PULLMAN – The Pac-12’s southern division continues to dominate its northern counterparts. How tough is that division right now? Preseason Top-10 team UCLA currently ranks No. 5 out of six teams in the standings, and the Bruins are 6-2. The north is still the most likely to send a team (Oregon) to the college football playoff, but by the time the Pac-12 championship game rolls around will the Ducks be fresh because of their easier road to a divisional championship? Or will they be soft against a team from the south that had to fight to get there?
1 Oregon (7-1, 4-1; last week: No. 1) Oregon better stop giving Royce Freeman the ball or he’s going to take away Heisman votes from Marcus Mariota.
2 Arizona St. (6-1, 4-1; last week: No. 2) The Sun Devils defense is starting to resemble last year’s punishers and with Taylor Kelly back ASU is the favorite to emerge in a crowded Pac-12 South race.
3 Arizona (6-1, 3-1; last week: No. 5) The Wildcats dominated on offense, defense and special teams on Saturday and looked every bit like a Pac-12 contender. Another year (at least) of Anu Solomon is a scary thought for Arizona’s opponents.
4 Utah (6-1, 3-1; last week: No. 6) For a team that’s only loss came despite a 21-0 lead, this Utah team sure knows how to win. A daunting second-half schedule doesn’t look so tough after beating both L.A. schools.
5 Stanford (5-3, 3-2; last week: No. 4) Stanford has been a cut below its recent standards this season but a win over Oregon would change everything, and kill the conference’s chances of making any real noise this postseason.
6 USC (5-3, 4-2, last week: No. 3) The Trojans must hate being good because every time this talented team looks like it is reaching its potential it blows another game.
7 UCLA (6-2, 3-2; last week: No. 7) There’s something to be said for being able to put a game away, and three of UCLA’s wins have come by three or fewer points and all three were against teams with losing conference records.
8 California (4-4, 2-4; last week: No. 9) Cal is easily the most improved team in the league this year but the Golden Bears had plenty of room for improvement and still have at least another year before they’re ready to contend in the Pac-12.
9 Washington (5-3, 1-3; last week: No. 8) The defense is great but the offense is so bad that it needs the defense’s best athlete, Shaq Thompson, to come play running back. Maybe national sack leader Hau’oli Kikaha can play some QB?
10 Oregon St. (4-3, 1-3; last week: No. 10) Sean Mannion must sure be glad he came back to college. Look at all the fun he’s having.
11 Colorado (2-6, 0-5; last week: No. 12) Taking UCLA to two overtimes gets Colorado out of the Pac-12 basement for at least one week.
12 Washington St. (2-6, 1-4; last week: No. 11) The Cougars went from winning games, to losing close ones, to last weekend’s blowout loss to Arizona. Washington State is improving in the wrong direction.
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