A chaotic Saturday for the Pac-12 started with Arizona State defeating USC in the Coliseum and culminated with Arizona springing an upset of Oregon in Tucson. Sandwiched in between were a few more stunners: Oregon State topped Colorado for its first road win since the second-to-last year of the Obama presidency and Cal squeezed out a win over Washington, giving the Huskies their worst loss of the Chris Petersen era.
As for the power rankings? Choosing Nos. 1 and 2 was as simple as it’s been and sorting through 3-12 was as challenging as it’s been. We present to you the weekly rankings – or something resembling them.
1. Washington State (7-1, 3-1; last week: No. 1) – Depending on how accurate these power rankings are, the Cougars have already passed their toughest exams of the season – with the exception of the Apple Cup. The next three games: vs. No. 6 (power rankings) Cal, at No. 10 Colorado, vs. No. 9 Arizona.
2. Utah (6-2, 4-2; last week: No. 4) – Zack Moss is heating up at an ideal time for the Pac-12’s South current front-runner. The junior tailback, coming off of a 211-yard rushing game versus UCLA, has piled up 681 yards and seven touchdowns in his last seven games.
3. Stanford (5-3, 3-2; last week: No. 6) – Despite losing some more ground in the Pac-12 North, the Cardinal have a big opportunity this weekend against the reeling Huskies. If Stanford wins that, and the Cougars somehow drop two, the Cardinal are back in charge of the North. Plenty of “ifs,” but salvaging nine wins would still be impressive for this Stanford team.
4. Washington (6-3, 4-2; last week: No. 2) – We know it’ll be a Jake starting for Washington against Stanford – and it’ll be a Jake finishing the game, too. Perhaps not the same Jake, though. The starter, Browning, could be on a short leash and the backup, Haener, could see his first real action at Husky Stadium if things get messy for the UW offense again.
5. Oregon (5-3, 2-3; last week: No. 3) – A few weeks ago the question was, how high can these Ducks fly? Now it’s a matter of, how far they plummet? Following an upset, overtime win over UW two weeks ago, Oregon rides a two-game losing streak into the Chip Kelly reunion game. The Ducks have been outscored 40-8 in the first half of their last two losses.
6. Cal (5-3, 2-3; last week: No. 10) – The Golden Bears’ defense has been just as good as anyone in the conference these last two weeks. But their win steak probably comes to an end Saturday in Pullman if they can’t score more than 21 points on the Cougars.
7. USC (4-4, 3-3; last week: No. 5) – Clay Helton fired offensive line coach Neil Callaway and stripped his offensive coordinator, Tee Martin, of play-calling duties. If USC can’t get on track this weekend against Oregon State, the Trojans’ head coach could be the next victim of staff changes.
8. Arizona State (4-4, 2-3; last week: No. 8) – With four games to play, and UCLA and Arizona still on the schedule, the Sun Devils are still in the hunt for a postseason bid. Eno Benjamin, who’s been just as phenomenal as Utah’s Moss, put on another fantastic rushing display, carrying the ball 29 times for 185 yards and two touchdowns against USC.
9. Arizona (4-5, 3-3; last week: No. 11) – It truly was quite the weekend for running backs in the Pac-12 South. Besting both Benjamin and Moss, the Wildcats’ JJ Taylor went 212 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns in a 44-15 rout of Oregon. Pressure’s on for Arizona, which has three games to win two if it plans on playing football in December.
10. Colorado (5-3, 2-3; last week: No. 7) – The Buffaloes’ slide continues. After winning five in a row to start the year, Colorado has now dropped three consecutive games. The Buffs surrendered 31 second-half points to Oregon State in a 41-34 loss that gave the Beavers their first road win in four years.
11. UCLA (2-6, 2-3; last week: No. 1) – Not to spoil my pick for Saturday’s UCLA-Oregon game in Eugene, but it’s hard to see the Bruins winning again this season with this schedule: at Oregon, at ASU, vs. Stanford, vs. USC. For the obvious reasons, the game at Autzen Stadium should still be plenty entertaining.
12. Oregon State (2-6, 1-4; last week: No. 11) – Likewise, it’s tough to see the Beavers winning again, given they finish up the regular season vs. USC, at Stanford, at UW and vs. Oregon. But Saturday’s come-from-behind win in Boulder was if nothing else a good start, and the Beavers have plenty of youngsters who understand what it takes to A) Win a Pac-12 game and B) Do it on the road.