UWDP's Week 12 Power Poll and Conference Roundup

Ezra Shaw

Major movement in the polls courtesy of our from Skinner's Stinkhole.

Way to go Oregon.  Thanks for pissing all over the Pac 12's reputation and leaving us out of the national title hunt once again.  No, really, I mean it.  There is joy in Huskyville, and other highlights:

  • Not that I want to make excuses for Oregon, but it was pretty painful to see how bland the Duck offense is when their triggerman is down to 1.5 wheels.  Marcus Mariota was clearly unable to accelerate the way that we are used to seeing him do so and, as a result, the Cardinal were able to more often than not commit an extra defender to coverage and further reduce Mariota's ability to impact the game.  Not to say that Stanford wouldn't have won otherwise - they were brilliant and very well prepared - but, damn, what a great break for Stanford.

  • Outside of a big play to Shaquelle Evans and six amazing carries from LB Myles Jack, the Bruins offense was barely adequate in pulling off their victory on the road against Arizona.  The good news?  The Bruins continue to play better than expected on Defense.  The Wildcats, meanwhile, knocked themselves out of serious contention for the South and will now be playing the role of spoiler in the weeks ahead as they position themselves for a bowl berth.

  • Utah has to be disappointed given that they were able to do what every team wants to do in a game:  impose their will on their opponent.  The Utes completely neutralized the high octane ASU offense and got them into a wrestling match not unlike they way that Stanford beat the Ducks.  The only difference, the Utes ran out of steam on D and got turnover prone on offense in the fourth quarter as the Sun Devils scored 13 fourth quarter points and Travis Wilson coughed up two totally-his-fault interceptions.  The fans are growing restless in Salt Lake.

  • The Trojans continue to make life difficult for their AD, Pat Haden, by winning for interim head coach Ed Orgeron.  Last weekend, they pummeled the Bears by featuring the old Don James formula of defense and special teams with just the right amount of ball control to thoroughly rip the Cal Bears.  RB Buck Allen carried the ball just 6 times for 135 yards and two TDs, but didn't win the Pac 12 Offensive POW (which went to Myles Jack who went 6/122/1 ... go figure). 

  • The Huskies, of course, handled their business with pure efficiency in dispatching a Colorado team that had gained confidence from a closer call in their road trip to UCLA the week before.  The Huskies did not attempt a pass in the 2H and pulled off something I've never actually seen before:  a fourth quarter turnover on downs out of Victory Formation. 

UWDP's Pac 12 Power Poll - Week 12

Team Record
Stan_helmet_medium 1. Stanford Cardinal
8-1 (6-1)

As I had predicted they would (you didn't think I was going to let you forget, did you), the Cardinal were able to execute their "dram 'em in the mud" game plan and thoroughly dismantled an Oregon team that only was able to make the game interesting at the end thanks to some random Special Teams heroics.  The Cardinal demonstrated a "next level" of preparation and physicality that, frankly, makes you wonder if they have a "plays down to their competition" problem given less inspiring performances against Utah, UW, Oregon State and Army.  Regardless, they are unquestionably the #1 team in the Pac 12 as they go into a now-intriguing matchup with USC.

By the way, you may have noticed the lead picture for this article.  Those of you who have followed my love/hate on Stanford know about my anguish over the constant over-hyping of a certain linebacker.  Well, anything negative I ever said about Shayne Skov, I officially now have to eat.  He was outstanding  against the Ducks.  Finally.

Oregon_helmet_medium 2. Oregon Ducks 7-1 (5-1)

There isn't much to say here.  I get that the Marcus Mariota injury is a killer.  However, everybody has injuries - including the Cardinal who were missing DE Ben Gardener.  To be #1, you need to overcome those issues.  The Ducks demonstrated that they don't have a LaMichael James type of runner who can take over a game (De'Anthony Thomas?) like they have in years past and that their Defense may be more mediocre - in particular in the LB positions (how many tackles did those guys miss?) - then they want to believe.  I don't want to overplay these points ... it is all relative.  This is still a team in a whole different class than the next level down.

Asu_helmet_medium 3. Arizona State Sun Devils
7-2 (5-1)
No movement for ASU ... they did what they had to do:  travel to a tough venue and pull out a win in a game where their opponent had their number and the momentum.  Very impressive victory for the Sun Devils who are clearly in control of their own destiny (lucky for them, they don't have Oregon this year).

