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Sunday Afternoon Quarterback

… Game Four … Colorado 34, No. 24 Arizona State 31 … Game Story can be found here … Essay for the game: “Everyone Chipped In, Everyone Did Their Job” can be found here

Related … Jon Wilner’s Pac-12 Power Rankings … 

From the San Jose Mercury News … As our old friend Ted Miller used to say over at ESPN:

If you don’t like where you are in the power ratings, play better …

6. Colorado (3-1/1-0)
Last week: 6
Result: Idle
Next up: vs. Arizona
Comment: The course of CU’s season will be decided this week. Win, and a postseason berth is within reach. Lose, and the math gets tougher than Mel Tucker.

8. Arizona (3-1/1-0)
Last week: 10
Result: Beat UCLA 20-17
Next up: at Colorado
Comment: We’ll delay rendering a final verdict on the defense’s improvement until the Wildcats face an opponent that can score more than 17 points in places that aren’t the Palouse.

Read full story here

Related … ESPN Top 25 Power Rankings – CU in at No. 23

From ESPN … Five of the top nine teams this week are from the SEC, and if not for Ohio State moving into the No. 2 spot, the top two would have an “Iron Bowl” feel to it.

And what about the Pac-12? There are no unbeaten teams remaining — and it’s not even October.

Here are the updated ESPN Power Rankings after Week 5:

Six teams From the Pac-12 … 13. Oregon … 16. Washington … 17. Utah …

No. 23. Colorado … Coming off an open date after a 34-31 win on the road against Arizona State — a decision that looks even better following the Sun Devils’ victory on Friday night over previously unbeaten Cal — the Buffs get Arizona at home before diving into a difficult three-game stretch against Oregon and Washington State on the road and then USC back home.

Up next: vs. Arizona (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

… No. 24. Arizona State .. No. 25. Cal …

My Week Five Pac-12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (3-1, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 1

This weekendIdle. Oregon’s next game was supposed to be a battle between top 15 teams; a battle between an unbeaten Cal team and a 3-1 Oregon team to see which program would assume the mantle as favorite in the Pac-12 North. Instead, as Oregon sat home celebrating a defense which has gone three straight games without allowing a touchdown for the first time since 1935, Cal was falling at home to Arizona State. Next Saturday, the Golden Bears will likely be without their starting quarterback Chase Garbers, which means that Devon Modster (a cringe-worthy 5-of-14 for 23 yards and an interception against Arizona State) will get the start. Not looking like a great game now … a week before CU comes to town for a Friday night game on October 11th.

Up next … California, Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT, Fox

2. Washington (4-1, 1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 3

This weekendNo. 17 Washington 28, No. 21 USC 14.  It was a methodical win for the Huskies at home over the Trojans. Washington moved out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, and kept USC at bay for the remainder of the game.  The Huskies received a career day from running back Salvon Ahmed, who rushed for 153 yards, including an 89-yard touchdown run in the third quarter which gave Washington a 21-point lead. Washington seems to have rebounded well from its home loss to Cal, and if the Huskies can get past Stanford and Arizona on the road, will take on Oregon at home to decide which is the best team in the Pac-12 conference.

Up next … at Stanford, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

3. Utah (4-1, 1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 5

This weekendNo. 19 Utah 38, Washington State 13. Utah and Washington State both suffered stinging losses in Week Four, with the Utes falling on the road to USC, while the Cougars suffered a once-in-a-generation meltdown against UCLA. Utah was coy about whether Tyler Huntley would play at quarterback due to injury, but Huntley not only played, he dominated, throwing for 334 yards and two touchdowns, while scoring two more touchdowns on the ground. Running back Zach Moss was not available, but with a bye week coming up, followed by a road trip to Corvallis to take on the haven’t-won-a-home-conference-game-since-2016 Beavers. Two home games (Arizona State; Cal) follow as Utah stakes its claim as the Pac-12 South’s best team.

Up next … Idle … October 12th … at Oregon State

4. USC (3-2, 2-1) … Previous ranking … No. 4

This weekendNo. 17 Washington 28, No. 21 USC 14. There were moments during the game against Washington when the Trojans looked like an elite team. Then, there were other moments during the game against Washington when the Trojans looked like an average Pac-12 team. USC played with a third string quarterback in Matt Fink, who was the hero of the upset over Utah the weekend before. Washington coaches had film on Fink, and it showed. USC has a bye week before going on the road to take on a top ten team in Notre Dame. The only other game between the Notre Dame game and a date in Boulder on October 25th is a home game against Arizona. USC will likely be a 4-3 team, with Clay Helton on the sidelines, when the Buffs go for win No. 1 over USC.

Up next … Idle … October 12th … at Notre Dame, 5:30 p.m., MT, NBC

5. Colorado (3-1, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 6

This weekendIdle … The Buffs were beat up in their game against Arizona State. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault and defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson – CU’s best players – both went out in the first quarter with injuries. Other players, like Chris Miller and Delrick Abrams, also were banged up. That being the case, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. The status of these players remains a secret, and, while it may upset some Buff fans, will likely continue to be a secret. Even if Shenault and Johnson can’t go against the Wildcats, the CU coaches will want their Arizona counterparts to prepare for them to play. The cat-and-mouse game – Will Shenault play? Will Kahlil Tate play? – will be the main topic of discussion this week.

