After a lopsided result in South Bend – one that wasn’t totally unpredictable – we flip Nos. 1 and 2 for the second time in as many weeks. Can the Huskies hold on to the top spot for the long haul now?
1. Washington (4-1, 2-0; last week: No. 2) – Stanford, we hardly knew ye. The Huskies jump back up to No. 1 after throttling No. 20 BYU in Seattle. Jake Browning completed 23 of 25 passes, broke Washington’s career passing mark and maybe silenced a few more of his doubters in the process.
2. Stanford (3-1, 1-0; last week: No. 1) – It was a scary result for the Cardinal in South Bend and perhaps even more scary for the Pac-12 Conference. All three of the teams that seemed to be in contention for a College Football Playoff spot each sport one loss, so the league needs help elsewhere if it wants to be playing into January.
3. Oregon (4-1, 1-1; last week: No. 4) – Hard to imagine there’s been a better wide receiver in college football over the last two weeks than Oregon’s speedy junior, Dillon Mitchell, who followed a 14-catch, 239-yard performance against Stanford with seven receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown in a resounding win over Cal.
4. Colorado (4-0, 1-0; last week: No. 3) – But Laviska Shenault Jr. has far and away been the top receiver in the Pac-12 this season with a league-leading 145.3 yards per game. Shenault Jr. fell slightly under that average in a win over UCLA, but still caught 12 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for another touchdown last Thursday at Folsom Field.
5. Washington State (4-1, 1-1; last week: No. 7) – And while we’re still talking about premier Pac-12 wideouts, WSU’s Easop Winston Jr. would like to throw his name into the hat. The junior college transfer reeled in an 89-yard touchdown pass to propel the Cougars to a 28-24 win over Utah, giving him his second 100-yard receiving game in as many weeks and five TDs on the year.
6. USC (3-2, 2-1; last week: No. 6) – Things nearly went south for Clay Helton and Co. in Tucson after the visitors gave up 20 unanswered points to Khalil Tate and Arizona, but at the end of four quarters, USC had snatched a road victory over a team most thought would be its top contender in the Pac-12 South. Smile, Trojans.
7. Cal (3-1, 0-1; last week: No. 5) – The next three weeks are monumental for the Golden Bears. They face Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State coming up and ought to try to nail down that postseason berth while they can. After that, it’s vs. Washington, at Washington State, at USC, vs. Stanford and vs. Colorado.
8. Utah (2-2, 0-2; last week: No. 8) – They might be the first Pac-12 South team to three conference losses after a visit to Palo Alto this weekend, but the Utes showed some potential on offense against WSU. Things should lighten up for Kyle Whittingham’s bunch with games against Arizona, USC, UCLA and ASU after this weekend.
9. Arizona State (3-2, 1-1; last week: No. 10) – In fact, Arizona State’s best offseason pickup may not have been first-year coach Herm Edwards, but rather freshman running back Eno Benjamin. After a 312-yard effort against Oregon State last weekend, Benjamin is up to 595 yards on the season.
10. Arizona (2-3, 1-1; last week: No. 9) – It was a spirited effort last Saturday by the Wildcats, who nearly came all the way back from a 24-point deficit against USC. Arizona will need more than spirit to reach a bowl berth this season. A fully healthy Khalil Tate might help, though.
11. Oregon State (1-4, 0-2; last week: No. 11) – The Beavers won’t and shouldn’t judge their success this season by wins and losses. But if true freshman running back Jermar Jefferson keeps gashing teams the way he is, it’s almost certain Oregon State won’t finish another Pac-12 season winless.
12. UCLA (0-4, 0-1; last week: No. 12) – Too bad for the Bruins. Oregon State isn’t on the schedule this year and it seems unlikely UCLA will be favored to win a game the rest of the way. A 0-12 season under Chip Kelly? Thursday’s 22-point loss to Colorado was just another indicator that it might be possible.