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Pac-12 power rankings: Finally some points for the South after big wins for Utah, Arizona

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 9, 2018, 5:37 p.m.

Utah “upset” Stanford and Arizona narrowly beat Cal to cause some significant shakeups this week in the Pac-12 power rankings. Imagine what a UCLA win over Washington might have done. Everyone except Arizona and Arizona State either moves up or down after a positive weekend of results for the South, which finally showed us something and began to close the gap on its neighbors from the North.

1. Washington (5-1, 3-0; last week: No. 1) – Even including the 24 points UCLA scored against UW last weekend in the Rose Bowl, the Huskies have given up 12.2 points per game since a season-opening loss to Auburn. But UW’s breakout star has been a wide receiver – Aaron Fuller – who has 574 yards on just 35 catches through six games.

2. Oregon (4-1, 1-1; last week: No. 3) – Mario Cristobal has engineered a 4-1 start for the 17th-ranked Ducks, who’ve outscored opponents 197-84 in their wins this season. The other four first-year Pac-12 coaches, who admittedly had much tougher rebuilds than Cristobal, are a combined 7-16.

3. Colorado (5-0, 2-0; last week: No. 4) – Colorado’s offense has some definite playmakers in quarterback Steven Montez, running back Travon McMillian and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., but it’s still important to consider that the Buffaloes have played five teams with a combined record of 6-21. None of those has a winning record, either.

4. Washington State (5-1, 2-1; last week: No. 5) – Gardner Minshew and the Cougars are outscoring teams 86-22 in the fourth quarter this season. If WSU can apply that same success to the back half of its schedule, the Cougars will easily roll to a fourth consecutive bowl bid.

5. Utah (3-2, 1-2; last week: No. 8) – Kyle Whittingham and the Utes absorbed two losses during a rough three-game stretch against the Pac-12 North. It’s hard to imagine Utah competing for a South title if it can’t take three of the next four from Arizona, USC, UCLA and Arizona State.

6. Stanford (3-2, 1-1; last week: No. 2) – Maybe the Cardinal would’ve been better off conceding a loss to Oregon three weeks ago in Eugene. Since beating the Ducks in overtime, Stanford has lost two games by 40 points – and quite a lot of ground in these rankings, too.

7. USC (3-2, 2-1; last week: No. 6) – True freshman quarterback JT Daniels, with four touchdowns and three interceptions, is playing better than his stat line indicates. The rookie has a chance to push USC into the Pac-12 South lead this weekend if he and the Trojans can beat Colorado.

8. Cal (3-2, 0-2; last week: No. 7) – If the Golden Bears can’t scrape out a win in their next two games – at home versus UCLA and at Oregon State – the 2018 season could turn out much like the 2017 one for Cal: a 3-0 nonconference start but no postseason bid.

9. Arizona State (3-3, 1-2; last week: No. 9) – The Herm Edwards Experience? So far, so good. The Sun Devils have a real shot at bowl eligibility as long as they can keep running back Eno Benjamin healthy.

10. Arizona (3-3, 2-1; last week: No. 10) – The Wildcats forced four turnovers against Cal, beat the Golden Bears 24-17 and moved one game over .500 in Pac-12 play. The other way to look at that? Arizona forced four turnovers against Cal and scored only 24 points. There are still troubling times in Tucson.

11. UCLA (0-5, 0-2; last week: No. 12) – The winless Bruins played well enough to beat 10 of 11 teams in the Pac-12 on Saturday. That’s enough for a temporary move up the rankings.

12. Oregon State (1-5, 0-3; last week: No. 11) – The bye week gives Jonathan Smith 14 days to prepare some new tricks. More important, it gives Beavers running back Jermar Jefferson (865 yards) two weeks to recharge his motor.

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