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How we voted: Washington plummets to No. 20 while USC, Cal on the cusp of cracking our ballot

UPDATED: Sun., Sept. 8, 2019, 8:50 p.m.

The Spokesman-Review’s Theo Lawson is one of 62 national media members voting in the Associated Press Top 25 football poll this season. Every week throughout the 2019 season, he’ll break down he voted, with an update on the Pac-12’s ranked teams, a look at local Top 25 representative Washington State and three general thoughts on the poll.

Perusing the Pac-12

Utah (No. 11/No. 13) – Kyle Whittingham’s bunch moved up in a majority of polls because of pair of losses by teams in the Longhorn State – those of course being Texas and Texas A&M. I generally don’t punish top-15 teams for losing to other top-15 teams, unless the point margin suggests I should, and Utah hasn’t played a strong enough opponent for me to place them where others voters did this week.

Oregon (No. 15/No. 17) – OK, the Ducks needed a statement after their week-one loss to Auburn. But…this? Either way, a 77-6 beatdown of what some thought would be a competitive Nevada team shows us Oregon is a team that can answer to adversity. Or, the Wolf Pack are just much worse than we assumed.

Washington State (No. 21/No. 20) – See below.

Washington (No. 23/No. 20) – I’m not sure how many East Coast voters stayed up until 4 a.m. to witness the finish of the Huskies’ late night-turned-early morning loss to Cal – let alone those on the West Coast. I can guarantee this one did, though. Washington didn’t look the part of a College Football Playoff contender in its second loss to the Golden Bears in as many seasons. Film review won’t be much fun for the Husky receivers this week, and the defense will grimace at each missed tackle.

USC (No. 24/NR) – After seeing what the Trojans did to Stanford with backup quarterback Kedon Slovis taking every snap, it appears as if the Cardinal aren’t a CFP-caliber team either. They dropped out of my rankings, though I was still reluctant to move the Trojans in. If they deserve it, we should know soon. USC visits BYU, hosts No. 11 Utah, visits No. 23 Washington and travels to No. 7 Notre Dame in the next four games.

Home cooking

After just two weeks, the Pac-12 North has already absorbed five losses. Washington, Oregon and Stanford are all one-loss teams, which potentially makes 2-0 Washington State the division’s only remaining College Football Playoff contender. At the very least, the Cougars have convinced 57 of 62 voters they’re worthy of a Top 25 nod, and quite a few have them inside the top 20 of their weekly ballots, including two voters who have WSU inside the top 15.

WSU’s Top 25 stock could either rise somewhat dramatically, or fall, depending how the Cougars fare in their nonconference finale Friday at Houston. I suspect a win would place WSU firmly inside the Top 25, while a loss would drop the Cougars out of the rankings altogether.

Other local beats

  • – Spokane’s Evan Weaver was partially responsible for Washington’s plummet down the top 25 rankings. The Gonzaga Prep graduate and Cal linebacker accounted for 18 tackles in the Bears’ upset win in Seattle. Additionally, Weaver notched two tackles-for-loss and one forced fumble, popping the ball out of quarterback Jacob Eason’s hands on a hit from behind.

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