Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 12

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With three weeks left in the Pac-12 regular season Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Utah have already punched their tickets for bowl games, but four more teams have the potential to join them.

While most folks assumed Stanford and Washington to be in that group back in the summer, pat yourself on the back if you predicted Cal as a potential six game winner, and then go ahead slap yourself in the face for being untruthful.  Things look pretty bleak for Mike Riley and his Beavers who’ll need nothing short of a miracle against the likes of ASU, Washington, and Oregon to go bowling.

1.#2 Oregon (9-1, 6-1, Previous Rank 1)

Week 11: Defeated Utah; 51-27.

Another Ducks victory where their opponent has a chance in the second half only to witness complete domination in the later parts of the final period.  For Oregon to put up 51 points on the road against one of the better defenses in the conference tells you everything you need to know about how good their offense is, even with the losses of stand-out center Hroniss Grasu and tight end Pharoah Brown.

Whether or not the loss of Grasu has a similar effect to the loss of Jake Fisher won’t be known until the Pac-12 Championship Game as Oregon has a bye this week with two of the three worst teams in the conference left on their schedule.

2.#6 Arizona State (8-1, 5-1, Previous Rank 2)

Week 11: Defeated Notre Dame; 55-31.   

If you’ve followed ASU football for a long time you know that the payoffs like last Saturday never come easy.  Up by a score of 34-3 with less than two minutes to play in the first half, you easily could have stated that this was the most impressive win by the school in the 21st century.  But 28 unanswered points by Notre Dame helped soften the sharpness of the win.

Regardless, a win by 24 points, at home, over a top ten opponent is still a program defining one for Todd Graham’s bunch and only helped the cause this week in the College Playoff Rankings as the Sun Devils climbed three spots.  A big win against lowly Oregon State in Corvallis on Saturday should continue to help pad the resume for the committee.          

3.#11 UCLA (8-2, 5-2, Previous Rank 4)

Week 11: Defeated Washington 44-30.

The game against the Huskies looked like a trap game, until the Kikaha injury crippled the defense already without its best corner, Marcus Peters (who helped keep Jaelen Strong in check in their match-up) who was dismissed from the team earlier in the week.

Play calling improved, and the offensive line has gelled as of late, thus Brett Hundley was able to play within himself recording four touchdowns in the game.  All of which are needed for UCLA to stay in the race for the Pac-12 South as they head into the bye week staring down the barrel at USC and Stanford to close out their regular season.

4.#14 Arizona (7-2, 4-2, Previous Rank 6)

Week 11: Defeated Colorado; 38-20.

While the Buffs provided an admirable opponent for two plus quarters Arizona pulled away thanks to a healthy running game and a once again opportunistic defense.  They’ll face a Huskies team this week without Shaq Thompson at running back.

It will be interesting to see how Anu Soloman handles the Huskies pass rush in the game against Washington as a litmus test to how he might perform in the Territorial Cup game later this month.

5.#23 Utah (6-3, 3-3, Previous Rank 3)

Week 11: Lost to Oregon; 51-27.

The good news for Utah is that they finish out the season against Colorado.  The bad news is that the tough part of their schedule still has two more stops in Palo Alto this week and then back home against Arizona.

You have to wonder what might have been had Kaelin Clay held on to that football before crossing the goal line last Saturday.  Will that be a factor in the Pac-12 Championship game or even the College Football Playoff?  We’ll never know

6.USC (6-3, 5-2, Previous Rank 5)

Week 11: On Bye.

The Trojans have lost three games this year by an average of less than five points per game (including a Jael Mary).  They are ranked second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, which will be challenged Thursday night as they welcome high flying Cal to the Coliseum.

This game was circled as a trap game before the season started, with the Bruins horizon, but no one takes Cal for granted anymore.

7.Stanford (5-4, 3-3, Previous Rank 7)

Week 11: On bye.

Two of the better defenses in the country, let alone the conference square off in Palo Alto on Saturday.  The two teams also represent the two of the three worst offenses in the Pac-12 through nine games this season.

8.Washington (6-4, 2-4, Previous Rank 8)

Week 11: Lost to UCLA; 44-30.

After dominating teams with their front seven through the month of October, the Huskies have totaled just four sacks in their last two games against the likes of Colorado and UCLA.  The Bruins lead the league in sacks allowed, and the Buffs surprisingly for how much they throw, have allowed the fewest sacks per game on average.  So it’s hard to predict what Huskies defense shows up against Arizona, but what we do know is that it will be armed with Shaq Thomson as a full-time linebacker.

9.Cal (5-4, 3-4, Previous Rank 9)

Week 11: On bye.

We’ll get a peek at the ability of Sonny Dykes and his staff to scheme properly when they face USC this Thursday night with both teams coming off the bye.

Does the team that nearly pulled of an upset of UCLA in Berkeley show up in this game, or is it more the outfit that lost to Oregon and Washington in tough to swallow fashion?

An upset win by Cal would make them bowl eligible and push them up the power rankings to at least equal standing with the likes of rival Stanford.  Yes that sounded weird.

10.Washington State (3-7, 2-5, Previous Rank 11)

Week 11: Defeated Oregon State; 39-32.

Six Cougar receivers caught four or more passes.  That’s all you need to know about how much Washington State throws the ball and how the system will work regardless if it’s a senior like Connor Halliday in the pocket or a redshirt freshman like Luke Faulk.  Maybe now we know the reason why Tyler Bruggman transferred to Louisville?

11.Oregon State (4-5, 1-5, Previous Rank 10)               

Week 11: Lost to Washington State; 39-32.

The beavers have lost four straight and things don’t get any easier as they welcome the Devils into Reser on Saturday night.  While the weather won’t be a joy and Mike Riley has a history of sneaky wins in November, you just can’t overlook the fact that the Beavers have only been successful once in their last 21 games against ranked opponents.

12.Colorado (2-8, 0-7, Previous Rank 12)

Week 11: Lost to Arizona 38-20.

Once again, it’s tough to be a Buffs fan.  It’s not like their team has been blown out in every game.  They have actually been competitive in most of their games outside of the Washington game really.  So it begs the question, would you rather know how bad you truly are, or simply be happy with a slew of close defeats?

How do you rank the Pac-12 top-to-bottom? Let us know on FacebookTwitter, or e-mail and you could make it on the next ASU Devils Den Podcast.

About Rob Malara

Rob Malara

Rob Malara is a 2002 Sun Devil grad having spent the majority of his time in Tempe as a football, basketball, and baseball season ticket holder and front row inhabitant. A member of the Football Writers Association of America, he hosted the ASU Devils podcast and was its sub-optimal technical producer through its lifespan. Currently the president of the ASU Alumni Association's Northern Colorado Club, he is part of a family of maroon and gold residing in Fort Collins with his Sun Devil wife and nearby Sun Devil sister.

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