Pac-12 power ratings: Washington and Oregon can clinch this weekend, although the Ducks need help … from Utah

The top five teams remained unchanged from last week

There are dozens of scenarios in play for berths in the Pac-12 championship game with two weeks remaining and a slew of impact matchups on the schedule, including a four-team tie.

(A five-way deadlock is also possible, but we can’t think about it without our heads exploding.)

Until Saturday night, let’s keep things as simple as possible and offer three points:

— Washington and Oregon are the only teams in charge of their own fate.

With a win at Oregon State or a loss to the Beavers and losses by both Arizona and Oregon, the Huskies would clinch a spot in Las Vegas this week.

— With a win at Arizona State and an Arizona loss to Utah, Oregon secures a spot in the championship game.

— Also, two non-scheduled games, USC-Oregon State and Arizona-Oregon, could complicate matters due to the Pac-12 tiebreaker process, which uses head-to-head results only if all of the tied teams have played each other.

In terms of power ratings…

1. Oregon (9-1/6-1)

Last week: 1 Result: beat USC 36-27 Next up: at Arizona State (1 p.m. on Fox) Comment: Four years ago, the Ducks and their one-loss, sixth-ranked quarterback (Justin Herbert) traveled to ASU for a late-November showdown. The Sun Devils, who had lost four straight games, pulled off a 31-28 upset. Will history repeat itself? At the time, the Ducks were 14-point favorites. They are now 22.5-point favorites.

2. Washington (10-0/7-0)

Last week: 2 Result: beat Utah 35-28 Next up: at Oregon State (4:30 p.m. on ABC) Comment: This week, the 4.6 yards-per-carry allowed by Washington’s defense in conference games stands out. If the Huskies don’t improve against OSU’s masterful running game, they’ll leave Corvallis with their first loss.

3. Oregon State (8-2/5-2)

Last week: 3 Result: beat Stanford 62-17 Next up: vs. Washington (4:30 p.m. on ABC) Comment: So an undefeated, fifth-ranked opponent arrives in town with a Heisman Trophy favorite and a 17-game winning streak — and the Beavers are one-point favorites. Is there anything that better exemplifies Jonathan Smith’s work? We don’t think so.

4. Arizona (7-3/5-2)

Last week: 4 Result: won at Colorado 34-31 Next up: vs. Utah (11:30 a.m. on Pac-12 Networks) Comment: Many people were disappointed that this crucial game was chosen by the Pac-12 Networks while Fox chose Oregon-Arizona State. In all honesty, Fox has an easy call there. Arizona doesn’t move the needle one iota; Utah is coming off a loss (on Fox); and Oregon, in addition to being in the playoff hunt, is the closest thing to a ratings machine on the West Coast.

5. Utah (7-3/4-3)

Last week: 5 Result: lost at Washington 35-28 Next up: at Arizona (11:30 a.m. on Pac-12 Networks) Comment: To be sure, the Hotline did not consider the Utes’ trips to Seattle and Tucson to be the toughest road back-to-back any team will face this season. However, here we are. And now they’re here.

6. USC (7-4/5-3)

Last week: 7 Result: lost at Oregon 36-27 Next up: vs. UCLA (12:30 p.m. on ABC) Comment: Two seasons with a quarterback of the generation and no conference titles? The closest parallel to USC’s situation is Stanford’s with Andrew Luck in 2010-11, but the details differ. The Cardinal faced an Oregon juggernaut and simply lacked the defensive talent to compete. USC’s problems are entirely due to poor defensive coaching.

7. UCLA (6-4/3-4)

Last week: 6 Result: lost to Arizona State 17-7 Next up: at USC (12:30 p.m. on ABC) Comment: There are so many parallels between the weekend collapse against ASU and the inexplicable loss to Arizona last season: Both games were played at home, the week before the USC game, against opponents with 1-5 conference records, with the Bruins as heavy favorites, and both left frustrated UCLA fans wishing for a coaching change.

8. Cal (4-6/2-5)

Last week: 9 Result: beat WSU 42-39 Next up: at Stanford (3:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks) Comment: With a four-game losing streak behind them, the Bears have a real chance to make the playoffs. Handle the Cardinal, which just lost by 45 points, and the floundering Bruins, and they’ll be away for the holidays for the first time since 2019.

9. Arizona State (3-7/2-5)

Last week: 11 Result: won at UCLA 17-7 Next up: vs. Oregon (1 p.m. on Fox) Comment: ASU is ranked ninth in the Hotline’s power rankings for the 2023 season, which is not on our bingo card. If the outcome of a few plays (against Washington, Cal, or Colorado) were to be reversed, the Sun Devils would be on the verge of qualifying for a postseason spot that they would almost certainly decline.

10. Colorado (4-6/1-6)

Last week: 8 Result: lost to Arizona 34-31 Next up: at Washington State (Friday, 7:30 p.m. on FS1) Comment: Consider TCU’s 2-5 record in the mediocre Big 12, Nebraska’s 3-4 record in the offensively challenged Big Ten West, and Colorado State’s 2-4 record in the Mountain West. Those are, of course, only conference records. However, we can offer the following fact: the Buffaloes have never defeated a team with a winning overall record.

11. Stanford (3-7/2-5)

Last week: 10 Result: lost at Oregon State 62-17 Next up: vs. Cal (3:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks) Comment: Final tally for the final season: Oregon schools 104, Stanford 23. Ouch.

12. Washington State (4-6/1-6)

Last week: 12 Result: lost at Cal 42-39 Next up: vs. Colorado (Friday, 7:30 p.m. on FS1) Comment: By Friday night, the Hotline will have complete clarity on the bottom rung of our power ratings. Someone has to lose, even if it means waiting until Saturday morning.

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