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PAC 12 Roundup and Power Rankings - Week 7

Drama on the field and off. Just another week in the PAC.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The PAC 12 continues to get plunged into a state of chaos unlike any that we've ever seen.  Oregon sucks.  USC is reeling.  The Cuogs are winning.  Stanford is an offensive team.  Utah is the best team.  And the conference of QBs has three true freshman manning that position.

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My goodness.  What the hell is going on?

Basically, we have mass hysteria overtaking the conference. What else is new?  Here is my roundup.

... The Sark Affair
We have to start with Sark.  By now, you all know that he's been put on administrative leave indefinitely.  Basically, he's been relieved of his coaching duties without actually having been fired.  There is little doubt that the upset against Washington hastened this development, even if the last straw happened when he missed work while in an "unfit state" after the fact.  All I have to say here is that I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of the people in Sark's circle over the years.  They are good, helpful and authentic people who testify to similar qualities in Steve.  There is a line that exists between "sports hate" and general concern for a fellow human being.  I think Husky fans generally know where that line is and that we all hope for the very best for Steve and his family.

...They are just Utes, your Honor
Utah is the last undefeated team standing in the PAC, but they are walking a thin line.  QB Travis Wilson really struggled against an average Cal Pass D and they needed 6 Cal turnovers to win a home game by 6 points.  While the workhorse efforts of Devontae Booker were impressive, the kind of effort that Utah put up on Saturday won't be good enough to win the PAC.  Or even the South.

...Well looooookeeeee here
Bill Connelly of Football Study Hall updated his S&P rankings today and, lo and behold, a certain purple-clad team really pops in the latest defensive rankings.

The Huskies, as of now, rate as top 10 defense in the nation.  Nobody is as good as Michigan - who's defense has surrendered just 4 TDs all season.  UW is in the same ball park - their D has only given up 7 TDs in five games, two of which were against the top offenses in the PAC.  Stanford and USC are tied for the next best in the PAC with just 11 TDs surrendered.

...Desert Winds are Blowing
I don't have a clue as to what to think of either of the Arizona schools as they each have displayed a level of schizophrenia that would make Jack Nicholson envious.  Of the two, ASU is the most perplexing.  They've been flat out bad at times, but then flat out dominant too.  At least the Wildcats can point to injuries as a factor for their inconsistencies.  The Sun Devils are just up and down with a team that is one of the more seasoned in the South.  Their road trip to Utah this week ought to be telling.

...The Northwest Championship
We haven't had any good laughs about Rick Neuheisel's old "Northwest Championship" in a while.  This virtual title has been the domain of the Oregon Ducks for most of the past decade.  But that title will almost certainly change hands as Oregon's nosedive continues.  Last Saturday, the Ducks got just about every break from the officials that they could get and even still they could do nothing to stop the Cougars from piling up ridiculous offensive numbers.  This is a broken team that has more than just a QB problem.  If they continue this slide, don't expect Duck fans to do anything but shovel coal onto the fire starting to burn under Mark Helfrich's seat.

