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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Nobody wants to win the South

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NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Power rankings are often all the same, so we’re mixing things up. Each week you’ll get a rundown of 12 or fewer highlights, storylines and anything in between from the Conference of Champions.


This past weekend didn’t quite provide the suspense conference-wide as the previous weekend, but there were still some notable games, with Utah-Arizona State leading the way. The Utes had a horrible, no good, very bad day against the Sun Devils. They lost the game and lost their quarterback at the worst possible time.

That sets up a weird race to be the least bad team in the South. Also, UW’s offense came back to life for one half, and the UCLA Bruins could win the conference with a losing record. Wild.

Let’s look at this week’s Pac-12 Power Rankings. We stopped at eight for one of two reasons: I didn’t have enough time for more, or to honor WSU’s College Football Playoff ranking. You decide.

1. Will somebody please step up in the Pac-12 South?

NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

All six teams still have a shot to win the division, including 2-7 UCLA. The Utah Utes’ loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils was bad, but Utah’s chances in the South were made even worse when Tyler Huntley went down with a broken collarbone.

Utah may still win the South, but it’s not as sure of a thing as it was when ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit declared Utah as the best team in the Pac-12 during the most recent College GameDay.

Meanwhile, Colorado is free falling and Arizona…. might be better? Will USC get it together? Nobody knows.

2. It would be so Pac-12 if UCLA won the conference

Utah v UCLA Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Get this: The UCLA Bruins are currently 2-7. If they win out—unlikely, but remember: this is the Pac-12 South—they’d finish 5-7 overall and 5-4 in the conference. Now, they’d have to have help along the way to qualify for the championship game, but let’s pretend it happens.

Then let’s pretend they win the championship game. They’d be 6-7 and eligible for the Rose Bowl.

For some reason, this would not shock me.

3. The potential Pac-12 South tiebreaker process hurts my head

4. WSU remains no. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings, which seems about right

NCAA Football: California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

WSU’s close win over Cal and Utah’s loss and subsequent exit from the rankings could have pushed the Cougs down a rung or two in the rankings, but they remained at no. 8. Two-loss LSU is one spot ahead of WSU, which might raise some eyebrows.

There is still a long way to go and a lot can happen. Michigan and Ohio State still play each other, and one of them will be in the Big 10 Championship Game. West Virginia and Oklahoma still play each other and possibly twice if both make it to the Big 12 Championship Game.

Back to Utah: That loss to Arizona State didn’t do WSU any favors. Beating Utah is WSU’s best win and the Utes are no longer ranked and therefore not considered a quality win. UW joined the rankings at no. 25, so there’s still a chance to impress the committee.

Lots of football still to be played!

5. Cal fans are fed up with Beau Baldwin

California v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin had a reputation as a brilliant player developer during his time at Eastern Washington. He’s been at Cal for two seasons and fans are already wishing for his exit.

Cal used three quarterbacks at the beginning of the season and have reduced that to two. But, as Coug fans saw Saturday, no. 2 quarterback Brandon McIlwain can’t exactly be counted on to produce. Starter Chase Garbers isn’t someone to fawn over, either. Cal’s problem is it doesn’t have a quarterback that could start at any other Pac-12 team.

Baldwin had some good quarterbacks during his time at Eastern Washington. Recruiting to Cal is wildly different. Good luck, Beau.

6. The Washington Huskies offense was back to normal for one half

Stanford v Washington Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It looked like the UW offense was humming after taking a 21-0 lead to halftime against the Stanford Cardinal. All was well on Montlake, right? Well, with just six points in the second half, UW allowed Stanford to claw back and get within a Hail Mary of winning.

But on the bright side, Jake Browning wasn’t pulled so UW has that going for it. Though, 16-for-27 and 194 yards and one touchdown isn’t the stat line a former Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Award winner should have. Huh. It’s like he wasn’t his team’s best offensive player that year.

7. Khalil Tate and Arizona are back, but it might be too late

Colorado v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The last two games for the Wildcats—a 44-15 win over Oregon and a 42-34 win over Colorado—showed fans what the Arizona Wildcats were expected to be, mostly. Tate suffered from an ankle injury earlier in the season but seems to be better now.

Tate threw for 350 yards in the win over Colorado. What’s interesting is Tate’s longest run of the season is just 25 yards. His highest rushing output was 40 yards back on Oct. 6 against Cal.

It took a while, but Tate and the Wildcats have some life. It might, though, be too late.

8. Gardner Minshew makes highlights even when he’s not on the field

What can’t Minshew do?