Pac-12 power rankings after week nine

The No. 18 Utah Utes (6-1, 3-1) are now in the Pac-12 South driver’s seat after beating USC (5-3, 4-2) 24-21 in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday. Utah’s offense did just enough to win, as the defense held stymied USC’s offense

The Ute’s offense did just enough to win on Saturday (Courtesy of Standard-Examiner)

Utah’s quarterback Travis Wilson threw a one yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kaelin Clay, with eight seconds left, to give the Utes’ their first victory over the Trojans since joining the conference. It was a big win for a program that had struggled to gain traction in the Pac-12, since joining it prior to the 2011 season.

The Utes victory was secured when Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler was sacked by Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick following the kick off.

While Wilson and Clay are getting a lot of the press for the last second touchdown, the Utes defense carried the day and shut down USC’s offense. The Trojans averaged 5.9 yards per play on Saturday, and 2.7 yards per rush. As a result, USC was forced out of its offensive game plan, and put the ball into Kessler’s hands (he averaged 8.3 yards per completion).

For USC, the last second loss was its third of the season. The Trojans have also dropped from the AP top 25, as Utah climbed up two spots — from 20th to 18th.

1) Arizona State Sun Devils: Arizona State showed that it has a serious chance at defending its Pac-12 South crown, and making a second straight appearance in the Pac-12 Championship game. As the Sun Devils marched into Husky Stadium in Seattle, Wash. and earned a 14 point win in a windy environment.

2) Oregon Ducks: Junior quarterback Marcus Mariota took advantage of a weak Cal secondary, as he tossed five touchdowns on Friday night. Oregon’s offense was on fire, as the Ducks averaged 7.8 yards per play against a struggling California defense.

3) Stanford Cardinal: For the second straight game, the Cardinal controlled the ball and battered the opposing quarterback; as Stanford rolled to a 38-14 victory over the Oregon State Beavers. Stanford’s offense looked competent for the second straight week, and it could end up pushing the team back into the Pac-12 North race.

4) UCLA Bruins: The Bruins needed two overtimes to beat the struggling Colorado Buffalo on Saturday in Boulder, Colo. UCLA actually built up an impressive lead through the first three-quarters, but Colorado forced overtime by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter. A win is a win, but letting the Buffs to score 17 straight points in the final quarter is not good.

5) Arizona Wild Cats: The Wildcats’ defensive line battered WSU quarterback Connor Halliday all night long, as Arizona rolled to a 59-37 win in Pullman, Wash.

6) Utah Utes: The Utes impressive victory over USC on Saturday was the highlight of the Pac-12’s weekend, and was a huge step forward for the program.

7) USC Trojans: Head coach Steve Sarkisian has a lot of questions to answer in Los Angeles, as the Trojans have lost their second conference game and are now 5-3 on the season.

8) Washington Huskies: The Husky offense struggled to get anything going against the ASU defense, and the storm rattled Seattle. Washington is now 1-3 in conference, and has lost two straight.

9) California Golden Bears: Cal couldn’t keep up with the explosive Oregon offense, and the defense couldn’t contain Mariota. The good news is that the Bear Raid is running smoothly, and is dangerous against any defense.

10) Oregon State Beavers: OSU’s defense was shredded by the experienced, but mediocre, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. Now the Beavers are 1-3 in conference play, and have lost three of their last four.

11) Washington State Cougars: Washington State found itself in a 24-0 hole after the first quarter, and was unable to recover. The Cougars post season hopes are probably dead after the blowout home loss.

12) Colorado Buffaloes: Colorado came back from a 17 point deficit to force overtime against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, but couldn’t pull out the win in double OT. This was Colorado’s second straight loss, where the final margin was less than a touchdown.

Hey coach, did you expect Utah and Arizona to be this good prior to the start of this season?

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