Pac-12 power ratings: Washington on top as Colorado holds steady, Utah, WSU and ASU rise

Pac-12 power ratings: Washington on top as Colorado holds steady, Utah, WSU and ASU rise

Let’s start with a public service announcement that targets a longstanding frustration across the Pac-12 footprint: Each team is required to make a minimum number of appearances on the Pac-12 Networks; that minimum corresponds to the number of non-conference home games on each team’s schedule.

The conference just released the broadcast assignments for games on Oct. 7, and it features three games on the Pac-12 Networks.

That leaves seven Saturdays to be scheduled, and most teams will be off the hook for required appearances on the network nobody watches.

Only Colorado and Utah will enter the second half of the season (starting Oct. 14) with obligations unfulfilled. Each team must appear on the Pac-12 Networks at least once down the stretch.

Our hunch: Utah’s date with Cal (Oct. 14) or perhaps Arizona (Nov. 18) will be assigned to the networks.

Colorado’s options are limited because the Buffaloes have two Friday games in the second half — those belong to ESPN and Fox — but one matchup stands out as an obvious Pac-12 Networks telecast: The Nov. 11 affair with Arizona.

If CU is a contender at that point, there will be outrage. But that’s a bed the Pac-12 made a dozen years ago, folks.

For everyone else, the requirements have been fulfilled.

To the power ratings …

(All times Pacific)

1. Washington (4-0/1-0)

Last week: 1
Result: beat Cal 59-32
Next up: at Arizona (7 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: The Huskies have more points (130) in the first half of their four games than 78 teams have scored through four quarters of all games. They also lead the nation in yards per game (593.3), yards per play (9.23), passing yards per game (467.3) and wide-open receivers per play (5.6). (We just made that last one up, but it feels right.)

2. Utah (4-0/1-0)

Last week: 3
Result: beat UCLA 14-7
Next up: at Oregon State (Friday, 6 p.m. on FS1)
Comment: The Huskies lead with their offense, the Utes with their defense. Only five teams in the country have allowed fewer points than Utah (38): Michigan, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Penn State and Duke. But at some point — like, Friday night — the Utes will need to play complementary football and string together some touchdown drives.

3. Oregon (4-0/1-0)

Last week: 4
Result: beat Colorado 42-6
Next up: at Stanford (3:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: Stanford Stadium has been a house of horrors for some of Oregon’s best teams. Not this year. The Ducks are favored by 26.5 points, and that’s not nearly enough — even with a post-Colorado letdown.

4. Washington State (4-0/1-0)

Last week: 5
Result: beat Oregon State 38-35
Next up: idle (then: at UCLA)
Comment: Yes, the Cougars are ahead of USC in both these power ratings and my AP top-25 ballot. August could not have been worse for WSU off the field. September could not have been better on it.

5. USC (4-0/2-0)

Last week: 2
Result: won at Arizona State 42-28
Next up: at Colorado (9 a.m. on FOX)
Comment: The last time the Trojans played at 9 a.m., in the 2020 opener, they needed two touchdowns in the final three minutes to beat Arizona State. Don’t be surprised if Breakfast in Boulder goes to the wire, as well. Of note: The Over/Under is a whopping 73.5 points. That feels low.

6. Colorado (3-1/0-1)

Last week: 6
Result: lost at Oregon 42-6
Next up: vs USC (9 a.m. on FOX)
Comment: The mismatch CU faced at the line of scrimmage against Oregon won’t be as pronounced against USC, giving the Buffaloes a chance to hang around into the fourth quarter, when anything can happen. And probably will.

7. UCLA (3-1/0-1)

Last week: 7
Result: lost at Utah 14-7
Next up: idle (then: vs. WSU)
Comment: Do we really know anything more about the Bruins than we did prior to Saturday? The defense looked stout, but Utah played with a backup quarterback. And the offense struggled, but Utah’s defense is a granite wall. Now comes a week off, so UCLA’s true identity won’t become clear until the middle weeks of October.

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8. Oregon State (3-1/0-1)

Last week: 8
Result: lost at Washington State 38-35
Next up: vs. Utah (Friday, 6 p.m. on FS1)
Comment: The pass defense was exposed by Washington State’s Cam Ward (28-of-34, 404 yards). Good thing there aren’t any other first-rate quarterbacks in this conference, or the Beavers might be in a teeny bit of trouble down the road.

9. Arizona (3-1/1-0)

Last week: 9
Result: won at Stanford 21-20
Next up: vs. Washington (7 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: Noah Fifita was impressive in relief Saturday at Stanford, but let’s be clear: The Wildcats have one blueprint for taking down UW, and it requires 1) a healthy Jayden de Laura and 2) a calm, cool and collected Jayden de Laura. Otherwise, the Huskies will play pinball.

10. Arizona State (1-3/0-1)

Last week: 12
Result: lost to USC 42-28
Next up: at Cal (12 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: We have to admit, tailback Cam Skattebo wasn’t on our bingo card of Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year candidates. Yes, Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders is the clear frontrunner, but Skattebo, a 225-pound transfer from Sacramento State, is a bright light in the grim sky of ASU’s 2023 reality.

11. Cal (2-2/0-1)

Last week: 10
Result: lost at Washington 59-32
Next up: vs. Arizona State (12 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: Anyone else notice that former Cal quarterback Jack Plummer has the sixth-highest efficiency rating in the country after transferring to Louisville? And here we are, all these months later, with the Bears once again wobbly where it matters most.

12. Stanford (1-3/0-2)

Last week: 11
Result: lost to Arizona 21-20
Next up: vs. Oregon (3:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Comment: When a one-point home loss to a mediocre team is the best result of the season’s first month, it was a bad first month. Spoiler alert: The next four weeks won’t be any better.

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