Athlon recaps all of this weekend's action in the Pac-12.
And then there was one. Most didn't believe Oregon State or USC could make it to the BCS National Championship game, however, they both just kept winning. No more. After tough road losses this weekend, the Oregon Ducks are flying above the rest of the Pac-12 as the lone remaining national title contender. The depth of the league was once again on full display as programs like Arizona, UCLA and Washington prove that the middle of this league is as strong as any league in the nation.
Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - As the unquestioned leader of the best team in the league and arguably the best offense in America, Mariota is my vote. After three more touchdowns and another 70 points on offense, Mariota is now leading the league in completion rate (68.8 percent), is leading the league in rushing yards by a QB and has thrown the fewest interceptions of any of the regular starters in the league. Many will vote for Kenjon Barner or De'Anthony Thomas, but Mariota has been the most important piece to the Chip Kelly offensive puzzle.
2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - USC could still win the league and so Barkley could still easily win POY. He threw for 493 yards and three touchdowns — giving him a Pac-12 best 25 total touchdowns — and is No. 2 in passing efficiency out West. A win next week and he is back at No. 1.
3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - Maybe now Scott will finally get some national consideration for his efforts in the desert. He nearly posted more yards against USC than any player in the long and storied history of the Trojan program. He piled up 469 yards and four scores in the big win over the Men of Troy.
Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The Beavers lost for the first time but it wasn't the defense's fault. Keith Price failed to throw a touchdown and finished with 194 yards. Poyer had five tackles and returned one punt.
2. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford - Fellow LB Shayne Skov deserves some love as well as the team's middle backer and leading tackler. However, Thomas has been a complete player with 50 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and an interception.
3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - He didn't do that much in the loss to Washington (3 total tackles) but it wasn't his side of the ball that cost Oregon State its unblemished season. He is No. 2 in the league in sacks and tackles for a loss.
Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - His team had the 46-point spread covered with eight minutes left to go in the second quarter. This team is clearly the best team out West — despite replacing its starting quarterback, Heisman trophy finalist running back and losing its defensive captain in John Boyett.
2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - He drops from 1b. to 2. with the first loss of the season. He is still having a remarkable year despite the tough road loss to Washington.
3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona - Thanks to the Wildcats for making me look good after placing both Scott and RichRod in the top three for Coach and Offensive Player of the Year standings. His Cats have lost three games to three teams that are a combined 20-3.
Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
1. Oregon (8-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 9 result: Beat Colorado 70-14
Oregon continued its first half dominance again this weekend as it won its 26th Pac-12 game in 27 tries. The Ducks had scored two touchdowns before the Buffs even had one offensive snap and eventually held a 56-0 halftime lead. Oregon's starters — on either side of the ball — have rarely played a single down in the second half of the year. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett has scored eight touchdowns in eight games thus far. After taking care of business — and watching five unbeatens go down from around the nation — the Ducks are set up for a huge showdown in Los Angeles next weekend.
This week: at USC (6-2)
2. Oregon State (6-1, 4-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 9 result: Lost to Washington 20-17
Oregon State spotted Washington a 10-0 halftime lead, but worked itself back into play with a great third quarter. The well-known script of owning the second half and suffocating opposing offenses appeared to be right on schedule until Sean Mannion threw two of his four interceptions on consecutive drives early in the fourth quarter and Washington won the day. The quarterback has tossed seven interceptions in his last two games and fans have to wonder if he was rushed back from knee surgery. With Stanford and Cal remaining before The Civil War, Oregon State still controls its own destiny but has loads of heavy lifting still to go.
This week: Arizona State (5-3)
3. Stanford (6-2, 4-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 9 result: Beat Washington State 24-17
Another week, another hard-fought, physical Pac-12 win for David Shaw and the Cardinal. However, this one wasn't supposed to be close or hard-fought. Josh Nunes and his receivers continued to struggle mightily, but were once again bailed out by a dominant defensive performance. The Cardinal posted 10 sacks, allowed minus-16 yards rushing and returned one key interception for a touchdown to hold off the Cougars at home. As a three-touchdown favorite, this was clearly an imperfect performance by the offense. Stanford totaled 256 yards of offense against Wazzu and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Nunes' unit will have to be better with Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA still left on the schedule.
This week: at Colorado (1-7)
4. USC (6-2, 4-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 9 result: Lost to Arizona 39-36
Matt Barkley put up huge numbers and Marqise Lee was on a different planet on Saturday. But it wasn't enough to overcome a tremendous game from Arizona quarterback Matt Scott. The Trojans defense allowed four straight touchdowns on four straight possessions late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. It was enough for the Wildcats to hold on for the huge upset in the desert. USC can still win the league as games against Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State loom over the next three weeks. But a chance at a national title or Heisman trophy likely fell by the wayside this weekend.
