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Pac-12 Rankings and Projections After Week 8

The new “cool chart” is back

Pac-12 Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

At this point in the season, the Pac-12 has separated into a top-tier and a bottom-tier. At the top there are 5 teams now with 6 wins and one team with 5 wins. All are ranked or at least getting votes in the major polls. At the bottom are 6 teams with just 1 conference win each. There are a couple of those bottom-tier teams that are looking to break out of that tier (into a middle-tier?) as the season progresses. Below there is a look at the likelihood of any of those bottom-tier teams moving up and at least making a bowl game.

Composite Rankings

The Pac-12 continues to have 4 teams in the top-25 of both the AP and Coaches polls (Oregon, USC, UCLA, and Utah). Plus, there are now have 2 Pac-12 teams getting at least one vote in each of those polls (Oregon State and UW).

A summary of those and many other different rankings for all FBS teams can be found here:

Here is the updated ‘Cool Chart’ which shows the Pac-12 teams in the Composite Rankings.

Pac-12 Rankings in the Massey Composite Rankings

Note: This chart was updated since the article was published since there were a few slight changes to the rankings of a few teams.

Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford made noticeable jumps in the last week. WSU was up as well-despite not playing last weekend. Stanford’s jump is a bit of a surprise considering the team they beat last was Arizona State-which was a team that they should beat, and it was by a single point at home.

Here’s another view of the Composite Rankings for the Pac-12 teams. This one shows the range of rankings for each school.

Composite Rankings with ranges for Pac-12 teams

The line for each school goes between the highest to lowest of the rankings for that school. The dot indicates where they rank factoring all of the rankings.

In general, the higher-ranked teams have a smaller range and the lower-ranked teams have a greater range. Stanford and Arizona State have greatest ranges while Oregon’s is the smallest. UW’s rankings range from #24 to #52. A ranking of 52 may seem low, but it wasn’t that long ago that UW was ranked in the 70’s in some of the rankings; the majority of UW’s rankings now are between 30 and 40. One of the sites that has UW at #52 (there are 2 that have them at that) had UW at #97 in the preseason, so even from that site there has been significant improvement.


This week I’m including another ranking system: SRS (Simple Rating System). This ranking method takes into account point differential in games as well as strength of schedule. (For college football games, the point differential is capped at 24, so beating a team by 40 is no better than beating them by 24. It also treats any victory as a minimum of a 7-point win, so a 1-point win is the same as a 7-point win). Simply put: beating good teams is good, beating them by a lot is better; losing to good teams is isn’t good, losing to bad teams is bad.

The current SRS rankings for the Pac-12 teams are:

  • USC (7)
  • Utah (12)
  • Oregon (13)
  • UCLA (22)
  • Oregon State (30)
  • Washington (36)
  • WSU (56)
  • Stanford (62)
  • Arizona State (81)
  • California (86)
  • Arizona (95)
  • Colorado (123)

As you can see, this is not that different from Composite Rankings above. The top 4 teams are the same, although the order is different. The rest of the teams are in the same order. Each of the teams are ranked within 6 places of their ranking in the Composite Rankings above. The one exception is that WSU is lower in this ranking (56) than in the Composite Rankings above (44). UW’s ranking is exactly the same in both. You can find the entire ranking here:

The advantage of this rating system (and some of the computer-based ones in the Composite Ranking above) is that it is unbiased, unlike the AP and Coaches polls-of the CFP poll which will be coming out next week. It is only based on what the teams have done. It will be interesting to compare these rankings once the CFP poll comes out next week.

One interesting aspect of this rating system is that it can be used across years. So, you can compare UW’s current team (with a rating value of 8.01) with teams from other years. You can find UW’s history here:

In the table on that page, you can sort by SRS value. If you do that, you can easily see which years UW had the highest-rated teams. Not surprisingly, UW’s 1991 team was the best with a value of 26.22. Next was the 1990 team with a value of 21.62. And third was the 2016 team with a value of 19.98. The current team is #57 (out of the 106 years for the team). Last year’s team is #100 (value of -4.65), so obviously a lot of progress in a year. Still, however, there is much room for improvement.


