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Jacob Thorpe’s Pac-12 football power rankings

In the interest of tickling brains, contextualizing the season and, of course, filling space, sportswriters have some stock story ideas they tap over and over again.

Power rankings, for example.

Another is the preseason list of “must watch” games, in which prognosticators pick the most delectable matchups so fans can mark their calendars and set their DVRs accordingly.

I don’t recall ever seeing WSU’s Oct. 31 game against Stanford on such a list, but here we are. Whichever team wins that game will not only head into November as the only team in control of its own Pac-12 North destiny, it will certainly sit atop next week’s Spokesman-Review Pac-12 Power Rankings.

1 Stanford (6-1, 5-0; last week: 1) Rumors abound of President Obama’s intention to release disaster relief funds for teams that play the Cardinal.

2 Washington State (5-2, 3-1; last week: 5) The only team other than WSU that can say it is undefeated since Week 5 is the one that is undefeated since Week 2.

3 USC (4-3, 2-2; last week: 8) The team full of All-Americans and future pros is pretty good when it doesn’t play terribly.

4 Utah (6-1, 3-1; last week: 2) A very good team that found out it doesn’t have the talent of the truly elite teams. But perhaps it’s better to get exposed against USC in October than against Ohio State in December.

5 UCLA (5-2, 2-2; last week: 7) UCLA is the team that any team can get a signature win against, but who can also shatter any team’s confidence.

6 California (5-2, 2-2; last week: 3) A two-game losing streak isn’t the end of the world, but Cal fans have to feel antsy as they recall last season’s collapse.

7 Arizona State (4-3, 2-2; last week: 6) The Sun Devils can still make some noise this year. Perhaps a bye week will fix whatever has held them back this year.

8 Oregon (4-3, 2-2; last week: 9) A week off was just what Vernon Adams’ finger needed.

9 Arizona (5-3, 2-3; last week: 4) Injuries have caused the Wildcats to start five different middle linebackers in eight games. You know the old saying: If you have five starting middle linebackers, than you don’t really have any starting middle linebackers.

10 Washington (3-4, 1-3; last week: 10) Bishop Sankey clone Myles Gaskin is another instate running back who should chase UW rushing records. But he’s not going to win games by himself.

11 Colorado (4-4, 1-3; last week: 11) Mike MacIntyre improves to 2-20 in Pac-12 games as Colorado’s coach. Break out the champagne.

12 Oregon State (2-5, 0-4; last week: 12) Maybe the Buffaloes gave the Beavers some advice about coping with going winless in conference play.

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