The Cool Chart

The Power Rankings

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 1
utah helmet
Utah 5-0 (2-0) vs ASU
Last Week WIN Cal 24 @ Utah 30
Give the Utes credit: they are the last team standing. The only remaining undefeated team in the PAC had to climb over the other only undefeated team in order to solidify their hold on the #1 spot in this week's poll. It wasn't pretty - QB Travis Wilson really looked out of sorts for much of the night against what was thought to be a pretty soft Cal secondary - but the result was the same. When you can run like Utah ran, irrespective of what the other team does, you are going to win a lot of games.
Week 6 POG: RB Devonte Booker (34, 222 yds, 2 TDs) Booker is right there with Perkins and Freeman at the top of the PAC RB heirarchy. He carried Utah's offense and pounded Cal's D into submission on a spectacular night.
2 2
Stanford Helmet
Stanford 4-1 (3-0) vs UCLA (10/15)
Last Week BYE
Though it was a BYE week for the Cardinal, their grip on the #2 spot in the Power Rankings was solidified.
Week 6 POG: n/a
3 3
ucla helmet
UCLA 4-1 (1-1) @ Stanford (10/15)
Last Week BYE
This week's Thursday night game at Stanford will be extremely telling for a team that is beat up and now a little bit distracted.
Week 6 POG: n/a
4 4
Cal Helmet
Cal 5-1 (2-1) BYE
Last Week LOSS Cal 24 @ Utah 30
Though they suffered a tough loss, not much happened to alter Cal's place in the Power Rankings. Their offense struggled behind five Jared Goff INTs (a couple of the "bad luck" variety) and an inability to establish a run game. But the truth is that Cal was able to still outgain the Utes thanks to a big play air attack and that they were able to put some pretty good D on film against the team that put 65 on Oregon. This Cal team has more than demonstrated that they are a legit threat in the North.
Week 6 POG: DE Kyle Kragen (13 tckls, 1 sack) UW fans will remember the havoc that Kragen caused in Seattle a few weeks ago. This guy has completely revitalized the Cal defensive front and is a legit all-conference contender.
5 7
ASU Helmet
ASU 4-2 (2-1) @ Utah
Last Week WIN Colorado 23 @ ASU 48
This one was an absolute drubbing. Its hard to say if this is more about ASU surging or Colorado declining. Either way, I think it is safe to say that ASU remains extremely relevant in the discussion about the South division. I especially liked how Todd Graham, once again, made comments about how his team "dominated". This time, they actually did. There was a little bit of a luck - like a deflected TD pass - but otherwise the strongest showing of the season by that Devil offense. I don't know if ASU with their up and down play is better than UW with its dominating defense, but two conference wins is the tie breaker for me right here.
Week 6 POG: RB Tim White (7 recs, 144 yds, 2 TDs) The third down back for ASU did all of his damage in the passing game (not a single carry) and rode that to POG honors.
6 8
UW Helmet
Washington 3-2 (1-1) vs Oregon
Last Week WIN Washington 17 @ USC 12
This team continues to demonstrate that its top-ranked PAC 12 defense is legit. While the national narrative is how USC puked on itself, UW fans can't help but to be thrilled that our D is deep enough that the staff can electively insert reserves like Jaylen Johnson, Will Dissly and Tevis Bartlett into the game at critical times (like USC's final drive) and still get results. The offense is a work in progress, but I am thoroughly impressed with how open the playbook is for Jake Browning. If Gaskin can emerge as a featured back, then its just a matter of time before Browning's "near misses" become "big plays".
Week 6 POG: CB Sidney Jones (4 tckls, 1 FF, 1 INT) Maybe I should have gone with Gaskin, Feeney, Qualls or Victor here. But I was simply stunned with the way that Jones matched up against JuJu Smith all night, particularly as he was on an island with all of the UW blitzing going on. He flat out locked down one of the three best receivers in the nation and created a lot of hits on Cody Kessler. It was a BRILLIANT outing for the true Sophomore who more and more looks like the next first round CB to come out of UW.
7 9
Arizona Helmet
Arizona 4-2 (1-2) @ Colorado
Last Week WIN Oregon St 7 @ Arizona 44
This is the "easy stretch" of the schedule for an Arizona team that recorded their first P12 win of the season against Oregon State. It was a good showing for the 'Cats. But there are still some yellow flags with this team. Anu Solomon continues to struggle with accuracy and the Wildcat pass rush looked not nearly as good as their stats from this one would suggest. The trip to Colorado has "watch out" written all over it.
Week 6 POG: RB Orlando Bradford (19 cars, 83 yds, 3 TDs) No single player really stood out all night for the Wildcats as the dismantling of the Buffs was truly a team affair.  But credit Bradford for stepping in for an an injured Nick Wilson and taking advantage of the opportunity.
