Posted on November 9, 2021
Over the weekend, Oregon dispatched Washington in Seattle, holding the Huskies to seven first downs and 166 total yards.
The victory keeps the Ducks on track for an invitation to the Playoff, while Utah’s 52-7 demolishment of Stanford sets the two programs on a collision course in two weeks.
In the rest of the Pac-12, Arizona snapped its 20-game losing streak on homecoming, Colorado took down Oregon State in double-overtime, and Arizona State toppled USC to move to 6-3.
The weekend’s final scores sent our writers back to revise their Power Rankings. The list below is a composite of each writers’ lists, and the individual selections appear in the table at the bottom.
1. Oregon (8-1, 5-1) ◄►
Travis Dye went off on the Washington defense, rushing for 211 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. The back out-gained the entire UW offense, after Tim DeRuyter’s unit held the Dawgs to just 166 total yards.
Dominating time of possession, the Ducks possessed the ball almost a full quarter longer than the Huskies.
The defensive clinic resulted in the termination of Washington offensive coordinator John Donovan, and keeps Oregon on pace to represent the Pac-12 in the CFP. Over a long season, the depth built through strong recruiting classes has shined through.
Despite a rash of injuries, the program continues to show why it’s the standard the rest of the Conference compares itself to.
2. Utah (6-3, 5-1) ◄►
The Utes embarrassed Stanford on its home field.
The 52-7 win was the largest margin of victory in the history of the series, and advanced Kyle Whittingham’s record against David Shaw to 4-1.
Led by Tavion Thomas, Utah scored six touchdowns on the ground, with Thomas putting up four in the first half. Devin Lloyd scored on a two-yard Pick-Six, and the Utah defense held the Tree to just 167 yards of total offense.
Winners of five of their last six games, the Utes are arguably the hottest team in the Pac-12. A strong finish to the year could lead the program to its first Rose Bowl appearance.
3. Washington State (5-4, 4-2) ◄►
The Cougs used their bye week to prepare for Oregon, against which WSU has gone 4-2 over the past six years. The additional time to game plan for the Ducks’ rushing attack could pay dividends.
Jake Dickert’s 4-2-5 scheme slowed down Arizona State’s potent ground game. But the matchup between Dickert and Joe Moorhead is a clash of brain trusts, after the UO offensive coordinator torched UCLA’s 4-2-5 system with effective short passes.
Yet, Dickert has likely studied the UCLA film and identified how to counteract those plays, setting the table for a showdown on Saturday night.
4. Arizona State (6-3, 4-2) ◄►
Rachaad White returned after missing the Washington State game, running for 202 yards and three touchdowns in ASU’s 31-16 win over the Trojans.
White’s 7.2 yards per carry on 28 attempts was the difference in the game, helping to negate two interceptions thrown by Jayden Daniels.
Antonio Pierce’s defense limited Keaontay Ingram to his fewest yards rushing in six games, holding the USC running back to 3.9 yards per carry, his second-lowest average of the season.
ASU’s secondary forced two interceptions and held the Trojans to 5-for-16 on third down.
The race in the South might be over, but a 10-win season remains within reach.
5. UCLA (5-4, 3-3) ▲1
The criticism of Jerry Azzinaro remained in full swing during the bye week, as several stories calling out the defensive coordinator were published by the L.A. media.
Sitting at 5-4, the UCLA coaching staff might be facing their reckoning over the next three games.
The Bruins face a can’t-lose matchup with Colorado on Saturday, a rivalry game with struggling USC next week, and an expected win over California to close the year.
Anything less than a 3-0 mark over the stretch will result in further calls for Azzinaro’s and Chip Kelly’s jobs.
6. Oregon State (5-4, 3-3) ▼1
In the conference games Oregon State has lost, Chance Nolan has attempted 25 passes or more. But in the Pac-12 games the Beavers have won, Nolan hasn’t exceeded 19 attempts.
On Saturday in Boulder, the quarterback threw the ball for a season-high 38 times and OSU lost in double-overtime.
