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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Arizona drops down one more spot

Stanford and Utah hold on tight for the top spots, but USC and Washington State are surging

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Another week has gone by, and the cream has clearly risen to the top.

Here's a look at this week's Pac-12 Power Rankings:

1. Stanford Cardinal

Previous Ranking: 1

Stanford survived a scare, and maintained control of the Pac-12 North lead. It's hard to gauge how difficult their remaining schedule is, with Oregon and California, and then Notre Dame to close it out. Oregon and California could certainly give Stanford a run for their money, and Notre Dame is loaded with talent.

It's been Stanford's offense that is winning them games, and the backfield of senior Kevin Hogan and sophomore Christian McCaffrey have a great thing going on, and show no signs of slowing down. Nonetheless, I'd expect Stanford to finish this season unscathed, and make a case for the College Football Playoff.

2. Utah Utes

Previous Ranking: 2

Utah bounced back from their USC loss, and remain in the driver's seat for the Pac-12 South. But they're not in the clear just yet. This is the Arizona of 2014. They're a great team, but still have the underdog mentality to them, finding a way to win.

Their defense has been pesky all season long, and this team will go as far as Devontae Booker takes them, and so far so good. They have two road games, Washington and Arizona, and then back home for UCLA and Colorado. Most remaining Pac-12 schedules will be tough, but Utah's seems pretty manageable for now.

3. USC Trojans

Previous Ranking: 4

The Trojans are breathing down the neck of the Utes, and their talent has come together under interim head coach Clay Helton. Somehow, this team plays better under their interim coach, and with their remaining schedule, they might find themselves on top of the Pac-12 South in four weeks.

They' may be without speedster receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. With Oregon and UCLA closing out their schedule, the Trojans will need to come up big, especially if Utah drops a game, giving the tiebreaker to USC.

4. Washington State Cougars

Previous Ranking: 7

Washington State lost, yet moved up? Yep. I think very highly of Stanford, and the Cougars almost took them down for the Pac-12 North lead. The No. 7 spot might have also been too low for the Cougars last week, and probably deserved to be higher, but here they are at No. 4 now.

It's a shame that Washington State lost to Portland State in week one, because otherwise this team would be ranked at this point in the season. They lost to California on their final drive of the game, and missed the game-winning field goal to go ahead over Stanford.

Their air raid offense is one of the best in the nation, and there's really no way to stop it other than ball control. Their chances at the Pac-12 North might be dwindling away, and they have a tough schedule ahead, but this is not the pushover Cougar team we've seen out of Pullman the past few years.

5. UCLA Bruins

Previous Ranking: 3

UCLA could have very easily lost to Colorado at home this past week. This team is very inconsistent, but you should expect that with a true freshman quarterback and an injury-riddled defense. They bounced back from their Arizona State loss vs. California, but were extremely flat against Colorado, making this team prone to a few more losses.

The Pac-12 has seen so much parody this season, and UCLA is still in the hunt for the Pac-12 South, with Utah and USC both on their remaining schedule, you never know what could happen. But first they need to take care of Oregon State and Washington State, before looking ahead to those Pac-12 South foes.

6. Oregon Ducks

Previous Ranking: 8

Oregon outlasted Arizona State in Tempe, and when you look at their wins and losses, this isn't as bad a team as you would have once thought. They lost to Michigan State close on the road, trounced by Utah at home, and then outlasted by Washington State at home as well, but now Wazzu is looking like a true threat in the Pac-12.

The defense has been, and will continue to be a liability. But with Vernon Adams back at quarterback 100% healthy, they should be outscoring their opponents, no problem.

They have a tough road ahead of them if they want to think about reaching 8 wins, something that seemed near impossible after their first four games. They have to pull out three of the next four: hand California their 4th-straight loss, win at Stanford, beat USC, or beat Oregon State for the Civil War to make this season look much better than it once looked.

7. California Golden Bears

Previous Ranking: 6

California has lost three-straight games now, which is a shame, because they were on the verge of handing Utah their first loss of the season. That win could have been monumental for the program, and given the Bears' confidence heading into their UCLA matchup, in which they fell flat on their face.

Prior to this season, I had said that Cal was going to face one of the most brutal schedules in the nation, and despite the parody in the Pac-12, it's still not looking good for the Bears.

But when you look at the results, California has squeaked out quite a few wins. They came down to the final drive vs. Washington State and Washington, and needed a missed PAT vs. Texas to win. So all in all, this team could be in a worse position.

8. Washington Huskies

Previous Ranking: 9

The Huskies are winning games with their defense, and using that to keep them afloat while their offense finds their rhythm. But you would never know their offense is terrible by watching their last game, doing anything and everything against Arizona's defense.

This team might not make a bowl game, but their defense is the best in the conference, and it will allow them to sneak up on someone. Their games vs. Utah, Arizona State and Washington State will be very interesting.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils

Previous Ranking: 5

Once deemed a National Championship contender by Todd Graham this season, the Devils are sitting at 4-4. Their four losses are pretty respectable, but this is a team, much like Arizona, that was ready to compete for the Pac-12 South.

Their defense hasn't been great, and their offense has been inconsistent with Mike Bercovici. D.J. Foster is a guy that needs to have the ball in his hands, and out at wide receiver, that's not happening nearly as much as it should, and the offense is paying for it.

Arizona State's remaining schedule is fairly difficult, with both Washington schools, Arizona and California, and it would be shocking to see ASU come out with three wins throughout that stretch.

10. Colorado Buffaloes

Previous Ranking: 11

Colorado has been relatively competitive in Pac-12 games, and almost took down UCLA this past weekend at the Rose Bowl. Mix that in with their games vs. Oregon and Arizona State, and this team is much better than their record shows.

This team might only have four wins, but they're playing far better than Arizona right now, on both defense and offense. And who knows, if Jerrard Randall didn't get into the game at Boulder, Arizona could have easily lost that game.

11. Arizona Wildcats

Previous Ranking: 10

Arizona is clearly one of the worst teams in this conference right now, but luckily, Oregon State is still sitting on two wins, and doesn't have nearly as much talent on both sides of the ball as Arizona, which keeps Arizona from the 12 spot.

The defense is giving up 40+ points a game vs. Pac-12 opponents, and the offense seems to have lost complete identity in each of those games, aside from Oregon State. Neither Anu Solomon nor Jerrard Randall are reliable, and Nick Wilson is banged up. The defense is rotating about 20+ guys a game, and this defense fails to get stops and turnovers.

It's hard to imagine this team winning another game, but if there's a game to win, it's Utah. At home, on senior night, against a Utah team that everyone seems to label as overrated. Arizona has had their number under Rich Rodriguez, and he's always good for an upset a year. Maybe this is the one, with bowl eligibility on the line, trying to get momentum before heading up to Tempe.

12. Oregon State Beavers

Previous Ranking: 12

Oregon State has been at the bottom of the power rankings pretty much since week one. An Arizona vs. Oregon State rematch would be very interesting, especially if it were played in Corvallis. A couple more blowouts for Arizona, which could happen, and Oregon State might just move up to 11 by default.