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PAC 12 Roundup and Power Rankings - Week 12

Playoffs? We talkin' playoffs?

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

In 2009, zoologists reported the first sighting of an orangutan committing an act of cannibalism when they witnessed a mother consuming the remains of a deceased offspring.  It wasn't a remarkable discovery of any kind, but it was a hint that the tendency to eat your own may, in fact, be more coded into the DNA of upright walking mammals than was previously thought.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the PAC 12.

I have to admit, my interest in following what happened after the epic collapse of the Huskies against Arizona State waned to the point that I was more interested in cleaning tile grout than I was in watching what turned to be a great slate of games last Saturday evening.

Like any addict, I couldn't help myself (of course).  So I watched with a mix of shock, horror and amusement as the PAC 12's two best hopes for a playoff spot - Stanford and Utah - absolutely Coug'd it with big derps against a pair of teams that each should've beaten.

As it stands, it is hard to craft a realistic scenario where the PAC 12 will have a participant in the final four.  The Big Ten, SEC and ACC are almost certain to send a team with the Big 12 now almost certain to have an undefeated or one-loss team as a candidate to send ahead of whomever ends up being the PAC 12 champion.

Here are some other roundup Dots.

The Mighty Ducks

The upset of Oregon over Stanford by a score of 37-34 keeps alive a scenario where Oregon can win the North.  If Cal beats Stanford and Oregon handles Oregon State - a scenario that doesn't require a suspension of reality to imagine - would send the Ducks to the North championship.

The fact that Oregon, despite still rolling out a seriously flawed team, is in a position to win the North is a testament to just how bad this division has become.  Give Oregon credit.  They continue to roll out a "feast or famine" offense the likes of which I've never quite seen.  But they keep nailing explosive plays to the point where they can cover up that subpar defense that they roll out every week.

It's an LA Story

I've been talking about this for weeks, but the opportunity that USC was looking for came to light when Utah fell in a road upset to Arizona.  The Trojans, by way of the tie-breaker that they have over the Utes, are now in control of their own destiny.  Up ahead?  They trip to Oregon in what could become a preview of the P12 Championship and then host UCLA.

Speaking of those Bruins, they ALSO control their own destiny, despite their loss to the Cougs.  They travel to Utah this weekend in what is essentially an elimination game and then get the showdown with the Trojans.  I don't know if the Bruins have enough gas left in the tank to do it, but they still have the opportunity in front of them.

