Rob Malara

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 9


Another one bites the dust in the dogfight that is Pac-12 supremacy.  With the USC knocking off Utah and UCLA dropping Cal, the conference is still stuck at just three teams being represented in the AP poll.

  1. #8 Stanford (6-1, 5-0, S&P+ 14th, Previous Ranking: 2)

Week 8: Defeated Washington; 31-14.

The hype train keeps taking on more passengers for the Cardinal as the winning streak improves to six games.  Christian McCaffrey has finally made on the Heisman list for many national pundits and Kevin Hogan continues to play on the level most expected him to be at two or three years ago.

In what could be the Pac-12 game of the week, Stanford’s defense (42nd ranked defensive S&P+) will get perhaps its biggest challenge of the season so far against Mike Leach’s surging passing attack (28th ranked offensive S&P+).  But more so, the question is whether or not the Cougars leaky defense can hold up against Stanford’s surprisingly surging offense.

  1. #13 Utah (6-1, 3-1, S&P+ 21st, Previous Power Ranking: 1)

Week 8: Lost to USC; 42-24.

Such is life in the Pac-12 South where you’re only as good as your next win against a divisional opponent.  Thankfully for Ute fans the constitution of this Utes team will be challenged very little coming off the loss against a woeful Oregon State team.

  1. #24 UCLA (5-2, 2-2, S&P+ 17th, Previous Power Ranking: 5)

Week 8: Defeated No. 20 Cal; 40-24.

An impressive win backed by a fantastic Josh Rosen outing puts UCLA right back into the thick of things in the Pac-12 South.  With the victory showing their offense puts them right up there with the best in the conference when firing on all cylinders, but it’s their defense that’s needed to win games against the good teams in the conference.

As a reward for the impressive win, the Bruins now can settle into the marshmallow portion of the schedule with back-to-back games against cellar dwellars Colorado and Oregon State before a final three game stretch that includes Washington State, Utah, and USC.

  1. Cal (5-2, 2-2, S&P+ 43rd, Previous Power Ranking: 3)

Week 8: Lost to UCLA; 40-24.

The clock finally struck midnight for the Bears in the past two weeks with defeats to Utah and UCLA.  And things don’t get any easier for Sonny Dykes’ team as they welcome in a re-invigorated Trojans team on Saturday.

  1. USC (4-3, 2-2, S&P+ 12th, Previous Power Ranking: 6)

Week 8: Defeated No. 3 Utah; 42-24.

Maybe Vegas knows what they are doing afterall?  

Clay Helton answered the bell last week after a tough loss to Notre Dame with a throttling of Utah.  With a win against Cal they will join the logjam that is the race for Pac-12 South supremacy in the final stretch of the season.

  1. Arizona State (4-3, 2-2, S&P+ 67th, Previous Power Ranking: 4)

Week 8: On Bye.

With Demario Richard looking set to go again, this offense looks to be its healthiest since before the season kicked off in Houston.  

The Devils have lost eight straight games to Oregon including an embarrassing blowout at Sun Devil Stadium back in 2012.

Both teams need a win to get their season back on the rails after sluggish starts.  Keep an eye on emotions in this game for the Sun Devils playing this contest on their home field wearing the Tillman nameplate on the backs of their jerseys.

  1. Washington State (5-2, 3-1, S&P+ 60th, Previous Power Ranking: 8)

Week 8: Defeated Arizona; 45-42.

Who would have thought back in August that sophomore quarterback Luke Falk would be in the running for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year?

Yes it’s a passing offense that skew the numbers, but Mike Leach’s moderate improvements in the run game (from 39 yards per game in ‘14 to 91 yards per game in ‘15) has helped make the offense astronomically more efficient, especially on third down where it is converting 44-percent of its chances (27th best in the country).

  1. Oregon (4-3, 2-2, S&P+ 57th, Previous Power Ranking: 9)

Week 8: On bye.

Having missed three of the Ducks seven games this year, it looks like quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is healthy again, as is his ego.  He recently stated that he enjoys teams who like to blitz him as it increases his team’s chance to hit the big play.

Adams may be on to something, while the Devils blitz on over 50-percent of downs, the results vary.  While they lead the conference in sacks and tackles for loss per game, they are just behind Oregon and Colorado in plays of 20 yards or more allowed on defense.

  1. Washington (3-4, 1-3, S&P+ 49th, Previous Power Ranking: 7)

Week 8: Lost to No. 10 Stanford; 31-14.

This week is make-or-break time for the Huskies who can all but forget about their bowl aspirations with a fifth loss on the season to Arizona.  On the heels of losing back-to-back games, an outstanding defense (26th ranked defensive S&P+) just isn’t  getting any help from an anemic offense that trails their opponent in offensive yards per game by 200!  So yes, this will be your classic match-up of one team with a really good offense and no defense against a team with a really good defense and no offense.  Something has to give.

  1. Arizona (5-3, 2-3, S&P+ 68th, Previous Rank: 10)

Week 8: Lost to Washington State; 45-42.

Whispers of Rich Rod flying the coup to USC, Miami, or West Virginia have begun to get louder.  Regardless, the Cats need a win to gain bowl eligibility and to do so, they’ll need to jump up early against a tough Washington defense.

  1. Colorado (4-4, 1-3, S&P+ 98th, Previous Power Ranking: 11)

Week 8: Defeated Oregon State; 17-13.

Hats off to the Buffs who win their first conference game in nearly two years.

  1. Oregon State (2-5, 0-4, S&P+ 106th, Previous Power Ranking 12)

Week 8: Lost to Colorado; 17-13.

So much for winning a Pac-12 game this year.  However, you can bet this will add a little venom to the Civil War on November 27 if the Beavers have yet to win one.


How do you rank the Pac-12 top-to-bottom? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

** S&P+ rating was created by : The S&P+ Ratings are a college football ratings system derived from the play-by-play and drive data of all 800+ of a season’s FBS college football games (and 140,000+ plays).  

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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