Pac-12 dominance has migrated south after the conference’s craziest weekend yet. After years of Oregon and Stanford carrying the conference, Arizona State, USC and UCLA are asserting themselves as the next generation of West Coast powerhouses. A couple of furious comebacks fell short and a couple of favorites were not even competitive against their supposed underdog opponents. Arizona State secured its spot in the Pac-12 championship game outright with a win over UCLA, while Stanford backed into the championship thanks to a shocking upset of Oregon by Arizona.
1 Arizona St. (9-2, 7-1; last week: 4) ASU is the only remaining Pac-12 team without a pair or more of conference losses and cemented its status as the team to beat by holding on for the win at UCLA. The Sun Devils don’t have Oregon’s flash or Stanford’s reputation, they just keep winning football games.
2 USC (9-3, 6-2; last week: 2) Ed Orgeron has quietly made USC the top football school in Los Angeles again, and has done so without any declarations, promises or challenges.
3 Stanford (9-2, 7-2 in Pac-12; last week: 3) No school has benefitted from Chip Kelly’s departure to the NFL more than Stanford, which is poised to play for a Rose Bowl berth despite enough hiccups to derail the Cardinal’s season in most years.
4 Oregon (9-2, 6-2 in Pac-12; last week: 1) Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Oregon lost to an unranked team. After all, it had to happen eventually. But that the Ducks weren’t even competitive to a team without an impressive win entering week 12? Now that was truly astonishing.
5 Washington (7-4, 4-4; last week: 7) The Huskies thoroughly dominated Oregon State on senior night, despite entering the game as 4-point underdogs. With backup Cyler Miles starting at quarterback, UW hung 69 on the Beavers in a game that somehow still wasn’t that close.
6 Arizona (7-4, 4-4; last week: 9) The biggest knock on Arizona was that it didn’t have any quality wins. So what did the Wildcats do? Why, take out the conference’s No. 1 team of course.
7 UCLA (8-3, 5-3; last week: 5) The Bruins almost came back to beat ASU but gave a very good team too much of a head start. Now that the Pac-12 championship game is out of the equation, can the Bruins match USC’s motivation?
8 WSU (6-5, 4-4; last week: 8) Bowl eligibility and a two-game winning streak are the Cougars rewards for a startling late-season improvement by the offensive line. Beat the Huskies and WSU could finish third in the Pac-12 north.
9 Utah (4-7, 1-7 in Pac-12; last week: 10) Quarterback Adam Schulz responded well to his first-quarter pick-6’s on Saturday, throwing for three touchdowns and keeping Utah competitive with WSU after giving up an early 21-0 lead. A win over Colorado would give Utes fans something positive to think about heading into the offseason after a disappointing season.
10 Oregon St. (6-5, 4-4; last week: 6) The Beavers have now bookended some pretty good football with a loss to FCS Eastern Washington and a 42-point beatdown by UW. If you Google “up and down team” the OSU football Wikipedia page pops up.
1 1 Colorado (4-7, 1-7; last week: 11) The Buffaloes can officially stop worrying about a bowl game, they won’t be eligible. Still, a win over Utah in the season’s final game would give first-year coach Mark MacIntyre plenty of positives for next season.
12 Cal (1-11, 0-8 last week: 12) With only a 7-point victory over FCS Portland State to hang its hat on, the best thing about Sonny Dykes’ first year as Cal football coach is that it’s over.