Oregon State Soars In Latest Pac-12 Football Power Rankings

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Ranking the Pac-12 isn’t an impossible task at the moment, but it is certainly difficult. More precisely, it is a very fluid season in which changes are to be expected from week to week. This is not a stable or predictable conference, and the big question is how much volatility we will see from week to week.

The top two teams and the bottom three are obvious, although ranking the bottom three in order has become a challenge. Which team has 10 and which team has 12?

Ranking teams 3-9 in the Pac-12 isn’t that easy either, although a few decisions aren’t that hard to make.

Stanford and the State of Oregon must be ranked higher than USC. Of course not?

Cal cannot be ranked higher than No.8. The Golden Bears actually have to win games to earn a higher ranking.

Washington can’t be ranked higher than No.7 – not with that Montana loss still there.

A final reminder: these rankings are based on the results (CV) of the teams involved. These are not projections, and they are not reflections of who would win on neutral ground OR who would be favored in Las Vegas in sports betting. Rankings should be based on what teams have achieved so far, not what they are supposed to do.

12. ARIZONA

Sep 4, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, United States; Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Neil Pau’u (2) evades Arizona Wildcats cornerback Isaiah Rutherford (2) in a scoring game at Allegiant Stadium. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The loss to northern Arizona is still a crush. The Wildcats have played pretty well in Oregon – better than many expected – so there’s a chance they’ll escape the cellar soon. However, they have to clinch a win to earn this.

11. STATE OF WASHINGTON

Washington State wide receiver Davontavean Martin (1) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Brandon Gray (83), Kassidy Woods (17) and Frederick Mauigoa (69) during the second half of a college football game in NCAA vs. Northern Colorado in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo / Young Kwak)

Washington State is no higher than Colorado because Colorado has been competitive for two and a half quarters in Arizona State. The Buffs are showing signs of being a competitive team. Their resounding loss to Minnesota is the exception, not the rule, in their 2021 schedule. They were competitive in most games.

Washington State has been swept away by USC. Yes, Jaxson Dart makes USC a different team, but the Cougars still imploded in this game. Their loss to Utah State looks worse after USU came face to face with Boise State. They played terribly against Utah, arguably worse than Colorado against Arizona State. Nothing in this team inspires confidence.

10. COLORADO

Sep 25, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, United States; Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver Ty Robinson (80) runs with the ball against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the second half at Sun Devil Stadium. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado can play on defense. He can’t play on offense, but defense will generally keep the Buffaloes in matches. I don’t think Colorado will beat USC this weekend – check out @BuffaloesWire for full CU coverage this week and every week! – but I also don’t think USC will run away with this game. It will be competitive.

It’s true that the loss of Texas A&M looks worse, given the appearance of the Aggies, but Washington State hasn’t played anyone as well as A&M. It is still perfectly reasonable to place the Buffs ahead of the Cougars for # 10.

9. CALIFORNIA

November 15, 2020; Pasadena, California, United States; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Tyler Manoa (50) is charged with a personal foul on second-half California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) at the Rose Bowl. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

California just can’t win close games. Nevada, TCU and Washington were all winnable, and they all slipped through Justin Wilcox’s fingers. It’s a disaster in Berkeley, where so many hopes and promises have been shattered in a month.

Close does not count.

I know Washington lost to Montana, but a head-to-head win over Cal pushes the Huskies above the Bears… so yeah, I’ve already indicated who will be next on this list. You’ll still want to read what I have to say about U-Dub.

8. WASHINGTON

December 5, 2020; Seattle, Washington, United States; Washington Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake leaves the tunnel before a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, great: Washington ranks 8th above Cal. Big whoopie!

Washington isn’t supposed to be in a Dawg fight for the No.8 Pac-12. Washington didn’t play very well against Cal either, and the offense came to a screeching halt in the second half against a not-so-good Cal defense. If beating Cal was a chore, Washington looks very likely to lose to Oregon State and Stanford.

Speaking of which: Washington has kind of opened up as a four-point FAVORITE in some sports betting. The state of Oregon is now a favorite for field goals. People see how better the state of Oregon is. If Jimmy Lake can’t provoke the anger, he is considering the possibility of a 5-7 season, and that will put him squarely in the spotlight.

