Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 14

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With Rivalry Week upon us, South-on-South crime comes to it’s final chapter of 2014 with a few final delicious match-ups in wake of turkey massacres taking place throughout the country.  With Oregon having already locked up its seat as champion of the Pac-12 North, there is much less drama in the division other than Cal and Oregon State looking to become bowl eligible.

In the Pac-12 South however, much is still up for grabs including who will have the pleasure of heading to Levi’s Stadium the following week to play Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  With a win over struggling Stanford, UCLA will represent the division for the third time in four years.  With a Bruins loss, the winner of the Territorial Cup would would take home the division crown.

1.#2 Oregon (10-1, 7-1, Previous Rank 1)

Week 13: Defeated Colorado; 44-10.

Last week’s dismantling of Colorado in Boulder put on display how sound the Ducks are both in the present and in the future.  With four touchdowns against the lowly Buffs, quarterback Marcus Mariota now has 42 total touchdowns on the year surpassing Matt Barkley’s record of 41, with three games left to play.  But even if Mariota declares for the NFL after his redshirt junior season (as most expect) the Ducks will have a few seasons of true freshman Royce Freeman to carry their high powered offense.  Now being compared to Oregon greats like Jonathan Stewart and LeGarrette Blount, he has now rushed for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns during his first campaign.

2.#8 UCLA (9-2, 6-2, Previous Rank 3)

Week 13: Defeated USC; 38-20.

Jim Mora is now 3-0 against rival USC and in the driver’s seat to give it a second try in three years against the best the Pac-12 has to offer next week.  After systematically dismantling the will of the Trojans last Saturday, it seems as if a wounded Stanford team would be a step down in competition.  They play the roll previously held by the Sun Devils as Pac-12 spoiler if they can win out and defeat Oregon.  At that point, regardless of their back-to-back losses earlier in the season to the Utes and the Ducks, they could sneak in through the back door depending on the other results this weekend and during the SEC Championship Game.  Not to mention the fact that Brett Hundley has done nothing to injure his status as the second best quarterback in the conference behind only Mariota.

3.#11 Arizona (9-2, 6-2, Previous Rank 4)

Week 13: Defeated Utah; 42-10.

With huge road wins over Oregon and now Utah, Arizona leapfrogs its in-state rivals in terms of its resume.  Like the Sun Devils, they can smell a chance at trip to Santa Clara by taking care of business a a whole lot of luck.  The challenge will be whether or not one of the key pieces to their success this season, freshman quarterback Anu Solomon, will play or not after sitting out the second half last week with an ankle injury.  It’s hard to believe a coach like Rich Rodriguez who played a quarterback still suffering from concussion-like symptoms a few years back, would sit a player if he thought he could play even at a diminished role.

4.#13 Arizona State (9-2, 6-2, Previous Rank 2)

Week 13: Defeated Washington State; 52-31.

Another game, another inconsistent showing by the Devils, even if they won by three touchdowns.  Trailing 21-7 at one point on Senior Day, you could understand if the majority of the Sun Devil Stadium faithful were sweating in their seats a bit more than usual.  But Taylor Kelly seemed to find the groove of 2013 from that point on throwing four touchdown passes, all of them to players not named Jaelen Strong, who was a late scratch just before kickoff.

Can the Arizona State win the turnover battle and will they continue to build on their six sack effort against Luke Falk and the Cougars?  That would be the recipe to success down in Tucson.

5.#25 Utah (7-3, 4-3, Previous Rank 5)

Week 13: Lost to Arizona; 42-10.

The Utes still seem to be going through growing pains as a program.  They’ve struggled much like the Sun Devils to show consistency after big wins.  Beat Michigan on the road one week, lose to Washington State the next.  Beat USC at home, lose to Arizona State in overtime the week thereafter, and the trend continued against Arizona last week.  To get blown out at Rice-Eccles the way they did was inexcusable if your Kyle Whittingham, even if it was to a team with better talent.  Their defense had given up 28 points in games twice this year outside of their loss to Oregon, so it was a game that certainly raised a few eyebrows.  Especially with Arizona not having their starting quarterback for the entire second half.

