Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/18/12
1. Stanford (9-2) Yes, the headlines will be big as the Cardinal knocks the Ducks from the ranks of the undefeated and out of the BCS picture. It’s not that big of surprise to those who’ve been following both teams closely. Stanford’s offense outgained and out-rushed them. Stanford looked the better team from beginning to end. Best line from the game, when asked about the upset, Stanford Coach David Shaw; “We’re confident and we can improve - if we’d have just played better, it wouldn’t have been this close.” It’s true. Chip Kelly must be fuming. If not for two Stanford fumbles, this could’ve been worse. Shaw established himself as one of the most sought after coaches. If they beat UCLA, they get to play, um, UCLA in the Pac-12 title game. Two more wins and they go to a major bowl game. Looks like the post-Luck transition is going smoothly on The Farm as freshman Kevin Hogan is a smooth, confident, 25-26 for 211 yards passing while running for another 37 yards and a touchdown against top ranked Oregon.2. Oregon (10-1)  Lost to Stanford in OT 17-14 crushing BCS hopes and puts their PAC-12 title hopes in jeopardy. It’s their own fault; inability to counter Stanford’s defense, stop their offense, or show they can win a tight, low-scoring game shows limitations. Take away Mariota’s 77-yard run and the Ducks averaged three yards a carry. From last week’s Power Rankings;[i] Ducks are beatable; Stanford is the type of team that can do it with power and balance.[/i] That’s exactly what happened. For all the hoopla about how desirable a coach Chip Kelly is supposed to be, he was blown away by Shaw. You have to be able to pull out close wins, not just blow-outs.Next up is OSU in the Civil War. Lots of folks in Eugene just became UCLA fans – they need the Bruins to knock off the Cardinal to keep PAC-12 Championship hopes alive.3. Oregon State (8-2) In their tune-up for the Civil War, they hang 62 on Cal. Beavs two losses this season were to ranked teams; at Stanford and UW. If they could pin another loss on the Ducks, and beat Nicholls State, they should be in the BCS bowl discussion. That’s a big if – hard to imagine Oregon not looking for revenge here. Riley has this program humming along. Roasting the Ducks and staking their claim as Oregon’s team would be a huge step towards emerging from the shadow of Nike-U.4. UCLA (9-2) Knocking off the hated Trojans makes any season a success, but this win seems just a bit sweeter. The power balance in Los Angeles is shifting as evidenced by UCLA dominating, and knocking poster boy Barkley out of the game. A tale of two programs; Kiffin in trouble, Mora a potential COY candidate. UCLA locks up the South and can spoil Stanford’s bid for the North. If Stanford wins – they play UCLA in the PAC-12 title game.5. Washington (7-4) After slow start, they find their groove in the second half and dominate Colorado 38-3, but this game wasn’t even that close. Only the Huskies prevented this from being a huge blowout by bumbling through the first half. Kevin Smith’s special teams play and Keith Price’s third down shovel pass changed the game. Bishop Sankey, whose 1150 yards rushing this season is reminiscent of a guy named Chris Polk, will highlight a deep stable of tailbacks next season. A win over Wazzu in the Apple Cup pushes the Huskies to 8-4 in Sark’s fourth season. With a top-15 recruiting class lined up and several starters returning from injury, UW is well positioned to be in the discussion of conference elite next season.6. USC (7-4) Couldn’t handle UCLA or the rain. Kiffin looks completely over-matched – you have to wonder how much confidence this team – and this school - has in him. With a physical Notre Dame coming to town and Barkley’s injury questionable, USC is looking at 7-5. They’ll still get a bowl game just on the name-recognition factor, but it’ll be a Holiday Bowl level game.   When your roster is as loaded as USC’s is – that’s a serious let down. It’s inevitable that speculation about a coaching change will be had at some point – who are the likely candidates? Chip Kelly? His stock is high but I’m not convinced on his ability to be successful outside the vacuum that is Eugene. Would USC make a run at Steve Sarkesian? His stock is rising and the ties are already there.7. Arizona (7-4) Wildcats handle Utes in SLC and are looking at a quality bowl game in Rich Rods first season. If they can get past the Sun Devils, an 8 win season could put ‘em in the top 25. With a lot of returning starters next season and a top 25 recruiting class so far, the future is bright in Tucson.8. Arizona State (6-5) Beat up on the hapless Cougars to snap a four-game slide, but after a 5-1 start, this team has been grounded quickly. A win over Arizona for a seven-win season would be a victory for Todd Graham in his first year in Tempe. A bowl game would help recruiting for a program that has been consistently average for a long time. The defense is 23rd in the country and that’s a good place to build your team from. Their recruiting class, so far, is ranked 36th by Scout.com, and that’s not bad either, but it won’t make them a conference elite.9. Utah (4-7) Lost to Arizona, 34-24 at home. The great news for Utah is they get Colorado and should be able to take out a season’s worth of frustrations on them. Utah simply doesn’t have the talent or depth to compete effectively in the PAC-12 right now. Whittingham has a roster built for the WAC, not the PAC, and it shows – those ten-win seasons are far more elusive now. This is not a program that looks destined to be top-tier any time soon. That shouldn’t be a knock on him, he’s a good coach.10. Cal (3-8)Too many embarrassing losses this season just don’t bode well for Tedford’s future in Berkeley. They finish on a five-game losing streak, so at least the bleeding is over for this season. Injuries have hurt the Bears and they have played some games close, but this team looks bad. Luckily they are in the same conference at WSU, Utah and Colorado, so four wins a year is realistic. It’s going to be an interesting off-season and a solid recruiting class is going to be necessary to keep Cal relevant. Right now, with the 46th ranked class, it ain’t happening. A shake up is needed – a call to ‘Bama’s Doug Nussmeier should be made, soon. Someone is going to offer him a head coaching gig and he has ties to the Northwest from his Idaho days.11. Washington State (2-8) Another blowout loss, this time to ASU, 46-7. More special teams problems, among other things.  Hey, they didn’t get shut out, so there’s that. Also, the Marquees Wilson declaration of abuse seems to be fading in the news. They get a surging Husky team at home in the Apple Cup – where anything can happen and usually does. Then off-season in Pullman is going to be very interesting for Leach and Moos. A top 50 recruiting class doesn’t make this team much better next season, but if Leach can recruit Texas, that could give the Cougs some hope. It’s still possible the addition-by-subtraction going on could reap dividends next season and in the bigger picture – only time will tell.12. Colorado (1-10)  Blown out by Washington to ensure a winless season at home. It’s difficult to assess the talent at CU right now because the coaching looks so inept. Everyone likes a gamble occasionally, but to go for it on fourth down, inside your 45, in the first half of a 0-0 game, instead of playing the field-position game – is just plain stupid. Too much football to be played to do that. No way Embree survives this season. Losing competitively is one thing, but consistently getting blown out, out-coached, and with a 61st ranked recruiting class looming, I’m not sure how you justify bringing
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