This week: Oregon (8-0)
5. UCLA (6-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 9 result: Beat Arizona State 45-43
Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give UCLA a second straight key South Division win. Quarterback Brett Hundley played well in his return home, he is from nearby Chandler, Ariz., totaling 301 yards of offense and four total touchdowns in the huge road win. Johnathan Franklin chipped in 164 yards rushing and two scores as the senior tailback is now just 20 yards away from becoming UCLA's all-time leading rusher. Jim Mora's team is still very much in the thick of the South Division race with huge games against Arizona and USC coming up over the next three weeks. The defense needs to play better but Noel Mazzone's dynamic offense continues to impress (I bet they would like that Cal game back, eh?).
This week: Arizona (5-3)
6. Arizona (5-3, 2-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 9 result: Beat USC 39-36
Strange things happen out in the desert late in the season and Week 9 was a perfect example. Trailing by 15 points halfway through the third quarter, RichRod and Matt Scott rallied the troops by scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions. The redshirt senior quarterback was incredible, rushing for 100 yards on 15 carries and throwing for 369 yards on 50 attempts. He totaled four touchdowns as the Wildcats finally held on to win a close game. With close losses to Stanford and Oregon State (and a blowout loss to Oregon), Arizona's three losses have come to teams with a combined record 20-3. Is this the best three-loss team in the nation? Zona has to feel good about its chances in the South as games with UCLA, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State are all still ahead of them.
This week: at UCLA (6-2)
7. Washington (4-4, 2-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 9 result: Lost Beat Oregon State 20-17
The Huskies finished one of the nastiest month-long stretches of action any team in America will face this fall with a 2-3 record. And Steve Sarkisian's bunch should feel proud of their performance. Losses to Oregon, USC and Arizona don't feel nearly as bad now that the Huskies have wins over Stanford and Oregon State. It was the second win over a top 10 team at home as this Washington defense continues to show marked improvement from a year ago. The offense still has major issues on third down, but it took advantage of four OSU turnovers to score 10 fourth quarter points. Things get much easier for U of W from here on out: Cal, Colorado, Utah, Washington State
This week: at Cal (3-6)
8. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 9 result: Lost to UCLA 45-43
The Sun Devils were unbeaten in conference play just two weeks ago. After allowing 43 and 45 points respectively to Oregon and UCLA, the Devils' Will Sutton-less defense is back on its heels. Arizona State now finishes the year with three of four on the road, with trips to Oregon State, USC and Arizona sandwiched around a home game with Washington State. Anything better than 6-6 would have to be considered a successful season, despite the early optimism in Tempe.
This week: at Oregon State (6-1)
9. Utah (3-5, 1-4)
Previous rank: 10
Week 9 result: Beat Cal 49-27
The Utes ended a four-game Pac-12 losing streak by scoring three touchdowns on defense and special teams, including two Reggie Dunn 100-yard kickoff returns. The defense forced three turnovers as Utah raced to a 42-6 lead midway through the third quarter. It keeps hope alive that a 10th straight season of postseason play in Salt Lake City is still possible. Could Kyle Whittingham's bunch win three of its final four and make a bowl game? With Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Colorado left on the schedule, it is entirely possible.
This week: Washington State (2-5)
10. California (3-6, 2-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 9 result: Lost to Utah 49-27
Losing to Stanford or USC is one thing. Losing to a winless-in-the-Pac-12 Utah team by 22 points is something else entirely. And it might have cost Jeff Tedford his job in Berkeley. Cal's special teams were terrible and the offense turned the ball over. It was a microcosm of Cal's last few seasons. Score nearly 30 points with over 400 yards of offense and watch a skill player set school records (Keenan Allen became Cal's all-time leading receiver with 205 receptions) but inefficient quarterback play and sloppy special teams cost the Bears again. This time it was an ugly showing against a 2-5 Utah squad.
This week: Washington (4-4)
11. Colorado (1-7, 1-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 9 result: Lost to Oregon 70-14
For the second straight week, Colorado was given more than 40 points by the wise guys in Las Vegas and for the second straight week, it wasn't enough help. Jon Embree's team trailed by 56 points at halftime and allowed 425 yards rushing to Oregon. It was the third straight game this team has allowed at least 50 points. Offensively, this team mustered only 95 yards passing. Is enough enough in Boulder?
This week: Stanford (6-2)
12. Washington State (2-6, 0-5)
Previous rank: 12
Week 9 result: Lost to Stanford 24-17
This was Mike Leach's chance to make a statement. Leach watched his defense play its best game of the season by allowing lows in total yards (256) and passing yards (139). Yet, with the game tied at 17 with just more than six minutes to play, he watched his quarterback throw a costly interception that Stanford returned for the game-winning touchdown. The Cougars rushed for minus-16 yards, the third time Wazzu has rushed for a negative total. The rest of college football has five such games. There were some positives Leach can pull from his trip to Palo Alto, but his team is still the lone team winless in Pac-12 play.
This week: at Utah (3-5)
by Braden Gall
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SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings