Pac-12 power ratings: Oregon claims the top spot as USC falls, Stanford recovers and Washington wallows

Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes against Arizona State Sun Devils in the first half of a NCAA football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, November 7, 2020. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

Power ratings based entirely on the scoreboard, except when they aren't …

(All times Pacific)

1. Oregon (2-0)

Last week: 3

Result: Won at Ohio State 35-28

Next up: vs. Stony Brook (4:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Comment: Ideal opponent to serve as bridge between post-Ohio State euphoria and the start of conference play next week against Arizona. (Come to think of it, Arizona might not muster any more resistance than Stony Brook.)

2. UCLA (2-0)

Last week: 1

Result: Idle

Next up: vs. Fresno State (7:45 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Comment: Good news, UCLA: I know at least one AP top-25 voter who has the Pac-12 Networks and will be awake to see the game from start to finish.

3. Arizona State (2-0)

Last week: 4

Result: Beat UNLV 37-10

Next up: at Brigham Young (7:15 p.m., ESPN)

Comment: Perhaps more than any other team, the Sun Devils need BYU to keep winning (after this week). It's the only chance for their non-conference schedule to gain legitimacy.

4. USC (1-1/0-1)

Last week: 2

Result: Lost to Stanford 42-28

Next up: at Washington State (12:30 p.m., FOX)

Comment: The knucklehead plays that have littered the Clay Helton era were out in full force Saturday night. "We acknowledge and understand our deficiencies in areas that include culture, discipline, schemes, personnel and staff." It's the second one!

5. Utah (1-1)

Last week: 5

Result: Lost at BYU 26-17

Next up: at San Diego State (4 p.m., CBS Sports Network)

Comment: Had you told the Hotline in advance that Utah would average 7.7 yards per carry, we could not have imagined a realistic path to defeat. BYU rushing for 231 yards? Not a scenario that would have been considered.

6. Oregon State (1-1)

Last week: 6

Result: Beat Hawaii 45-27

Next up: vs. Idaho (12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks/Oregon only)

Comment: Jonathan Smith made the right call with Chance Nolan, who was efficient (21 of 29) and had zero interceptions. If the quarterback play is merely neutral the rest of the way, the Beavers have a chance for the postseason.

7. Stanford (1-1/1-0)

Last week: 10

Result: Won at USC 42-28

Next up: at Vanderbilt (5 p.m., ESPNU)

Comment: Not unlike the start of the 2015 season, when Stanford pulled a no-show on offense at Northwestern and beat the Trojans decisively in the Coliseum two weeks later — en route to winning the conference title.

8. Colorado (1-1)

Last week: 7

Result: Lost to Texas A&M 10-7

Next up: vs. Minnesota (10 a.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Comment: If the offensive line simply holds its own, the Buffaloes might contend in the South. But the unit is a tad too wobbly, especially when combined with a rookie quarterback, for us to envision a sustained charge from CU.

9. Cal (0-2)

Last week: 8

Result: Lost at TCU 34-32

Next up: vs. Sacramento State (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks/Bay Area only)

Comment: The Bears had best treat the Hornets seriously and not peek ahead to the conference opener (in Seattle) or 0-3 will become a gruesome reality from which there is little hope for escape.

10. Washington State (1-1)

Last week: 11

Result: Beat Portland State 44-24

Next up: vs. USC (12:30 p.m., FOX)

Comment: It's an oversimplification to say WSU's success moves in lockstep with the number of touches Max Borghi receives on a per-game basis. But not much of one.

11. Washington (0-2)

Last week: 12

Result: Lost at Michigan 31-10

Next up: vs. Arkansas State (1:15 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

Comment: We're not buying the excuse — not for a second — that the missing receivers are at the root of the ailments. None of them are exactly John Ross or Dante Pettis. The offensive issues run deeper, and up the chain of command.

12. Arizona (0-2)

Last week: 9

Result: Lost to San Diego State 38-14

Next up: vs. NAU (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks/Arizona only)

Comment: Blowout losses at home to Group of Five opponents should never happen — not to any Pac-12 program, any year, under any circumstance. Jedd Fisch's honeymoon ended with the blocked punt return that gave the Aztecs a 21-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.

Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner


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