The Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 9 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.
You can see last weeks rankings here.
Pac-12 Bowl Projections are after the rankings.
Send all your questions, comments, and grievances to: [email protected]
12. Oregon State (1-6)
(L) Cal 7-49
The Beavers blew their last shot at a Pac-12 win in 2018. They got hammered by Cal. Oregon State is the best team in the Pac-12 rushing the football, but could not do so against Cal. The Beavers are still last in the Pac-12 in total defense, rush defense, pass defense, and nearly every other important defensive statistic. Head coach Jonathan Smith has his work cut out for him in recruiting.
11. Arizona (3-5)
(L) 30-31 UCLA
Rhett Rodriguez got his first start of the season at quarterback, and the Arizona offense looked good. He personally did not have a fantastic game as he finished 15/34 with 231 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns and interceptions. However, if not for a fumble on a sure touchdown, and multiple penalties on big plays the Wildcats could have beat UCLA.
The Ducks head down to Tucson this week. Will Khalil Tate be back in the lineup or will he be sidelined for another week?
10. Cal (4-3)
When you look at the 10th ranked Pac-12 team, you might assume they are terrible. That is far from the case for Cal. They are much improved from the cellar dwellers under Sonny Dykes as head coach. They play in the Pac-12 north, which is the toughest division in college football. So, it is going to be extremely difficult to win games.
Cal’s pass defense is 4th best in the Pac-12 in total defense and 2nd against the pass. There is a lot to be excited about for the future of the program. If the Golden Bears can find two wins against Washington, Washington State, USC, Stanford, and Colorado, Justin Wilcox will make his first bowl game as Cal’s head coach.
9. Arizona State (3-4)
(L) 13-20 Stanford
All four of the Sun Devils losses have come by exactly seven points. They are within striking distance in every game. Arizona State is just not making enough plays to consistently win football games. It is not one particular side of the ball to blame. Both the offense and defense have shared responsibility for the losses. Manny Wilkens will need some 300-yard passing games if ASU is going to win three of their next five games (USC, Utah, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona) to get bowl eligible.
8. UCLA (2-5)
(W) 31-30 Arizona
It is a winning streak. The Bruins have won two games in a row, and their offense is running and throwing the ball well. Chip Kelly has his team headed in the right direction. It is not all good news for UCLA. True freshman starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson left the game and never returned. And the Bruins defense allowed big play after big play by Arizona. You could drive a tractor through some of the running lanes.
UCLA has Utah coming in town this week. What if they mess around and…
7. Colorado (5-2)
(L) 13-27 Washington
Colorado performed admirably on the road against Washington. They were without multiple starters including mid-season All-American wide receiver Lavishka Shenault and were still within four points deep into the 4th quarter. Steven Montez deserves a lot of praise for the Buffaloes 5-2 start. This season he has a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and has eliminated a lot of the silly mistakes he made last season.
Colorado should be bowl eligible after they play Oregon State this weekend. Mike MacIntyre will have at least one more season in Boulder.
6. USC (4-3)
(L) 28-41 Utah
The USC fan base is in full panic mode. They are questioning Clay Helton and his ability to lead the Trojans back to the promised land. It is extremely puzzling how USC has the most talented team in the Pac-12 but isn’t getting result commensurate with that on the field. They have had trouble running the football in the majority of their games.
To make matters even worse, lost JT Daniels and Matt Fink to injury against Utah. USC will likely have to start their 3rd string quarterback Jack Sears Saturday against Arizona State.
It is going to be a long rest of the season for USC.
5. Stanford (5-2)
(W) 20-13 Arizona State
The Cardinal have played seven games, and Bryce Love is leading the team in rushing with a lowly 348 yards. 2018 Stanford cannot run the football effectively. It is time to give up hope that will change this season. Trying to run the ball so much has continuously kept Stanford in 3rd and long situations, which they are last in Pac-12 conversion %.
It is time to for Davis Shaw to fully invest in letting KJ Costello pass the ball on early downs. They need to feed JJ Arcega-Whiteside until the defense loosens up on the run game.
4. Utah (5-2)
(W) 41-28 USC
I cannot fully buy into the Utes offense, even after three straight 40 point outings. However, I am fully buying into them winning the Pac-12 south. They scored a bunch all those points against three defenses that no one would consider top tier. Stanford is uncharacteristically 11th in total defense, Arizona can’t stop a nosebleed, and USC had some of their best defenders out. But, when you play bad defenses, you should treat them like bad defenses, and Utah deserves credit for that.
I am absolutely gushing over their defense. They are only allowing 282 yards per game which is 7th in the nation. And the Utes are only allowing 17.7 points per game.
3. Washington (5-2)
(W) 27-13 Colorado
There was never a doubt in my mind the Huskies would beat Colorado. However, the game was much closer than most people anticipated. It was 17-13 until 3:50 to go in the 4th quarter. Washington then piled on some late style points for those who didn’t see the game. A lot of credit goes to Washington’s second-best Pac-12 defense. Their middle linebacker Ben Bur-Kirven is leading the nation in tackles.
Watching the Huskies is a lot like watching the Michigan Wolverines play this year. You recognize the talent, and the defense is one of the best in the nation. However, their lack of explosiveness offensively hinders both from being national championship threats.
If the Huskies win out, they will be headed to the Pac-12 title game.
2. Oregon (5-2)
(L) 20-34 Washington State
Oregon got a huge wakeup call in the first half of the Washington State game. They were completely shut down offensively. At the half, the Ducks had only gained 50 yards on five possessions. And their defense allowed points on every drive in the first half after the first series interception. There were miscues and missed opportunities all over the place.
After the first half ended 27-0, the Ducks came out and looked like the team ranked #8 in the Unafraid Show top 10 and #12 in the AP poll. They dominated the Cougars in the 2nd half but had dug a hole far too deep.
Now the Ducks need a lot of things to fall their way to get a New Years Day Six Bowl birth.
1. Washington State (6-1)
(W) 34-20 Oregon
There is one stat that shows why Washington State has been so successful this year. Through 7 games Washington State is only allowing Gardner Minshew to be sacked once every 76 snaps. Mike Leach does a masterful job making the opposing defense guard the entire field. He designs plays that get the ball out quickly and have an outlet for when pressure comes. The Cougars are throwing for over 400 yards per game while being the best pass defense in the conference.
I have said it since Week 1; the Cougars appear to be turning a tragedy into a special season. They now have the inside track to the Rose Bowl or College Football Playoffs, and have earned the top stop in the Pac-12 Power Rankings Week 9.
Rose Bowl– Michigan vs Washington
Holiday– Iowa vs Stanford
San Francisco– Northwestern vs Oregon
Sun– Boston Col vs Utah
Alamo– West Virginia vs Washington St
Texas– TCU vs Arizona St
Cheez-It– Iowa State vs USC
Las Vegas– San Diego State vs Colorado