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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12 football power rankings (week eight): teams finding their spot in the conference

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Wally Skalij
Oregon's Kenjon Barner (24) slips a tackle attempt by Ohio State punter Jon Thoma, left, during a return in the first quarter of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Friday, January 1, 2010. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The thick fog that’s clouded the Pac-12’s proverbial crystal ball finally cleared on Saturday, allowing teams to officially take their position within the conference.

Not that it’s been too hard to guess how good, or bad, most of the teams were through the first eight weeks of the season, but some lingering questions were finally answered last week.

Tier one: The Contenders

This group, which includes Oregon, Oregon State and USC, has been defined for some time, but the weekend’s games reaffirmed their dominance. Oregon’s dismantling of a stout Arizona State defense in Thursday’s 43-21 blowout showed how consistently great this Ducks team is, even though the computers don’t think so. Oregon is ranked sixth in the BCS’s computer rankings despite winning every game by at least 17 points. Sure, its schedule up to this point has been soft, but that’ll change soon enough. The Ducks still have Oregon State and USC on their plate, so supremacy in the conference will be answered soon enough.

Right now the Beavers and Trojans don’t look to be in the same class as Oregon, but they’re definitely close — just not national title contenders. With so many perfect teams left ahead of OSU and USC, they’d need the chips to fall perfectly if they actually have aspirations to play for the championship in Florida.

Tier two: The Talented Pretender

No. 19 Stanford has earned itself a spot in a tier of its own. The Cardinal is in no man’s land right now, looking like title contenders at times, and just OK at others. Stanford has played well against the big boys, upsetting USC and nearly toppling Notre Dame in South Bend. But the team has also shown vulnerability to teams in the next tier, losing to Washington and needing a comeback to beat Arizona at home.

They can still earn a trip to the Pac-12 title game, it’s just very unlikely.

Tier three: The middle pack

Arizona, UCLA, ASU and Washington make up the all-important third tier. These blue-collar, middle class teams can upset anyone on a given week, but aren’t good enough to do it consistently or against truly elite competition — ahem, Oregon.

Don’t get it wrong, being in the same class doesn’t mean each team is equal, as Arizona’s crushing 52-17 defeat of the Huskies can attest to.

Arizona State was the final admission into this distinction after its humbling loss to Oregon. Coming into the game the Sun Devils had a chance to prove if they were the real deal — turns out they aren’t.

Tier four: The feeble four

Colorado and Washington State almost deserve a place all to themselves where they can properly reek in peace, but the consistently bad play of Cal and Utah makes this a more cozy and inclusive group.

At times Cal and Utah have looked passible, and the Golden Bears did crush UCLA 43-17 at home. Still, neither is very good, and the “big game” last week, Stanford versus Cal, made that abundantly clear.

1. No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) Last week: 1
Week eight: (W 43-21 at Arizona State)
This Week: against Colorado

2. No. 7 Oregon State (4-0, 4-0) LW: 2
Week eight: (W 21-7 against Utah)
This Week: at Washington

3. No. 10 USC (6-1, 4-1) LW: 3
Week eight: (W 50-6 against Colorado)
This Week: at Arizona

4. No. 19 Stanford (5-2, 3-1) LW: 4
Week eight: (W 21-3 at Cal)
This Week: against Washington State

5. Arizona (4-3, 1-3) LW: 7
Week eight: (W 52-17 against Washington)
This week: against No. 10 USC

6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2) LW: 6
Week eight: Bye
This Week: at Arizona State

7. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) LW: 5
Week eight: (L 43-21 against No. 2 Oregon)
This Week: against UCLA

8. Washington (3-4, 1-3) LW: 8
Week eight: (L 52-17 at Arizona)
This Week: against No. 7 Oregon State

9. California (3-5, 2-3) LW: 9
Week eight: (L 21-3 against No. 22 Stanford)
This Week: at Utah

10. Utah (2-5, 0-4) LW: 10
Week eight: (L at No. 8 Oregon State)
This Week: against Cal

11. Washington State (2-5, 0-3) LW: 11
Week eight: Bye
This Week: at No. 19 Stanford

12. Colorado (1-6, 1-3) LW: 12
Week eight: (L 50-6 at No. 11 USC)
This Week: at No. 2 Oregon

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