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PAC 12 Power Rankings - The Huskies Take Control after Shakeup Saturday

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Washington is the last undefeated team in the PAC 12 after a wild weekend of football.

Stanford v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The PAC 12 was shaken up in a big way last weekend.

From the dethroning of Oregon to the come back of USC. From the lambasting of Oregon State to the continuing ascension of the Buffaloes in Colorado. From the physical beat down of the Stanford Cardinal to arrival of the Washington Huskies to the playoffs conversation.

Change has arrived in the PAC 12. Fans can be forgiven if they are a bit overwhelmed by it all. When Colorado is hot and Oregon is cold, something is very, very different. Yet, here we are. And Washington is perched at the top of the mountain.

Let’s jump into our new and improved PAC 12 Power Rankings.

The Cool Chart

PAC 12 Power Rankings - Week 5
The power rankings took a beating in Week 5.
Chris Landon

The Power Rankings

12. Oregon State 1-3 / 0-1

Last Result: OSU 6, Colorado 47

The Beavers are simply sucking wind right now. I watched a good portion of the Colorado massacre and remain convinced that this is not a dumpster fire situation as much as it is a team missing some competent parts. The biggest issue is the QB situation. Darrell Garretson simply hasn't been the answer. He had open receivers all over the place last weekend, but he simply could not deliver the ball against a Buffalo D that was daring him to complete a pass. Backup (walk on) Conor Blount is very limited.

As for the defense? Well, let's just say that they are winning the race against Oregon to the bottom. With Cal up next, I think Beav fans ought to get their floaties on and prepare for a boat race.

POG: RB Artavis Pierce (7 cars, 61 yds, 7.6 avg)

Up Next: vs Cal

11. Arizona 2-3 / 0-2

Last Result: Arizona 24, UCLA 45

The Wildcats are reeling fresh off yet another loss. After giving Washington pretty much all that it could handle the week before, attrition finally caught up RichRod’s crew. They took a beating from the Bruins in this one. In the process, they may have lost yet another QB.

With Anu Solomon still on the sideline, the Wildcats lost backup Brandon Dawkins to an apparent injury in the second quarter. In came celebrated true freshman Khalil Tate - a true run-first QB in the typical RichRod mode. While he clearly gave the ‘Cats a bit of a boost, it does not look like he is all that ready to contribute in a major way to a turnaround of a team that is really struggling to keep it together.

POG: QB Khalil Tate (72 yds passing, 79 yds rushing, 2 TD passes)

Up Next: @ Utah (#24)

10. Oregon 2-3 / 0-2

Last Result: Oregon 33, WSU 51

Where to begin? Shall we start with the QB controversy? How about a defense that surrendered 651 yards of total offense to the Cougs? How about a star true freshman linebacker who apparently quite literally missed the team plane to Pullman? How about a rush defense that gave up 280 yards … to an air raid team? How about more injuries to key players like WR Dwayne Stanford and LB Johnny Ragin? How about a fan base that has gone Chernobyl in Eugene?

Oregon is a hot mess right now. Don’t confuse this as me saying that this is a team without underlying talent or capability. We saw glimpses of that last weekend, especially with the return of Royce Freeman (and his 3 TDs).

What is happening in Oregon right now is more about brains than bodies. Mark Helfrich is really close to losing this team, especially if he fails to handle the apparent escalation of true freshman QB Justin Herbert correctly. The Ducks have not lost three in a row since 2007 when QB Dennis Dixon was injured. As such, the Washington games looms large. A loss to UW not only extends their losing streak to four, it would put bowl eligibility in serious question..

POG: RB Royce Freeman (19 rushes, 138 yards, 3 TDs)

Up Next: vs. Washington (#5)

9. Washington State 2-2 / 1-0

Last Result: Oregon 33, WSU 51

I want to give the Cougs a lot of credit here. They had the opportunity to put an exclamation point on a team that has owned them over the years and they did it. WSU now has a two-game winning streak against Oregon and a whole lot of good mojo as they take their show down to Palo Alto.

It should be noted that WSU won this game in a very un-WSU like manner. Sure, they racked up gaudy offensive numbers (51 pts, 651 yards in total offense). However, they leaned heavily on the rushing attack to the tune of 280 yards, 6 TDs and 7.0 yards per carry. That kind of output is not the identity of this team and is more about the opponent than the team. I don’t wish to take anything away from the Cougs - that was a huge win and a gratifying one. But we need to see it again before we get too excited.

POG: RB Jamal Morrow (13 cars, 122 yds, 2 TDs)

Up Next: @ Stanford

8. Arizona State 4-1 / 1-1

Last Result: ASU 20, USC 41

It was a bad weekend for Todd Graham and his Sun Devils. Not only did he lose his undefeated record, but he lost his QB Manny Wilkins in the process. Wilkins had been surging the last few weeks, but was knocked out of the USC game in the second quarter with a foot injury that appears will keep the dual-threat player in a boot for a while. Backup Brady White competed for the starting position in the fall, but it remains to be seen what he brings to the table.

In the meantime, the ASU defense needs to get sorted out. They were shredded by USC’s freshman QB and were simply awful in tackling. Their pressure D is not generating sacks. It might be time for Graham to make some adjustments in philosophy that better match his personnel.

POG: WR Tim White (7 recs, 84 yds)

Up Next: vs. UCLA

7. USC 2-3 / 1-1

Last Result: ASU 20, USC 41

Clay Helton and his Trojans really needed this game. Freshman QB Sam Darnold shined in a game where he focuses on taking the easy throws and then watching guys like RB Justin Davis and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster generate outrageous amounts of YAC. In fact, it was a YAC-fest in LA last weekend.

