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UWDP's Power Poll and Conference Roundup (Week 14)

As we head into the last week of the season, the 'Pound presents it's last regular season Power Poll.

One of these men was a very happy camper following Saturday's action.
One of these men was a very happy camper following Saturday's action.
Christian Petersen

"Dropped two of their last three." When was the last time you can recall that simple phrase being attached to an Oregon Ducks team? Their upset at the hands of an Arizona team that had just one week prior lost a home game to Washington State put an emphatic exclamation point on one of the wildest Pac 12 football seasons that I can recall. Other highlights of the weekend included:

  • The Oregon State Beavers surrendering the most points and most rushing yards that they've ever given up in a thrashing at the hands of the Washington Huskies
  • A spirited match between the Cougars of WSU and the Utes of Utah that saw the Cougs become bowl eligible for the first time in a decade
  • A Big Game result that proved how little Cal has become and gave Stanford a slot in the Pac 12 Championship Game
  • Arizona State locked up the other half of the Pac 12 Championship Game by gaining a significant early lead against UCLA and holding off their furious come back in the end
  • In spite of a garbage-time rally, the Colorado Buffaloes got crushed by the surging Trojans in a win that clearly catapulted the Trojans back into the national spotlight.

UWDP's Pac 12 Power Poll - Week 14

Team Record
Asu_helmet_medium 1. Arizona State sun Devils
9-2 (7-1)

The Sun Devils have earned at least a single week as the #1 team in the conference power rankings. They had all season long circled last weekend's game against UCLA as the game that they had to have in order to seize the Pac 12 South and, give them credit, they did it with a bang. On the strength of Taylor Kelly legs (99 yards) and Jaelen Strong's hands, the Devils built up a 35-13 first half lead that proved insurmountable despite a furious comeback by the Bruins. Up next: the Territorial Cup with Arizona in Tempe.

Stan_helmet_medium 2. Stanford Cardinal 9-2 (7-2)

The Cardinal and David Shaw were handed a gift mid-way through their Big Game matchup with Cal when news of the Arizona upset over Oregon filtered down to the Stanford sideline. Knowing that a path to the Rose Bowl had been re-opened, the Cardinal went on to thoroughly dismantle the Bears. Ty Montgomery was the story of the day as he scored 5 TDs on his first five touches of the game (one run, four receptions). The Cardinal completed their Pac 12 season with a North Division championship and their rivalry game against Notre Dame very meaningful in their pursuit of a BCS game.

Oregon_helmet_medium 3. Oregon Ducks
8-3 (5-2)
With their loss to Arizona last week ... nay ... by getting blown out by Arizona last week, the Oregon Ducks have finally done what has not been done since before Chip Kelly was installed as their head coach: they got upset by a team that is clearly inferior to them on almost every dimension. The Ducks have had an amazing run - almost 'Bama like - in not getting upset. That has gone by the wayside as has the Ducks opportunity to win the Pac 12 North Division or to make an appearance in a BCS game of any sort. Although I'm a Mark Helfrich fan, one can't help but to ask the question if the Ducks' magic run is all but over. The inability to get over the hump with Stanford shows an inability of the coaching staff to adjust. To get upset by Arizona shows that the players may have some ability to tune out their coaches. To have an odd outburst like what we saw when Nick Alliotti criticized Mike Leach demonstrated that the Head Coach may not, in fact, be in charge. And, to have "leaders" like De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff publicly muse that the team didn't want to go to the Rose Bowl gave the distinct impression that a sense of entitlement is in the air in Eugene. Don't get me wrong - there is still a ton of talent in Oregon - but there are troublesome signals emitting from the Autzen - not to mention the prospect of some very disruptive roster turns ahead - that may portend more upsets in the future. Up next is the Civil War with a very embarrassed and upset Beaver team.

Usc_helmet_medium 4. USC Trojans
9-3 (6-2)
The Trojans dropped one spot in the poll this week only in order to accommodate the North's representative in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Ed Orgeron continues to make Pat Haden's job difficult given the surge that the Trojans have had to close the season - mostly over the bottom dwelling teams of the Pac. This week's game against UCLA is about more than just bragging rights: a Trojan victory not only knocks UCLA out of the rankings, but would conceivably force Haden's hand in removing the "interim" tag from O's title. What has impressed me most about the Trojans run has been the maturation of Cody Kessler who has become a far more accurate and confident passer as the season has gone on. In my mind, he has improved even more than B.J. Denker as the season has gone on and is now a legit Pac 12 weapon.

