PULLMAN – After this week, we may have a new No. 1 atop these power rankings. If not, who knows when the Ducks will finally vacate their perch?
The Cougars have this weekend off, but their next opponent, Arizona, will host UCLA in a surprisingly big game for both teams. The Bruins have looked great this season but have two Pac-12 losses, albeit to the conference’s two best teams. Arizona, on the other hand, is riding a three-game winning streak. Both teams will be looking for a win to show that their success wasn’t merely a facade.
Elsewhere in the conference, USC should win its seventh game while beating up on the hapless Golden Bears, the Huskies host Colorado and can qualify for a bowl with a victory. Arizona State will visit Utah and hope to continue its streak of beating the opposition into submission.
1. Oregon (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12; last week: 1) The Ducks didn’t play last weekend and had to watch Florida State pass them in the BCS standings. They can ensure no more such effrontery will afflict them this season with a convincing win over the Cardinal.
2. Stanford (7-1, 5-1; last week: 2) The Cardinal also had an extra week to prepare for this weekend’s showdown. It’s all or nothing for Stanford this weekend. Win and be No. 1, or lose and be just another two-loss Pac-12 team.
3. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1; last week: 5) These Sun Devils aren’t just beating teams, they’re destroying them. The defense is playing lights out and it’s hard to see what separates Taylor Kelly from the conference’s elite quarterbacks. Would anyone be that shocked if ASU made it to the Pac-12 championship game, or even won it?
4. USC (5-3, 2-2; last week: 6) “Oh, well, of course, the Trojans can’t retain interim head coach Ed Orgeron because … because …” If Orgeron is just a recruiter he sure is hiding it well. The Trojans have been playing well ever since Lane Kiffin was axed and are coming off an impressive win in Corvallis, Ore.
5. UCLA (6-2, 3-1; last week: 4) Nothing cures what ails you quite like a visit from the Buffaloes. Colorado’s elixir of mediocrity inspired the Bruins to a 22-point win, putting the Bruins on the right track after they dropped a couple of games.
6. Oregon State (6-3, 4-2; last week: 3) OSU’s offense didn’t look quite so special against USC, scoring just seven points (the Beavers also scored defensively). Things aren’t going to get any easier against the Sun Devils.
7. Washington (5-3, 2-3; last week: 7) The Huskies took a week off and stayed stagnant in the rankings. A meeting with Colorado should take care of bowl eligibility and give the Huskies a chance to figure out who will step up in the wake of Kasen Williams’ injury.
8. Arizona (6-2, 3-2; last week: 8) Sure, a Pac-12 road victory is always nice, but only beating Cal by five may imply that Arizona simply doesn’t have a very high ceiling this season.
9. Utah (4-4, 1-4; last week: 9) The Utes still have a shot to make this interesting, but more and more this feels like a team that just isn’t up to par with the rest of the conference.
10. WSU (4-5, 2-4; last week: 10) The Cougars can’t keep getting blown out like this or they’ll enter Cal and Colorado territory. While the Cougars can’t yet expect to beat teams like ASU, they should at least be able to put together a competitive quarter.
11. Cal (1-8, 0-6; last week: 11) Cal holds off the Buffaloes in the rankings with a valiant effort at home against the Wildcats. Heck, they almost won! This is a lost season for the Golden Bears, who have suffered so many injuries they’ve been rendered terrible.
12. Colorado (3-5, 0-5; last week: 12) A date with the Huskies should end in the usual way for the Buffaloes, but then comes Colorado’s bowl game: a date with California.
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