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Pac-12 Rankings and Projections After Week 7

UW is at the top of the Pac-12 for now, but there are still many games to be played and plenty of quality teams in the conference.

Oregon v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Just when we thought that we had a good idea about who the top, middle, and bottom teams are in the Pac-12, Stanford beats Colorado and Arizona crushes WSU. Were the rankings wrong? Are those games indicative of the competitiveness of the conference? Are those teams improving? Or were those just a couple of the upsets that can happen in a conference every now and then? We’ll have to see over the next month or so.


The Pac-12 continues to have 6 teams in the top-25 of both the AP and Coaches polls. Plus, WSU is getting votes in the AP poll and both WSU and Arizona are getting votes in the Coaches poll. Here are those polls plus some other polls that rank all 133 FBS teams.

Pac-12 Poll Results

School AP Coaches Athlon CBS College Football News
School AP Coaches Athlon CBS College Football News
Washington 5 5 5 3 7
Oregon 9 11 9 8 8
Oregon State 12 13 13 12 15
Utah 14 14 14 16 16
USC 18 16 16 18 24
UCLA 25 25 25 23 17
Washington State 29 30 32 29 27
Arizona 0 31 31 39 38
Colorado 0 0 44 54 58
California 0 0 66 75 67
Stanford 0 0 89 96 83
Arizona State 0 0 100 99 92

There are not a lot of differences between them. That could be because they are leveraging off of each other or just coming to similar conclusions. There isn’t even much of a difference with Colorado anymore.

WSU is in a precarious spot. They have good wins over Wisconsin and Oregon State. They have a loss at UCLA (not a bad loss), but also the loss to Arizona (which was bad-not because of the opponent, but because of the margin and because it was a home game). And they play at Oregon this weekend. Win and they move back into the top 25; lose and they likely don’t get any votes next week.

Composite Rankings

A summary of many different rankings (currently about 90) for all FBS teams can be found in the Massey Composite Rankings. Here is the updated ‘Cool Chart’ which shows the Pac-12 teams in those Composite Rankings.

You’ll notice that we are now seeing some separation at the top as USC, UCLA, and WSU have dropped. You can also see that Arizona is emerging as a possible contender. In their next two games they play Oregon State and UCLA (both at home), so they’ll get a chance to show whether they really are a contender or not.

Advanced Stats

Bill Connelly has his SP+ rankings, which is one of the most widely-used advanced stats. This week he did something unusual. He ranked all college football teams together-not just FBS, but also FCS, Division II, and even Division 3. That is 665 teams in total! Notice that there are some FCS teams (orange) that are ranked higher than FBS teams (grey). There are some Division II (yellow) and even some Division 3 (green) teams that are ranked higher than some FCS teams.

Here is a table comparing the Composite Ranking with the SP+ and some other advanced stat rankings.

Pac-12 Advanced Stat Comparison

School Composite SP+ F+ FEI FPI Beta Rank
School Composite SP+ F+ FEI FPI Beta Rank
Washington 5 4 3 4 10 6
Oregon 11 6 7 6 6 4
Oregon State 14 19 21 19 20 12
Utah 17 24 22 21 23 26
USC 19 14 16 22 15 17
UCLA 27 23 26 31 29 16
Washington State 35 35 37 42 57 44
Arizona 41 37 36 38 34 23
Colorado 54 81 77 74 74 77
California 68 76 68 62 51 64
Stanford 95 105 98 95 103 86
Arizona State 111 94 89 87 97 93

Some Husky fans are sure to notice that ESPN’s FPI has Oregon ahead of UW and some may contribute that to some sort of bias against UW and for Oregon. But you’ll also see that the Composite Ranking has Oregon outside of the top 10.

The other teams track the Composite Ranking fairly closely-although the range is generally larger toward the bottom of the rankings. One exception is Arizona being a top-25 team in the Beta Rank, but #41 in the Composite Ranking. Another is WSU which is much lower in the ESPN FPI than the other rankings. (Does ESPN’s FPI have a bias against the state of Washington?) Also, Colorado is higher in the Composite Ranking than any of the advanced stat rankings. This could be some bias for them based on their early season wins. And for Husky fans, all of the advanced stats have Arizona State as a better team than their Composite Ranking-although they are still among the worst FBS teams.

Several of the advanced stats break out separate values for the offense and the defense for each team. Here is how one of them, F+, ranks the offenses and defenses of the Pac-12 teams. It seemed to be similar to the others. (It also combines two of the other advanced stats, SP+ and FEI, so it seemed like a good one to choose.)

Offense and Defensive F+ Rankings for Pac-12 Teams

School Off F+ Def F+
School Off F+ Def F+
Arizona 18 60
Arizona State 101 62
California 66 63
Colorado 37 112
Oregon 3 20
Oregon State 11 48
Stanford 89 104
UCLA 36 16
USC 6 61
Utah 55 7
Washington 1 25
Washington State 44 34

Breaking down the stats by offense and defense allows a little better insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the teams-especially now that we are more than half-way through the season.

First, Oregon State is a bit of a surprise this year. Their offense has been very impressive-although it is probably what Beaver fans were probably hoping with the addition of DJU. And their defense is a little worse than it was last year (they finished #23 last year), although it is still decent at #48. Again, their fans probably thought it might go down after losing some key players.

