Pac-12 power ratings: Washington, USC, Utah on top (again) as conference occupies one-third of AP top-25 poll

The favorable schedule this week should keep all eight in the rankings

Let’s begin the weekly power rankings by taking a quick look at the national rankings.

In the most recent AP top-25 poll, the Pac-12 had eight teams, three more than the SEC and four more than the Big Ten.

It is the most in conference history, breaking the previous record of six (set several times). Only the SEC has ever had at least eight teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.

The Pac-12 is 20-3 against non-conference opponents and 6-3 against Power Five opponents after two weeks.

And the conference should be held in the same location next week as well.

One of the top eight teams is off the field on Saturday (USC), six are heavy favorites, and the eighth, Washington, has a tough game but is unlikely to fall out of the poll with a loss.

All of this means that the Pac-12 will enter conference play (Sept. 23) with two-thirds of its teams ranked, laying the groundwork for a slew of marquee matchups throughout the season and College Football Playoff selection process.

Then there was a kaboom!

In terms of power ratings…

1. Washington (2-0)

1 last week Tulsa was defeated 43-10. Following that, Michigan State Comment: The Pac-12’s toughest game of the week appears to have gotten a little easier after the Spartans suspended coach Mel Tucker on Sunday following allegations of sexual harassment. Harlon Barnett, the defensive backs coach, will serve as interim head coach and must navigate the massive disruption.

2. USC (2-0/1-0)

2 last week Stanford was defeated 56-10 as a result. Next up: rest (Arizona State on September 23). Comment: The first of USC’s two bye weeks precedes a grueling nine-game stretch, while the second comes the weekend before the Pac-12 championship game. So, in order to reap the benefits of the second, the Trojans must deal with the consequences of the first.

3. Utah (2-0)

3 last week The game was won 20-13 at Baylor. Up next: Weber State. Comment: We don’t know what happened to Cam Rising’s injured knee. If he’s available, the Utes have an intriguing option: Play him this week to ensure that Rising is ready for the conference opener (Sept. 23 against UCLA), or sit him this week if he is not needed to ensure that he is completely fresh the following week. Our guess is that if he is cleared to play, he will.

4. Oregon (2-0)

4 last week Texas Tech was defeated 38-30. Up next: vs. Hawaii. Comment: It’s nice to have what amounts to a bye week before Colorado comes to town for a conference opener on Sept. 23 that has grown much bigger than expected.

5. Oregon State (2-0)

5 last week UC Davis was defeated 55-7. Next up: a game against San Diego State. Overmatched opponents are destroyed by good teams. The Beavers have accomplished this feat twice, defeating San Jose State and UC Davis by a combined score of 97-24. Every indication suggests that OSU is as good as advertised.

Colorado (2-0) is ranked sixth.

6. Colorado (2-0) Nebraska was defeated 36-14. Up next: Colorado State. Comment: Admittedly, the Hotline spends far too much time fantasizing about alternate universes, but consider the following: As disappointed as Colorado fans were after Mel Tucker’s abrupt departure in early 2020 and during the floundering Karl Dorrell regime, given what that stretch resulted in (Deion Sanders) — and considering Tucker’s behavior at MSU and the lack of character it reveals — it sure appears that Tucker’s abrupt departure worked out for the best.

7. Washington State (2-0)

7 last week Wisconsin was defeated 31-22. Up next: vs. Northern Colorado. Comment: Between the Wisconsin game and the ‘Pac-2’ showdown against Oregon State on Sept. 23, the Cougars should feast on a well-placed cupcake.

8. UCLA (2-0)

9 last week The result was a 35-10 victory over San Diego State. Up next: UNC Central. Comment: It’s not their fault that Michigan canceled the home-and-home series in 2022-23, but the Bruins will go 1,113 days between non-conference games against Power Five opponents, from September 4, 2021 at home to September 21, 2024 in Baton Rouge.

9. Arizona (1-1)

10 last week Result: 31-24 (OT) loss at Mississippi State Next up: UTEP. Comment: A huge game this week to keep Arizona’s bowl math from turning into trigonometry, and we wouldn’t even consider a loss — UTEP was run off the field by Northwestern, after all — unless Jayden de Laura throws five interceptions in two games.

10. Cal (1-1)

8 last week The final score was 14-10 in favor of Auburn. Up next: vs. Idaho. Comment: When 5-7 teams are at home for the holidays, they usually dwell on an unexpected loss to a Group of Five or FCS opponent, rather than an SEC opponent.

Stanford (1-1/0-1) is ranked 11th.

11. Stanford (1-1/0-1) The final score was 56-10 in favor of USC. Next up: a game against Sacramento State. Which result best reflected Stanford’s reality: the Week 1 celebration in Hawaii or the 56Week 2 humiliation at USC? Our feeling is that a third door will open, leading to a season in which the Cardinal will be competitive but rarely victorious.

12. Arizona State (1-1)

12 last week The final score was 27-15 in favor of Oklahoma State. Up next: Fresno State. Comment: If there is a trap game for a team in ASU’s situation, it is this week. The Bulldogs are no pushovers, but they come in between trips to Oklahoma State and USC.

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