1. USC (1 last week): The Huskies are the only Pac-12 team still harboring playoff hopes, but is there any question the Trojans are the best team in the league right now?
2. Colorado (4): Tacoma’s Sefo Liufau showed up in a big way in the biggest game of his career last week against WSU.
3. Washington (2): As Jake Browning said on Saturday, “What more do you want?” Huskies can clinch the Pac-12 North by beating WSU in the Apple Cup.
4. Washington State (3): Sure, the Cougars would have loved to carry a nine-game winning streak into the Apple Cup. But a Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl appearance are still within reach.
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5. Stanford (6): At 8-3 and No. 24 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, the Cardinal sure have turned things around since blowout losses to UW and WSU.
6. Utah (5): Utes’ home loss to Oregon is one of the most confounding in the Pac-12 this season.
7. Oregon (9): For all the turmoil surrounding UO’s program this season, the Ducks at least proved last week that they haven’t quit.
8. Arizona State (7): The Sun Devils are on some kind of slide, but they need only to beat Arizona to achieve bowl eligibility.
9. UCLA (8): How do 4-7 Bruins find motivation to play season finale at California?
10. Oregon State (10): Easy victory over Arizona is another tangible sign of progress for Gary Andersen’s Beavers.
11. California (11): What began as a promising season A.G. (After Goff) turned into, uh, a mess.
12. Arizona (12): Mercifully, just one game remains for the Wildcats in this disastrous season.
PAC-12 COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
1. MIKE MACINTYRE, COLORADO
Comment: It has to be MacIntyre, right? The Buffaloes finished in last place in the Pac-12 South in each of their first five seasons in the conference, and are now one victory away from winning the division. They’ve already won more conference games this season (seven) than they did in their first five years in the league combined. And they’re not doing it with smoke and mirrors. They have a senior quarterback, Sefo Liufau, with a great command of their offense, and playmakers for him to throw to. Their defense is physical and aggressive. They have depth. CU could be here for a while.
2. CHRIS PETERSEN, WASHINGTON
Comment: The winner of Friday’s Apple Cup game will deserve this No. 2 spot, but for now, we’ll go with Petersen. The Huskies were picked preseason to finish second in the Pac-12 North, and they entered the season ranked 15th in the country. So it’s not like they weren’t expected to be good. But UW’s offense took a massive leap forward this season, its defense continues to be one of the best in the country, and the Huskies look more well-coached than they have in any season in recent memory.
3. MIKE LEACH, WASHINGTON STATE
Comment: The co-coach of the year last season, Leach deserves consideration for the award again. Yes, WSU got off to a slow start, losing its opener to Eastern Washington before falling at Boise State. But the Cougars responded by rattling off eight consecutive victories, and the Pac-12 North championship is within their grasp this weekend as they enter the Apple Cup.
Christian Caple: firstname.lastname@example.org