With rivalry weekend behind us, the second half of the Pac-12 season is set to begin.
There were some strange results from around the conference, which benefits Arizona in the short term.
UCLA has made itself the front-runner for the conference crown, but there's still a lot of baseball to be played.
Let's take a look at how the Pac-12 shakes out this week, and there are a lot of changes from the pre-rivalry rankings
1. UCLA Bruins (25-7, 12-3 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 2
UCLA vaults up to the top spot by taking two-of-three from USC at the Trojans' home this weekend. After an early March slump, the Bruins appear to have regained their form and are definitely a national threat at this point. A sort of big week ahead for UCLA hosting both Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday and Cal Thursday-Saturday.
2. USC Trojans (26-9, 8-4 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 1
USC is still a very good team, and I keep them in the top-two as they head into the Oregon portion of their schedule. The Ducks visit L.A. this weekend, then the Trojans go to Corvallis after that. Also, this dugout swag is pretty fantastic:
An actual out? Nah. But this cap catch from @usc_baseball's Mason Perryman is #12Best. http://t.co/k76AnYfq6h. https://t.co/hyYProce3n— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) April 14, 2015
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (23-10, 11-4 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 3
ASU showed their late-game strength on Saturday against Arizona, but then got a rare bullpen fail from Ryan Burr Monday night to prevent the Devils from the only series sweep in the conference. This is an impressive team, and is ridiculously deep on the backend of their pitching staff. But can they keep surviving on these late-inning comebacks? ASU travels to UW this weekend.
4. Oregon State Beavers (23-11, 6-6 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 4
OSU fell victim to the whole "Rivalry Weekend" thing, dropping two games in Eugene to the lowly Ducks. Both losses were by one run, and their win was a 4-2 victory, so it's not like they got blown out or anything like that. But we've stumbled upon the series of the weekend between OSU and Arizona.
5. Arizona Wildcats (23-11, 8-7 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 5
A big performance on Monday night from Bobby Dalbec prevented the sweep, and keeps Arizona in decent position in the conference. Yes, two losses to ASU hurt, but every other team around them in the standings losing their series definitely takes the sting out the losses a little bit. This series in Corvallis is crucial. Take two-of-three there, and the Wildcats are right back in the mix for a postseason berth.
6. Washington State Cougars (17-17, 5-10)
Previous ranking: 8
WSU was in a position to sweep UW, but dropped the final game 5-2. Don't let that 5-10 conference mark fool you, because the Cougs have played three of the top four teams in the conference this year, and now have series wins over Cal and Washington. WSU hosts San Jose State for four games this weekend before returning to conference play against Utah in two weeks.
7. California Golden Bears (22-11, 9-6)
Previous ranking: 6
Just like Oregon State, Cal fell victim to a bad rivalry series loss, dropping two, and almost all three, against Stanford. The one win came after the Bears gave up six runs in the 9th to allow the Cardinal to tie it. I'm just not a believer in Cal anymore. Three games at UCLA this weekend probably won't help get the momentum turned.
8. Utah Utes (12-20, 4-8)
Previous ranking: 9
If Utah really wants to prove that they've improved, they'll win this weekend's series at Stanford. If not, they're still the same old Utes.
9. Oregon Ducks (21-16, 4-8)
Previous ranking: 10
A nice little series win over Oregon State moves the Ducks up a spot this week, but it still feels more like a rivalry fluke thing more than the tide turning in Oregon's favor. Of course, if they can win some games at USC this weekend, then we're having a different conversation.
10. Washington Huskies (19-14, 6-9)
Previous ranking: 7
Really, 7 thru 10 seem really tight right now, and Washington just comes out on the short end of it for the time being, mostly because they were swept by Cal earlier this year. The Huskies will look for some big wins at home against ASU this weekend.
11. Stanford Cardinal (14-19, 2-10)
Previous ranking: 11
Conference wins! Yay! And this:
♫ Something happens and I'm head over heels ♫ (Name the band!) Zach Hoffpauir, meet #12Best. http://t.co/k76AnYfq6h pic.twitter.com/l8Bs06x0v1— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) April 14, 2015
That Stanford/Utah series this weekend is intriguing for all the wrong reasons.
12. Grand Canyon Antelopes (21-14, 10-1 WAC)
GCU returns as the honorary Pac-12 team of the week after I watched them win a game 10-0 Saturday afternoon before the UA/ASU game. GCU still can't be in the WAC or NCAA Tournaments, but 10-1 in conference is nothing to sniff at. Pretty good stuff going on there right now.
Arizona/Oregon State is the best series of the weekend. None of the games will be on TV, but OSU will stream them here. Friday starts at 5:30 PT, Saturday at 4 and Sunday at 1.