The Cool Chart

The Power Rankings

Rank Prev Team Record Next Game
1 5
WSU Helmet
WSU 7-3 (5-2) vs Colorado
Last Week WIN WSU 31 at UCLA 27
Before you all lose your freaking minds: NO, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT WSU IS THE BEST TEAM IN THE PAC. But, for this one week, I think that they've earned the #1 distinction. After all, who is playing with more momentum than the Cougs? They got outplayed by UCLA on both sides of the ball, yet they still somehow find a way to win a tough one on the road against a ranked opponent. Husky fans haven't seen "clutch" performance in a long time. But WSU only has to look back one game and see a 75 yard drive culminate in a game-winning TD to Gabe Marks with 3 seconds to play. That's good stuff. Go Cuogs.
Player of the Game WR Gabe Marks (12 recs, 129 yds, 2 TDs) How odd was it to see this guy get redshirted a year ago? He's come back for his senior year, given balance to the WSU receiving corps and become the best receiver on the team.
2 1
Stanford Helmet
Stanford 8-2 (7-1) vs Cal
Last Week LOSS Oregon 38 at Stanford 36
The Cardinal really screwed the pooch in their home loss to Oregon. Not only did they flush their playoff dreams down the pipe, but they lost some of their dignity in the process. Losing a game with those kinds of stakes to this version of the Ducks - as Husky fans can well attest - is a (pardon the pun) Cardinal sin (hey, I'm allowed to use that once a season). There is so much to not like about this game - the Stanford D-Line, the poor secondary play and the end of the Christian McCaffrey Heisman campaign. Still, its easy to over-react. The Cardinal still had 32 first downs, 47 rushing attempts, and were 12 of 17 on third downs. That is "winning football" on most days. The reality is that there wasn't much put on tape that should lead you to think that Stanford isn't still the best team in the PAC.
Player of the Game QB Kevin Hogan (28-37, 304 yds, 2 TDs, 55 yds rush) There is no doubt in my mind that Kevin Hogan has had the best season of any QB in the PAC. He was super efficient and did everything humanly possible to try to win this game for Stanford.
3 4
USC Helmet
USC 7-3 (5-2) @ Oregon
Last Week WIN USC 27 at Colorado 24
It's not sexy, but it is effective. Clay Helton continues to emphasize big boy football down in LA as he stakes his claim to be the next full time HC at USC. Sometimes it takes a while to make your opponent capitulate to your physical style of play. But when you have athletes like Ronald Jones, JuJu Smith and Tre Madden to go along with that offensive line, your odds of succeeding are high. Keep in mind that USC is doing this without a P12 caliber tight end anywhere to be seen. They now have to be viewed as the favorites in the South.
Player of the Game LB Su'a Cravens (8 tckls, 2 TFL, 1 sack) The dynamic S/LB had a huge day for the Trojans after a few weeks of not being heard much from.
4 2
utah helmet
Utah 8-2 (5-2) vs UCLA
Last Week LOSS Utah 30 at Arizona 37
The Utes came into last week in perfect position to lock down the South division and put themselves in a great position for a run at the playoffs. Now the South is no longer in their control. USC has to lose one more for Utah to represent the South in the P12 Championship. The cracks in the Utah armor are clear. Their QB play isn't good enough and their defensive team speed is questionable. If they can't outmuscle you on both sides of the LOS, their ability to win is severely compromised. Up next is UCLA in what is an elimination game for the P12 South.
Player of the Game RB Davonte Booker (34 rushes, 147 yds, 2 TDs) 34 carries??? That's a yeoman like effort for Booker in what is increasingly seeming like just another day in the office to Utah fans. He's a beast.
5 6
Oregon Helmet
Oregon 7-3 (5-2) vs USC
Last Week WIN Oregon 38 at Stanford 36
I'm not sure that there is a luckier team in all of the PAC 12 than Oregon ... and it seems like it has been this way for years. By all measurements, the Ducks were dominated by Stanford. At least in every way but the one way that mattered: the big play. Outside some of those huge chunk plays, Oregon was actually really bad in this game. They were 2 of 7 on third down, many of their rushing attempts were stopped behind the LOS, their defense only forced one Stanford punt ... the list goes on. Still, you can't help but to marvel at the ability of the Ducks to get a few huge run plays every game and to watch Vernon Adams make something out of nothing time and time again.
Player of the Game RB Royce Freeman (16 rush, 120 yds, 1 TD) With a tip of the cap to RB/CB/KR Charles Nelson, I have to go with Freeman. For long stretches, he was the only offense that Oregon had ... or needed. He's a war daddy in every way and he'll be here again next season.
6 3
ucla helmet
UCLA 7-3 (4-3) @ UCLA
Last Week LOSS WSU 31 at UCLA 27
The Bruins had this one their hands and just blew it at the end. I guess you could say that the Coug'd it. UCLA really was able to do whatever they wanted against WSU - they ran for over 200 yards and nearly 7 yards a carry, they matched WSU with about 6.5 yds per pass attempt (not great, but not a disadvantage) and they generated over 550 yards in total offense - an advantage of nearly 100 yards over WSU. But they couldn't make plays when they needed to on either side of the ball. This is a team that is getting increasingly beaten up and you have to wonder if depth is an issue now.
