By David K.
It was the last weekend for the much anticipated matchup between Stanford and Oregon, which will likely determine who goes to the Pac-12 title game and would be the presumptive favorite there as well. I struggled with some of the rankings this week due in part to UCLA’s upset of Arizona and Washington’s loss to Oregon. The Top 3 teams are clear, as well as the bottom 4, but there is some muddle in the middle. Ultimately I settled on the ranks below but they are far from set in stone. Good news for teh Pac-12 as well, with UCLA’s win over ASU, this weekends UCLA/Utah match is gaurenteed to give the conference another bowl eligible team.
1. Stanford (9-0, 7-0 Pac-12)
Oregon States defense proved to be suprisingly stout in this game, shutting out the Cardinal in the first quarter and limiting them to only 38 points. In fact it was surprisingly close OSU trailed by only 4 points until Stanford pulled away late in the third quarter. The Cardinal will have to perform better on offense if they hope to beat the other Oregon school. On the other hand the defense did more than enough, limiting the Beavers to 13 points and only 33 rushing yards.
2. Oregon (8-1, 6-0)
Stanford’s offense wasn’t the only one that struggled relative to its usual results last weekend. Oregon was held to under 35 points for the first time since the season opening loss to LSU, and half those points were gift wrapped for the Ducks thanks to big Husky mistakes. Still the defense, like Stanford’s, was stout. Against Andrew Luck and the Cardinal on Saturday they will have to be if they hope to come away with a win.
3. USC (7-2, 4-2)
One week after the Trojan’s triple overtime loss to Stanford, the Trojan’s bounced back and then some, dominating beleagured Colorado in a 42-17 romp. Can Matt Barkley and co. break former Trojan coach Steve Sarkisians run of two against his former team? My guess is yes, the Trojans aren’t battling the same second half sloppiness on D that helped the Huskies win games the past two years. Any other season and we’d be looking forward to seeing this USC team in the Pac-12 championship game.
4. Washington (6-3, 4-2)
How do you move a team up after a loss, especially one in which the offense played so poorly? It was a tough call. The gap between 3 and 4 is huge at the moment in my mind, but I still think the Huskies are one of the best mid-tier Pac-12 teams right now. More on that below. The Huskies need to bounce back from that offensive egg they laid in the final home game in Husky Stadium until 2013 if they hope to have a chance of threepeating against USC this weekend.
5. UCLA (5-4, 4-2)
Like a lot of people I’d written off the Bruins as dead, but they have shown an impressive fortitude in bouncing back after the blowout loss to Arizona. I still think they Huskies are better than the Bruins, hence the 4-5 ranking of the two, but i’m giving UCLA the nod over ASU this week even though its probable that the Sun Devils would win that game more often than not.
6. ASU (6-3, 4-2)
ASU went from controlling its own destiny to need the Bruins to drop a couple down the stretch if they hope to make it to the Pac-12 title game this year. A surprising upset for a team many felt would have a breakout year. Still plenty of time to bounce back, and a game against tumbling Washington State provides the perfect opportunity to do so.
7. Utah (5-4, 2-4)
The Utes picked up their second conference victory and are one win away from being bowl eligible. Utah was able to capitalize on three Arizona turnovers to pull ahead early and stay ahead in this Pac-12 south matchup. An 8-4 finish is very doable for the youngest members of the Pac-12, but first up a surprising UCLA team.
8. Cal (5-4, 2-4)
In a must win game if the bears were to have a good chance at making the post-season the Bears were dominant. Now they need to continue to play as well against Oregon State this weekend. Win and they reach 6 and bowl eligibilty, which given the record of the rest of the Pac-12 plus USC’s bowl ban, all but gaurentees a spot in a Pac-12 affiliated bowl game.
9. Arizona (2-7, 1-6)
Arizona meanwhile is out of the race for post season play after a loss to Utah. Three turnovers, two of them INT’s by the otherwise impressive Nick Foles set the Wildcats up for failure. All thats left is to play for pride. Losing to Colorado on Saturday would be a kick in the gut to this allready reeling program.
10. Oregon State (2-7, 2-4)
Oegon Sate too will be staying home for the holidays, the loss to Stanford, although surprisingly competitive until late is still a loss and the Beavers are staring straight into the face of a 2-10 season with final games against Cal, Washington and Oregon.
11. Washington State (3-5, 1-4)
Paul Wulff says that he inherited the worst BCS team in the country when he bacame coach, and he may be right, but that was four season ago and with the Cougars on course to a 3-9 finish on the year all he can console himself with is the knowledge that the program is better than where he found it. But better and good enough aren’t the same thing. Short of a miracle 3-0 final run, its fairly safe to say we are seeing the last days of Wulff as the Cougars head man.
12. Colorado (1-8, 0-5)
Another week, another blow out loss by the Buffs. Colorado’s best chance to climb out of the bottom of this list and notch another conference victory is this weekend with a game against Arizona, but its not a great chance. Colorado is just no that good.