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Pac-12 Rankings and Projections After Week 3

How do the Pac-12 teams rank as most begin the final season of Pac-12 conference play.

Sacramento State v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

As Max pointed out earlier this week, we are now one quarter of the way through the (regular) season. What we know so far is that the Pac-12 is doing well against their non-conference opponents (or, at least most of them are) so far. The Pac-12 is 29-5 with wins over TCU, Florida, Baylor, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. In fact, the Pac-12 is the only conference with a winning record over teams from other Power-5 conferences. And that, as we’ll see, is likely a good reason why so many Pac-12 teams are ranked.


There are still 8 Pac-12 ranked in the top-25 in both the AP and Coaches polls including, of course, UW. We’ll see if that continues after this weekend’s games because now several ranked Pac-12 teams will be playing each other. But, for now, here are the rankings.

Pac-12 Teams in Polls

School AP Rank Coaches Rank
School AP Rank Coaches Rank
USC 5 5
Washington 8 8
Oregon 10 11
Utah 11 10
Oregon State 14 15
Colorado 19 19
Washington State 21 24
UCLA 22 25

A summary of many other different rankings for all FBS teams can be found here: The ‘New Cool Chart’ below shows where the Pac-12 teams are ranked among all FBS teams and how the rankings have changed over the course of the season so far.

The top 6 teams are so close it is difficult to label them. Below you’ll find a close-up look at the rankings of the top 6 teams in the Composite Ranking. Before we get to that, there are two Pac-12 teams that appear to be racing each other to the bottom: Stanford and Arizona State. These teams don’t play each other this year, so we won’t get a head-to-head comparison.

While WSU is ranked in both the major polls, they just miss being in the top-25 in this Composite Ranking, coming in at #28. And while Colorado is in the top-20 in both polls, they are just #48 in these Composite Rankings. From the previous chart you can see that they have steadily risen. If they want to rise further, they’ll likely need a very good showing in their next 2 games (against Oregon and USC), and then some wins after that. That could be difficult given their schedule-but few thought that they would be 3-0 now.

UW’s Ranking

While there are several rankings that have UW ranked outside of the top-10, most of them do have them as a top-10 team. As of now, 93% of the rankings in the Massey Composite have UW ranked in the top-10. And, not one, not two, but 5 rankings have UW ranked #1 in the country (yes, above Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan): Dwiggins, LAZ Index, Keeper, Eric Packard, and BCMoore. There are also 14 that have UW #2, #3, or #4 as well. The one ranking that had UW the lowest before the season started (#53) now has them at #13. That’s probably still not high enough for some UW fans, but it is at least a significant improvement. That isn’t currently the lowest ranking; one has UW at #17.

And, as you can see in the picture above, the Composite Ranking now has UW as the #4 team in the country and the top team in the Pac-12. It is clear that the convincing win over Michigan State had a positive influence on many of the rankings.

Team-Based Advanced Stats

As was discussed in previous weeks, most of the advanced stats rankings use data from the previous season. Here, Bill Connelly takes the previous season’s data out from his SP+ and you can see the result.

That’s 4 Pac-12 teams in the top 10 based on play so far this season.

With the previous season’s data, UW drops to #8. But it just shows what most Husky fans see-a team that is playing about as well as any in the country this year. If they keep it up, then they should be competing for a championship-at a minimum the Pac-12, but a CFP championship is not out of the question.

While many fans enjoy looking at rankings, they don’t really tell you how much difference there is between teams. How much better is the #10 team compared to the #20 team? Rankings don’t help answer that question.

Several of the advanced statistics do try to project how much better teams are compared to other teams. Some use a rating for each team that tries to compare each team to an “average” team. The following picture shows where each FBS team is rated based on a composite of 6 different advanced stats.

Here’s a picture of just the chart on the right.

The horizontal axis shows the expected point margin compared to the average team. Teams to the right of “0” are better than average and the ones to the left are below average. (The “Week 4” indicates that it is after the week 3 games.)

As you can see, this picture also differentiates teams in the same conference. Most of the teams in the Power-5 conference are better than average (to the right of “0”) while most of the ones in the Group-of-Five conference are below average.

In the Pac-12, they have USC as the best team, and 4th best overall. UW is 6th overall and 2nd in the Pac-12. UW is at 22.6, which means that they have UW as 22.6 points better than the average team. In a huge departure from the AP and Coaches polls, Colorado is below average-not even close to being a top-25 team.

In some cases the point differences make some sense. Oregon is a 3 TD favorite over Colorado, and that is close to what the picture above shows. (Oregon is at close to 20 and Colorado is at about -3.) This doesn’t always work to predict the line on the game; and it especially doesn’t work to predict the outcome of the games. (Note that they have Nebraska above Colorado despite Colorado having won that game.) Despite that, it can be a better way to judge the differences in teams than just a ranking.

Of course these will change as more games are played. In fact, there has been some teams that have changed significantly since the preseason. Here’s a look at some of the teams that have changed the most.

Four of the 5 biggest movers near the top are all from the Pac-12, including UW. Arizona State is a big mover as well, but in the wrong direction. (The current rating is the filled circle which is to the left of the unfilled circle which was the preseason rating.)


ESPN’s FPI still has UW outside of the top 10-at #11. But, they now have UW favored in all but one of their remaining games-the game against USC. And they now are projecting UW to win 9.9 games instead of the 7.7 in the preseason. Here is a comparison between the current and preseason win percentages for UW’s remaining games.

ESPN FPI Win Percentages for UW’s Remaining Games

Visitor Home Preseason Win% Current Win%
Visitor Home Preseason Win% Current Win%
California Washington 75.5% 84.6%
Washington Arizona 66.8% 83.3%
Oregon Washington 48.3% 51.7%
Arizona State Washington 82.3% 98.0%
Washington Stanford 76.4% 95.3%
Washington USC 22.9% 33.1%
Utah Washington 48.2% 71.3%
Washington Oregon State 44.0% 62.3%
Washington State Washington 81.6% 86.5%


It appears that 3 dominating performances may be enough for many of the rankings to catch up with how good UW is. But it will take continued wins to keep UW up near the top of the rankings. One loss shouldn’t be enough to derail UW’s goal of a championship, and given UW’s schedule, at least one loss is a possibility.

Colorado’s ranking still spans a huge range. In the Composite Rankings they go from #4 to #110. The major polls have them as a top-25 team while the Composite and some of the advanced stats have them closer to the middle of FBS. Their next two games should give us a better idea where they should be. Unfortunately, without Travis Hunter that will be a difficult task. We’ll have to see what Coach Prime can do.


How many conference games will UW win?

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  • 30%
    (220 votes)
  • 36%
    (267 votes)
  • 24%
    (175 votes)
  • 7%
    (52 votes)
  • 1%
    5 or fewer
    (14 votes)
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