Every year the Times Higher Education publishes their list of the the top universities in the World. This year the University of Washington is #23.
What is interesting to note is that 4 of the top 25 schools are from the PAC-10 (4. Stanford, 8. Cal-Berkeley, 11. UCLA, 23. Washington).
If you look at the top 100, then there are 8 PAC-12 Schools:
And Arizona State is #161, placing 2/3 of the PAC-12 in the top 200 universities in the WORLD.
And BYU fans wonder why they weren't invited to join the PAC? I think this clearly identifies the academic excellence the PAC is trying to uphold, and why Colorado and Utah were chosen.