Uw_helmet_medium 4. Washington Huskies
6-3 (3-3)
The Huskies stay locked in at four in a virtual tie with UCLA.  The fact that the Huskies continue to outrank the Bruins in all of the metric based rankings systems and that they have been more impressive in their match-ups with common opponents gives them a slight edge in my view. 

Ucla_helmet_medium 5. UCLA Bruins
7-2 (4-2)
Despite some amazing theatrics with their two-way players, the Bruins struggled to fully dispatch an Arizona team last Saturday and, as such, stay locked in at the 5-spot in this week's poll.  The Bruins are struggling to get any consistent offense going with their very young OL and with a limited number of playmakers in the passing game:  it is Shaq Evans or bust.  Their D is also young, but remarkably athletic.  It is a pick 'em game for them this weekend and one they need to win if they want a chance to play ASU for the P12S.

Usc_helmet_medium 6. USC Trojans
7-3 (4-2)
Some of my UWDP mates have suggested that it is time to bump USC up in the Polls.  While this is tempting - they've been playing great ball - it is hard to identify who to bump them ahead of.  The Sun Devils?  They got crushed by ASU.  UW?  Their three losses are much worse than UW's.  UCLA?  Maybe, but UCLA seems to be closer to UW than USC.  It's tough to pick the 4-5-6 teams here, but USC seems like it needs to prove it one more time if they are to be bumped up.  To beat Stanford, they are going to have to bring their hard hats and, somehow, find a way to run the ball behind Silas Redd and Buck Allen.

Osu_helmet_medium 7. Oregon State Beavers 6-3 (4-2)
The Beavers were idle last week, but remain in the midst of a two game losing streak which has exposed their lack of defensive depth and the return of "bad" Sean Mannion.  Lucky for them that a trip to Tempe and ASU is next up.

Ariz_helmet_medium 8. Arizona Wildcats
6-3 (3-3)
The Wildcats put up a pretty good fight against UCLA, but were done in by their inability to get a competent passing attack going.  Ka'Deem Carey, as is typical, was a load, but B.J Denker was otherwise pretty inefficient despite rushing for 82 yards.  Even still, the Wildcats showed enough resolution to keep the game within one possession almost the whole way before losing by five.  In doing so, they hold their eight spot just ahead of Utah.

Utah_helmet_medium 9. Utah Utes
4-5 (1-5)
Utah was oh-so-close to throwing a serious wrench into my power poll by taking a lead into the fourth quarter at home versus ASU.  After all, what would you do with a 2-4 Pac 12 S team that had beaten both Stanford and ASU and only lost UCLA on the back of four randomly tipped interceptions?  Thankfully, the Utes didn't mess with me too bad.  I give them huge credit for completely flabbergasting Todd Graham - Coach Whittingham had a defensive game plan that took away Taylor Kelly's ability to throw as a first priority and it worked.  However, the Ute offense could execute a ball-control strategy in the fourth quarter as this loss gets laid at Dennis Erickson's feet.

Wsu_helmet_medium 10. Washington State Cougars
4-5 (2-4)
The Cougs were idle last week and remain leaps and bounds ahead of the next two.  Interestingly, the Cougs still have Utah ahead on their schedule which should provide for an interesting game.

Cal_helmet_medium
11. California Bears 1-9 (0-7)
First, let me be clear:  I expect Colorado to beat California this weekend.  That said, until that actually happens, I give Cal the benefit of the doubt in the Power Poll.  I still think that the Bears have more playmakers on offense and, in fairness, their ass-beating this last weekend was less bad than Colorado's ass-beating.  So, there's that.  Otherwise, this team is a hot mess.
Col_helmet_medium
12. Colorado Buffaloes 3-6 (0-6)
Give Colorado credit for keeping their heads about them in the face of what must be the most daunting of learning curves.  Unlike other teams we've seen that have been in similar situations (2008 Huskies?), we didn't see any quit in the young Buffs team.  However, the beating they took at the hands of the Huskies demonstrated that they are still a ways away from developing even a single competency anywhere on offense or defense that can give them an edge in a game against a better conference opponent. 

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