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Week 8 Pac 12 Power Rankings

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Week 8 Pac 12 Power Rankings

utah utes
Russell Isabella - USA TODAY Sports

The Pac 12 saw the first major upset take place this weekend when the Utah Utes defended their home field against the defending conference champion Stanford Cardinal. The win was the first major signature win for the Utes since joining the conference and is a declaration to the rest of the league that Utah is not to be taken lightly. The loss knocks Stanford way off track for their BCS national title hopes, but they still hold the keys to their Pac 12 fate, so they can’t allow themselves to stay down for long.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Oregon Ducks cemented themselves atop the power rankings with a dominant performance against a very good Washington Huskies team in Seattle. Marcus Mariota continues to put together a remarkable season that should get him plenty of buzz for a Heisman Trophy run in December and the Ducks’ defense continues to make plays when they need them. UW suffered their second straight loss to a conference heavyweight, but held their own for most of the day and shouldn’t see much of a drop in their rankings this week.

Also happening this weekend, the Colorado Buffaloes and Cal Bears seem doomed to the Pac 12 cellar this season as they continue to search for their first conference win. The Arizona Wildcats finally found some offensive balance but couldn’t turn that into a win against the USC Trojans who appeared to have new life following the firing of Lane Kiffin. The Oregon State Beavers continue to dominate through the air and the Washington State Cougars still can’t get out of their own way. The Arizona State Sun Devils and UCLA Bruins still know how to score points.

So what does it all mean for the Pac 12 Power Rankings heading into Week 8? Let’s find out as we count down the best of the West coast after an exciting weekend of action.

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12. Colorado Buffaloes (2-3, 0-3 Pac 12)

colorado buffaloes
Casey Sapio - USA TODAY Sports

Those two wins at the beginning of the season sure seem like a long time ago, don’t they? Colorado got blown off the field for the third straight Pac 12 contest and need to regroup if they hope to win a conference game this season. Maintaining their confidence as they get shellacked will be a major challenge for this coaching staff.

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11. Cal Bears (1-5, 0-3 Pac 12)

chris harper
Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

A thin defensive depth chart continues to get thinner due to injuries and Cal suffers for it. They were never a match for the defending Pac 12 South division champs and their offense looked as flat as it has all season. Sonny Dykes needs to dip into his bag of tricks to keep his players buying into what they’re building even while taking their lumps.

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10. Washington State Cougars (4-3, 2-2 Pac 12)

dom williams
James Snook - USA TODAY Sports

For most of three quarters, Washington State appeared like they might pull off a huge conference win at home. Then a 4th quarter implosion, complete with botched punt and four interceptions between Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca, turned the game into an ugly blowout. Mike Leach needs to fix WSU’s turnover problem (a.k.a. Connor Halliday’s throwing arm) and get his team to finish games strong.

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9. Arizona Wildcats (3-2, 0-2 Pac 12)

b.j. denker
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Arizona looked much more balanced this week with B.J. Denker throwing four touchdown passes and Ka’Deem Carey breaking the 100-yard mark for the 12th time in his last 13 games. But it wasn’t enough on the road against a team that was playing high on emotion thanks to a defense that remains a liability. Rich Rodriguez may have solved one problem (the passing game), but still has a glaring weakness (defense) that will make finding wins in Pac 12 play difficult.

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8. USC Trojans (4-2, 1-2 Pac 12)

cody kessler
Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports

Playing for interim coach Ed Orgeron seemed to infuse new life into USC as they got their first conference win. Players looked excited to be playing and it resulted in great performances from the absentee passing attack (even without Marqise Lee) and inconsistent running game. There are questions creeping up about the defense, however, after giving up 93 points in the last two games after giving up just 41 in the first four.

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7. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-2, 2-1 Pac 12)

jaelen strong
Casey Sapio - USA TODAY Sports

Nothing gets a team looking right quite like playing a conference cellar dweller at home. Arizona State exploded offensively on Saturday as Jaelen Strong continues his quest to break into the elite category of Pac 12 receivers. Marion Grice remains an absolute scoring machine, pushing his conference leading TD total to 15 with three scores on the ground. Now, Todd Graham just needs his team to maintain this level of play for next week.

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6. Utah Utes (4-2, 1-2 Pac 12)

travis wilson
Russell Isabella - USA TODAY Sports

After two full seasons in the Pac 12, Utah had yet to get their “signature win” that announced to the rest of the conference that the Utes were ready to compete. They got that on Saturday against the defending Pac 12 champs with Travis Wilson bouncing back nicely from his six-interception performance a week ago and Dres Anderson proving to be too much for the defense. Kyle Whittingham has his team playing great right now and they’re a dangerous out for any team going forward.

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5. Oregon State Beavers (5-1, 3-0 Pac 12)

brandin cooks
James Snook - USA TODAY Sports

Nobody has been throwing the ball better this season than Sean Mannion. The Oregon State offense runs almost exclusively through their quarterback and he didn’t disappoint on Saturday. The game was tight for a bit and the offense started a little slow but Mannion turned it on in the second half and finished the game with almost 500 yards passing. The Beavers look like a dangerous team in the Pac 12 race with a 3-0 conference record and the most dynamic QB-WR combination in the country.

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4. Washington Huskies (4-2, 1-2 Pac 12)

bishop sankey
Steven Bisig - USA TODAY Sports

Two straight weeks against the cream of the crop of the Pac 12 conference and Washington came up short both times. Perhaps suffering some ill effects of a physical and heartbreaking loss a week ago, UW simply ran out of gas on Saturday. Bishop Sankey continues to be one of the best backs in the country and pushed his team within a touchdown late in the third quarter but the Huskies just didn’t have enough. They have plenty to feel good about, though Steve Sarkisian doesn’t seem interested in “moral victories” in 2013.

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3. Stanford Cardinal (5-1, 3-1 Pac 12)

ty montgomery
Russell Isabella - USA TODAY Sports

Looking like a team that was suffering a bit of a hangover from a physical win the week before, Stanford stepped right into a trap game on Saturday in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal struggled to do the things that have made them the premier team in the Pac 12 (like tackling) and seemed to out-think themselves with their offensive playcalling with the game on the line late. Expect David Shaw to get his team refocused and hitting on all cylinders for next week.

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2. UCLA Bruins (5-0, 2-0 Pac 12)

brett hundley
Robert Hanashiro - USA TODAY Sports

After a very disappointing trip to Berkeley last season, UCLA came out and took care of business with a dominant win at home. The Bruins continue to set the pace in the Pac 12 South and Brett Hundley just keeps getting better (4 passing TDs on Saturday). The challenges will ramp up in a major way starting next week, so Jim Mora needs to make sure his team continues to get better each and every week to keep them on track for another Pac 12 title game appearance.

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1. Oregon Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac 12)

byron marshall
Steven Bisig - USA TODAY Sports

The best teams go into hostile environments and take care of business and that’s exactly what Oregon did this weekend. Every time they got pushed, the Ducks responded and eventually overwhelmed their I-5 rivals, extending their winning streak of 17-points or more to a series’-record 10-games. More importantly, Oregon solidified their place at the top of the Pac 12 pecking order by handily dispatching a very good team and staying on track for a BCS National Championship appearance.