Pac-12 Power Rankings entering Week 11
The top four teams in the Pac-12 all survived another week unscathed. We’re barreling toward a Nov. 19 weekend that’ll be decisive on a number of fronts. For now, though, we have minimal changes to the Pac-12 Power Rankings.
Let’s dive in.
12. Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffs got dominated by a better team in a 49-10 loss to Oregon. I don’t think there’s any doubt they’re playing more inspired football under interim coach Mike Sanford, but they were simply outmatched against a Ducks team that’s executing at a very high level right now. Quarterback JT Shrout completed 50% of his throws for 247 yards and a touchdown, showing off the arm strength, but he also finished with two ugly turnovers that highlighted the downside still in his game. CU also saw standout freshman wideout Jordyn Tyson exit with a knee injury. When does basketball start?
11. Stanford Cardinal
Prev. rank: 10
I am personally angry about how bad this year’s Stanford team is. It’s painful to watch them play offense. It’s devastating to watch everyone of significance get hurt — Stanford is down four running backs, forcing a safety to play the position. It’s bewildering watching this defense. Freshman edge rusher David Bailey hitting Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward well after he’s thrown the ball on back-to-back plays tells you everything you need to know about the frustration level within the team. Stanford lost 52-14 to a Cougar team that hadn’t scored more than 41 points in any previous game, and doing so dropped the Cardinal to 1-6 in Pac-12 play. If you remove the COVID season, Stanford has lost 19 of its last 25 Pac-12 games. Utah might legitimately run for 400 yards on this team next week.
10. Cal Golden Bears
Prev. rank: 11
They technically move up, but only because Stanford forced the issue. Cal entered another fourth quarter down big. Quarterback Jack Plummer had a fine game, throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns against just one interception, but I imagine having a fine offensive day against USC’s defense is sort of like Steph Curry having a fine shooting day from the corner in practice with no one around him. Cal had a chance at the end of a 41-35 loss to get the football back and try for a game-winning drive, only to give up 15-yards on a quarterback keeper on third-and-5. There are obvious tiers in the Pac-12, and Cal is in the bottom one with the two teams below it here. When does baseball start?
9. Arizona Wildcats
Prev. rank: 9
The Wildcats are coming out of an absolutely destructive five-game stretch and in a 45-20 loss to Utah Saturday at a rain-soaked Rice-Eccles Stadium, you just saw a young team buckle a bit. The Wildcats have played Oregon, Washington on the road, USC, Utah, and next week they’ll play UCLA on the road. My goodness. After back-to-back weeks with encouraging losses, Arizona played probably its worst game of the season. They fumbled the football seven times and gave up 313 rushing yards (adjusted for sacks). Utah did what Utah does.
8. Arizona State Sun Devils
Prev. rank: 8
Can we, the people, fire Herm Edwards again for planting Trenton Bourguet on the sidelines for the first half of the season? The Sun Devil quarterback has nearly as many passing yards in 2.5 games this year as Emory Jones had in 6.5, and Bourguet’s offense is averaging 39 points against FBS competition whereas Jones’ averaged 16. Arizona State lost 50-36 to UCLA on Saturday. The defense gave up 412 rushing yards (adjusted for sacks) to a UCLA team operating without its top running back. That’s bad. But the offense has found its quarterback and that’s a good thing.
7. Washington State Cougars
Prev. rank: 7
I imagine beating Stanford at this point is a little like Kevin Durant blocking children at one of his basketball camps. You don’t get a lot of kudos for it. But Nakia Watson ran for 166 yards and Cam Ward threw two touchdown passes and the defense destroyed Stanford and the Cougars put up more points before halftime than they had in any other full game this season. A much-needed win for Wazzu after three straight losses.
6. Oregon State Beavers
Prev. rank: 5
Oregon State led Washington on the road for all but eight seconds. And those eight seconds were what counted. The Beavers lost 24-21 to make their stay in the AP Top 25 and presumably the College Football Playoff rankings short-lived. That’s twice this season Oregon State has walked off the field feeling like it let a potentially program-defining win slip away. Surface level, beating Washington might not have meant as much as beating USC, but Oregon State entered a college football ranking for the first time in nearly a decade — after several weeks of feeling like it deserved a spot — and then promptly lost. That serves to undermine the validity of the ranking in the first place, which shouldn’t be the case but will be in the eyes of many. The Beavers had a chance to take a real step. Being so close once again has to be excruciating. Soon. Just not yet.
5. Washington Huskies
Prev. rank: 6
And just like that, Washington is back in the discussion for the Pac-12 title game. A lot has to break the Huskies’ way to actually get to Las Vegas, but they absolutely need to be taken seriously this weekend against Oregon on the road. Michael Penix Jr. is such a talented thrower he can cut through billion-mile-an-hour winds ripping into his face to throw for 298 yards and a score in the worst of conditions. Penix had some throws, when you consider the elements at play inside Husky Stadium Friday night, that just left you shaking your head, as he has every week. Penix marched UW 92 yards in 18 plays on the penultimate drive of the game to set up a game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.
4. USC Trojans
Prev. rank: 3
Caleb Williams balled out, defense stunk. It was another Saturday for USC. The Trojans keep winning — they’re not 8-1 after beating Cal 41-35 late Saturday night — but their defense is making things more interesting than they need to be or should be. It’s piling on at this point to blast the defensive performance any given week, but it feels a little more warranted against Cal. The brilliance of Williams is winning out. How much longer will that remain true? UCLA looms.
3. Utah Utes
Prev. rank: 3
Kyle Whittingham was on his team early this season. He didn’t like how the front seven was playing. He didn’t like the run game. Both just had their best performances of the year. Utah made Arizona’s offensive line look like swiss cheese and its defensive line look like children. The offense ran for north of 300 yards thanks to a dominant performance from the offensive line. The defense had three sacks and constant pressure. Here come the Utes…
2. UCLA Bruins
Prev. rank: 2
You can’t say enough about UCLA’s Dorian Thompson Robinson, who ran for 120 yards and two scores in the Bruins’ 50-36 win over Arizona State. But the game ball goes to the running back room. Down Zach Charbonnet, Keegan Jones and Kaz Allen, and Colson Yankoff (!!!) delivered in the clutch on the ground. Arizona State drew within six points with 6:18 to play in the fourth quarter and everyone collectively stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to Tempe. Was UCLA, up 42-18 at one point, about to blow this? On the ensuing drive, the trio of backs did the following: 20-yard run, 3-yard run, 6-yard run (with a penalty tacked on), 6-yard run, 23-yard run, 0-yard run from the ASU 1, 1-yard touchdown from the ASU 1 to put the game away. Seven plays, 74 yards, nearly four minutes off the clock, zero pass attempts. Chip Kelly has the Bruins believing.
1. Oregon Ducks
Prev. rank: 1
After Week 1, this was not a good football team. The Ducks didn’t tackle well, they didn’t cover well, they didn’t get off blocks well, they didn’t finish drives well. Ten weeks later, on the heels of a 49-10 dismantling of Colorado, this is clearly the best team in the Pac-12 and a top-five team in college football.