2021 Week 12 Pac-12 Football Power Rankings

Posted on November 15, 2021

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Week 12 in the Conference of Champions features a showdown between its top two teams, when No. 24 Utah hosts No. 3 Oregon. The Ducks are 9-1 after dispatching Washington State, and the Utes are 7-3 after pulling away from Arizona in the fourth quarter.

Last weekend saw two lopsided results, when Oregon State smashed Stanford 35-14 and UCLA’s strong second half ended with a 44-20 victory over Colorado.

But the most competitive game of the week, at least by margin of victory, was Arizona State’s 35-30 win over Washington.

The results sent our writers back together to develop a new Power Ranking. The list below is a composite of each writers’ picks, and the individual rankings appear in the table at the bottom.

1. Oregon (9-1, 6-1) ◄►

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Joe Moorhead didn’t fall into Jake Dickert’s trap, as many offensive coordinators have this season.

Despite matching up against a scheme that is vulnerable to the pass, Moorhead stuck to his guns and ran the ball 45 times compared to 22 passes.

The game plan worked because Anthony Brown’s decision-making was elite, and his mobility allowed Moorhead to utilize designed quarterback runs.

The grad transfer ran 17 times for 123 yards and a touchdown, counteracting WSU’s stout 4-2-5 scheme.

The result was the second-most points scored on Washington State this season, and a 9-1 record entering Week 12. The Ducks remain on pace for an invitation to the Playoff, so long as they handle business over the last three games of the season.

2. Utah (7-3, 6-1) ◄►

A win is a win.

The Utes were penalized in Tucson an uncharacteristic eight times for 85 yards, allowing Arizona to stay in the game late into the fourth quarter.

Some of the calls were questionable and seemed to favor the Wildcats, but UA was a two-point conversion away from tying the game with 10 minutes remaining.

Cameron Rising and TJ Pledger combined for 413 of Utah’s 468 total yards, and all five of its touchdowns. If it wasn’t for the 90-degree day and noon kickoff, the Utes probably would have put UA to bed earlier.

The Rose Bowl remains a realistic goal for Kyle Whittingham’s program, even if the Utes lose to Oregon on Saturday.

3. Arizona State (7-3, 5-2) ▲1

It took until the fourth quarter, but Arizona State put it together on the road to securing its first win in the State of Washington since 2014.

The victory breaks a string of defeats and may have played a role in Jimmy Lake’s termination, even as the now-fired coach was suspended for the game.

Rachaad White continued to prove why he is ASU’s most valuable player, running for 184 yards and two touchdowns while catching five passes for 53 yards.

But for most of the night, the Sun Devil offense was stagnant as Jayden Daniels was sacked four times, threw an interception, and passed for just for 90 yards.

Yet, Merlin Robertson’s pick-six in the final minute of the game sealed the deal, setting Arizona State on a potential path to a nine-win season.

4. UCLA (6-4, 4-3) ▲1

Jerry Azzinaro’s defense allowed Colorado to hang around in the first half, with the Buffs entering the locker room up 20-10.

But the defensive adjustments made in the second half worked to perfection, as Azzinaro’s unit blanked CU over the final two quarters.

Chip Kelly’s offense got into gear during the final thirty minutes, scoring 34 points in convincing fashion. Dorian Thompson-Robinson didn’t throw a touchdown, but the senior put up 356 total yards of offense and scored a TD on the ground.

The win makes the Bruins bowl eligible for the first time since 2017, and primes the program for what should be a three-game winning streak to end the regular season.

5. Oregon State (6-4, 4-3) ▲1

The Beavers got it together against Stanford, blowing out the Cardinal 35-14 after Chance Nolan passed for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

The 25 attempts through the air may have been a little higher than expected, considering the Tree’s poor run defense, but the 10.3 yards per attempt and zero interceptions will be taken any day.

B.J. Baylor averaged just 3.5 yards per rush, and Deshaun Fenwick was probably under-utilized, but the Beavers put up 475 total yards while its defense forced three turnovers.

The win makes Oregon State bowl eligible for the first time since 2013, with the remaining question being: Which game will it be invited to?

6. Washington State (5-5, 4-3) ▼3

The run game was stifled in Eugene. The Cougs rushed for just 91 yards and turned the ball over three times, a stat line that isn’t going to result in a victory on the road.

The longest run of the game was a 19-yard scamper form Deon McIntosh, as Jayden de Laura was contained by Tim DeRuyter’s scheme.