There are still issues with this team. But a boost of confidence can go a long way in helping a team’s latent talent shine through.

POG: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (7 recs, 123 yds, 3 TDs)

Up Next: vs Colorado

6. Cal 3-2 / 1-1

Last Result: Utah 23, Cal 28

Cal isn't yet ready to be a ranked team, but I think it is fair to say that this is a team nobody wants to play. Ironically, it wasn't Cal’s offense that carried the day against Utah. Sure, QB Davis Webb had another stellar day throwing for 306 yards and 4 TDs. But it was Cal’s defense that really shined.

The maligned Cal D held Utah to just 3.3 yards per rush for the game and showed a lot of tenacity in blocking Utah from scoring on the game's final possession to preserve the win. In fact, the Bears had to protect on 10 snaps in the red zone on that final drive to pull it off.

There are red flags galore here. Utah ran 97 plays to Cal’s 43. In addition, Cal did not get the ball into their own red zone one time against Utah. Still, it is a big win and one that preserves Cal’s status as a conference wild card.

POG: LB Davante Downs (13 tackles, 0.5 sacks)

Up Next: @ Oregon State

5. Utah (#24) 4-1 / 1-1

Last Result: Utah (#18) 23, Cal 28

Utah’s stint at the number 2 position was short-lived thanks to their road loss to Cal. It was an unusual outcome in that Utah was able to get control of Cal’s wild offense and effectively play this game in the mud. Most would expect that to be a good thing.

In this case, it was Cal who beat Utah at their own game winning a close one with their defense.

Utah isn’t going anywhere, but that offense has major issues. It is great that they can get long drives (they had a 20 play, 9 minute scoring drive in this one), but a lack of explosiveness is going to expose them to more potent teams. We've also come to realize that this is not a team that can handle coming from multiple scores behind. Their defense is still a huge asset, but I am concerned that they only generated one sack on 35 Cal drop backs.

POG: WR Raelon Singleton (7 recs, 98 yards)

Up Next: vs Arizona

4. UCLA 3-2 / 1-1

Last Result: Arizona 24, UCLA 45

The Bruins came back strong after a difficult loss the week before. Josh Rosen had the kind of game that reminds us he still has the potential to be a top tier QB in the league. He seemed to find a go-to guy in WR Darren Andrews (9 recs, 108 yds) not to mention the emergence of true freshman phenom Theo Howard.

I'm still not sure what has happened to the Bruins rushing attack or RB Soso Jamabo (6 rushes, -12 yards). That is a situation to watch. But the defense is playing well and there are signs of life from the passing attack.

POG: WR Kenneth Walker (4 recs, 114 yds, 2 TDs)

Up Next: @ ASU

3. Colorado (#21): 4-1 / 2-0

Last Result: OSU 6, Colorado 47

Somebody pass the Buffaloes a glass of water - we need to cool those boys down. After winning a thriller in Eugene, Colorado completed their sweep of the Oregon trail by blowing the doors off of the Beaver Bandwagon.

The story for the Buffs continues to be the emergence of a wide receiving corps that is quickly gaining the attention of defensive coordinators all across the conference. Freshman Steven Montez made his second straight start (and probably has permanently taken the QB job from senior Sefo Liufau). It was a Buffalo bomb show early and often as Montez showed no fear in lobbing it up and letting guys like Shay Fields and Devin Ross go get it.

The Buffs were rewarded with their first promotion into the top 25 since 2005. They seem to be firing on all pistons. The defense is playing well, they are maintaining a positive turnover margin and the offense continues to be explosive. A trip to USC and another phenom freshman QB awaits the surging Buffs.

POG: WR Shay Fields (7 recs, 169 yds, 3 TDs)

Up Next: @ USC

2. Stanford (#17) 3-1 / 2-1

Last Result: Stanford (#7) 6, UW (#10) 44

Stanford headed back to Palo Alto late Friday night a beaten and exhausted team. When they departed Seattle, they did so understanding full well that they had passed the mantle of “favorite” to the Huskies.

Their path to the PAC 12 North Division crown is now complicated by the fact that it will take two UW losses to their one loss in order to leapfrog the Dawgs in the pecking order. Under normal circumstances, that would be difficult. Facing key injuries and what might be a brewing QB controversy between Ryan Burns and Keller Chryst, this feels anything but normal for the Cardinal.

Despite these troubles, it is still difficult to find another PAC team more deserving of the #2 position.

POG: S Justin Reid (5 tackles, only Stanford TFL for the game)

Up Next: vs WSU

1. Washington (#5) 5-0 / 2-0

Last Result: Stanford (#7) 6, UW (#10) 44

This one is the easiest pick of the week and will be a unanimous selection among every power poll in the cyber space this week. The Huskies are the only undefeated team left in the conference and they have effectively claimed the title of “Baddest Ass Team in the PAC”. Such a title is warranted after a physical domination the likes of which Stanford hasn't suffered since before the Jim Harbaugh era.

UW’s current position is impeccable. They have the best QB, the best defensive line and the most efficient offense in the league. The offensive line is starting to find its rhythm and the rushing attack is really taking off. The defensive back seven is playing at a championship level.

Most interesting to me is how UW keeps answering questions. Two weeks ago it was the rushing attacked. Last week, it was short yardage (9-12 3rd Downs, 3.3 yds avg to go) and red zone conversions (6-6, 37 pts). This is a team that is bought into continuous improvement and able to adjust week to week.

UW is one of only 12 power 5 undefeateds and is now squarely in the national conversation for the college football playoffs. There is still a long way to go, but UW couldn't ask for a more favorable situation.

POG: LB Psalm Wooching (6 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 FF)

Up Next: @ Oregon