Pac-12 QB Power Rankings entering Week 13: Rivalry Week gives Heisman platforms to Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr.
Welcome to Rivalry Week, where all eyes will be on the Pacific Northwest.
Washington battles Washington State in the Apple Cup seeking an unbeaten regular season. Oregon battles Oregon State in the Civil War seeking a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Michael Penix Jr. vs. Bo Nix, Pt. 2. We’re one Oregon win away from a conference title clash that could sway the Heisman Trophy race.
Nix is currently locked in a two-man race with LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Daniels’ LSU Tigers won’t play in their conference’s title game, and they’re playing an otherwise meaningless game this upcoming Saturday. Heisman voters tend to be pretty reactionary. Remember, on Oct. 14, the trophy was awarded to Penix for outdueling the Ducks inside Husky Stadium. In the month since, Penix has completely been cut out of the conversation.
That can change over the next two weeks. A signature moment against a hated rival to capture the program’s second-ever 12-0 regular season? That’ll do it.
Of course, Nix will have another national stage against a top-25 team this Friday when Oregon hosts Oregon State.
Nix is the favorite if you ask me. He’s exceptional, just like Daniels. But unlike Daniels, Nix has the Ducks in the Playoff discussion. He has the Ducks positioned to play for a conference title. That should matter. If he can lead Oregon to two more wins, I think it will matter.
Lots still to be settled as the final week of the regular season approaches.
Here’s Saturday Out West’s Pac-12 quarterback power rankings entering Week 13.
12. Trenton Bourguet, Arizona State
Last week: 12
Bourguet completed 54% of his passes for 142 yards. He was 18-for-22 on pass attempts within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, but Oregon did well to cover those up and prevent them from becoming damaging. Bourguet had two completions beyond 10 yards all game. That’s not good enough to upset a team as talented as the Ducks.
11. Ashton Daniels, Stanford
Last week: 11
Daniels completed only 51% of his passes for a 5.4 yards-per-pass average. Stanford’s sophomore quarterback was dealing with a hand issue heading into the game and maybe the effects lingered. After the Colorado comeback kickstarted a hot stretch for Daniels, the last few weeks have seen him come back to earth a bit. He had three picks against Oregon State and just wasn’t able to consistently move the ball for the Cardinal in the first half of its 27-15 loss to Cal.
10. Bryson Barnes, Utah
Last week: 7
Barnes threw the ball 53 times. We probably don’t need to have access to the coaches’ meeting room to know that wasn’t the plan going into the Week 12 loss to Arizona. But the Utes fell behind 28-0 after 15 minutes and seven seconds, so the entire plan for the day went out the window. Barnes missed throws. He threw two picks, though he ended the day with 320 yards and two touchdowns. Barnes was not placed in a position to be successful, but he also didn’t have a particularly strong performance. Both can be true.
9. Ethan Garbers, UCLA
Last week: 10
Garbers threw for just 155 yards, but he threw three touchdown passes to help UCLA roll USC 38-20. The Bruins didn’t need him to do much, considering the lack of resistance from the Trojans, but they no doubt appreciated having him back at the controls after missing the Arizona State game.
8. Cameron Ward, Washington State
Last week: 9
What a benefit it was for the slumping Cougars to get a wayward Colorado team on the schedule. Washington State ended a six-game skid by blasting the Buffs 56-14. Ward threw two touchdown passes in the effort, which was more about Washington State’s defense flexing on the helpless Colorado offensive front. Wazzu got two scoop-and-score touchdowns and a 98-yard kickoff return. Still, Ward had a 27% explosive play rate on his passes to make sure the Cougar offense was in on the fun.
7. Fernando Mendoza, Cal
Last week: 8
Mendoza hit seven consecutive passes as one point — highlighted by a 54-yard touchdown to Trond Grizzell in the second quarter — to help the Bears win the 126th Big Game. He threw for a career-best 296 yards as Cal kept its bowl hopes alive heading into the final game of the season. The 6-foot-5 freshman posted his third-best QBR of the season in the win.
6. DJ Uiagalelei, Oregon State
Last week: 6
Uiagalelei was a difference-maker with his legs, rushing for 53 yards. He had a 26-yard keeper on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter that was a winning football play. Uiagalelei was a different kind of difference-maker with his arm, unfortunately. He was picked off twice in the two-point loss. The first was on a tipped ball on fourth down at the end of the first half. You’ll live with that. The second was a bad throw on the opening drive of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Washington pressure affected Uiagalelei and caused him to miss in a couple of crucial spots. The last offensive play of the game was particularly tough; miscommunication between Uiagalelei and Jack Velling downfield resulted in an incompletion. It looked like a play where, had the two been on the same page, Oregon State may have scored.
5. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Last week: 5
Sanders was knocked out of the game against Washington State twice. After the first time, he came back in and threw a 45-yard touchdown before having to exit again a bit later in the second quarter. We have stasis in Boulder — Sanders is awesome, and his offensive line is actively working against him.
4. Noah Fifita, Arizona
Last week: 4
Fifita posted the fifth-best QBR of any quarterback in college football in Week 12. He was dicing the Utes, passing for 253 yards and two scores. The best part of the day? No interceptions. Fifita hit 12 of his first 14 passes — two of them for touchdowns — to help power Arizona to an early lead. It was his third game in the last five (all UA wins) with at least a 90 QBR.
3. Caleb Williams, USC
Last week: 3
A brilliant career may come to a close with disappointment. Williams moved the ball extremely well (384 yards 74% completion rate), but he was also picked off at the end of a disastrous first quarter — a fourth game in USC’s final six with a turnover. Williams had a few of his customary highlight reel plays, but as has been the case all season, his best has not been enough to overcome USC’s worst.
2. Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Last week: 2
Penix was held under 200 yards passing — 13-for-28, 162 yards — for the first time at Washington, but he made the throws that counted when they mattered most. The third-and-3 throw to Rome Odunze to ice the game in the fourth quarter was exceptional. The 32-yard touchdown to Odunze at the end of the first half proved important. Penix’s numbers have fallen a bit off from his ridiculous pace to begin the year, but he’s still making plays that impact games at key junctures — exactly what you’d expect from an elite college quarterback.
1. Bo Nix, Oregon
Last week: 1
Nix went 8-for-11 for 175 yards and four touchdowns in the game. Oh, wait, sorry. Those aren’t his full-game stats. Those were passes more than 10 yards downfield. The “Bo only throws down” crowd had a bad day as Nix needed just two quarters to throw six touchdowns against Arizona State. Unlike the guy who was still throwing pass attempts in the fourth quarter of a November game against Georgia State while his team was up 49-14, Nix had the Ducks up 42-0 on a Power Five conference opponent at the half, got one drive for funsies in the third quarter and then called it a day early. (Jayden Daniels is a legitimately deserving Heisman winner, as is Nix; I’m mostly poking fun.) Nix, by the way, had the best QBR of any quarterback in the country in Week 12 — 99.5. ESPN’s QBR data, which goes back to 2004, has only 46 instances of a quarterback posting a 99.5 QBR or better in a game.