Pac-12 power rankings: Wazzu has control over its destiny in the North race

Despite blowing a late lead to Utah State, and Utah, the Washington State Cougars (5-4, 4-2) are in control of their own destiny as we head into the final three weeks of the regular season. With Cal upending Oregon State in Berkley, Calif. on Saturday, WSU is now in second place in the Pac-12 North with games remaining against Oregon, Arizona, and Washington.

To win the division, and go to the program’s first conference title game, Washington State needs to win out.

That WSU is even in position to win the division this late in the season is a testament to the athletes on the roster. This is a group, particularly the seniors, that have been through two coaching changes and buried two teammates while another was shot at a frat party. These guys that are on this roster have continued to fight through some of the toughest circumstances any other program has faced in the last five years — Utah has also experienced a similar amount of pain; yet they keep putting in the work and fighting. It paid off with a huge road win that was bigger blowout than the final score would indicate.

Jake Dickert’s squad still has a tough road in front of them. And it starts with a road trip to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Nov. 13th after the bye week. If WSU can pull of the road win in one of the conference’s toughest environments, they’ll have the head-to-head against the two other two-loss (in conference play) teams heading into a home match-up against winless Arizona and the Apple Cup against one of the weakest Washington teams that we’ve seen in the last decade.

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1) Oregon Ducks

At 7-1 (4-1 in conference play), the No. 7 Ducks still have a realistic shot at putting an end to the conference’s playoff drought. The 23-point blowout victory over a Colorado was another reminder at just how good this team is. Especially on offense as Oregon hung 45-points on the Buffs in the first three quarters, and only allowed 14.

2) Utah Utes

The Utes offense has hit a groove, as they hung 44-points on UCLA on Saturday — a week after they hung 34 on OSU in the loss. It was an explosive second quarter that allowed Utah to take control of the game, and a 16-point fourth put it out of reach when it seemed like the Bruins could claw back into it.

3) Washington State Cougars

WSU generated five turnovers in the upset win in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday. It was Jake Dickert’s first win as a head coach, and his first win as Washington State’s interim coach.

4) Oregon State Beavers

Despite the 14-point loss to Cal on Saturday, Oregon State still has an outside shot at the division title with a lot of help. The good news is that Jonathan Smith’s squad is only one win away from bowl eligibility despite the loss.

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5) Arizona State Sun Devils

ASU turned the ball over on its first three drives and was never particularly competitive during its homecoming game. The offense was inept, and the defense was gashed for big play after big play on Saturday in the loss. With Utah’s victory over the Bruins, Sparky is going to need a lot of help to win the Pac-12 South.

6) UCLA Bruins

Ethan Garbers threw for 265 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception but it wasn’t enough for the Bruins to keep pace with Utah’s explosive ground attack in the loss. Chip Kelly’s squad is still well positioned for a bowl game, but their hopes for a division title are pretty much on life support after losses to both of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

7) Washington Huskies

Just because you were able to mount a late game winning drive against a Stanford defense that has struggled in conference play does not mean that the offensive issues you face have been corrected. The win keeps Washington’s hopes of a reaching a bowl game alive…and their slim hopes of a division title are still within reach as well.

8) Stanford Cardinal

I saw someone on Twitter ask what it would take for Stanford to make the decision to move on from David Shaw. The Cardinal have lacked an offensive identity for several seasons now, and the defense has been unable to even slow down the conferences worst offenses during that stretch.

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9) California Golden Bears

With the surprising win over Oregon State on Saturday, the Golden Bears have kept their hopes for a bowl game alive. Cal “only” needs to win three of its last four to get to the post season; unfortunately for Justin Wilcox’s squad their remaining schedule is at Arizona, vs. USC, at Stanford, and at UCLA to close out the season. It’s going to be difficult for the Bears to be able to pull it off.

10) USC Trojans

USC’s eight point victory over a rudderless Arizona was its fourth of the season. Despite the victory, it seems likely that the Trojans will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2018 (they finished 5-7 in Helton’s third year in Los Angeles). With games remaining at ASU, at Cal, vs. UCLA, and vs. No. 17 BYU…it seems hard to see this squad picking up the needed to wins, especially without Drake London after he fractured his ankle.

11) Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado was absolutely steam rolled by No. 7 Oregon on Saturday. The offense was absolutely useless against the Ducks starters as they only scored 14-points — 15 of the Buffs 29-points came in the final quarter against the back-ups. There are serious changes needed in Boulder, Colo. after this season otherwise the program’s situation could get even more dire.

12) Arizona Wildcats

The eight-point loss to USC is frustrating for the Wildcats because they put the Trojans on the ropes in the last quarter. But it wasn’t enough and now Cal’s trip to Tucson, Ariz. is Arizona’s best chance to avoid 0-12.

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Photo Credit: Whittney Thorton/CougFan

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