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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pac-12 football power rankings (week five): Washington on the rise

G.J. McCarthy
Washington quarterback Keith Price looks to pass in the first half of the Valero Alamo Bowl against Baylor on Thursday, December 29, 2011, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (G.J. McCarthy/Dallas Morning News/MCT)

College football isn’t exactly known for its parity, but after another week of inter-conference play, the Pac-12 is starting to change that.

Right now, six Pac-12 teams are ranked in the AP Poll top 25, a level of depth the conference hasn’t seen since 2002.

The SEC still reigns as king around the nation with six ranked teams of its own — with a ridiculous four in the top six — but the Pac-12 has finally overtaken the Big 12 as the second-best conference based on pure volume.

When you combine the Big 12’s five ranked teams, 17 of the top 25 come from the three conferences — that’s a major consolidation of power and depth.

The USA Today’s Coaches’ Poll doesn’t hold the same level of respect for the Pac-12 however, as it didn’t include Washington or UCLA in its rankings. Oddly enough, it ranked Nebraska at No. 20 and UCLA at No. 28 despite the Bruins’ defeat of the Cornhuskers, calling into question some of the legitimacy of the poll.

As the season progresses, teams will naturally beat each other up, fall out of the rankings and let the cream rise to the top of the crop.

Still, the conference has shown that at least 10 of its teams can contend with any decent non-conference opponents, leaving only Colorado and Washington State as doormats.

For proof, just look at Washington’s slaying of then-No. 8 Stanford on a Thursday night special.

The Cardinal came into week five as the trendy Pac-12 power, with its upset of USC still lingering in the background. Instead, it was the largely unnoticed team in Washington that made national headlines.

The Huskies hadn’t looked particularly strong through their first three games, especially in their crushing 41-3 loss to then-No. 3 LSU. That lack of early season production didn’t seem to matter Thursday as Washington held the Stanford offense in check — with help from a severely off-target Josh Nunes at quarterback for Stanford — and the Huskies became the new flavor of the week.

The other dark horse lurking in the shadows is Arizona State, which may have finally proven it’s a better team than people thought in its 27-17 victory over Cal.

The Sun Devils still haven’t played any great teams, and Cal’s Zach Maynard was the first actual starting quarterback they faced.

But the Sun Devils made Maynard look second-string after sacking him eight times, and ASU’s comfortable win in Berkley, Calif. sets them up as the next team in line to enter the AP Poll.

Given its schedule, the Sun Devils might make that happen by default. Arizona State has a bye and then a game at Colorado, meaning the Sun Devils should be 5-1 going into their matchup against No. 2 Oregon on Oct. 18.

Speaking of the Ducks, they still remain one of the two undefeated teams left in the conference, with their civil war brethren Oregon State trailing close behind.

Washington State forced Oregon to work hard in a game played in Seattle at Century Link Field, but the Ducks once again proved too talented. No. 14 Oregon State also stayed on the winning track after coming out on top in a tight one against the Wildcats.

No. 13 USC continued its cakewalk schedule, minus the Stanford road game, as it had a bye and then travels to Salt Lake City this week to play Utah Thursday night.

No. 25 UCLA was handed a nice win during a road game against Colorado, letting the Bruins move past its hard-fought loss to the Beavers.

This all puts Arizona down at No. 8 in the Arizona Daily Wildcat power rankings, the lowest they’ve been all season.

Even with Arizona’s struggles, they seem pretty secure at this ranking. The remaining four teams — Utah, Cal, WSU and Colorado — have shown they’re in a completely lower tier than the top eight.

1. No. 2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12)
Last week: 1
Week five: (W 51-26 against Washington State)
This Week: against No. 23 Washington

2. No. 14 Oregon State (3-0, 2-0) LW: 3
Week four: (W 38-35 at Arizona)
This Week: against Washington State

3. No. 18 Stanford (3-1, 1-1) LW: 2
Week four: (L 17-13 at Washington)
This Week: against Arizona

4. No. 13 USC (3-1, 1-1) LW: 4
Week four: (Bye)
This Week: at Utah

5. No. 23 Washington (3-1, 1-0) LW: 8
Week four: (W 17-13 against No. 8 Stanford)
This Week: at No. 2 Oregon

6. No. 25 UCLA (4-1, 1-1) LW: 5
Week four: (W 42-14 at Colorado)
This Week: at Cal

7. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0) LW: 7
Week four: (W 27-17 at Cal)
This Week: Bye

8. Arizona (3-2, 0-2) LW: 6
Week four: (L 38-35 against No. 18 Oregon State)
This week: at No. 18 Stanford

9. Utah (2-2, 0-1) LW: 9
Week four: (Bye)
This Week: against No. 13 USC

10. California (1-4, 0-2) LW: 10
Week four: (L 27-17 against Arizona State)
This Week: against No. 25 UCLA

11. Washington State (2-3, 0-2) LW: 12
Week four: (L 51-26 against No. 2 Oregon)
This Week: at No. 14 Oregon State

12. Colorado (1-4, 1-1) LW: 11
Week four: (L 42-14 against UCLA)
This Week: Bye

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