 team this year, but they have some real issues filling some of the holes their many 2019 draft picks left behind.

Alex G (7): L 20–19 v Cal. 1–1 Overall, 0–1 Pac12. SP+: 21/3, FPI: 23/5, average: 22/5. The Huskies are not the 7th-best team in the conference—they are way higher than that. But the emotional letdown and check on Washington fans’ hubris—plus the hit to one of the nation’s best home records—is a gut punch deserving of a pretty decent knock down in the Power Rankings. Next game: vs. Hawaii, 93.2% win chance.

Christopher_h (4): Hey, remember when I said Washington was a really good team with great wide receivers? Haha, just kidding, you guys suck. No, but really, Washington is still one of the best teams in the conference—they were simply outplayed by Cal. Washington has a great passing attack, but Cal’s secondary is simply that much better. I’m sure Cal will receive lots of respect and recognition in the media for this lights-out (get it?) performance.

7. Colorado Buffaloes (2–0) ↗

Nebraska v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Last week: 9

Berkelium97 (4): Nebraska had no business being ranked, but that was still an impressive comeback by the Buffs. The defense has clearly taken a step back while the offense looks improved. They’re certainly better than the dumpster fire I originally thought they’d be this season.

Nick Kranz (7): I’m still very skeptical of Colorado generally and their defense particularly, but the Buffs appear to have offensive weapons other than Laviska Shenault Jr. and that should scare defensive coordinators around the conference.

Alex G (5): W 34–31 v. #25 Nebraska. 2–0 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 53/7, FPI: 49/9, average: 51/8(tie). Well done, Buffs, and thanks for bringing some good recognition to the conference. A home win against a borderline top-25 team is something to be proud of. Next game: vs. Air Force, 58.7% win chance.

Christopher_h (8): Colorado was completely outclassed by Nebraska in the first half and didn’t look like they had the talent to stop Nebraska. I was extremely impressed with the defensive adjustments they made at halftime and Colorado looked like a completely different team on that side of the ball. In particular, they found a way to keep Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez bottled up in the pocket to prevent him from continuing to gash Colorado with big runs. The fact that Colorado did this with the same personnel makes me think that coach Mel Tucker might be in the process of a Wilcox-like transformation of the previous regime’s defensive players.

8. Stanfurd Cardinal (1–1, 0–1 Pac-12) ↘

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 08 USC at Stanford
Seriously, I had to do the most searching to find a picture of a Stanfurd fan.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 5

thedozen (8): I probably gave the Cardinal too much credit for a home victory over Northwestern. A healthy K.J. Costello would certainly help, but I expected better defensive play from them at the Coliseum.

Berkelium97 (8): The Lobsterbacks have been more reliant on their passing game and less reliant on their defense to win games over the past year. That obviously becomes a big problem when the starting QB is lost to injury.

Nick Kranz (8): Davis Mills wasn’t bad, exactly, but he’s certainly not the type of QB yet ready to win a shoot—out. Stanford needs Costello back if they’re going to make noise.

Alex G (8): L 45–20 @ U$C. 1–1 Overall, 0–1 Pac12. SP+: 61/9, FPI: 41/6, 51/8(tie). Dropping out of national rankings, losing to a conference foe, and still having major questions around Costello’s status must be making folks across the Bay nervous. Next game: at UCF, 15.7% win chance.

Christopher_h (7): I think this would have been a different game if KJ Costello were playing, but if there were a Stanford fan out there, they would be concerned with how one-dimensional this offense can be. I feel their wide receivers (Michael Wilson, Connor Wedington) improved, although they were working against an abysmal USC secondary. Not that it mattered, because backup QB David Mills struggled to connect with anyone not named Colby Parkinson. I’ll reserve harsher judgment for how they fare when Costello returns.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils (2–0) ↘

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 10 UCLA at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 7

Berkelium97 (9): Taking 55 minutes to score the first TD against an FCS team is pretty embarrassing. And getting bottled up to the tune of 2.3 yards per carry is almost as bad. Last week’s offense clearly took the week off.

Nick Kranz (9): ASU has an above-average defense and some really intriguing skill position talent . . . and an offensive line that was mostly bowled over by Sacramento State?! The Devils might be able to beat MSU in a 10–7 type game next week, but MSU’s defensive line is probably going to maim Jayden Daniels.

Alex G (9): W 19–7 v Sacramento State. 2–0 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 43/6, FPI: 53/10, average: 48/6. I honestly don’t know what to think about ASU. Unimpressive wins against bad teams aren’t deserving of much and the Sun Devils fall below a couple teams with 1–1 records. We’ll see what happens this week, though I’m not optimistic. Next game: at Michigan State, 11.2% win chance.

Christopher_h (9): This was an embarrassing performance. I don’t want want to punish them too much because they have the look of a team that will improve once they start letting Jayden Daniels air out the ball, but the only thing I didn’t see an easy fix for was the offensive line’s performance. Sacramento State is not a good FCS team and their defensive line was living in the ASU backfield, limiting Eno Benjamin to 14 yards on 8 carries in the first half. If you subtract out his only big run when he had a giant hole opened for him, he only managed 36 yards on 23 carries (1.56 ypc). ASU had a number of red-zone trips and could only manage field goals, until a late blown coverage resulted in their only touchdown. If Sacramento State’s quarterback was a tiny bit better, this had the makings of an FCS upset. Embarrassing.

