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UWDP's Power Poll and Conference Roundup (Bowl Game Edition)

In our last power rankings of the season, see where the Huskies ended up.

Ty Montgomery had a big Pac 12 Championship Game
Ty Montgomery had a big Pac 12 Championship Game
Otto Greule Jr

The regular season is now behind us and we get a chance to register our latest, greatest and final power rankings of the season. Keep in mind, that these rankings are meant to be more of a "heat check" then anything else and that the ultimate measurement I use in objectively (randomly?) slotting the teams is this: "who is most likely to win on a neutral field if a game were played today?"

As we look around the conference, there are some interesting subplots brewing for just about everybody as they enter into post-season / end of season. Some of those critical questions:

  • Will UCLA be able to follow through on the commitment made to Jim Mora in relation to new facilities and will Brett Hundley be playing his last game for the Bruins in the upcoming Sun Bowl?
  • Will the Steve Sarkisian era combined with the alleviation of the USC penalties lead to a rebalancing of football power in the LA area?
  • Will Todd Graham be taking ASU for a ride as the annual coaching carousel begins to fire up its engines?
  • Will the Utah Utes have to rebuild once again in the face of what may be a career-threatening injury to starting QB Travis Wilson?
  • Has the environment around the Oregon Ducks grown stale with Mark Helfrich, in essence, trying to copy what Chip Kelly built versus trying to create a new, refreshed dynamic for his program?
  • Will the Rose Bowl be the last great hurrah for a Stanford Cardinal team that will be absolutely gouged by graduations this year?
  • Will Mike Leach be able to maintain an upward trajectory now that the "bowl-eligibility" mark has been reached?
  • Is Cal's Sonny Dykes already on the hotseat?
  • What will the Arizona offense look like next year with both Ka'Deem Carey and B.J Denker moving on?
  • Does Mike MacIntyre have what it takes to sell a Colorado program to recruits while their administration fights for new facilities?
  • Does Mike Riley get a "for life" free pass if the Beavers losing streak stretches to six after their Hawaii Bowl matchup with Boise St.?
  • Oh, and will Larry Scott get off his claid-in-golden-bloxers derriere and finally fix the debacle that has become his situation with both DirecTV and a lack of national roll out amongst the two major cable providers?

UWDP's Pac 12 Power Poll - Post-Season

Team Record
Stan_helmet_medium 1. Stanford Cardinal
11-2 (7-2)

The Cardinal were convincing in their handling of the Sun Devils in the Pac 12 Championship Game. Kevin Hogan showed why there was so much hype around him in the pre-season and the defense continues to show that it can absorb a major hit like the loss of DE Ben Gardener and keep on playing at an elite level. The Rose Bowl matchup versus Michigan State promises to be one of the toughest, most gritty football games on the CFB post-season slate.

Oregon_helmet_medium 2. Oregon Ducks 10-2 (7-2)

Although the Ducks can thank the Beavers for providing the opportunity to pull out a win in their Civil War matchup, one cannot deny the execution factor that went into that game winning drive. The Ducks have been embarrassed and off-kilter all season long what with the Colt Lyerla situation, the De'Anthony Thomas Stanford prediction, the two blowout losses, the "we don't want the Rose Bowl" commentary, the "We Want 'Bama" t-shirts and now the Snowball Fight Affair. Still, this is a team that is deep and talented all across the board. They may not beat Stanford on a neutral field today, but they probably beat everybody else. Oh, and Marcus Mariota is coming back next year (as of now). Yay.

Asu_helmet_medium 3. Arizona State
10-3 (8-1)
The luster came off the ASU season with yet another beat down at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal. I'm not prepared to over react to that - it is the case that some teams simply don't match up well with others, and this certainly is one of those cases. Still, ASU is a team facing a few distractions that may bleed over into the post-season: the Marion Grice injury, the loss of their AD to Texas, the potential for Todd Graham to bolt once again ... lots of moving parts. My bet is that all of this settles down in time for the Holiday Bowl, but we shall see.

