Pac-12 Football Hierarchy: 9/26

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback K.J. Costello (3) of the Stanford Cardinal passes the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on September 22, 2018 in E (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 22: Quarterback K.J. Costello (3) of the Stanford Cardinal passes the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on September 22, 2018 in E (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

I’d say Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and everyone else at the helm of the conference had quite a weekend. Oregon and Stanford’s hotly contested battle was easily the highest rated (TV) college football game of the weekend — and was the most viewed Pac-12 Football game to air on ESPN/ABC in four years, according to this tweet by Jon Wilner:

It’s safe to say the Pac-12 leadership made quite a profit off the Oregon Ducks’ late-game shenanigans. So, Larry Scott, you’re welcome for that.

While Oregon-Stanford was obviously the biggest game of the week, other Pac-12 football teams did in fact play games. Some won. Some lost. Let’s see who falls in each category.

1. Stanford Cardinal

Won 38-31 @ Oregon

Stanford should have lost. They should have lost and Oregon should be number one. But, because of butterfingers and boneheaded coaching, Oregon coughed up a 99.9% percent winning percentage on ESPN’s win-predictor to the Cardinal, who just made all the right plays down the stretch. They have to be number one. Even though it’s fact that, for 60 minutes, Oregon out-played Stanford. I’ll say it: Oregon is probably the better football team right now. Doesn’t matter. Stanford’s coaches and players kept their heads about them, made every key play and won. They have to be number one. There’s no other option.

2. Washington Huskies

Won 27-20 vs. Arizona State

Eh, Washington was fine. Nothing spectacular or eye-popping, but nothing enough to move them down a spot. Against Arizona, they literally played the most average game you could play. Browning threw for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ok. The defense held ASU’s thought-to-be potent passing attack to a paltry 104 yards. Though the game was actually pretty close, I never for a moment doubted that they’d beat Sparky. They passed this game grade-wise. C+ performance. That’s enough to keep them right here.

3. Oregon Ducks

Lost 38-31 vs. Stanford

Sigh. Just sigh. Oregon should be number one with ease right now. Two (there are more, but two really stick out) jaw-dropping mistakes and a circus catch by a Stanford Tight End flipped the script of this one. Oregon was up 17 with the ball…INSIDE THE 5! From there, you know the story. It reminded me of the movie Shutter Island, where, the whole time, you’re rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to break out of the insane asylum and expose all the illegalities he’s been “investigating” as a detective. But when he’s finally about to escape, the rug is pulled out from under you as you find out that Leo was actually crazy the whole time and is a maniacal murder. It ruined the movie for me. Just like Oregon looked ready to stampede their way into playoff conversation, until Stanford, on the behalf of Oregon tomfoolery, shocked the nation and stole the game, ruining a great Saturday evening. Ugh. this one is going to take a while to get over.

4. California Golden Bears


California finds itself ranked for the first time this season after impressing the AP voters by not even playing a game this weekend. “Congrats Cali, you didn’t lose!” – the Associated Press. Nonetheless, congrats Bears, because you just won yourself a matchup with a (hopefully) pissed-off and vengeful Oregon Ducks squad. Nobody has any idea if the Golden Bears are legit, especially not me. They beat BYU who beat Wisconsin, so I guess that’s something. We’ll ultimately find out Berkeley’s football prowess this Saturday after Oregon either rebounds with a thumping, or is sent into more wallowing post-Stanford depression by the now-23rd ranked Bears (a real possibility).

5. Colorado Buffaloes


Much like California, Colorado has played just three games and nobody in the world knows if they’re any good. Seriously, the quality of Pac-12 football is the best kept secret in college sports. For the first three games of the season, most of the teams play nobodies; and since our conference schedules nine in-confernce games per year, the opportunity to play outside foes is fairly limited. We keep to ourselves out here on the west coast. And yes, Colorado isn’t remotely close to the Pacific Ocean; however, they are part of the conference. They play UCLA this weekend,  perhaps their worst competition of the season so far.

6. Utah Utes


How to move up in the hierarchy: Don’t play games! This is the third team in the top half to have not even played a game this past weekend. Utah took some necessary time off after being bested by two touchdowns against a much superior Washington squad. They’ve still been good this season, and that misstep against U-Dub is the only blemish on their record. They’re winning when they should and not when they shouldn’t. Average. Middle of the road. So sixth out of twelve seems right.

7. Arizona State Sun Devils

Lost 27-20 @ Washington

After lighting the world on fire in weeks one and two, Herm Edwards is returning back to where he belongs: mediocrity. Last week’s loss in Azteca should’ve been a premonition for their loss to the Huskies Saturday. N’Keal Harry, Sparky’s standout wide receiver and shockingly-still-projected first round pick, was once more a non-factor. He and Manny Wilkins were supposed to be a combination that torched the notorious Pac-12 defenses. They need to get back to their roots. Wilkins and Harry are your best players! Give them the ball!

8. USC Trojans 

Won 39-36 vs. Washington State

USC finally got back to winning with a shootout victory over Washington State. The offense, led by still-developing quarterback JT Daniels, looked exponentially better than it had the past couple of weeks. Instead of getting trounced by ranked opponents, USC finally managed a home victory against unranked Wazzu. The Trojan’s defense was suspect, to say the least, allowing 36 points and 435 total yards, with 344 of those coming through the air. It’s a Jekyll and Hyde scenario with USC. One game the offense stinks it up and fails to score a touchdown (3 points against Stanford), and in another they score 39 but the defense allows 36 (this weekend). They need to find consistency in order to restore their season.

9. Washington State Cougars 

Lost 39-36 @ Washington State

Wazzu, of course, suffered a defeat at the hands of USC — the most parabolic performing team in the conference. And while JT Daniels — a thus-far incompetent quarterback — carved up the Cougars’ secondary, the offense was the best its been this season. Gardner Minshew turned in his most impressive outing of the year, accumulating  344 yards while tossing 3 touchdowns. There were definite bright spots to glean from a rebuilding Mike Leach team, even though the outcome wasn’t ideal.

10. Arizona Wildcats

Won 35-14 @ Oregon State 

Have a day, JJ Taylor. 284 yards rushing! Wow! Finally, someone on an Arizona football team has a heartbeat — and it ain’t Sam Bradford. What about the Arizona rushing offense as a whole? Stand up lads, 442 yards is no joke. And if Kahlil Tate, your running quarterback, hadn’t contributed a net loss of nine yards on the day, then you would’ve gone for over 450. C’mon, preseason Heisman favorite, I expected better. Seriously though, congrats to Kevin Sumlin on his inaugural win over a power 5 team.

11. Oregon State

Lost 35-14 vs. Arizona 

Oregon State is laughably horrendous. They just got blown off the field by the tenth best team in the Pac-12…at home! Good god. Well, at least they’ve won a game this season.

12. UCLA Bruins


Even though Oregon State is trying their hardest to be ranked twelfth, I just won’t do it. Not yet. UCLA is still the only team in the conference with a 0% winning percentage. I won’t take that stat lightly. They are staying last until they win a game. Oh, and aren’t you having a blast Chip Kelly?

See ya next week, Pac-12 Hierarchy.