8 5
USC Helmet
USC 3-2 (1-2) @ Notre Dame
Last Week LOSS UW 17 @ USC 12
Ironically, USC was 8th in this same ranking one year ago this week. Look, there isn't much more to say about USC that hasn't been said. It would be easy to cast aspersions on Sark given all of the new developments happening down south, but that is unwarranted. This exercise is a Power Rank and the question at hand is where to place the Trojans. Right now, there isn't a team in the PAC getting less from their innate talent on hand. After all, where were stars like Su'a Cravens, Adoree Jackson, JuJu Smith, Cody Kessler and Antwaun Woods last Thursday? They were completely shut down, that's where. Now they are team that is rudderless and looking for a new leader. Again.  Maybe this will be the beginning of a spiral.  Maybe the beginning of a rally.  For now, I'll hold them here.
Week 6 POG: DL Greg Townsend Jr (6 tckls, 1.5 TFL, .5 sack) Townsend had a silently effective night disrupting the UW offensive line and showing a lot of motor. His stats don't jump off the page, but students of the game will appreciate the impact he had for the USC defense.
9 12
WSU Helmet
WSU 3-2 (1-1) vs Oregon St
Last Week WIN WSU 45 @ Oregon 38
Talk about reclaiming your season. The Cuogs took advantage of the trail blazed by the Utah Utes a few weeks ago and marched into Autzen Stadium with "upset" on their minds. I had mentioned earlier in the week that WSU was playing better than what we cared to admit and that they would give Oregon a game. But to flat out beat Oregon with over 500 yards passing and nearly 200 yards rushing was a sight to behold. Here come the Cuogs.
Week 6 POG: QB Luke Falk (50-74, 505 yds, 5 TDs) Despite getting sacked seven times, Falk still managed to put up video game numbers against a horrific Oregon Defense. His ability to create two scoring drives in the fourth quarter and then two more in OT is the real reason he's our POG.
10 6
Oregon Helmet
Oregon 3-3 (1-2) @Washington
Last Week LOSS WSU 45 @ Oregon 38
I know that many Duck fans think it was the offense, not the D, that cost them against the Cuogs. The stat that just kills me here is that WSU ran 105 plays in the game. 105 plays. Some teams don't run that many in two games. They surrendered about 600 yards in total offense to WSU before overtime. This is a Ducks team that has been putting its best athletes on offense for years and, now that the PAC has caught up to their scheme, are being exposed for their lack of commitment to D. They still have world-class athletes and could break out at any time. But, if rumors about player discord and coach-on-coach sniping are to be believed, they look like one of three worst teams in the conference.
Week 6 POG: RB Royce Freeman (27 cars, 247 yds, 2 TDs) Freeman seemed like the only Duck to show up on Sat (although I give a tip o' hat to Charles Nelson for switching and playing D much of the night). He carried the UO offense and, remarkably, had only one run all night that was stopped for a loss. He's a load and he's playing at a high level.
11 10
Colorado Helmet
Colorado 3-3 (0-2) vs Arizona
Last Week LOSS Colorado 23 @ ASU 48
I fear the wheels are starting to come off of the bus for the Buffaloes. A week after giving Oregon pretty much all it could handle in the first half of that game, the Buffs have now endured six straight quarters of getting dominated by their P12 foes. There is some hope here, particularly with the passing attack. Sefo Liufau averaged nearly 10 yards per attempt against the Sun Devils and his two top targets - WR Nelson Spruce and WR Shay Fields - haven't really broken out of their slumps yet. If they get on track, they may still yet nip a team like Arizona.
Week 6 POG: DL Chidobe Awuzie (5 tckls, 1 sack, 1 FF) Awuzie has started to turn in a pretty unheralded season so far. I thought he gave a pretty good effort all around for the Buffaloes on Saturday.
12 11
OSU Helmet
Oregon State 2-3 (0-2) @ WSU
Last Week LOSS Oregon St 7 @ Arizona 44
Well, these are the kinds of games that OSU is going to go through as it endures the growing pains of its complete overhaul. It was a rough one for young QB Seth Collins - who ended up getting injured - as he struggled with accuracy against an Arizona secondary that really wasn't able to contain OSU's wide receivers. The Beavers are starting to feel the pain of injuries piling up - TE Caleb Smith's season-ender has been tough to handle - as well as the learning curve. I'm dropping them this week, even in light of their fighter's mentality.
Week 6 POG: P Nick Porebski (9 punts, 418 yds, 3 inside 20) Two weeks in a row that I've named a punter as a POG in the PAC. Porebski just about kicked his leg off with a ridiculous 9 punts in the game. Almost all of them were good ones, with 3 getting downed inside the 20.