The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8 is based on three things: quality wins, schedule played, and dominance. The “eye test” and preseason rankings are not factored into the Unafraid Show’s rankings. I know some of you are used to the biased rankings, but you won’t find those here.
The Pac-12 conference had another strong performance on the national scene. Washington and Oregon lived up to all the hype, and the entire country got to see two of the nations best teams. Well, sort of… The game was on ESPN2 in the south.
Take a peek at last week’s rankings here.
12. Oregon State (1-5)
Oregon State comes off a BYE and plays Cal in Corvallis. The Beavers look to get their first Pac-12 conference win since November of 2016. Their offense has not been the problem this season. They are #1 in the Pac-12 in rushing at 211.8 yards per game, and #3 in total offense with 453.7 ypg. Oregon State’s defense has consistently undone all the great work their offense has done. They are dead last in the conference in scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, and total defense.
I am not sure how you win a game with those kinds of stats. Hopefully, head coach Jonathan Smith’s defense has made some adjustments over the BYE week.
11. Cal (3-3)
After the first three weeks of the season, Cal was looking like a team that could end up in a bowl game. After dropping three straight games against Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA, their bowl game chances look bleak. The Golden Bears defense was highly ranked and appeared to be the strength of their team through their first three games. Last week’s 37-7 loss to winless UCLA has to be concerning for head coach Justin Wilcox. They gave up 37 points to the worst offense in the Pac-12. This week Cal has to try and stop Oregon State’s #1 rushing offense in the Pac-12.
Cal’s offense has to step it up. They rank #11 in the Pac-12 in both scoring offense (23.0 ppg), and passing offense (214.5).
10. Arizona (3-4)
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate did not finish last week’s game against Utah, and head coach Kevin Sumlin said he will not play Saturday at UCLA. Rhett Rodriguez, son for former Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, will get the start. Rodriguez should give Arizona a boost in their passing efficiency but is nowhere near the dynamic athlete running the ball that Tate is.
The Wildcats have a 3-4 record because they are statistically middle of the road Pac-12 offense and bottom third defense. This game against UCLA will be a pivotal game in deciding whether Arizona gets a bowl game.
9. UCLA (1-5)
Bruins are relieved to know their team will not go defeated this year (0-12). Chip Kelly found a way to get his team which ranks last in the conference in points per game to score 37 points against Cal. UCLA has a chance to get their second win in a row against a struggling Arizona team. The game seems to be slowing down for true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He looks more comfortable passing the ball and continues to show flashes that he can be a special player.
The last two games have catapulted UCLA from the worst rushing offense in the Pac-12 at under 100 yards per game to 9th. Their defensive improvement has been a pleasant surprise. Bruins held Washington in check and shut Cal down in their last two games. Can they put together three straight solid defense games?
8. Arizona State (3-3)
The most intriguing team in the PAC-12 this season has been Arizona State. I am still not sure what to make of Herm Edwards’ team. Are they more the team that beat Michigan State or are they the team that lost to San Diego State? ASU comes off of a bye week and gets a huge test with Stanford coming in town. Manny Wilkins and their offensive coordinator have to find a way to get N’keal Harry the football more.
7. Stanford (4-2)
I am absolutely sure that David Shaw and the smart guys at Stanford did a lot of analytics number crunching over their BYE week. The “intellectual brutality” offense we are familiar with seeing has struggled to run the football. The Cardinal are typically one of the top-rated rushing offenses in the country and the Pac-12. However, injuries to Bryce Love and poor offensive line play have their offense only managing 85.7 rushing yards per game. Their inability to run the football keeps them in 3rd and long situations which have translated to a Pac-12 worst 32.9% 3rd down conversion rate.
Stanford must rebound after ugly losses to Notre Dame and Utah. However, they still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 North but must win out.
6. Colorado (5-1)
People tried to convince me that Colorado was a real threat to win the Pac-12 after starting 5-0. The Buffaloes suffered a bunch of injuries in the USC game, including their mid-season All American wide receiver Laviska Shenault. But, they weren’t winning that game if everybody had remained healthy. Statistically, Colorado is top four in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency, opponent first downs, and a whole bunch of other categories. The reality is their opponents have a combined record of 12-25.
The Buffaloes travel to Seattle to battle the Huskies on Saturday. A win would go a long way to ensuring Mike McIntyre is the coach next season.
5. Utah (4-2)
I could not believe my eyes. Utah scored 40 points in consecutive games. It appears Kyle Whittingham’s team has turned a corner offensively. Tyler Huntley is being efficient passing the ball, and Zach Moss is 3rd in the Pac-12 in rushing with 102 yards per game. Granted, they played a beat up Stanford team and a defensive disaster in Arizona. The Utes defense is for real. They lead the conference in opponent first downs, scoring defense, and total defense.
The Utes get a huge home test against USC this weekend. If they win, they will have a shot to earn their first Pac-12 South crown.
4. USC (4-2)
Clay Helton got a much-needed win against Colorado. True freshman quarterback JT Daniels did not start sharp but ultimately finished with 283 passing yards with three touchdowns. The Trojans will need to improve their -6 turnover margin on the season if they hope to keep the lead in the Pac-12 South.
USC lost their best pass rusher Porter Gustin for the season. If the Trojans can get past the next two weeks against Utah and Arizona State, their schedule appears to get a little lighter with Oregon State, Cal, and UCLA.
3. Washington State (5-1)
We will find out what Gardner Minshew and Washington State are made out of as the Oregon Ducks roll into Pullman this weekend. The Cougars boast the Pac-12’s best passing offense (413.7 ypg), and 2nd best defense in terms of yards allowed per game (313.7). Mike Leach’s ‘Air Raid’ offense is very capable of exploiting the Oregon secondary that ranks 10th in the conference in defensive pass efficiency.
2. Washington (5-2)
The Huskies are a top tier football team. They were a missed 37 yard FG away from beating Oregon for the 3rd straight year. Now, Washington looks to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss against their bitter rival Oregon. Teams are 0-5 on the season after playing a physical game against the Ducks. Chris Peterson is a great coach and should have his team up for the task against Colorado. Their defense continues to show up and be tough. The Huskies offense must improve their explosiveness. The lack of big plays seems the difference between the 2017 and 2018 Huskies teams.
There is still a chance the Huskies can win the Pac-12 and play in either the Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl.
1. Oregon (5-1)
The Ducks have earned the #1 spot in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 8. They gutted out a win against a very good Washington team. Oregon suffered a major injury in the against Washington. Their true freshman left tackle Penei Sewell is scheduled to miss significant time with a leg injury.
Justin Herbert continues to lead the conference in passing efficiency (171.2). The Ducks offense seems unstoppable at this point, but their defense will get a huge test this weekend at Washington State. We saw the Ducks respond well after a tough loss to Stanford. How will they handle the success of a big win?
Oregon has positioned themselves to potentially earn a spot in the college football playoffs.