Pressure was applied to the second-year freshman, leading to two interceptions, three sacks and -7 yards rushing on six carries.

The 38-24 loss relegated WSU to 5-5 on the year, with remaining games against Arizona and Washington. The Cougs need just one more win to reach bowl eligibility, and face one of the easier paths to get there.

7. USC (4-5, 3-4) ◄►

usc logoWith a de facto bye week, the Trojans were able to rest and prepare for UCLA. The Bruins’ 4-2-5 system is fodder for Graham Harrell’s Air Raid, and his offense should be gunning all week in practice to light up the UCLA secondary.

But the two quarterback system has fallen on its face, and the writing is on the wall for Kedon Slovis to transfer at the end of the year.

Interim head coach Donte Williams might as well name Jaxson Dart the starter, allowing the freshman most of the first team reps during the week.

A defeat to UCLA would arguably be the most embarrassing loss of the year, as Jerry Azzinaro’s scheme is a mismatch for Harrell’s offense.

8. Washington (4-6, 3-4) ◄►

Washington football pac-12Jimmy Lake was fired on Sunday, ending a short-lived tenure that could be seen coming from a mile away. There were signs of coming trouble early this past offseason, when multiple UW players transferred out of the program.

And the end was all but confirmed when Sam Huard didn’t win the starting role. Realistically, the damage done to the Husky program could take two or three years to rectify.

The termination distracts from the 35-30 loss to Arizona State on a rainy night in Seattle. Dylan Morris threw a Pick-Six and the Dawgs lost after leading most of the game.

But Junior Adams’ play-calling appeared to breath life into the offense. The 30 points scored was the second-highest in a Conference game this year, even as the 35 points allowed was the most given up this season.

In such a throwaway year, the Apple Cup in two weeks takes on even greater meaning.

9. California (3-6, 2-4) ▲1

The Pac-12 was lenient with Cal, allowing the program to reschedule its game with USC instead of forfeiting.

The exception weakens the image of the administration of George Kliavkoff, even if the draconian restrictions of the City of Berkeley were to blame.

But it’s water under the bridge at this point.

Justin Wilcox is expecting his full team to be available against Stanford on Saturday, and his players should come out with something to prove. A bowl game remains a possibility, although a defeat in the Big Game would eliminate that goal.

10. Colorado (3-7, 2-5) ▼1

Entering the locker room at halftime, Colorado and its players felt good about their chances of beating UCLA for the second year in a row.

But the Buffs weren’t able to counter-react to the Bruins’ halftime adjustments, going scoreless over the final two quarters.

Brendon Lewis has evolved as the season has gone on, completing 17 of his 26 passes for 158 yards and zero interceptions.

The success throwing the ball allowed Jarek Broussard to rush for 6.8 yards per carry, while Alex Fontenot scored twice on the ground.

The improvement over the past month sets the table for what should be a Colorado win at home, when CU hosts Washington on Saturday.

11. Stanford (3-6, 2-5) ◄►

True freshman Ari Patu started the first game of his career, ending the day with 51 yards passing and a touchdown.

Nathaniel Peat was questionably under-used for the third game in a row, posting 8.8 yards per carry and a touchdown, despite getting just four attempts.

But the Stanford defense allowed the Beavers to convert 29 first downs and 10-of-15 third down attempts. The 475 yards allowed was par for the coarse in the Tree’s woeful season, and the 35-14 defeat expands its losing streak to five games.

David Shaw should have Tanner McKee back for the Big Game this weekend, but the Cardinal are locked into their second losing season over the past three years.

12. Arizona (1-9, 1-6) ◄►

Arizona football Pac-12The psychological effect of ending Arizona’s long losing streak was on display against the Utes, as the Cats were in position to pull off the upset in the fourth quarter.

Jedd Fisch’s players were loose and disciplined, committing just five penalties for 33 yards and taking care of the ball.

Will Plummer had 273 total yards and two touchdowns, while Michael Wiley scored a touchdown for the third game in a row.

True freshman receiver Dorian Singer had a career-high 84 yards receiving, and the UA special teams blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.

The result provides hope for a potential upset of Washington State or Arizona State to end the year, and probably scored some points with the recruits on hand for the game.

How our  Senior Football Writers Voted

Dane Miller

Nick Bartlett

Stephen Vilardo

Mark Schmor

Steve Ritchie

—More from Dane Miller—