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Final Pac-12 Rankings Review

The college football season is now over. Where do the Pac-12 teams stand in the final rankings?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 02 Pac-12 Championship - Utah vs USC Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Can I offer you a libation to celebrate the closing of our shared narrative?” —The Client, The Mandalorian

For several Pac-12 teams, especially UW, celebration of the 2022 season is justified. And despite not getting a team into the CFP (again) and several inexplicable failures by teams in their bowl games, the 2022 season has to be considered successful for the conference as a whole-at least to an extent. Several Pac-12 teams were considered playoff contenders for most of the season. The Heisman Trophy winner was from the Pac-12, and as most fans know, the Pac-12 has 6 teams in the top-25 of the final AP poll, and those same 6 are in the top-25 of the final Coaches Poll; that is as many as the SEC, and twice as many as the ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12. And UW’s season was obviously successful since they are leading that group of 6 teams in the final polls.

Rankings and ‘Cool Chart’

Here is the updated ‘Cool Chart’ which shows where all of the Pac-12 teams have been in the Massey Composite Rankings ( throughout the season. (Note: As of the time I created this chart there were 63 different rankings included in the Composite Rankings. I expect that more will be added over the next few days. But I don’t expect that the positions of schools will change by more than one or two places.)

Final ‘Cool Chart’

Because there is so much going on among the top teams in the last few weeks, here is a chart of the top 6 teams which shows the changes in the last couple of months of the season.

From the chart above you can see the impact of the bowl games. UW jumped with a win over a ranked team. Oregon State moved up, but by only a little since they beat a mediocre Florida team. UCLA, USC, and Utah all dropped after their losses. Oregon held steady since they won, but by a small amount when they were supposed to win by double-digits.

Here is a table which shows some different rankings for all of the Pac-12 schools.

Final Pac-12 Rankings

School Composite Rank SRS CBS Sports College Football News AP Coaches
School Composite Rank SRS CBS Sports College Football News AP Coaches
Arizona 71 76 72 54
Arizona State 95 92 97 76
California 80 74 86 67
Colorado 119 122 120 103
Oregon 13 13 17 19 15 16
Oregon State 16 15 16 18 17 17
Stanford 93 86 104 73
UCLA 22 25 20 21 21 21
USC 14 16 12 17 12 13
Utah 11 10 11 9 10 11
Washington 12 18 8 8 8 8
Washington State 48 59 52 33

For the most part, the rankings are consistent for each of the teams. There are a few exceptions like Arizona State, Stanford, and WSU.

Obviously the poll voters valued Washington more than the computers. The computer rankings placed UW not just outside of the top-10, but behind Utah-and in the case of SRS, behind Utah and 3 other Pac-12 schools. And it isn’t just UW that was valued more by the voters; teams like Tulane, Pittsburgh, and Fresno State are other teams in the AP and Coaches polls that are not ranked as high by the computer rankings.

One thing that this does show is that there doesn’t appear to be a huge bias against UW by voters. There are some voters in the Coaches and AP polls that have UW ranked outside of the top 10, but few had them lower than their Composite Rank (#12) and none had them lower than their SRS rank (#18). There are some that may think that UW should be ranked even higher than #8, but at least the vast majority of voters still had UW as a top-10 team-despite being in the Pac-12, not winning their conference, not being on TV at good times, etc. Maybe they could have moved up a spot or two if they had been on TV at better times, but a top-10 finish without winning the Pac-12 is still very good-especially considering 2021.

Ranking Improvement

Before the season, UW had a rank of 67 in the Composite Rankings. They are now at 12. That’s an improvement of 55 places. While that is one of the best improvements of all FBS teams, it isn’t the top. Here are the teams that improved the most.

