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How we voted: As one Pac-12 team falls, another one cracks our Top 25 ballot

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson is one of 62 national media members voting in the Associated Press Top 25 football poll this season. Every week throughout the 2019 season, he’ll break down he voted, with an update on the Pac-12’s ranked teams, a look at local Top 25 representative Washington State and three general thoughts on the poll.

Perusing the Pac-12

Utah (No. 13/No. 23) – Because I don’t believe there’s a College Football Playoff-caliber in the conference this year, and because Utah only plays BYU, Northern Illinois and Idaho State out of conference, I’m not sure I’ll ever come away from a Utes game thinking they belong among the Alabamas, Clemsons, Georgias or Oklahomas. But, they were dominant enough in their season opener to make me think they’re still the best the Pac-12 has to offer…

Washington (No. 14/No. 15) – … But if Jacob Eason performs as well against Cal as he did against Eastern Washington, the Huskies could change my opinion. On paper, the Golden Bears have one of of the best defensive secondaries in the land, and All-American caliber linebacker Evan Weaver leads them in the second level. A two-touchdown win over Cal would probably push the Huskies ahead of the Utes in next week’s poll.

Oregon (No. 16/No. 20) – My choice to vote the Ducks No. 17 in the preseason was considered “extreme” by the College Poll Tracker website, which uses that designation when a pick is five spots higher or lower than the team’s actual ranking. Now it seems just about right. Oregon still deserves a top-20 nod after losing to Auburn, but now the Ducks are the only team in the poll with a loss.

Washington State (No. 22/No. 22) – See below.

Stanford (No. 23/No. 25) – Stanford picked up a solid win its season opener over Northwestern, prompting me to slide them into my Top 25 after I dropped Iowa State, which needed multiple overtime periods to edge FCS Northern Iowa. How long will the Cardinal last? They’ll likely be playing USC without both KJ Costello and Walker Little, then face UCF, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington in the four weeks that follow.

Home cooking

The Cougars moved up one spot to No. 22 after a 58-7 beatdown of New Mexico State and even with a weak nonconference schedule – Houston being the exception (I think) – plus UCLA at home in the Pac-12 opener, I still think WSU can make up enough ground to sneak inside the top-15 before a week-five clash with Utah. The Utes may be in the top-10 by that same juncture, and the lens of the college football world could be focused on Rice-Eccles Stadium and one of the most important inter-divisional games of the Pac-12 season.

WSU is getting Top 25 love from 50 voters this week and 18 are ranking the Cougars top-20 or higher. No. 22 is the most popular ranking for WSU at the moment and 12 voters, including ESPN’s Rece Davis, aren’t totally sold on the Cougars as a Top 25 team.

Other local beats

    • Voters didn’t seem to place much stock in Penn State’s 79-7 demolition of Idaho, which may wind up being the most lopsided score of the 2019 campaign when all is said and done. The Nittany Lions piled up 673 total yards of offense against the Vandals, including 331 rushing, but it didn’t do them any good in the Top 25 as PSU stayed put at No. 15.
    • The Huskies ran roughshod over a Big Sky opponent, too, and didn’t get many favors for their 47-14 rout of Eastern Washington. The Eagles were held to 273 total yards of offense and just 63 on the ground. The majority of voters placed more weight on Utah’s win over BYU, than UW’s blowout of EWU, and the Utes jumped ahead of the Huskies in Tuesday’s poll.
    • Boise State didn’t crack our Top 25 ballot, but the Broncos made their season debut in the actual rankings, leaping to No. 24 after knocking off Florida State in Tallahassee. A strong win for BSU? Indeed. But remember, the Seminoles were just 5-7 last season. Had the Broncos won at Kansas State – another team coming off 5-7 – would they be getting the same Top 25 recognition they’re getting now? Difficult to say.

Contact the writer:

(509) 939-5928

theol@spokesman.com

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