Here is the updated information for the Pac-12 teams including a comparison to their preseason ranking and win projections.

ESPN FPI Projections for Pac-12 Teams

School Preseason Rank Current FPI Rank Preseason Projected Wins Current Projected Wins 6Wins% (bowl eligibility)
School Preseason Rank Current FPI Rank Preseason Projected Wins Current Projected Wins 6Wins% (bowl eligibility)
Utah 13 8 9.4 9.4 100%
USC 35 10 8.1 10.5 100%
Oregon 23 13 8.6 10 100%
UCLA 39 30 8.3 9.5 100%
Washington 48 35 7.5 8.4 100%
Oregon State 57 39 6 8.2 100%
WSU 79 56 5 6.4 80.10%
Stanford 62 64 5 4.9 28.70%
Arizona State 50 67 6.8 4.4 14%
California 67 75 5.6 4.2 8%
Arizona 91 83 3.5 4.2 6.20%
Colorado 84 118 3.5 1.3 0%
Comparison of preseason and current projections for Pac-12 teams after week 8 games

With 5 wins and games against WSU, Arizona, Stanford, and Colorado coming up, ESPN is projecting that Utah will get that 6th win. Here’s a look at the other teams and their likelihood of making a bowl game.

  • WSU needs 2 more wins in their remaining 5 games. This weekend will be difficult since they play Utah. But after that they play Stanford, Arizona State, and Arizona; they should pick up 2 wins between those 3 games (ESPN’s FPI has them favored against Arizona State and Arizona and a slight underdog against Stanford.) Let’s hope they don’t pick up a win in the Apple Cup!
  • Stanford having a chance at a bowl game is probably a surprise. After being almost left for dead earlier in the season, they have put together two wins in a row. After week 4 they had only an 11% chance of making a bowl game; now it is up to 28.7%. ESPN’s FPI has them favored against WSU, Cal, and BYU. If they can win all three (which may not be easy), they will make a bowl game.
  • As indicated in the table above, Arizona State’s chances are not as good. But, they have 2 games where they are now favored (at Colorado and at Arizona). They would need to win those and a have couple of upsets in their remaining 3 games. It could help that 2 of those 3 games are at home (although they are against UCLA and Oregon State).
  • Arizona has 3 wins, which is more wins than Arizona State, but their chances of making a bowl game are smaller. They aren’t favored in any of their remaining games. They do play WSU and ASU, and have a decent shot (40% or better) at winning each of them. However, even if they win both of those they would have to also upset USC, Utah, or UCLA. That seems unlikely. (ESPN’s FPI has them at less than a 15% win projection in each of those games.)
  • Cal also has a tough slate of remaining games, playing Oregon, USC, Oregon State, and UCLA. So, even if they beat Stanford (which ESPN’s FPI gives them a 49% win projection), they’d need a couple of upsets.
  • Colorado would need to win all of their remaining games; that just doesn’t seem possible.

So it appears that the Pac-12 will have at least 6 teams in bowl games, with 7 being likely. Getting 8 teams is possible, but that could be difficult.

Here is the ESPN FPI win projections for all of UW’s remaining games:

ESPN FPI Win Projections For UW

Week Day Visitor Home UW Win Projection Chg-Last wk Chg-Preseason
Week Day Visitor Home UW Win Projection Chg-Last wk Chg-Preseason
10 4-Nov Oregon State Washington 60.4% -4.2 -5.8
11 12-Nov Washington Oregon 26.7% -1.1 0.4
12 19-Nov Colorado Washington 95.9% 0.6 16
13 26-Nov Washington Washington State 57.6% -1.5 -4.3

ESPN’s FPI win projections for UW have decreased slightly in the last week, however UW is still favored in 3 of their 4 remaining games. Their win projections are currently not much different than they were in their preseason-with the exception of being much better against Colorado.

Here are all of their win projections for this week’s Pac-12 games.