Most Improved Teams in Composite Ranking

Team Preseason Composite Rank Current Composite Rank Improvement
Team Preseason Composite Rank Current Composite Rank Improvement
Duke 116 40 76
Tulane 88 17 71
Troy 95 27 68
South Alabama 111 54 57
Washington 67 12 55
Kansas 108 49 50
TCU 55 6 49
Ohio 115 68 47
Illinois 72 28 44
James Madison 93 49 44
Vanderbilt 114 72 42
Florida State 53 15 38
Oregon State 54 16 38
Southern Mississippi 119 83 36
USC 48 14 34
Arizona 105 71 34
The most improved teams in the Composite Ranking since the preseason

UW is one of 6 teams that improved enough to make it into the top-25, including 2 other Pac-12 teams (USC and Oregon State). There are 4 Pac-12 teams on this list of the 16 most-improved teams.

The three teams that dropped the most in the Composite Rankings since the preseason are Miami (FL), Texas A&M, and Michigan State. None of those should be big surprise since all 3 had been ranked in the top-25 in both the AP and Coaches polls in the preseason and all finished the season at 5-7.

Advanced Stats

Here’s how Pac-12 teams ranked in some of the advanced stats at the end of the season.

Final Advanced Stats Rankings for Pac-12 Teams

School F+ FEI S&P+ FPI
School F+ FEI S&P+ FPI
Arizona 73 74 80 73
Arizona State 88 91 83 75
California 74 74 77 71
Colorado 127 126 124 124
Oregon 13 15 11 14
Oregon State 18 16 19 19
Stanford 92 94 93 82
UCLA 26 32 22 27
USC 15 13 17 16
Utah 11 11 10 8
Washington 16 17 15 20
Washington State 43 40 44 55

These stats have UW, USC, and UCLA ranked lower than the polls and Utah ranked a little higher.


ESPN’s FPI was good at projecting the Pac-12 games this past season. In the regular season they were correct for 86% of the games. ESPN’s FPI did not do well in the bowl games; in only 2 of the games involving Pac-12 teams did the team with the higher win percentage end up winning. Those games were the Oregon State-Florida and the Oregon-North Carolina games. UW beating Texas was the biggest ‘upset’ among the Pac-12 bowl games since they had Texas with a 74.2% win percentage. Why they had Texas favored probably had something to do with some of the stats below.

Talent Comparison

The team with more talent ( in games with Pac-12 teams won 70% of the games. This is very close to what I found previously across all of college football where the team with more talent won 68% of the time.

Available Yards

While looking at statistics like total yards (by the offense) and total yards allowed (by the defense) can give you a good idea of how good an offense or defense is, it can be a bit misleading. If, for example, a team has kickoff and punt returns that are consistently out past the 30 yard line, it will mean that their offense has fewer yards to go for a TD compared to starting at the 25. The “Available Yards” statistics try to account for that by looking at each drive and determining what percentage of the total yards available (as measured from the starting position to the end zone) each drive produced. The following table shows the offensive and defensive available yards for each team along with the Net Available Yards (the offensive available yards minus the defensive available yards).

Available Yards for Pac-12 Teams

School NAY NAY Rank OAY OAY Rank DAY DAY Rank
School NAY NAY Rank OAY OAY Rank DAY DAY Rank
Arizona -0.086 100 0.56 22 0.0645 128
Arizona State -0.123 114 0.482 53 0.605 126
California -0.073 93 0.433 80 0.506 94
Colorado 0.369 131 0.292 128 0.662 130
Oregon 0.17 10 0.686 2 0.516 101
Oregon State 0.107 25 0.517 40 0.41 26
Stanford -0.197 126 0.4 102 0.597 124
UCLA 0.137 15 0.665 3 0.527 106
USC 0.108 24 0.659 4 0.552 116
Utah 0.2 7 0.62 7 0.426 33
Washington 0.16 12 0.693 1 0.532 108
Washington State -0.018 68 0.466 60 0.483 80

NAY=Net Available Yards (OAY-DAY)

OAY=Offensive Available Yards (percentage of available yards that the offense achieved)

DAY=Defensive Available Yards (percentage of available yards that the defense allowed)

You can find this data for all teams here:

By this measure, UW’s offense was the most efficient in the country, getting almost 70% of the available yards. And the top 4 schools for offensive available yards were all from the Pac-12; Oregon, UCLA, and USC were just behind UW. Utah was close behind at #7. Only 3 Pac-12 teams finished with defensive available yards below 50%: Oregon State, Utah, and WSU.

