Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 6


In a weekend we thought would start to separate the contenders from the pretenders, we got a bit of the usual Pac-12 chaos, some Pac-12 After Dark, not to mention a Friday beat-down of North division heavyweights.

Home is where the heart is, and it’s also where teams in conference look to be locks these days, regardless of the opponent with the home teams in week 5 going a perfect 6-0.

Washington sored, Stanford wilted, and Colorado is just a couple of wins away from looking like the favorite to represent the South division in the conference championship game.  Yes, it felt weird to have typed that.

  1. #5 Washington (5-0, 2-0 Previous Ranking: 2) : 44-6 win over Stanford

The rebuild job is nearly complete for Chris Peterson.  After beating Stanford at its own game last Friday he now has a signature win to hang his hat on with the Huskies, with his team representing the best chance the Pac-12 has in making it to the playoffs.  

Can Peterson pull off the miracle and run the table in conference play?  If so they’d be the first team to do it since the conference expanded back in 2011.  So it’s highly unlikely Washington doesn’t have a slip-up or two, but just look at their turnover ratio of plus-11 to see that this team has all the makings of being the next conference champion.

Cue Oregon, a team Washington hasn’t beaten in their last twelve tries.

  1. #15 Stanford (3-1, 2-1 Previous Ranking: 1): 44-6 loss to Washington

As Christian McCaffrey goes, so go the Cardinal, and it was up close and personal in this regard against Washington. Stanford’s Heisman candidate was stuffed by the Huskies to the tune of 79 combined yards of offense.

It doesn’t get any easier this week for Stanford as they’ll be playing Washington State without both of their starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder.

  1. #21 Colorado (4-1, 2-0 Previous Ranking: 5): 47-6 win over Oregon State

Colorado found itself in the AP poll for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.  After rolling over Oregon Stats, the Buffs could be sitting pretty in the division if they can handle USC this week (a team they’ve never beaten mind you) at the Coliseum and the Devils at Folsom the week after.  

That’s right, with their freshman backup quarterback Steven Montez now running the show, this team has a chance to head to San Francisco in December thanks to a potent vertical passing game and a defense that trails only Washington in yards allowed per play among the Pac-12.

  1. #24 Utah (4-1, 1-1 Previous Ranking: 3) : 28-23 win over Cal

Utah tried to beat Cal at their own game, snapping the ball 97 times on the road, but falling just short after Cal of all teams held strong against the Utes on a goal line stand to end the contest.  

Utah was undermanned at Berkeley however missing the likes of J.J. Dielman, Tim Patrick, Cory Butler-Byrd, Kyle Fulks, Reggie Porter and Lowell Lotulelei.  With the school announcing this week that Dielman, it’s starting center, will be lost for the season.

  1. UCLA (3-2, 1-1 Previous Ranking: 7): 45-24 win over Arizona

The UCLA offense seems to finally be transitioning positively to the pro-style offense installed by first year offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu in the off-season as Josh Rosen threw for three touchdowns and ran for another over the Wildcats.

Rosen and company head to Tempe next to take on ASU and it’s passing defense ranked dead last in the Pac-12  

  1. California (3-2, 1-1 Previous Ranking: 8): 28-23 win over Utah

Davis Webb continues to show he belongs among the elite Pac-12 signal callers as he throws for 306 yards and four touchdowns against a stingy Utes defense.  What’s better is that the Bears beat Utah playing tough in the trenches in knocking off their second top-25 opponent on the year.

  1. USC (2-3, 1-2 Previous Ranking: 9): 41-20 win over ASU

After seeing their coaching staff question for lack of results in failing to get results out of a team stacked with blue chip prospects, Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast schemed a masterful game plan in shutting down the Sun Devil offense both against the run and pass game.

On offense Sam Darnold looked like the real deal against the Devils porous defense who also allowed all-world receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to get back on track.

  1. Arizona State (4-1, 1-1 Previous Ranking: 4): 41-20 loss to USC

What could have been for the Devils?  A win over the Trojans would have helped seal the coffin on Clay Helton and put away the Trojans for good in conference play.  Instead the Devils are looking at an uphill climb with games against UCLA, Colorado, and Washington State over the next three weeks without their starting quarterback for the time being.

  1. Washington State (2-2, 1-0 Previous Ranking: 11): 51-33 win over Oregon

Washington State has perhaps the best receiving duo in the Pac-12, as well as one of its best quarterbacks.  They also tend to not run the football much, which is why when they rushed for 280 yards on the Ducks it raised a few eyebrows.

There are some defenses that are really struggling in the Pac-12 at the moment, but when you hire a flashy defensive coordinator in the off-season and his defense gives up 38 first downs and 7 yards per rush to the Cougs, changes may need to be made.  

  1. Oregon (2-3, 0-2 Previous Ranking: 10): 51-33 loss to Washington State

Is this the end of Oregon as we know it?  Will Mark Helfrich survive the season?

The Ducks have lost three straight for the first time since 2007.  As a result true freshman Justin Herbert will be thrown to the wolves, well, Dogs, this week in his first career start against the best defense in the Pac-12.

  1. Arizona (2-3, 0-2 Previous Ranking: 6): 45-24 loss to UCLA

The Cats are beat-up, having to go with their fourth-string quarterback Khalil Tate as they head to Rice-Eccles, and may also be missing their best player on offense, running back Nick Wilson.

With all the injuries at the quarterback position, perhaps it’s time for Rich Rodriguez to make some tweaks as to how his offense leaves its quarterbacks exposed.  Just a thought.

  1. Oregon State (1-3, 0-1 Previous Ranking: 12): 47-6 loss to Colorado

Another bad team struggling at the quarterback position, as the Beavers brought in walk-on freshman Conor Blount who provided little in the loss to the Buffs on the road.  It doesn’t help that Oregon State has been atrocious on the offensive line so far allowing a Pac-12 worst 17 sacks in 4 games.
How do you rank the Pac-12 top-to-bottom? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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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