The regular season is over for everyone but Stanford and Cal, and after 13 weeks of power rankings we’re shuffling back to where we started: Washington at No. 1 and Oregon State at No. 12.
Three five-win teams in the Pac-12 squandered chances to get over the hump last Saturday, leaving the conference with seven bowl-eligible teams, as opposed to 10. But as we learned last year after the conference went 1-9 in the postseason, maybe quality is better than quantity anyway.
1. Washington (9-3, 7-2; last week: No. 2): The Huskies may not be what many of us thought they could be this season – an undefeated Pac-12 North champ representing the conference in the four-team College Football Playoff – but the consolation prize isn’t bad. By beating Utah for the Pac-12 title, UW will have three consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.
2. Washington State (10-2, 7-2; last week: No. 1): Who knows? Had referees ejected USC’s Porter Gustin for targeting in Week 4, perhaps the Cougars clinch the North Division before the Apple Cup. Given the past six results in the rivalry game, that’s what they should be shooting for next season.
3. Utah (9-3, 7-3; last week: No. 3): Others may have given Utah the nod over the Cougars, but I would’ve taken either of the Evergreen State schools to edge the Utes in the Pac-12 championship game. Kyle Whittingham can prove me wrong on Friday, though.
4. Stanford (7-4, 5-3; last week: No. 4): Through 11 games, Stanford wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside has 55 receptions and 14 touchdowns. That means the senior is getting into the end zone every 3.9 catches. Three of his seven receptions went for touchdowns against UCLA.
5. Oregon (8-4, 5-4; last week: No. 6): Justin Herbert threw only 12 passes in what might have been his final game in a Ducks uniform, yet Oregon still crushed the Beavers by 40 points in the Civil War, courtesy of 386 rushing yards and six touchdowns from Travis Dye and CJ Verdell.
6. Cal (7-4, 4-4; last week: No. 5): Tim DeRuyter’s defense accounted for as many points as quarterback Chase Garbers in Saturday’s rout of Colorado, again illustrating how good the Golden Bears could be with a top-flight signal-caller.
7. Arizona State (7-5, 5-5; last week: No. 7): A seven- or eight-win season for Herm Edwards his first year in charge? Not too shabby, but now the Sun Devils lose Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry: this is where the true rebuild starts.
8. Arizona (5-7, 4-5; last week: No. 8): The million-dollar question: Does Arizona get to a bowl game if Rich Rodriguez is still calling the shots in Tucson? My gut tells me yes.
9. USC (5-7, 4-5; last week: No. 9): If there is a USC fan who’s OK with one more year of the Lynn Swann-Clay Helton arrangement, I haven’t seen him yet.
10. UCLA (3-9, 3-6; last week: No. 10): The first year of Chip Kelly’s rebuild doesn’t look great on paper, but consider that the Bruins beat Cal by 30 points and lost home games to Washington and Stanford by seven points. Kelly still has a good bead on the Pac-12 North. Next year, I’ll bet he figures out the South.
11. Colorado (5-7, 2-7; last week: No. 11): It’s basketball season in Boulder now. Phew.
12. Oregon State (2-10, 1-8; last week: No. 12): Senior quarterback Jake Luton is graduating and sophomore quarterback Conor Blount is transferring. Sorting out who’ll be under center for the Beavers next season immediately becomes the top priority for Jonathan Smith.
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