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Sports >  WSU football

Pac-12 power rankings: Washington State jumps to No. 1 after memorable Martin Stadium win

Oct. 23, 2018 Updated Tue., Oct. 23, 2018 at 6:09 p.m.

Through seven weeks, the Pac-12 still has an outside shot at winning one of the four College Football Playoff berths. And the conference’s hopes lie in the hands of … Wazzu?

The Cougars are the only one-loss team in the conference, which makes commissioner Larry Scott the newest member of their bandwagon – although that feeling isn’t necessarily reciprocal as we recently learned from Mike Leach’s cellphone log.

WSU’s 34-20 win over No. 12 Oregon in Pullman vaulted the Cougars to No. 14 in the country and, for at least a week, to the highest tier of the weekly power rankings. Scott will be hoping this is a run that can last.

1. Washington State (6-1, 3-1; last week: No. 3) – There isn’t enough crow to go around for all the prognosticators that predicted a three- of four-win season for Mike Leach’s 2018 Cougars. Washington State is the highest-ranked (AP Top 25) team in the Pac-12 for the first time in 16 years and at least for these seven days, deserving of a place atop my power rankings.

2. Washington (6-2, 4-1; last week: No. 2) – Five times in eight games, the Huskies’ offense has failed to put 30 points on the scoreboard. Thankfully, seven times in eight games the Washington defense has managed to hold the opponent to less than 25 points.

3. Oregon (5-2, 2-2; last week: No. 1) – The Ducks have made it through the gantlet – four ranked opponents in four weeks – and should be favored to win four of their last five games, the exception coming on Nov. 10 at Utah. Oregon isn’t out of the Pac-12 North race but needs plenty to go its way – mainly a few WSU losses.

4. Utah (5-2, 3-2; last week: No. 4) – Kyle Whittingham’s team cleaned up on the weekly Pac-12 awards, winning offensive, defensive and special teams honors. When the Utes are this good on all three sides of the ball, nobody in the South is better. Consistency is the only thing that gets in Utah’s way.

5. USC (4-3, 3-2; last week: No. 5) – The bad news first: USC’s loss at Utah drops the Trojans to 1-3 in road games this season. The good news: The final two road games on SC’s schedule are at Oregon State and “at” UCLA, so there’s a decent chance the Trojans won’t lose another one in Pac-12 play.

6. Stanford (5-2, 3-1; last week: No. 7) – With Washington State and Washington on the schedule the next two weeks, it’s fair to say Thursday’s game at Arizona State was a must win for the Cardinal. It wasn’t pretty, per se, but then again … is it ever for Stanford?

7. Colorado (5-2, 2-2; last week: No. 6) – We got our first glimpse of the Buffaloes without leading Pac-12 wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. It wasn’t pretty. Seven players caught passes from Steven Montez, but none finished with better than 37 yards.

8. Arizona State (3-4, 1-3; last week: No. 8) – If we’re handing out moral victories, give one to Herm Edwards and his Sun Devils, who lost more ground in the race for the Pac-12 South but gave Stanford a battle and nearly caught the Cardinal toward the end of Thursday’s game in Tempe.

9. UCLA (2-5, 2-2; last week: No. 10) – The UCLA team that lost to Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Fresno State by a 113-52 margin? Yep, still in the hunt (mathematically speaking) for a Pac-12 South title.

10. Cal (4-3, 1-3; last week: No. 12) – The Golden Bears crushed Oregon State 49-7. More important than proving me wrong in these weekly power rankings, they got the performance they needed from quarterback Chase Garbers (17 of 26, 234 yards, three TDs).

11. Arizona (3-5, 2-3; last week: No. 9) – It’s still unclear if Khalil Tate will quarterback the Wildcats Saturday against Oregon. If he doesn’t, expect a major swing in that spread, which curiously had Arizona as a 20-point favorite.

12. Oregon State (1-6, 0-4; last week: No. 11) – Coming off a bye week, the Beavers theoretically had a decent opportunity to grab their first Pac-12 win, playing a reeling California team at home in Corvallis. The 42-point loss all but assures a second straight winless season for OSU, which finishes with Colorado, USC, Stanford, Washington and Oregon.

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