SportsPac12: 2018 Pac-12 Football - Championship Power Rankings
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2018 Pac-12 Football - Championship Power Rankings

November 28, 2018

Jason Shelley rolls out against BYU  |  Getty Images

Championship Week Pac-12 Football Power Rankings


The Pac-12 championship hasn't always pitted the two best teams, and it may not this year. But few matchups in the game's short history will feature as high-quality and entertaining a representative from each division as this one. Both Utah and Washington have overcome significant injuries, relying on stout defenses to prevail. The winner will deserve its No. 1 position in this ranking next week.

1. Washington (9-3, 7-2) — Previous Ranking: 2 
The snow was a factor in the Apple Cub, no doubt. But a dry and beautiful day most likely would have produced the same result. Washington manhandled WSU in the trenches while covering the Air Raid tighter than any team has all season. A win in the title game would allow the Huskies to fulfill its preseason expectations as the Pac-12's best team.

2. Washington State (10-2, 7-2) — Previous Ranking: 1 
WSU's offense, which relies on quick cuts and precision routes, may well have been affected by the adverse weather conditions. But mistakes and an inability to match Washington's intensity cost the Cougars more than the snow. With a couple upsets of Top 10 teams this weekend, a New Year's Six bowl may still be possible. Regardless, a school-record 11 wins remains within reach. 

3. Utah (9-3, 6-3) — Previous Ranking: 3 
Utah came out surprisingly flat against BYU, but promptly stopped sleep-walking after Kyle Whittingham's halftime rebuke. The 28 unanswered points the Utes scored in their spectacular comeback confirmed their toughness, and rattled Rice-Eccles. Two more wins would crown their division title with a Pac-12 Championship and a first-ever Rose Bowl bid.


4. Oregon (8-4, 5-4) — Previous Ranking: 5 
The Ducks might have collapsed last year after losing Justin Herbert in the first half. But thanks to a struggling OSU rush defense and a pair of energized performances by Travis Dye and CJ Verdell, Oregon secured its eighth win two years after going 4-8. Mario Cristobal has a stellar recruiting class on the way, and could have the Ducks contending for the title next season.

5. Stanford (7-4, 5-3) — Previous Ranking: 4 
Stanford struggled more than expected against UCLA, needing a last-minute stop to avoid overtime. The Cardinal hasn't been accustomed to giving up 42 points in recent years. However, they've compensated for their defensive drop-off with a formidable passing attack that keeps the Tree near the top of the North. A victory in the delayed rivalry game with Cal—good for an eighth win—would allow Stanford to retain its upper-echelon status in the Conference. 

6. Arizona State (7-5, 5-4) — Previous Ranking: 6 
The Sun Devils have been making fourth-quarter charges all season. A few have fallen short, but none have succeeded like their 19-point comeback against Arizona last week. ASU's biggest comeback on the road since 2002 assured the Devils of a winning season and locked up second place in the South. By all accounts, Herm Edwards has exceeded his first-year expectations.

7. California (7-4, 4-4) — Previous Ranking: 7 
With seven wins in the bank, Cal is assured of nothing less than a .500 record with the Big Game and a bowl game yet to be played. And the Bears are capable of winning both. After last year's 5-7 record, an 8-5 or 9-4 campaign would be nothing short of remarkable. Justin Wilcox will ben in the mix for Coach of the Year if his team wins out.


8. USC (5-7, 4-5) — Previous Ranking: 9 
Once again, the Trojans seemed capable of hanging with one of the best teams in the nation, starting fast, only to implode when Notre Dame responded. Their seventh loss of the season seemed likely to cost Clay Helton his job, but he still has the support of USC athletic director Lynn Swann. Undeterred, Helton is in the process of reconfiguring his staff, hoping to find the right balance between change and continuity.


9. UCLA (3-9, 3-6) —Previous Ranking: 8 
The Bruins gave Stanford all it wanted, but couldn't avoid its first nine-loss season since 1940. Everyone at UCLA will be happy to put this season behind them and focus on a more promising future under Chip Kelly. Look for a recruiting surge as the Bruins begin closing in on key players in the next few weeks.

10. Arizona (5-7, 4-5) — Previous Ranking: 10 
Arizona was on its way to becoming a bowl-eligible team, with a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter against Arizona State, when a series of mistakes and lapses gave the game to the Devils. The outcome seemed to mirror the Cats' season, with high expectations ending in dismay and disappointment. Keeping key players, making the the right staff moves, and adding the right recruits will determine Arizona's level of success for next season.

11. Colorado (5-7, 2-7) — Previous Ranking: 12 
Colorado kept its slim chances of winning a sixth game alive for as long as it could, coming up well short yet again. But even a win over Cal wouldn't have changed the uncertainty of CU's football future. As the names of coaching candidates come and go, the Buffs can only wait and hope that their new leader is capable of changing their fate.


12. Oregon State (2-10, 1-8) — Previous Ranking: 11 
The Beavers may have played their worst game of the year against the Ducks, allowing Oregon to run for nearly 400 yards without Justin Herbert at the helm. But there were plenty of bright spots this season for Jonathan Smith and his staff to build on, including a positive culture change and the acquisition of a strong group of transfers and freshmen recruits.