PULLMAN – While we’re all bemoaning the perceived decline of the American middle class, let’s not forget to pour one out for the tragedy befalling the Pac-12’s formerly robust bourgeoisie.
‘Member when Oregon played for a national title, and Arizona was ranked in the top-10? ‘Member when the thought of Arizona State’s defense was enough to make a quarterback’s mom hold her kid home from school? ‘Member when the NFL was a more likely destination for Stanford players than a tech startup? ‘Member? I ‘member.
The Pac-12, frankly, is not very good this year. While the top of the conference was never as good as the SEC, the Pac-12’s depth was such that it could still mount an argument for the country’s best conference. Now the Big Ten is the top-heavy behemoth, the SEC still has Alabama and the Pac-12’s only chance of being represented is the playoffs is if every team lays down for Washington in succession.
But, the lack of potency in the lesser teams means the conference is sorting itself out a little earlier than usual this year. From a national perspective, it’s Washington and the 11 dwarves, but even the teams that have no hope of a playoff spot are not as clumped together as one would expect this early in the season.
There were no upsets last week, and these rankings are starting to write themselves. Of course, now that I’ve said that, you can basically guarantee that Oregon State will beat UW with its third-string quarterback this week.
Now wouldn’t that be memorable?
1 Washington (6-0, 3-0; last week: No. 1) – A bye week does nothing to disrupt the team currently leading the Pac in scoring offense and scoring defense.
2 USC (4-3, 3-1; last week: No. 2) – If the Trojans had just left Stanford and Utah for later in the season, USC would likely be a top-15 team right now.
3 Colorado (5-2, 3-1; last week: No. 3) – Colorado’s success is no fluke, and now the Buffaloes get to enjoy some payback at the expense of a particularly weak Pac-12.
4 Washington State (4-2, 3-0; last week: No. 4) – The offense looks good and the defense is sublime. But WSU’s greatest strength may be its knack for facing teams whose starting quarterbacks are injured.
5 Stanford (4-2, 1-2; last week: No. 7) – Notre Dame may be down, but if Stanford had not been able to complete its 10-point comeback on the road we’d be talking about the Cardinal missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.
6 Utah (6-1, 3-1; last week: No. 5) – If Joe Williams is going to rush for numbers like that, maybe the Utes should bring more players out of retirement. Maybe a quarterback?
7 UCLA (3-4, 1-3; last week: No. 8) – I think the Cougars are making too much out of UCLA’s pregame antics. The Bruins simply need extra stretching space to warm up that running game.
8 Arizona State (5-2, 2-2; last week: No. 6) – Todd Graham recently described himself as a “defensive-minded coach.” If only he had a defensive-minded team.
9 Oregon State (2-4, 1-2; last week: No. 10) – The Beavers only have a -2 point differential over their last two Pac-12 games. Progress!
10 Oregon (2-4, 0-3; last week: No. 11) – Not playing a game agrees with the Ducks, who did not lose for the first Saturday since September 11th.
11 California (3-3, 1-2; last week: No. 12) – (Ray Clay voice.) And now. Introducing. Your. Terrible Pac-12 Team Who Nobody Wants To Play.
12 Arizona (2-5, 0-4; last week: No. 9) – And here is the terrible Pac-12 team who everybody wants to play.
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