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November 8, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Ranking the Pac — Week 10

Here they are. …

1, Stanford — Stanford (now 9-0, 7-0) preps for what is now the biggest game in Pac-12 history. The Cardinal has also won an astonishing 17 games in a row. Its 2006 season, when some were writing the Cardinal was maybe the worst in conference history, really isn’t that long ago, which leads one to wonder if there has ever been a program in the history of the conference to go from that bad to that good (and good for a sustained period of time) so quickly.

2, Oregon — The Ducks (8-1, 6-0) didn’t have to work quite as hard as some thought to get past the Huskies and set up the likely all-or-nothing clash with the Cardinal for the Pac-12 North title. And worth noting one more time — Oregon’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Oregon had 10 seniors on the two-deep for Saturday’s game with UW, only one more than Washington.

3, USC — The Trojans (7-2, 4-2) are a similarly young team, though they’ll probably be starting over at QB next year. Still, the rumors of USC’s demise so far seem unfounded. Trojans could easily finish 9-3, which given everything would seem more than good enough.

4, Arizona State — Here’s a tough one. ASU lost last week at UCLA, but it was hardly a dominant defeat — the Devils (6-3, 4-2) had 465 yards and 29 first downs, doing more than their share to hand the game to the Bruins. That’s not to take anything away from UCLA. But if the teams played again, I’d pick Arizona State to win it, so given that this is a power poll and not just a list of order, I’m leaving the Devils here. ASU, though, better be careful to not let the loss linger as it heads to WSU this week. Win that, and ASU then returns home for games against Arizona and Cal, and given that UCLA still has to play USC, would still be in good shape to win the South title.

5, Washington — Huskies (6-3, 4-2) showed again that while they are better than the bad teams in the conference, they aren’t good enough yet to consistently play with the top teams. The last chance to prove that claim wrong comes Saturday at USC.

6, UCLA — Give the Bruins (5-4, 4-2) and Rick Neuheisel all kinds of credit for crawling off the mat to beat Cal and ASU the last two weeks and put renewed life in the season. But UCLA’s hold on controlling its destiny in the South is tenuous as the Bruins now have to travel to play a surging Utah team, and then after hosting Colorado, finishes at USC.

7, Utah — A Utah squad that seemed dead in the water a month ago now appears bowl bound at 5-4 overall, 2-4 in conference play. Utes host UCLA this week, then play at WSU before returning home to play Colorado to finish the season. In conference games only, Utah is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry, lowest in the Pac-12, which only makes UW’s win there look all the better.

8, Cal — The erratic Bears (2-4, 5-4) were able to get back on track with an easy win over the Cougars and now can clinch bowl eligibility at home against Oregon State. They’d better get it done against the Beavers, though, as Cal ends the year with road games at Stanford and Arizona State.

9, Oregon State — The Beavers hung in for about 40 minutes against Stanford. But when the game turned, it turned in a hurry and OSU (2-7, 2-4) is eliminated from bowl contention at the earliest point in a season since 1997. The main reason? The Beavers are averaging just 83.8 yards in Pac-12 games only, the lowest in the conference.

10, Arizona — The burst of energy the Wildcats seemed to get from the coaching change appears to have worn off as Arizona (2-7, 1-6) was beaten surprisingly easily at home by Utah to see its post-season hopes snuffed out. Five interceptions thrown by Nick Foles the last two weeks hasn’t helped.

11, Washington State — Cougs (3-6, 1-5) are up against it now, needing to win out to have a chance to get to a bowl — and obviously lots else is also on the line. More surprising than the loss at Cal was WSU’s tepid performance which didn’t seem to speak to a team that felt it had a lot to play for.

12, Colorado — Another week, another blowout for CU (1-9, 0-6), which has its best chance left to win a game Saturday when Arizona comes to town.



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