B.J. Baylor averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt, his third-lowest of the season, despite attempting his second-most carries of the year. The stout Colorado run defense forced Jonathan Smith to go to the air, but it wasn’t enough on the road.
The Oregon State defense allowed freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis to score four total touchdowns, resulting in the termination of OSU defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar.
7. USC (4-5, 3-4) ▲1
Two-quarterback systems don’t work.
The constant shuffling between two players prevents either from developing a rhythm, causing problems throughout the offense.
Receivers aren’t able to find their groove, and offensive linemen are forced to continually adjust to two different styles.
The flaws of the philosophy were on full display in Tempe, as the Trojans scored just 16 points in the desert.
Donte Williams’ fumbled handling of USC’s quarterback situation projects to force Kedon Slovis into the transfer portal after the season. And the awkward split in playing time appears to be the hallmark of Williams’ interim tenure.
8. Washington (5-5, 3-3) ▲1
Controversy surrounds the program heading into this weekend’s matchup with Arizona State.
Offensive coordinator John Donovan was fired after the Dawgs put up just seven first downs against Oregon, and Jimmy Lake was handed a one-game suspension for forcible contact with a player.
In a season that was already off the rails, the drama is par for the course. Lake’s comments before the matchup with Oregon were not well taken, and the 4-5 start to the year is unacceptable.
The downturn in Seattle can be traced to the decision to name Dylan Morris as the starting quarterback in 2020, when several highly rated freshmen QBs transferred after the announcement.
And after losing 26-16 to UO, it’s probably time to start over in Montlake.
9. Colorado (3-6, 2-4) ▲2
Brendon Lewis has it together.
The freshman quarterback has thrown six touchdowns over the last two games, nearly doubling his total of four thrown in the first seven matchups of the year.
The confidence under center opens the Colorado offense, allowing Jarek Broussard to take advantage.
The defending Pac-12 Offensive Player of the year had a season-high 151 yards rushing against Oregon State, making the difference in the double-overtime contest.
The victory raises expectations over the final three games of the year, with the Buffs’ potentially being favored against Washington in two weeks.
10. California (3-6, 2-4) ▼3
Contact-tracing protocols kept several starters off the field against Arizona, but the Bears shouldn’t have lost to the Wildcats. The UA offense turned the ball over three times and only scored 10 points, yet Cal couldn’t get the job done.
Bill Musgrave’s offense put up nine first downs and 122 total yards, displaying the ineptitude of the scheme without Chase Garbers.
The defeat doesn’t eliminate California from a bowl game, but it must beat USC, Stanford, and UCLA to reach six wins.
And with players still unable to practice this week, the deck is stacked against the Bears.
11. Stanford (3-5, 2-4) ▼1
Without Tanner McKee, the Cardinal offense is utterly ineffective.
David Shaw’s utilization of a two-quarterback system backfired, with the Utah defense expecting a run each time Isaiah Sanders entered the game. The result was 167 total yards of offense and 3-for-13 on third down.
But E.J. Smith played well against the third and fourth strings of the Utah defense, making a case for a starting role to finish the year. The Stanford run game has been non-existent, and the second-year freshman runs with something to prove.
With McKee unlikely to be ready to go against Oregon State, Shaw may as well roll the dice with Smith.
12. Arizona (1-8, 1-5) ◄►
The streak is finally over.
Arizona historically pulls off an upset on homecoming, and this year was no different. On a 95-degree day, Jedd Fisch’s team scored the game’s lone touchdown in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Will Plummer was in and out of the game with various injuries, but the second-year freshman battled to put up 198 total yards.
The key to the victory, though, was punter Kyle Ostendorp. His average of 50.1 yards on seven punts kept California at bay, allowing the UA defense to keep the Bears out of the end zone.
The win lays the groundwork for the future and probably saved Fisch’s recruiting class.
How our Senior Football Writers Voted
—More from Dane Miller—
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