Up next … v. Arizona, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

6. California (4-1, 1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 2

This weekendArizona State 24, No. 15 California 17. The Golden Bears went into SEC country last week, taking down Ole Miss to become the first Pac-12 team to win a road game against an SEC opponent since 2010 (not that there have been all that many games, but still). The national pundits thought so highly of the last remaining unbeaten team in the Pac-12 that they elevated the Bears to No. 15 in the polls. When Cal quarterback Chase Garbers went down with a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the loss to Arizona State, however, all that went up in smoke. The unbeaten record, the lofty national ranking … gone. If Cal can upset Oregon on the road this weekend, all will be forgiven, but the more likely scenario is that the Golden Bears are heading for another 7-5-like season.

Up next … at Oregon, Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT, Fox

7. Arizona State (4-1, 1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 8

This weekend Arizona State 24, No. 15 California 17. Arizona State, like Colorado, now has two wins over ranked opponents. The Sun Devils, though, pulled off both of their upsets on the road. Cal’s quarterback, Chase Garbers, was 9-of-12 for 117 yards and a touchdown went he went out with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. His replacement, former UCLA quarterback Devin Modster, went 5-of-14 for 23 yards and an interception … and the Golden Bears still had a chance to win the game. Give credit where credit is due: ASU defeated a ranked team on the road. The Sun Devils now get a week off to prepare for a home game against the reeling Cougars of Washington State.

Up next … Idle … October 12th … v. Washington State

8. Arizona (3-1, 1-0) … Previous ranking … No. 9

This weekendArizona 20, UCLA 17 … But for the UCLA miracle win in Pullman the week before, this would have seemed to be a disappointing outcome for the Wildcats. The Bruins scored only 42 points in their first three games (14 in each), so holding them to 17, especially with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson leaving in the third quarter with an injury, wasn’t a monumental feat. Still, the Wildcats were without stars of their own, with quarterback Kahlil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor sitting the game out with injuries. Arizona got what it wanted – a win while being able to rest their stars. We’ll see if it pays extra dividends in Boulder next weekend.

Up next … at Colorado, Saturday, 2:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

9. Washington State (3-2, 0-2) … Previous ranking … No. 7

This weekendNo. 19 Utah 38, Washington State 13. Remember when Mike Leach was the toast of the college football world, and the Cougars were a fashionable pick to make a run at the Pac-12 title and a possible playoff berth? That was so eight days ago. Since then, the Cougars have “Coug’d it” against UCLA, giving up a 32-point third quarter lead, and completely laid an egg in Salt Lake City against the Utes. “It’s difficult to say how tough Utah is because they had token resistance on both of sides of the ball from us”, said Leach. “We’re a very soft team. . fat, dumb, happy, and entitled”. Good time for a bye week, I guess.

Up next … Idle … October 12th .. at Arizona State

10. Stanford (2-3, 1-2) … Previous ranking … No. 11

This weekendStanford 31, Oregon State 28. The Cardinal looked like a much different team in building a 21-0 third quarter lead over the Beavers on the road. Backup quarterback Davis Mills, in for injured K.J. Costello (hand) was efficient, and it looked like the Cardinal would break its three-game losing streak with ease. Instead, Stanford allowed Oregon State to mount a comeback, with the Beavers twice tying the game in the fourth quarter. Stanford doesn’t go on the road again before heading to Boulder on October 9th (home against Washington, UCLA and Arizona), so it will be interesting to see if the Cardinal can get to .500 before taking on the Buffs.

Up next: … v. Washington, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT, ESPN

11. UCLA (1-4, 1-1) … Previous ranking … No. 10

This weekendArizona 20, UCLA 17. There was every reason to believe that the Bruins, hot off of their 32-point comeback win over Washington State, could be competitive against the Wildcats. Throw in the fact that neither of Arizona’s star players – quarterback Kahlil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor – played in the game, and you could have made an argument that UCLA should have been a favorite for this game. Instead, the Bruins, after an impressive opening scoring drive, looked inept on offense. A unit which produced 50 points in 20 minutes in Pullman reverted to the team which had scored 42 points in its first three games.

Up next … v. Oregon State, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

12. Oregon State (1-3, 0-1) … Previous ranking … No. 12

This weekendStanford 31, Oregon State 28. The Beavers did rally from a 21-0 third quarter deficit to tie the game and force Stanford to win it on a last second field goal … and so ends the good news. The fact that Oregon State fell behind Stanford – a team which has struggled mightily to score, and was without quarterback K.J. Costello – is not a good sign. The Beavers haven’t won a Pac-12 game at home since defeating Oregon in 2016, and haven’t won any Pac-12 games since … well, we won’t go there. Oregon State goes on the road for three of the next four, with the only home game coming against Utah. The Pac-12 basement seems secure.

Up next … at UCLA, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks

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