While the net available yards rank for each team does not match any of the rankings above, they track closely. The Pac-12 schools in the top-25 in NAY all finished ranked in the top-25 of the polls.

Points Per Drive

But giving up yards and giving up points can be different. So here is a similar look but at points per drive.

Points Per Drive for Pac-12 Teams

School NPD NPD Rank OPD OPD Rank DPD DPD Rank
School NPD NPD Rank OPD OPD Rank DPD DPD Rank
Arizona -0.76 105 2.65 32 3.41 128
Arizona State -0.9 111 2.29 57 3.19 126
California -0.6 95 1.86 89 2.46 94
Colorado -2.71 131 1.08 126 3.78 130
Oregon 1.11 11 3.59 5 2.49 96
Oregon State 1 15 2.68 31 1.68 17
Stanford -1.4 125 1.65 108 3.04 124
UCLA 0.87 22 3.57 6 2.7 105
USC 0.96 16 3.76 1 2.8 111
Utah 1.08 13 3.14 12 2.06 47
Washington 1.16 9 3.76 2 2.6 102
Washington State 0.22 51 2.24 64 2.02 46

NPD=Net Points Per Drive (OPD-DPD)

OPD=Offensive Points Per Drive (average points per drive by the offense)

DPD=Defensive Points Per Drive (average points per drive that the defense allowed)

You can find this data for all teams here:

There is not a lot of differences, but there are a few.

A few teams like Arizona had their offensive points per drive rank drop compared to the offensive available yards. That would indicate that they either had to settle for field goals or turned the ball over (turnovers or turnovers on downs). If you look at the stats, Arizona was 82nd in the country in red zone TD percentage and 105th in turnover margin.

Oregon State was good at not giving up a lot of yards (26th), but even better at not giving up points (17th). And again, if you look at the stats Oregon State was 16th in red zone TD percentage allowed.

And just like with ‘Available Yards’, while the net points per drive rank for each team does not match any of the rankings above, they track closely. The Pac-12 schools in the top-25 in NPD all finished ranked in the top-25 of the polls. In fact, it matches very closely; 4 of the 6 are within 2 places and all 6 are within 5 places.

Final Thoughts

It is clear from both the ‘Available Yards’ and the ‘Points Per Drive’ that the Pac-12 had some great offenses and many terrible defenses. Some of that obviously goes hand-in-hand since they played each other a lot.

It should be noted that 3 of the 4 teams that made the CFP this year were the top 3 in NPD-with TCU being the outlier. (They were much closer before the national championship game.) Also, the last time a Pac-12 team was in the top 5 in NPD was when UW as #5 in 2017; UW was #1 in 2016 when they made the CFP. If the Pac-12 wants to improve their chance to make the CFP, having a team in the top 5 in NPD will likely improve their chances.

While some Husky fans may complain about teams like Utah being ranked (by the computers) above UW, some of the advanced statistics show why that may be the case. Utah was a more complete team, having both a very good offense and a good defense. It should also be noted that some of the computer rankings (like SRS) factor in margin of victory and “game control”. So, while UW did beat 11 teams, it allowed some teams like Michigan State, Arizona, Texas, and Cal to mount comebacks to make the final score closer than it should; and they had some games against opponents like WSU that kept the game closer than it probably should. And, of course, there was the loss to Arizona State. For UW (or any team) to take the step to be a CFP contender, it would help to not just win the games, but to do so convincingly-especially against teams when you are favored.