High-profile games between USC and UCLA at the Rose Bowl and then Oregon and Utah at Autzen Stadium lived up to the billing. The Battle for L.A. was incredible theater. USC’s quarterback dazzled and the defense authored a storybook ending to Lincoln Riley’s first Pac-12 slate in a 48-45 win. Oregon saw quarterback Bo Nix play through obvious pain to help lead an emotional win over a team that had its number a season ago.

With those four teams spending most of the year ranked inside the top four or five spots in these power rankings, we finally got some separation.

Let’s get to it.

12. Colorado Buffaloes

Prev. rank: 12

Colorado was out-gained 575-202, including a 273-56 discrepancy in the first half. The Buffaloes never went to the red zone, went 3-for-12 on third down, and 0-for-4 on fourth down. The Buffs averaged 3.7 yards per play against a defense that hasn’t really done that to any other FBS team this season. The nightmare is almost over.

11. Stanford Cardinal

Prev. rank: 11

Stanford was outscored 21-3 in the fourth quarter to lose a rivalry game 27-20. That’s all I’m going to write.

10. Cal Golden Bears 

Prev. rank: 10

Jackson Sirmon scored on a 37-yard fumble return — a play that featured not one, but two fumbles — to help Cal win. That basically sums up the states of those two programs right now.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils

Prev. rank: 9

Oregon State strangled Arizona State on Saturday, 31-7, to drop the Sun Devils to 3-8 on the season. ASU has lost three straight and will go into the Territorial Cup next week hoping to avoid the first nine-loss season in program history. There’s talent on this team, but it’s obvious a complete rebuild is needed here.

8. Arizona Wildcats

Prev. rank: 7

Arizona did what Arizona has done all season. It followed up a massive step forward with a reminder that it still has lots of steps left to take. A win over UCLA in Week 11 was a key moment for coach Jedd Fisch in his rebuild. It sent Arizona into a home game against a good football team with legitimate expectations of producing a win. Arizona wasn’t ready for the moment. Quarterback Jayden de Laura got into a shoving match with his teammate in the first half, threw four second-half interceptions, and looked entirely too emotional throughout the game. He didn’t handle the circumstances well. Regardless of whether he made up with Dorian Singer after getting in his face and shoving his helmet away, your quarterback has to be the tone-setter and the leader. This group still has some growing up to do, and that’s particularly true of de Laura. As good as he’s been this year, he’s also shown a level of immaturity at the position that should have Fisch opening up the competition this upcoming offseason and telling his quarterback nothing is guaranteed.

7. Washington State Cougars

Prev. rank: 8

That defense, though. For the ninth time this season, the Cougar defense held an opponent under 25 points. Wazzu hadn’t done that since the 1994 team did it in all 12 games. That side of the football continues to show it’s a new era in Pullman. The Cougs enter into the Apple Cup with a chance to win eight games in coach Jake Dickert’s first full season at the helm.

6. UCLA Bruins

Prev. rank: 5

The Bruins gave up nearly 700 yards of offense to USC. They don’t get high marks for moving the ball on the Trojans, but they certainly get docked for turning it over four times in manners that were just silly.

5. Oregon State Beavers

Prev. rank: 6

Oregon State has eight wins in a year for the first time since 2012. The Beavers have a very real shot at reaching double-digit wins for the first time since 2006. They’ll host Oregon for The Platypus Trophy next Saturday, and then will play in a second consecutive bowl game for the first time in a decade. There have been excellent coaching jobs from first-year guys in the Pac-12 this season, but don’t let that overshadow what Jonathan Smith has done in Corvallis. This is a program that looks to be in a really, really good spot going forward. If it can find the game-breaking quarterback, woah boy.

4. Utah Utes

Prev. rank: 1

Dropping from first to fourth feels like too drastic a drop for a three-point loss but here we are. I think this is a good football team. (I had them first just last week!) But Utah had incredibly high expectations heading into the season and it has largely failed to meet them. A one-point win over USC at home on Oct. 15 — and the way that win materialized — will always be remembered as a bright spot for this program. But this was a “College Football Playoff or bust” season in Salt Lake City. Utah set those expectations. It then went to Gainesville and turned Anthony Richardson into a one-week national sensation as it lost 29-26 with a goal line interception at the end. The Utes then couldn’t slow down UCLA at the Rose Bowl and wasted an incredible performance from Cameron Rising. Then, this weekend against a statue-esque Bo Nix, Utah played its worst game of the year. It got beat at the line of scrimmage. Rising threw three interceptions. The Utes couldn’t rely on their kicking game. I think it’s fair to acknowledge Rising isn’t playing at 100% while also acknowledging that Utah just didn’t live up.

3. Oregon Ducks

Prev. rank: 4

What a win for coach Dan Lanning and the Oregon program. It wasn’t that Utah beat the Ducks twice in 13 days last season, it was how Utah beat the Ducks twice in 13 days. The Utes man-handled the Ducks. Both games were over at halftime. Both games featured lopsided advantages at the line of scrimmage for the Utes. Oregon didn’t run the ball particularly well on Saturday, but there were several early runs from Bucky Irving that told me, “Yeah, this is going to be a different game.” And it was! Oregon won the line of scrimmage. Bo Nix played inspired ball. A defense that has been brow-beaten all year bowed up and played one of its best games. The Ducks are one win away from a fourth consecutive appearance in the Pac-12 title game.

2. Washington Huskies

Prev. rank: 3

The Huskies were in a CLASSIC letdown-look-ahead spot. Massive, emotional win over a rival on the road, followed up by a game against one of the worst teams in college football one week ahead of another rivalry game. Teams lose those kinds of games all the time. UW showed its stability under coach Kalen DeBoer by not just beating Colorado, but ending the game early and getting the backups some reps.

1. USC Trojans

Prev. rank: 2

Welcome back. How anyone can watch TCU struggle weekly with mediocre Big 12 teams and watch USC light the scoreboard up and say the Horned Frogs are more deserving of a College Football Playoff spot is beyond me. This is one of the most entertaining teams in all of college football. USC has an obvious flaw that can only be corrected by stacking recruiting classes and Lincoln Riley has completely worked around that flaw this year. Caleb Williams is one of the best players in the country and makes throws I just can’t believe. (His ability to generate the kind of velocity he does on those on-the-run, awkward-angle throws has to be a byproduct of witchcraft.) USC is going to a Pac-12 title game one year removed from a 4-8 record. That’s going to be taken for granted because it’s Lincoln Riley and this is just what he does, but the thing I said early on this year proved to be true — there was too much offensive talent for anyone else to handle. USC lost only one conference game, and it was because its opponent said “We can’t stop them, so we’ll go for two and live with the result.”