1. Utah (1): Would have believed preseason that Utah vs. USC would be huge … for the Trojans, anyway. Utes are now the team with far more to lose.
2. Stanford (2): You knew the Cardinal would have the best offense in the Pac-12 after they scored six points at Northwestern, right?
3. California (3): A win this week at UCLA, no matter how beleaguered the Bruins might be, would be a next-step kind of achievement for Sonny Dykes and crew.
4. Arizona State (4): Utah game got away from them, but Sun Devils retain No. 4 ranking anyway. Pac-12 is officially a mess.
5. Washington State (7): Rumblings that ESPN College GameDay might broadcast from Pullman next week if Cougars can win at Arizona.
6. Oregon (10): If Huskies had scored on final possession, could you imagine heat on Mark Helfrich for decision to pass on third and 7?
7. Arizona (8): Anu Solomon? Jerrard Randall? Whoever ’Cats play at QB vs. WSU, they’re going to have to score. A lot.
8. UCLA (5): Must beat Cal to avoid 1-3 start to conference play.
9. Washington (6): 12 consecutive losses to Oregon, and counting.
10. USC (9): At 3-3, there isn’t much left for the Trojans to play for. Except the Sun Bowl, maybe.
11. Colorado (11): Buffaloes have come close a few times, but against Oregon State this week, they should finally notch first Pac-12 win.
12. Oregon State (12): Ah, the trusty Beavers, holding down the bottom of these rankings yet again.
RANKING THE PAC-12:
FAVORITES TO WIN TITLE
1. Stanford (5-1 overall, 4-0 in Pac-12): No team in the Pac-12 would be favored to beat the Cardinal on a neutral field right now, so there’s no reason to think Stanford can’t win the rest of its games and secure a spot in the conference title game. The Cardinal have always won with a bruising running game and a stingy defense, but its offense has taken a humongous step forward this season, and four of Stanford’s final six games are at home. Cardinal looks like the odds-on favorite to win the Pac-12.
2. Utah (6-0, 3-0): Now the clear-cut leader in the Pac-12 South, the Utes have exactly zero games remaining against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25: though trips to USC, Washington and Arizona likely won’t be easy. Still, the rest of the South has been so inconsistent and unimpressive this season that it’s pretty hard to fathom anyone other than Utah representing that division in the conference title game.
3. California (5-1, 2-1): The Golden Bears are one of a few teams who still have control over their championship chances, but they’re still not in great position. With one Pac-12 loss already, they probably have to run the table to win the Pac-12 North, which would involve beating Stanford in Palo Alto, California, on Nov. 21. Games against UCLA, USC, Oregon and Arizona State remain, too.