6.USC (7-4, 6-3, Previous Rank 6)

Week 13: Lost to UCLA; 38-20.

A bad effort all-around by the Trojans who barely saved some face nationally with a late score against the Bruins.  The defense played atrocious missing tackles and lacking the ability to contain Bruins running back Paul Perkins all game.  While the offense lacked the aggressive instinct at times to be able to attack the interior of the Bruins run defense.  This off-season will be a tough one to bear for Steve Sarkisian if they can’t come up with an eighth win against a Notre Dame team that is looking more like road kill than the team that started off the year winning six straight.

7.Stanford (6-5, 4-4, Previous Rank 8)

Week 13: Defeated Cal; 38-17.

It was the opposite story for Stanford who dominated Cal on both sides of the football.  Going up against the worst pass defense in the conference, Brett Hundley channeled the form of his junior year completing 15 of his 20 attempts while the David Shaw got back to what he does best as a play caller, calling for his running game to control the flow of the game to the tune of 47 times for 204 yards.

It would be a small miracle if the Cardinal could pull off the upset at the Rose Bowl on Friday as they will be without their best playmaker on offense and special teams with Ty Montgomery set to miss the game due to a shoulder injury.  This would be as good a time as any to come up with their first 100-yard rusher of 2014.

8.Cal (5-6, 3-6, Previous Rank 7)

Week 13: Lost to Stanford; 38-17.

If you are a Cal fan, you have to have relied on a good sense of humor this season as your team improved slowly but surely.  Losing at home convincingly to your rival is never an easy pill to swallow, but a look at the bigger picture at hand is necessary.  The Bears have lost five of their last six games and still have a chance to make their first bowl game since 2011, while second year starting quarterback Jared Goff has a chance to take finish the season as the Pac-12 leader in both passing yards and touchdowns thrown with a solid effort against BYU.

9.Washington (7-5, 3-5, Previous Rank 9)

Week 13: Defeated Oregon State; 37-13.

The Huskies looked like a different team all-together with a healthier backfield allowing Shaq Thompson to search and destroy at his customary outside linebacker position.  The defense piled on a one-dimensional (at least when not facing the Sun Devils) offense while the offense soared behind the best game of the season put fourth by first year starter Cyler Miles.

10.Oregon State (5-6, 2-6, Previous Rank 11)               

Week 13: Lost to Washington; 37-13.

The Beavers looked very one-dimensional and lacked the creativity on offense to challenge what the Huskies defense threw at them.  Sean Mannion goes into his final Civil War needing a win to become bowl eligible and live to fight another day.  Otherwise, the nightmare that is the 2015 Oregon State season without him, comes to fruition much sooner than anyone in Corvallis desires.

11.Washington State (3-8, 2-6, Previous Rank 10)

Week 13: Lost to Arizona State; 52-31.

You have to hand it to freshman Luke Falk, he threw for more than 600 yards, took a beating, and lead at the half on the road against a ranked opponent in just his second career start.  Five turnovers, all of which leading to Sun Devil touchdowns, really hampered his ability to hold on to the lead down the stretch in this game as the Cougars continue to fade into obscurity during the second half of the season.  A win in the Apple Cup would at least give Mike Leach and staff some ammunition to use on the recruiting trail as it’s never too early to talk about Signing Day 2015 in Pullman.

12.Colorado (2-9, 0-8, Previous Rank 12)

Week 13: Lost to Oregon; 44-10.

So much for moral victories with the Buffs.  The Ducks blew the doors off this team that never really had a chance in this game.  Even more painful was Oregon’s average pass defense looking like juggernauts against a Colorado especially after Sefo Liufau was knocked out the of game with a concussion.  Colorado likes to say that Colorado State is not it’s rival but rather claims it to be Utah.  Utah on the other hand, wants no part in this discussion, and you can’t blame them at this point.

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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