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College Hotline - Pac-12 football power ratings: Best and worst non-conference performances

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    The Pac-12’s non-conference season is over save for a smattering of dates, two of which involve fast-fading Notre Dame.

    The performance thus far is fair-to-middlin’ …:

    vs. ACC: 1-0
    Big 12: 3-0
    Big Ten: 1-3
    SEC: 0-2
    Power Five: 5-5
    FBS: 16-8

    The notable results could be broken into a handful of categories:

    Best win: Cal 50, Texas 43: Quality victory unto itself given that Texas was ranked 11th when it arrived in Berkeley.

    But this also qualifies as the Pac-12’s best win by default. The options — ASU over Texas Tech, Stanford over Kansas State, Oregon over Virginia or UCLA/Utah over BYU — aren’t exactly impressive.




    Worst win: Arizona 31, Grambling 21: Wildcats were down 21-3 in the most baffling half of the early season. Those who witnessed it won’t soon forget.

    Best loss: Michigan 45, Colorado 28: Perennial Pac-12 bottom feeder holding its own in the home of a Big Ten bully — the Buffs were down just 31-28 late in the third quarter — made for good optics for the conference, which might have to ultimately base its playoff case on quality depth.

    Worst loss (FBS): Alabama 52, USC 6: Never good when your flagship football program gets embarrassed with the college football world watching.

    Worst loss (FCS): Eastern Washington 45, Washington State 42: EWU isn’t a patsy by any stretch, but these Cougars are supposed to be contenders.

    To the ratings …

    1. Stanford (2-0/1-0)
    Last week: 2
    Result: Beat USC 27-10
    Next up: at UCLA
    Comment: Game 2 of the five-week stretch that looked daunting before the season but now seems somewhat manageable. Still to come: Washington (road), Washington State (home) and Notre Dame (road).

    2. Washington (3-0)
    Last week: 1
    Result: Beat Portland State 41-3
    Next up: at Arizona
    Comment: The results thus far say Washington wins handily in the Zona Zoo. But the circumstances (jump in competition, first road game, Arizona’s knack for rising to the moment) suggest it could be a struggle for three quarters, at least.

    3. UCLA (2-1)
    Last week: 3
    Result: Won at Brigham Young 17-14
    Next up: vs. Stanford
    Comment: First and best chance for Bruins to prove this season is different. If you’re skeptical, join the club.

    4. Utah (3-0)
    Last week: 4
    Result: Won at San Jose State 34-17
    Next up: vs. USC (Friday)
    Comment: A series of favorable matchups in the first half of conference play (USC, Cal, Arizona, OSU) present Utes with opportunity to take charge of the South.

    5. Oregon (2-1)
    Last week: 5
    Result: Lost at Nebraska 35-32
    Next up: vs. Colorado
    Comment: Brutal news on the injury front with Devon Allen and Tyrell Crosby both done for the season. And Ducks had better not overlook Colorado, or their season will get worse in a hurry.

    6. Colorado (2-1)
    Last week: 6
    Result: Lost at Michigan 45-28
    Next up: at Oregon
    Comment: Can’t help but recall how WSU went into Eugene and pulled a victory out of its pirate hat. Buffs could be this season’s Cougars.

    7. Arizona State (3-0)
    Last week: 7
    Result: Won at UTSA 32-28
    Next up: vs. Cal
    Comment: Sun Devils, like Utah and even Colorado, must look at USC’s woes and UCLA’s meandering and feel like the division is wide open.

    8. Cal (2-1)
    Last week: 9
    Result: Beat Texas 50-43
    Next up: at Arizona State
    Comment: Similarities with Texas Tech’s playbook mean film study should tell Bears exactly what will and won’t work against the Sun Devils. (Hint: A lot of things will work.)

    9. USC (1-2)
    Last week: 8
    Result: Lost at Stanford 27-10
    Next up: at Utah (Friday)
    Comment: If you name a starting quarterback midway through training camp, then reverse course after just three games, you made the wrong decision initially.

    10. Washington State (1-2)
    Last week: 10
    Result: Beat Idaho 56-6
    Next up: Bye, then vs. Oregon
    Comment: Bye week in Pullman means one thing: All eyes will be on the police blotter.

    11. Arizona (2-1)
    Last week: 11
    Result: Beat Hawaii 47-28
    Next up: vs. Washington
    Comment: Wildcats have beaten a top-10 team each of the past four seasons. Much better chance of continuing that streak this week than against Stanford a month from now.

    12. Oregon State (1-1)
    Last week: 12
    Result: Beat Idaho State 37-7
    Next up: vs. Boise State
    Comment: Upset meter would be flashing if not for fact that Boise State is coming off a bye.

    *** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

    *** Episode 1 of the College Hotline podcast, with ESPN’s Ted Miller as guest (we discussed Washington’s rise, UCLA’s transformation to power football, USC’s issues, Utah’s life in the shadows, the Pac-12’s position in the playoff race and loads more):


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    by Jon Wilner
     
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