Player of the Game WR Jordan Payton (14 recs, 152 yards) Man, wouldn't this guy look good in a UW jersey. It almost was, but didn't materialize and now he is the safety blanket to another true freshman QB. It must be nice to have a competent receiver.
7 9
ASU Helmet
ASU 5-5 (3-4) vs Arizona
Last Week WIN UW 17 at ASU 27
ASU got the spike it needed in the 2nd half of a game that looked like it was getting away from them. UW fans can bitch all day about how UW failed to put their foot on ASU's throat - and they'd be right - but you can't ignore what ASU was able to do with that havoc-creating defense against a young Husky offense in the second half. They showed a certain amount of toughness that UW doens't possess and the rode it to a victory.
Player of the Game LB Antonio Longino (8 tckls, 4 TFLs, 2 sacks) For a guy who was supposed to be hurt, Longino was the tide that turned the game in the second half. Once he started blitzing from more of a 7-technique position, he was impossible for UW's tackles to stop (ugh, Kaleb McGary). He really lit UW up.
8 8
Cal Helmet
Cal 6-4 (3-4) @ Stanford
Last Week WIN Cal 54 at Oregon St 24
The Bears needed a win in the worst way after dropping four straight and, thankfully, they found one. It's hard to know what you can take out of a game against the Beavers, but Cal fans are going to be happy to have the #Drop50 on the board after watching the offense really struggle for the better part of the last month. I'm still not exactly sure how the Beavers were able to work that Cal D for 400 yds of total offense, but it doesn't matter when your offense racks up 760. Everybody is happy.
Player of the Game QB Jared Goff (453 yds, 6 TDs) The numbers don't lie. Goff was pretty much perfect on a day that the Bears really needed him to shine.
9 11
Arizona Helmet
Arizona 6-5 (3-5) @ ASU
Last Week WIN Utah 30 at Arizona 37
Credit RichRod for getting his team's attention back. After a couple of demoralizing losses to UW and USC, the Wildcats could have easily folded. They certainly looked like a beaten team a week ago. But they rallied in OT to get a couple of stops and to score a game-winning TD. That's good stuff. The bad news is that the injury to Anu Solomon that opened the door for Jerrard Randall to win the game might keep him out of their Territory Cup game this week.
Player of the Game QB Anu Solomon (17-27, 1 INT, 2 TDs, 88 yds rush) He wasn't perfect, but he battled for a team that needed an emotional lift. I was extra impressed with his rushing yards given the criticism he's taken on his lack of interest in running on the zone read. It seemed like he was able to lever his effort there to stoke an emotional reaction from his teammates. It was a classic leadership moment.
10 7
UW Helmet
Washington 4-6 (2-5) @ Oregon St
Last Week LOSS UW 17 at ASU 27
Yeah, yeah, I know UW lost and that it was very disappointing to the fans. The good news is that UW really dominated the game at ASU. They generated 550 yds of offense to ASU's 350, they forced 11 ASU punts, they had 27 first downs and generated 8 YPA. Those are factors that correlate well with winning. But here is what doesn't: running the football just six times in the second half and then watching your offense get sacked four times and give up four turnovers. Those two things are correlated and they lost UW a football game that they should have won.
Player of the Game RB Myles Gaskin (108 yds, 1 TD) He was UW's best player on the field. Critics will say that he started getting "stuffed", but he only had -5 yds in "negative rush plays" all game. The coaching staff took away an opportunity for Gaskin and his O-Line to get some experience in locking down a big lead. Shame on them.
11 10
Colorado Helmet
Colorado 4-7 (1-6) @ WSU
Last Week LOSS USC 27 at Colorado 24
It might be somewhat lost because of the physical beating that Stanford laid on them a week ago, but Colorado has played three straight games - UCLA, Stanford and USC - in which they quite literally went into war. I've been very impressed with how physical they've played despite being outmanned and not as deep as any of their opponents. Either this team is going to harden like iron or get broken completely. Either way, the fact that they are holding it together in the face of this kind of adversity tells me a lot about the leadership of the team.
Player of the Game QB Cade Apsay (18-23, 128 yds, 2 TDs) The Buffs QB of the future didn't look overwhelmed in the moment. His stats weren't off the chart, but he kep Colorado in the game and he gave Buff fans a look into the future. No word yet on the injury situation with Sefo Liufau.
12 12
OSU Helmet
Oregon State 2-8 (0-7) vs UW
Last Week LOSS Cal 54 at Oregon St 24
Oregon State is clearly running out of gas. There isn't a whole lot to say beyond that. To the eye, they don't give you any of the classic body language signs of having cashed it in, but you have to think that this beaten up young team has already started the process of licking their wounds and preparing for the offseason. It'll be interesting to see who steps into the leadership void next week against UW. You can bet that Gary Anderson an Kilani Sitake are going to emphasize the fact that UW is a team that can be beaten.
Player of the Game WR Jordan Villamin (7 recs, 83 yds, 1 TD) On any other team, Villamin might be first-team all P12. He had half of OSU's receptions and yards and was pretty much dominating his side of the field. His QB just couldn't take full advantage.