Very little remains of what we thought we knew about the PAC 12. It’s a wild west season, where everyone can beat everyone else and someone surprising is going to lose each week. One thing that was lacking was games that were in doubt late, and this week has a few matchups projected to be quite a bit closer, that should give us some interesting material.
1. Stanford (+1)-
The Cardinal won the bye week, having rounded into form as other teams have fallen apart. They visit Oregon State on Thursday night, which gives a long break before running into a fearsome last four games.
2. Washington Huskies (+1)-
The Huskies are another bye week winner, moving ahead as the other teams at the top of the rankings got more or less embarrassed. Washington hosts UCLA on Saturday and seek to prove that the loss to ASU was just a blip on the radar.
3. USC Trojans (-2)-
This was a must-win game for the Trojan’s playoff dream, and it was also a must-win game for the conference, who was desperate for a quality out of conference win to hang their hat on. Instead, they turned in a performance that didn’t make it look close. They are still in the top portion of the conference, but a visit to ASU that looked dull two weeks ago suddenly looks very compelling indeed.
4. ASU Sun Devils (+3)-
ASU turned in its second consecutive excellent defensive performance, completely stifling the Utes. This is a huge turnaround from what they were able to do in the first part of the season, but it’s possible the switch has flipped. If they can stifle USC and Sam Darnold, ‘possible’ becomes ‘likely’.
5. Washington State Cougars (+1)-
WSU put their loss behind them and handled business against a flailing Colorado team, turning in a workmanlike, 28-0 victory over the Buffaloes. They visit Arizona and the new darling of the PAC 12, Khalil Tate, who will look to hand WSU their second loss.
6. Arizona Wildcats (+2)-
Arizona is aggressively climbing these rankings with back-to-back impressive performances from their new starting QB, Khalil Tate. They now sit at 5-2 and, along with ASU, are key unlikely contenders for the South crown. They host WSU on Saturday.
7. Utah Utes (-3)-
Whether it was burnout from two difficult, physical contests or a surprisingly good ASU team (or most likely a bit of both), the Utes turned in perhaps their worst performance since they joined the PAC 12, looking inept in both phases. Utah’s lost three in a row and is scrambling for a second conference win. They visit Oregon next, who is also desperate for a victory.
8. Cal Bears (-3)-
The performance against WSU felt fluky, and the Bears certainly didn’t look like a world-beating defensive team against Arizona, giving up 45 points in a double-OT loss to the Wildcats. It’s still been a better-than-expected year for Cal, and they have a lot to feel good about. They visit Colorado in a match that will say a lot about both teams.
9. UCLA Bruins (+2)-
UCLA finally put together the kind of wire-to-wire performance fans have been hoping for, thumping Oregon to the tune of 31-14. They have to find a way to build on that performance in trying circumstances as they visit #12 Washington and try to come away with a win.
10. Oregon Ducks (-1)-
Oregon is in a funny place. With Herbert under center, they looked like a strong team, but while he’s been injured they have looked as bad as almost anyone in the conference. This is where they sit for now, but Herbert looks to be coming back sooner than expected, and will do his best to bring them out of the dumps, starting with gunning for a win over Utah this Saturday.
11. Colorado Buffaloes (-1)-
There’s not much to say about a Buffaloes team who was supposed to be good, but looked anything but last week on the losing end of a 28-0 scoreboard. It takes a special breed of offensive ineptitude to get yourself shut out. Colorado didn’t gain 100 yards either running or throwing the ball, and looked totally lost. Cal pays a visit, looking to finish off the wounded Buffs.
12. Oregon State Beavers (N/A)-
Bye weeks aren’t going to move you if you have yet to win an FBS game. Oregon State is the worst team in the conference, and perhaps the worst P5 team in the country. Stanford visits Thursday night.
Back into the swing of conference play, with crucial games ahead for a ton of teams. Utah and Oregon both seek to end three-game skids, and Arizona and Arizona State each welcome a ranked, PAC 12 foe and hope to prove that their strong starts aren’t a fluke.