Uw_helmet_medium 5. Washington Huskies
7-4 (4-4)
I'm going to catch some grief from this, but the Huskies dominating victory over the Beavers in Corvallis combined with the "how they lost" analysis the previous week against UCLA is enough to convince me that the Huskies are actually a little better all around team than the Bruins heading into the final week of the season. The Huskies had a record-setting performance against a Beaver team and did so on the back of the backup QB, Cyler Miles. For the first time since Corey Dillon and Co did it against San Jose State over a decade ago, the Huskies boasted three rushers over the 100 yard mark, including the inspiring Deontae Cooper who has come back from three torn ACLs and, no doubt, had what may become the highlight night of his football career. For those who would accuse me of homerism (which would be funny considering where my head was at a year ago), I'm not alone in this assessment. Sagarin ranks the Huskies (#11) three spots ahead of Bruins why Football Outsiders (F/+) also has UW (#18) three spots ahead of UCLA (#21).
Ucla_helmet_medium 6. UCLA Bruins
8-3 (5-3)
The Bruins continued their very "Husky-like" season as they hosted the Sun Devils - with a chance at the Pac 12 South division title on the line. Like the Huskies, the Bruins fell behind very early to the tune of a 22 point deficit at the half. Unlike the Huskies against ASU (but like the Huskies against UCLA), they came out at the half motivated and clawed back into the game. However, their comeback was too little too late. Myles Jack, who is basically now an offensive player only, scored another TD, but was otherwise unable to dramatically impact the game as his offensive line was both unable to open holes for him or provide protection for Brett Hundley, who was sacked a ridculous 9 times by a very aggressive ASU blitzing attack. At this point, one has to consider the Bruins as an underdog in next week's matchup against the Trojans.

Ariz_helmet_medium 7. Arizona Wildcats 7-4 (4-4)
While I was tempted to vault Arizona all the way up to #2 in recognition of their huge victory at home versus Oregon, one cannot easily dismiss what happened on that same field just a week before when the Cougars marched into town and took them out. As a compromise, I will move the Wildcats back above the Cougs with complements. The Wildcats were impressive on the offensive side of the ball in the blowout victory over the Ducks. Never flashy, the 'Cats just kept hammering away with Ka'Deem Carery and B.J. Denker until the Ducks finally quit. Defensively, the 'Cats were very fortunate that the Pac 12 refs decided that they were not going to tolerate Oregon's patented rule-bending as the Ducks were called for eight penalties - several of which killed red zone drives. Layer in a fumble and Marcus Mariota's first two INTs of the year and - WHAM - upset city. It was a great moment for Arizona and for all Pac 12 fans not in Eugene.

Wsu_helmet_medium 8. Washington State Cougars
6-5 (4-4)
Congratulations are in order for a Cougars team that has won two straight and claimed bowl eligibility for the first time in a decade. While it is hard to gauge what we actually saw in their matchup against a beaten-down and snakebit Utah team, it cannot be disputed that Connor Halliday is showing growth at the QB position. He was masterful in executing Leach's air raid to the tune of 4 TDs and zero interceptions to go with a quality 8 yards per attempt average. The Cougs D was concerning allowing surprising production from Utah's walk-on backup QB, but that is neither here nor there. The Cougs are bowling ... probably.

Osu_helmet_medium 9. Oregon State Beavers
6-5 (4-4)
Some of you younger fans may not be aware, but there have been some pretty lean years in Corvallis. Very lean. In fact, they were once referred to by Sports Illustrated as the worst college football program ... in history. Thankfully, those years are long gone as Mike Riley has built a perennially competitive and feisty program up from the ground. But that history has to be considered when you analyze what happened last weekend in Corvallis. The fact that UW scored more points against the Beavs than any team in history - including that horrible 25 year stretch - is as much an indictment on OSU as it was a statement about UW. The fact that they surrendered more rushing yardage than any time in their history - a history that includes nearly annual matchups against USC and a yearly Civil War against Oregon - says something. The Beavers were beat down like they have never been before and go into this week's Civil War matchup as a very wounded and embarrassed football team. Several weeks ago, I predicted a five game losing streak for OSU to end their regular season. I'm still standing by it, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them smack Oregon in the mouth.

Utah_helmet_medium 10. Utah Utes
4-7 (1-7)
Give Utah some love. Please. This is a team that has stood toe to toe with everybody in the conference, but have come out on the losing side in all but one memorable instance. What does it say about the Pac 12 when the Utes can be good enough to beat the Pac 12 division champ, but not good enough to beat anybody else in conference (at least to date)? Last week, without their injured QB Travis Wilson, the Utes fell behind early to the Cougs and were never able to recover. Give them credit for battling back - in particular on the backs of walk-on QB Adam Schulz and just-returned starting TE Jake Murphy. But the Utes are a tired and beaten team. That defense that had been so strong to start the season has suffered attrition and fatigue. The Utes have a chance at one more win on the road in Boulder.

Col_helmet_medium 11. Colorado Buffaloes
4-7 (1-7)
One week after claiming their first Pac 12 victory of the season, the Buffs were brought back down to earth at the hands of the Trojans. Despite rallying for 22 fourth quarter points, the Buffs still lost this one by double digits and proved that there is still a long road for them left to hoe on their way back to conference respectability.
Cal_helmet_medium 12. California Golden Bears 1-11 (0-9)
Sonny Dykes put it best when he said that there is "no excuse for the type of season we had". The Bears got humiliated in the most graphic way possible at the hands of Stanford in last week's game and conclude their season with no FBS wins and number of questions heading into what promises to be one of the longest offseasons in Cal Bear history. Is this officially the end of the Bears' run as a "legit competitive force" in the Pac 12? I'm not ready to go there as there is still talent on this team. But, most of that talent is on the offensive side and one naturally has to ask how well it compares to the talent spread around the rest of the Pac 12.

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