10. Arizona Wildcats (1–1) ↗

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 29 Stanford at Arizona Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week: 11T

Berkelium97 (10): The offense looked great while Tate was out there en route to a 51–10 lead. And then NAU outscored them 31–14 over the remainder of the game. It was a blowout win, but surrendering 41 points to an FCS team is a bad omen for conference play.

Nick Kranz (10): I have no real rationale for ranking Arizona ahead of Oregon State since they both lost at Hawaii in similar fashion. A tie for 10th ahead of UCLA?

Alex G (10): W 65–41 v Northern Arizona. 1–1 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 63/10, FPI: 60/11, average: 61.5/10. They got a win and the offense might actually be finding itself again. But that loss at Hawaii is still haunting, especially considering it was by more points than OSU’s. Thus, the Wildcats sit at the bottom of the list of 1–1 teams. Next game: v. Texas Tech, 46.4% win chance.

Christopher_h (11): After their abysmal defensive performance against Hawaii, I asked how could a defense get six turnovers and still look so bad? Northern Arizona was racking up points on the backups for Arizona. It says something about your team’s depth when an FCS team is making you look bad.

11. Oregon State Beavers (0–2) ↔

Utah v Oregon State Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Last week: 11T

Berkelium97 (11): After Arizona gave up 600 yards and 45 points to this same Hawaii team (before letting Northern Arizona score 41 on Saturday), I think the Beavs have finally relinquished the title of the Pac-12’s worst defense. They even held an opponent under 100 rushing yards for the first time since Smith became coach! That said, this is still a two-win team.

Nick Kranz (11): I can’t help but think that OSU has to be really disappointed they were only able to put up 28 points against a pretty bad Hawaii defense and missing out on their best chance at an FBS win by a pretty wide margin.

Alex G (11): L 31–28 @ Hawaii. 0–2 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 96/12, FPI: 86/12, average: 91/12. The Beavers are one of two winless schools in the conference, but their losses came against what are looking like more respectable schools than UCLA’s foes. OSU will surprise somebody this year… Next game: vs. Cal Poly, 93.3% win chance.

Christopher_h (10): I’m ranking the Beavs tenth because although they have been “close, but no cigar” so many times now, I think they’d beat Arizona on a neutral field. I wouldn’t actually bet on it, though, because OSU has them at Arizona and Arizona is a spooky home team—remember the inexplicable Oregon blowout upset last year? I’m guessing artificial crowd noise and whatever other dirty tricks they can think of, but I digress. OSU is going to get over that hump eventually, I can feel it.

Piotr T Le (11): I have a feeling that it will be another year of pain for Oregon State fans…but then again at least they aren’t UCLA.

12. UC Los Angeles Bruins (0–2) ↘

UCLA v. San Diego State

Last week: 10

Berkelium97 (12): Is it too early to talk about Chip Kelly’s $9 million buyout?

Nick Kranz (12): lol they play Oklahoma next week

Alex G (12): L 31–28 v. San Diego State. 0–2 Overall, 0–0 Pac12. SP+: 81/11, FPI: 47/8, average: 64/11. The Bruins have plummeted in both computer rankings and are one of two winless teams in the conference. Cincinnati was supposed to be a strong team before the season, so last week could have been chalked up to a road contest against a reasonable opponent—but the Bearcats’ blowout loss this week just makes that look shameful. Combine the awful start with the clear letdown in the hiring of Chip Kelly, and the Bruins head right down to last place. Next game: vs. Oklahoma, 20.3% win chance.

Christopher_h (12): I only ranked them 12th because I wasn’t allowed to rank them any lower. I know that Cal fans remember some spooky San Diego State teams, but this is not one of those teams. Against FCS Weber State (admittedly a good FCS school, but for perspective, I’d bet Weber State would be a pick-em against Oregon State), SDSU only managed two field goals in a 6–0 win, with pedestrian QB Ryan Agnew throwing 16/30 and 108 yards. Against UCLA, Ryan Agnew looked more like Matt Ryan, throwing for a career-high 293 yards on 23/31 passing. I don’t think UCLA is capable of winning without RB Joshua Kelley having a monster game and he seems to be nursing some sort of knee injury. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is basically BMac 2.0, except worse at throwing the ball. The fact that Chip Kelly so stubbornly sticks to “his guys” is completely baffling to me. I’m hoping they don’t figure out that they have a really talented back-up in Austin Burton and I hope they struggle their entire way through November.

Piotr T Le (12): Just like Texas, Chip Kelly is not back it seems. SDSU is by no means a bad team—they are very well coached and led by long-time HC Ricky Long, who has yet to have a sub .500 season with the Aztecs. Good thing they are going to play against…. Oh god Oklahoma… oh god… I am so sorry. .. However, as Alex G noted, the Bruins somehow have a higher probability of winning against the Oklahoma Sooners (20.3%) than Cal did against Washington (10.6%)...