ESPN FPI Projections for Week 9 Pac-12 Games

Visitor Preseason Win % Current Win % Home Preseason Win % Current Win %
Visitor Preseason Win % Current Win % Home Preseason Win % Current Win %
Utah 81.10% 78.50% WSU 18.90% 21.50%
USC 77.40% 88.70% Arizona 22.60% 11.30%
Arizona State 62.20% 80.20% Colorado 37.80% 19.80%
Oregon 73.50% 82.50% California 26.50% 17.50%
Stanford 25.90% 21.90% UCLA 74.10% 78.10%

As you can see, the visiting team is favored in every game except the Stanford-UCLA game. That is unusual, especially since all of the favored teams are also heavily favored (78% or better). None of the favorites for these games have changed since their preseason projections, although a few teams have their win projection noticeably better now than in the preseason.

If you had used ESPN’s FPI each week to pick the winners of all of the Pac-12 games so far this year, you would have been correct for 83% of them.

Talent Comparison

If you had used the 247Sports has their ‘College Team Talent’ ( to pick the winners of the Pac-12 games, you would have been correct for 83% of the games so far this year-the same as with ESPN’s FPI. However, ESPN’s FPI and the talent comparison look like they will be different on many of the remaining games, so it will interesting to see which is the better method.

Pac-12 Bowls

The Pac-12 has tie-ins with 6 bowls, plus relationships with several others. If the Pac-12 has only 6 or 7 teams in bowl games, those other relationships will likely not be necessary. Here’s a look at the primary options for bowl games and the order of selection.

  • The winner of the Pac-12 goes to the Rose Bowl this year-unless they get picked to go to one of the CFP semi-final games instead. If the Pac-12 winner does make the CFP, then the next-best team will go to the Rose Bowl (likely the loser of the Pac-12 Championship game given the way the conference picks the participants in that game this year).
  • If no Pac-12 teams goes to the CFP and there is another Pac-12 team with a good enough CFP ranking (besides the team going to the Rose Bowl), then that team could be chosen for another big bowl game (NY6). This year the only one of those that would likely take a Pac-12 team (because of the tie-ins thee bowls have with other conferences) is the Cotton Bowl. There they would play the best Group-of-Five team.
  • The Alamo Bowl has the first pick of remaining Pac-12 teams. Normally they would go with the next-best team, but they can pick any (bowl-eligible) Pac-12 team within one game in the conference standings of the remaining teams. In other words, if UCLA is at 7-2 and UW is at 6-3, they could still pick UW.
  • The Holiday Bowl has the next pick; and again they can choose any team within 1 conference game of the remaining teams.
  • The Las Vegas Bowl is next with the same selection option. Remember that the opponent in this bowl game is different than in the past; it is no longer against a Mountain West team. This year the opponent will be from the SEC.
  • The Sun Bowl is next. This bowl game must pick the team with the best conference record of the remaining teams. Of course if there is a tie, they can choose either.
  • The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl is the final Pac-12 bowl game. And again, they will pick the team with the best conference record of remaining bowl-eligible teams.
  • If there is still a bowl-eligible Pac-12 team that has not been selected (unlikely), then there are some other bowl games which could pick a Pac-12 team including the Armed Forces Bowl, the First Responder Bowl, Gasparilla Bowl, the Birmingham Bowl, and the Independence Bowl.

Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, and UW are all guaranteed spots on those bowl games. Utah is practically guaranteed as spot as well. WSU seems likely to be another bowl team. Which teams go to which bowl games will depend on what happens over the next 6 weeks (including the Pac-12 Championship game). Because there is flexibility by some of the bowls, however, it won’t just be decided by their records. The bowl committees can choose based on what they think will be a good matchup or a team would have something that would cause fans to watch. For example, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Penix is still doing well that UW could be a better option for some bowls than, for example, Oregon State, even if Oregon State has the same or better record.


Now that we know that UW will be playing in a bowl game, which bowl game do you think they’ll be in?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Rose Bowl
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    Another NY6 bowl (e.g. the Cotton Bowl)
    (13 votes)
  • 11%
    Alamo Bowl
    (42 votes)
  • 38%
    Holiday Bowl
    (139 votes)
  • 30%
    Las Vegas Bowl
    (112 votes)
  • 8%
    Sun Bowl
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    LA Bowl
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Other bowl game
    (7 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now