SportsPac12: 2018 Pac-12 Football - Week 5 Power Rankings
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2018 Pac-12 Football - Week 5 Power Rankings

September 24, 2018

Pac-12 Football: Week Five Power Rankings

With four teams off last week, much of the movement in these rankings occurred among active teams, though a couple others moved by default. Nothing has been decided, but the strengths and shortcomings of the eight teams that played have become more apparent. A lot could change this week.

1. Stanford (4-0) — Last Week's Ranking: 1 
The Cardinal needed a little help from the Ducks to stay on top, but that shouldn't take anything away from their comeback victory. Stanford seized its moments when they came, and never stopped believing it could win. If luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparedness, the Tree came prepared for adversity, and found unlikely ways to capitalize on its chances.

2. Washington (3-1) — Last Week's Ranking: 2 
The Huskies were tested by the Sun Devils as expected, responding with a toughness and composure that seemed lacking in the season opener. Quarterback Jake Browning, in particular, provided Washington fans with reason for renewed confidence, keeping his poise under pressure as he surpassed 10,000 yards passing. It won't be easy for any North Division team to run the table, but the Dawgs may be in the best position to do so.

3. Oregon (3-1) — Last Week's Ranking: 4 
The Ducks move up despite their loss to Stanford because, save for a few plays, they were the better team on the field in Eugene. Oregon appears to have sufficient talent, speed, and size to compete with anyone. If the Ducks can shore up some mistakes, stay healthy, and keep improving, they may be the team that nobody wants to play—and not just in the Pac-12.

4. Colorado (3-0) — Last Week's Ranking: 3 
The Buffs didn't do anything wrong in their bye week to justify this drop. But Nebraska's collapse has Colorado's best win looking less impressive than Oregon's close and only loss. That could be the case again next week with a floundering UCLA squad coming to Boulder. The Buffaloes will have their opportunities to move up, though, with USC and Washington looming in weeks seven and eight. 
5. USC (2-2) — Last Week's Ranking: 9 
For those worrying about the Trojans' slow start and slim margin of victory over the Cougars, fret not. The win over WSU will likely look much better after Wazzu upsets a North Division foe or two. Trojan fans can also take comfort in USC's potentially unstoppable offense: There's no adequate defense for a perfect pass and breakaway speed. Couple that with a punishing defense, and there's ample cause for patience. 

6. California (3-0) — Last Week's Ranking: 7 
Bye weeks don't get much better than Cal's. Without playing or winning a game, the Bears moved into the Top 25. And why not? At 3-0, with a swooping, takeaway defense, and a signature win over BYU, they're as deserving as any team that had been receiving votes. It remains to be seen, however, if an extra week of practice to prepare for Oregon will enable Cal to remain in the AP rankings.

7. Washington State (3-1) — Last Week's Ranking: 5 
The Cougars might have beaten the Trojans handily two weeks ago, but Wazzu appears to have shown up in L.A. just as USC was finding itself. The rest of the Pac-12 North shouldn't misinterpret WSU's loss as weakness. Washington State's potent Air Raid offense has a formidable new leader in Gardner Minshew, and the Cougar defense ranks in the Top 10 nationally in passing defense and total yards allowed per game.

8. Utah (2-1) — Last Week's Ranking: 6 
While the Utes didn't play on Saturday, they had two worthy objectives to accomplish during the bye week: Find a way to improve one of the least productive offenses in the Pac-12, and minimize their uncharacteristic turnovers. If Utah has accomplished those goals, it's defense, which leads the nation in yards allowed, could make the U very difficult to beat. 

9. Arizona State (2-2) — Last Week's Ranking: 8 
The Sun Devils made a second consecutive fourth-quarter surge, falling just short again in as many weeks. But while the comeback failed, the character revealed by both attempts makes Arizona State a dangerous opponent for the remaining teams on its schedule. The Devils seem almost certain to win more big games; it's just a matter of when and where.

10. Arizona (2-2) — Last Week's Ranking: 10 
Heading into their contest with the Beavers, the Wildcats faced what seemed like a turning point in their season. Losing to Oregon State would have marked Arizona as one of the more vulnerable teams in the Conference, making the prospect of competing for a South title far less likely. But in defeating the Beavers handily, the Cats may have taken a big first step in fulfilling some of their lofty preseason promise.

11. UCLA (0-3) — Last Week's Ranking: 12 
The bye week wasn't as kind to the Bruins as it was to Cal. Backup quarterback Devon Modster, once a potential starter, announced his plans to transfer, leaving UCLA thin at an already thin position. But the Bruins will likely have much bigger problems than Modster's absence heading into Friday night's game with Colorado, having averaged just 17 points per game in its first three matchups, while giving up 403 yards per contest.

12. Oregon State (1-3) — Last Week's Ranking: 10  
Oregon State's dynamic ground game, and everything else the Beavers had going for them offensively in their first three games, seemed to lose its muster against Arizona. OSU's defense made it a game for a while, but the Beavers simply couldn't withstand the onslaught of the Cats' prolific rushing attack, which racked up 442 yards over four quarters. There's still reason for optimism in Corvallis, just not as much, perhaps, as the Beavers' strong start seemed to suggest.