The data

We’ll kick things off by showing how everyone voted this week. I had forgotten that this wasn’t always a feature in the power rankings, but was added pretty early on because a reader requested this level of transparency. I was reminded because I did some perusing through the archives to nail down when exactly I started using graphs in this series...

Table 1. How high did we rank Cal after a big win?

rk Alex Bk97 christopher_h Joshua Leland Nick NikJam Piotr ragnarok Ruey thedozen
rk Alex Bk97 christopher_h Joshua Leland Nick NikJam Piotr ragnarok Ruey thedozen
1 Cal Utah Oregon Utah Oregon Utah Oregon Utah Utah Utah Oregon
2 USC Cal Utah Oregon Utah Oregon Utah Oregon WSU Cal WSU
3 Utah USC Cal USC USC USC USC Cal Oregon Oregon Cal
4 WSU Colorado Wash Cal Cal Cal Cal Wash Cal USC Utah
5 Colorado Oregon WSU WSU Wash Wash WSU WSU USC Wash USC
6 Oregon WSU USC Colorado Colorado WSU Wash USC Colorado WSU Colorado
7 Wash Wash Stanfurd Wash WSU Colorado Colorado Stanfurd Wash Colorado Wash
8 Stanfurd Stanfurd Colorado ASU Stanfurd Stanfurd Stanfurd Colorado ASU Stanfurd Stanfurd
9 ASU ASU ASU Stanfurd ASU ASU ASU ASU Stanfurd ASU ASU
10 Arizona Arizona OSU Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona Arizona
11 OSU OSU Arizona OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU OSU
12 UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A. UC L.A.

The numerical responses that each team received get averaged; the team with the smallest average gets first, then second, third, and down down down all the way to UC L.A. We also calculate the standard deviation for each team—a big standard deviation means that team received a wide range of scores. Figure 1 collects both of these figures—the average ranking is shown in the vertical column (bigger means a higher, better ranking) and the standard deviation is shown by the error bar (smaller means high consistency in the responses). Compared to the post–Week 1 ranking, the standard deviations have shrunk a bit, showing that we are in more agreement this week. The error bars are also much tighter for the lower teams, which means we’re pretty certain about the basement teams. Especially the basementiest of teams—UC L.A.!

Figure 1. Some greater detail into how we as a collective voted after the Week 2 games.

Since we inherently have a record of these precise rankings (i.e., the average scores) for the year, I decided to start combining these data points into Fig. 2. (Shoutout to that other Pac-12 SBN blog that started making graphs like these a full year after me. No proof where they got the idea from, but the graphs were veryyyyy similar to these.)

Figure 2. The roller coaster that is the Pac-12.

One interesting finding from Figure 2 (and maybe you’ve noticed it if you’ve been paying as much attention to the data as I’ve had to) is that at this early point in the season, we haven’t had a clear #1 team. The best ranking that a team has received was Utah after Week 1 with a score of ~1.64—closer to 2.0 than 1.0.

Another new development from Figure 2 is that we’ve kind of lost any tiers; in the past two weeks, we saw teams clump together, correlating with how we perceived them. We don’t really have that this week... There’s a pretty clear basement and maybe Stanfurd and ASU are paired up a bit distinctly from the top-seven teams, but that’s really it and it isn’t too striking.

To be a completionist, I also charted out the rounded rankings (Fig. 3). The graph is a tad bit cleaner than Fig. 2, but doesn’t carry as much information.

Figure 3. Here’s a thousand words on the 2019 Pac-12 season at this point.

The amount that each team moves up and down in the rankings has been quantified and we report it as the Madness (Fig. 4a). The Cal–Washington game resulted in the two biggest move thus far in the season. The next-biggest mover was Stanfurd, suggesting that having some direct comparisons is going to profoundly impact how we evaluate the teams.

Figure 4a. The season’s Madness

But long-time readers might find it unusual to see that “a” attached to the previous figure number. That’s because I’ve brought back a feature that was introduced in the final Power Ranking of 2018—a graph that tracks cumulative Madness over the season (Fig. 4b). Full disclosure, I’m not sure if I’ll continue including this because I’m skeptical if it really educates or illuminates anything that we don’t gain from Fig. 4a.

Figure 4b. A new-ish thing! Possibly a useless thing!

The last graphic I’d like to direct you to is Figure 5. This figure tells you the average ranking that each team earned in 2019 (it’s an average of ever ranking a school has earned this year). Utah has consistently been the top team, finishing in the top two every time. On the other end of the spectrum, Oregon State has still been—on average—the lowest-ranking team in the conference, but UC L.A. is coming for that spot.

Figure 5. The average spot for each team in 2019.

Honestly, at this point I think we’re adding too many graphs for the sake of adding graphs or because a commenter proposed it once and they aren’t adding any information, just adding text for you to scroll past and more time to the preparation of the article.

It will be interesting to see how our rankings evolve next week as we’re back to all non-conference play, so we won’t really have any more comparative data. We’ll get a tad with Washington joining Oregon State and Arizona as Hawaii’s adversaries, but unless the unthinkable happens and Hawaii manages to topple Washington too, I don’t think it’ll be that educational.