Ucla_helmet_medium 4. UCLA Bruins
9-3 (6-3)
As I noted before, the Bruins are going to have their own share of questions to face in the offseason, but, at least for now, they are a solid #4 in the power poll. Their strength is their QB who elevates their offense in spite of the lack of a legit rushing attack and a porous offensive line. Despite the fact that Brett Hundley is a slight lean for the NFL Draft and that Anthony Barr is graduating, this is still a young team who has to feel pretty motivated given the strong re-commitment that Jim Mora just made to the university. All is well in Westwood ... for now.

Uw_helmet_medium 5. Washington Huskies
8-4 (5-4)
It's hard to know where the Huskies should sit in the power poll given the upheaval that has occurred since the Apple Cup. I will say that the talent level here, alone, keeps UW in the top four or five and, if they had to play on a neutral field today against another Pac 12 foe, I think the kids would go in with a pretty sound mindset given that Tuiasosopo is a strong, stabilizing personality and the prospect of Chris Petersen on the horizon is pretty settling. Layer in the presence of a senior QB who has really shown his leadership during this transition, the John Mackey award winning tight end and the Pac 12's leading rusher and I think you still have a pretty strong mix.
Usc_helmet_medium 6. USC Trojans
9-4 (6-3)
The Trojans are in a bit of a different boat then the Huskies in that the coach coming onto their staff is a lesser known commodity and the fact is that they've had to endure the loss of not one but two head coaches over the course of the season. Layer in a more tumultuous injury situation and less overall depth, not to mention the beating that they took at the hands of UCLA, and I would surmise that this is a more mentally drained squad that what is up at Montlake. I still like them at #6 ... but not by much over Arizona.

Ariz_helmet_medium 7. Arizona Wildcats 7-5 (4-5)
The Wildcats are a hard team to peg right now. They get beat by WSU at home, then they CRUSH Oregon, then they march into the Territorial Cup and get their asses handed to them by a short-handed ASU team. This team has to be driving their coach crazy. We all hear about Ka'Deem Carey and all that, but the reality is that 'Zona D is terribly inconsistent and is not going to win them a bunch of games.

Wsu_helmet_medium 8. Washington State Cougars
6-6 (4-5)
Well, apparently Satan does own a snowboard as the Cougars are finally back in the post-season. While they ended the season on a serious downer what with Connor Holliday getting sacked and picked off all day long, they at least showed that their defense isn't total milque toast and that they can be dangerous. This fact, alone, puts them light years ahead of where they were two seasons ago. This is an up and coming team that still has a lot of youth and is just now getting the players that Mike Leach wants into productive positions. I'm buying on WSU.

Osu_helmet_medium 9. Oregon State Beavers
6-6 (4-5)
That Civil War was one for the ages. In fact, if OSU had just allowed themselves to be tackled on the one yard line instead of scoring that last TD, they could have easily iced the rest of the clock and won the game on a walk-off Field Goal, thus sending Oregon to its third loss of the year. How brilliant would that have been? They probably would have gotten a nice boost in this power poll. Regardless, the Beavers struck lucky with an Hawaii Bowl invite and should put up a good show in what is the last game for Scott Crichton and (maybe?) Brandin Cooks.

Utah_helmet_medium 10. Utah Utes
5-7 (2-7)
Utah pulled out a tight win in their "rivalry" game with Colorado to secure the 10th spot in the power poll. The win comes with a big sigh of relief from Ute fans who have had to endure a very tough season that included the high of the Stanford upset, the lows of some very close conference losses and the concern over the health status of the bright young star QB. Kyle Whittingham's seat promises to be among the hottest going into next season.

Col_helmet_medium 11. Colorado Buffaloes
4-8 (1-8)
The Buffs gave the Utes a good run for their money, but were unable to win that elusive second conference game to close the season. They are clearly a step ahead of Cal, but there is still a pretty big gap between them and the next best team in the conference. The big question is whether or not Mike MacIntyre has a legit plan to close that gap.
Cal_helmet_medium 12. California Golden Bears 1-11 (0-9)
Cal concluded their horrible season several weeks ago with no FBS wins which, in my mind, makes this the worst Pac 12 team we've seen since the 2008 Huskies team. The big difference between those two? One had an out-going coach while the other an incoming. Is Sonny Dykes' seat already getting warm? Could be.