It should be no surprise to fans that have watched their games that teams like USC and Colorado have great to good offenses and mediocre to bad defenses. Nor should it be a surprise that Utah has a great defense but mediocre offense. California is balanced, but both offense and defense are mediocre. Oregon and UW currently have the best combination of offense and defense-and that also shouldn’t be a surprise. UCLA and Oregon State are probably next followed by Arizona and WSU. We’ll have to see if WSU can maintain that after their performance against Arizona.

Next you see that the Pac-12 continues to have some of the best offenses in the country-three of the top 10. But, the Pac-12 does not have as many of the best defenses-only one of the top 10. However, there are more defenses in the top 50 so far this year compared to last year (6 compared to 3 last year), but that could change as more games are played against the top offenses. Oregon State, for example, still has to play Arizona, Colorado, UW, and Oregon. The latter two games will obviously stress their defense. They may not stay among the top 50 defenses by the end of the season. Still, it looks like the defenses in the Pac-12 are better than last year.

One of those better defenses this season is UW’s. While some fans might not see it now, the advanced stats are showing it. Last year UW’s defense finished #75, and currently they are #25. Just like Oregon State, UW still has to face some very good offenses, like USC and Oregon State. But they are also facing the #55 (Utah), the #89 (Stanford), and the #101 (Arizona State) offenses. Barring a major collapse, I wouldn’t expect UW to finish anywhere close to where they did last year.

And obviously there is a big contrast this weekend as the #6 offense (USC) takes on the #7 defense (Utah). Something is probably going to give.


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:

  • UW (4)
  • Oregon (13)
  • Oregon State (15)
  • Utah (26)
  • UCLA (27)
  • USC (31)
  • WSU (35)
  • Arizona (38)
  • Colorado (55)
  • California (83)
  • Stanford (103)
  • Arizona State (119)

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 in a couple of weeks. It is only based on what the teams have done. It will be interesting to compare these rankings once the CFP poll comes out in a couple of weeks.

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 22.68) 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. Currently this year’s team is #2-ahead of the 1990 team and the 2016 team.


Here is the updated win projections for the Pac-12 teams as well as the preseason win projections.

ESPN FPI Win Projections

School Preseason Wins Current Wins
School Preseason Wins Current Wins
Arizona 5.6 7.0
Arizona State 5.0 1.8
California 5.7 5.0
Colorado 2.8 5.2
Oregon 8.9 10.5
Oregon State 8.6 9.0
Stanford 4.3 2.8
UCLA 7.5 7.9
USC 10.0 9.0
Utah 8.5 8.1
Washington 7.7 11.3
Washington State 5.6 6.6

UW has gained the most while Arizona State has lost the most. According to ESPN’s FPI, UW now has the 5th most projected wins, tied with Ohio State.

Here are the current win percentages for UW’s remaining games from ESPN’s FPI and Massey (FPI/Mas):

  • Arizona State (97.4%/93%)
  • Stanford (95.9%/88%)
  • USC (56.3%/56%)
  • Utah (80.6%61%)
  • Oregon State (64.2%/54%)
  • WSU (92.8%/78%)

There is a bit of a difference in the last three games, although both have UW as the favorite in all 3.

Bowl Games

Lost in the excitement of UW’s win over Oregon is the fact that UW is now bowl-eligible (not that any Husky fan didn’t think that would happen at some point). UW is one of three Pac-12 teams that have 6 wins. The others are USC and Oregon State. Oregon and Utah should easily reach bowl eligibility. And ESPN’s FPI is projecting 3 other teams to reach 6 wins and gain bowl eligibility this year: UCLA, WSU, and Arizona. All have at least an 85% chance of making a bowl game. That would be 8 Pac-12 teams in bowl games. Cal and Colorado each have a chance, but it won’t be easy for either team. Cal has a winnable game against Stanford, but their other games are against ranked teams and a formerly ranked WSU. Colorado plays 3 ranked teams, but their other two games are against Arizona and WSU-so no more easy games.

As a reminder, this year the Rose Bowl is part of the CFP, so the winner of the Pac-12 will not be going to the Rose Bowl-unless they are also in the CFP. Instead, if the winner of the Pac-12 doesn’t make the CFP, the highest bowl game for the Pac-12 is the Alamo Bowl-that is unless they are selected to play in one of the other NY6 bowl games. This year there are two NY6 bowl games that could choose a Pac-12 team: the Fiesta Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. The other Pac-12 bowl games are the Holiday Bowl, the Las Vegas Bowl, the Sun Bowl, and the Los Angeles Bowl. The Pac-12 also has a relationship with the Independence Bowl, the Birmingham Bowl, and the First Responder Bowl. If there are enough bowl-eligible teams, those could choose a Pac-12 team.


What bowl game do you think UW will be playing in this season?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Rose/Sugar (CFP Semi-final)
    (149 votes)
  • 5%
    Cotton Bowl
    (9 votes)
  • 10%
    Fiesta Bowl
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Alamo Bowl
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Holiday Bowl
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Other bowl game
    (0 votes)
180 votes total Vote Now