7. USC

Sep 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, United States; USC Trojans head coach Donte Williams yells from the sideline during a goal line stand in the first half of the Oregon State Beavers game at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC cannot be ranked higher than Stanford or the State of Oregon. Utah? Maybe… but the Utes weren’t blown away by their losses. Their defense did not give up. BYU are a better team right now than Stanford or Oregon State. BYU is 3-0 against Pac-12 South. Utah’s other loss could be San Diego State, which could win the Mountain West West Division and then win the Conference Championship.

It boils down to this: USC didn’t just lose; the Trojans have been blown, twice, at home. This drags the work of the Trojans below Utah, and it’s not a particularly difficult claim to defend.

6. UTAH

Sep 2, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, United States; Utah Utes quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) looks to pass against the Weber State Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah learned Charlie Brewer wasn’t the problem last Saturday against Washington State. Cam Rising didn’t magically fix that broken car. Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig fails to improve Utah’s offense.

If you think USC should be ranked before the Utes, wait: USC and Utah are playing on October 9.

5. STATE OF ARIZONA

Sep 25, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, United States; Colorado Buffaloes linebacker Carson Wells (26) tackles Arizona State Sun Devils tight end Curtis Hodges (86) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State doesn’t look like a good team… but compared to the 6-12 Pac-12 teams, the Sun Devils are better. That’s how far the league is outside the top two. The Sun Devils are proving their worth this week with a trip to UCLA. Better win this game, Herm Edwards.

4. STANDARD

Sep 11, 2021; Los Angeles, California, United States; Stanford Cardinal running back Nathaniel Peat (8) scores on an 87-yard touchdown against the Southern California Trojans in the first quarter at United Airlines Field in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford failed against UCLA, so the Cardinal cannot be in the top two. Are they better than the state of Oregon? Not with two losses to just one for the Beavers. Stanford and the State of Oregon both crashed USC in the Coliseum. The gap between No.3 and No.4 isn’t huge, but for now, the state of Oregon deserves a slight edge. More information on beavers in the next segment:

3. STATE OF OREGON

Sep 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, United States; Oregon State Beavers celebrate with fans the defeat of the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With the Pac-12 evolving and with teams like Washington, Utah and Arizona State – preseason contenders in the eyes of many – all looking distinctly vulnerable, Oregon State could really hold onto that No.3 spot the rest. of the season.

Let’s see if the beavers are up to it.

This Washington game will tell us a lot about the state of Oregon. If the Beavers are playing anywhere near the level they posted against USC, they should handle Washington comfortably. If they stumble and can’t take the pressure, it’ll show they’re not ready for prime time.

The other point to follow with Oregon State in the coming weeks: will the teams in difficulty mentioned above (Washington, Utah, ASU, but also USC) find themselves, or will they remain mediocre to bad? It’s worth keeping in mind when we compare OSU to the rest of the conference.

2. UCLA

Sep 4, 2021; Pasadena, California, United States; UCLA Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet (24) runs the ball against the Louisiana State Tigers in the second half of the Rose Bowl. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LSU’s victory doesn’t look as good as it did back then. LSU might not be better than a fourth-place team in SEC West, which is likely to lose at least four games this season. That said, UCLA’s solid victory at Stanford makes the Bruins the undeniable choice as the No.2 team in the conference. Fresno State is a good team. The UCLA defense played terribly, but Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener deserves a lot of credit for playing through the pain and making incredible clutch throws to beat the Bruins.

The State of Oregon lost to Purdue. It’s a worse loss than UCLA’s loss to Fresno State. UCLA has a head-to-head against Stanford. It is not a near call.

Next up: a huge game against Arizona State.

1. Oregon

Oregon running back CJ Verdell passes Ohio State safety Bryson Shaw (17) and cornerback Cameron Brown (26) for a 77-yard touchdown on Saturday. Verdell scored two touchdowns.

Oregon has beaten Arizona, and you’ll want to check out what the @Ducks_Wire team is doing with their coverage of the Ducks, but there’s certainly concern that UO is playing down its competition. We’ll just have to wait and see if this team has the patience and consistency to lead the table or at least go 12-1, which would nail the college football playoff spot the Pac-12 sorely needed. There isn’t much to say until then.


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