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Predicting the Final Pac-12 Standings

What does the second half have in store for the conference’s final year?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 21 Arizona State at Washington Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Each week, UWDP runs a Pac-12 Power Ranking post. It looks at statistical models to determine the current order of the programs in the conference. Today, roughly halfway through the conference schedule, I will try to look forward to see who will finish where in the conference’s final season.

  1. Oregon State, 6-1 (3-1). @Az, @Col, Stan, UW, @Ore
UCLA v Oregon State Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The Beavers have improved as the year has gone along. The defense will need to prove it can travel (38 points allowed @ WSU and 40 @ Cal won’t cut it down the stretch). Given that I have the Beavers giving the Huskies their only regular season loss, the final top two spots come down to the Civil War. Maybe the smarter money is on Oregon to beat their in-state rivals, but it’s close enough to a toss-up that I’m not giving the benefit of the doubt to the Ducks. Long live the Pac-2.

Predicted conference record: 8-1

2. Washington, 7-0 (4-0). @Stan, @USC, Utah, @OSU, WSU

It has been a battle of attrition for the Dawgs. At one point in last week’s heart-pounding win over Arizona State, the Dawgs were without 9 of their top 22 players, depending on how you chart formations and depth charts. For a team not far removed from Jimmy Lake’s talent drain, there isn’t enough depth to maintain the level of performance down the stretch. I think the Dawgs have built enough room to make it to the conference title game, but there won’t be time to come up for breath in the last four games.

Predicted conference record: 8-1

3. Oregon, 6-1 (3-1). @Utah, Cal, USC, @ASU, OSU

While the path to the showdown with Oregon State won’t be easy, I have Oregon winning out until they get there. The offense is a well-oiled machine with Bucky Irving carrying the load, Troy Franklin breaking big plays, and Bo Nix expertly managing the game. The defense has given up 60 points over the last two weeks and is prone to some mistakes. The loss at Husky Stadium cost them any margin for error.

Predicted conference record: 7-2

4. Utah, 6-1 (3-1). Oregon, ASU, @UW, @Az, Col

Utah v USC Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

It won’t take long to find out of Utah can stay in the conference title race. The loss to Oregon State means they can lose- at most- one more game to stay in contention. They play Oregon and Washington over the next three weeks. They have officially ruled Cam Rising out for the year. While Bryson Barnes and Sione Vaki have provided an offensive spark the last couple of weeks, they barely squeaked by USC and both the Dawgs and Ducks should offer tougher tests on both sides of the ball than what they got in LA.

Predicted conference record: 6-3

5. USC, 6-2 (4-1). @Cal, UW, @Oregon, @UCLA

The Trojans have lost all momentum after a pair of ugly losses. At the same time, they have only one conference loss because the streak started against Notre Dame. If they can straighten out their lost defense quickly, they could stay in the race. Unfortunately, the defense gap between them and both Washington and Oregon looks too large to make up in a week or two. Games with those two teams in mid-November will tell the tale of USC’s late season and it does not look good at the moment.

Predicted conference record: 6-3

6. UCLA, 5-2 (2-2). Col, @Az, ASU, @USC, Cal

UCLA misses both Washington and Oregon, which makes the back half of their conference schedule look relatively easy. Unfortunately, they already dropped important games against Utah and Oregon State, which puts them on the fringes of contention, even with a less arduous remaining schedule. The defense looked elite early, but floundered against the Beavers. Could those be their true colors? We will find out when the play USC on Nov. 18- a game which will say a lot about whether this season will go down as a success or failure for Chip Kelly.

Predicted conference record: 6-3

7. Washington State, 4-3 (1-3), @ASU, Stan, @Cal, Col, @UW

Washington State v Oregon Photo by Lydia Ely/Getty Images

The Cougs have lost three in a row and haven’t looked good doing it. On the bright side, they have possibly the easiest remaining schedule in the conference. The Apple Cup match-up will be emotional and difficult, but the four games before that should give the Cougs to get bowl eligible with some room to spare. They aren’t conference title dark horses, but they should be able to close out the season on a relatively high note.

Predicted conference record: 5-4

8. Arizona, 4-3 (2-2). OSU, UCLA, @Col, Utah, @ASU

Arizona’s rapid growth has been a feel-good story for the conference. The upset obliteration of WSU last week gave them a real shot at bowl eligibility, which would be a feather in the cap of Jedd Fisch, Noah Fefita, and company. Colorado and Arizona State are both road games, but they also represent the best chances the Wildcats will have to get to six wins.

Predicted conference record: 4-5

9. Cal, 3-4 (1-3). USC, @Ore, WSU, @Stan, @UCLA

The book on Cal for the last several years is that they might lack the offensive punch, but you know that the defense will show up. That has not been the case in Pac-12 play. They have given up 34+ in three of four conference games, including 59 to Washington. The remaining slate doesn’t do them any favors. They will have to take care of business in The Big Game to avoid ending on an epic losing streak. Would four wins be enough for Justin Wilcox to keep his job heading into the ACC?

Predicted conference record: 2-7

10. Stanford, 2-5 (1-4). UW, @WSU, @OSU, Cal, Notre Dame

UCLA v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Stanford lost a lot of talent to the transfer portal and was not able to replace most of it. They looked respectable early in the season and even pulled off the miracle comeback in Boulder, but each passing week shows the lack of depth along the lines. This situation needs years to turn around, not weeks. I don’t fault Troy Taylor for the start and remain confident in his coaching ability.

Predicted conference record: 1-8

11. Colorado, 4-3 (1-3). @UCLA, OSU, Az, @WSU, @Utah

I pegged the Buffs for four wins going into the year. I certainly didn’t expect them to beat TCU on the road in Week 1, and I was utterly convinced that I had undervalued them when they were 3-0. Fast forward to midseason, and four wins is looking very realistic once again. They might be favored at home against Arizona on November 11, but they will be the underdogs in the rest of their games. As you can see from the Arizona entry, I like the Cats in that match-up, even if they are giving points.

Predicted conference record: 1-8

12. Arizona State, 1-6 (0-4). WSU, @Utah, @UCLA, Ore, Az

Kenny Dillingham started his ASU coaching career with a win over Southern Utah. He has lost the next 6 and the rest of the schedule doesn’t look rosy. ASU has lost their last three games by a combined 14 points, so they’re not so far away. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them scratch out one more game, but the odds will not be in their favor.

Predicted conference record: 0-9

Conference Championship Prediction: UW 38 - Oregon State 30. Huskies take the rematch and the conference title.