Affiliate Disclosure This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may earn a commission.

Dane Miller’s 2023 Week 9 Pac-12 Football Power Rankings

In a conference with such great depth from top to bottom, no program can be overlooked

Posted on October 23, 2023


  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

The Pac-12 enters Week Nine with half of its team ranked in the Top 25.

In a league with such depth from top to bottom, no program can be overlooked. Washington almost learned that the hard way over the weekend but managed to escape with a win.

The results sent me back to the drawing board to re-rank the 12 teams as I see them. Below is my list as the season begins to wind down to a close.


1. Washington (7-0, 4-0) ◄►
Lucky. That’s the only word to describe Washington’s 15-7 victory over Arizona State in Seattle.

Washington football pac-12A win might be a win. But when the goal is to impress a committee tasked with picking four teams to compete for a national championship, sometimes a win is actually a loss.

Whether it was a letdown game after the Oregon matchup or the onset of a worrying downturn remains to be seen. Whatever “it” was, the Dawgs were fortunate to remain undefeated.

The underwhelming result should act as a wake-up call for a program that might have been overlooking Arizona State. The Pac-12 is elite this season. There are no weeks off.


2. Oregon (6-1, 3-1) ◄►
It took until the second half, but Oregon got it together against Washington State. The 14-point victory was slightly underwhelming and wasn’t exactly the blowout that some were expecting.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Still, the Duck offense is humming and its defense recorded six sacks against the Cougars. The result in Eugene was a solid bounce-back performance and sets the slate for this weekend’s showdown with Utah.

Will Stein’s offense is No. 2 nationally in points per game and its success is largely attributable to the rushing attack.

UO is No. 6 in the country in rushing yards per contest, which should continue to bode well for the program for the remainder of the year.


3. Utah (6-1, 3-1)▲2
For just the second time in the Pac-12 era, Utah left the Coliseum with a victory. The upset on the road was a season-defining win for Kyle Whittingham’s team.

The Utes’ Playoff aspirations have been revived and the perception of the program has been restored. Cam Rising won’t be playing this season, but in some ways that adds an element of stability that was missing.

Now, it’s clear that Bryson Barnes is “The Guy” and the team can rally around him. Boasting arguably the nation’s top defense, Utah is back in the mix and in control of its own destiny.


4. Oregon State (6-1, 3-1) ▼1
The Beavers had a bye week to prepare for their trip to the desert and it provided an opportunity for the program to take stock of itself.

In a league that has set itself apart as the strongest this season, OSU is in the upper echelon. Bowl eligibility has been secured and the team has a path to the Playoff.

With conference realignment issues pending, the big-picture concerns can sometimes obfuscate the reality on the ground.

Whether or not Oregon State has a conference for next season, there’s no denying that the Beavs are one of the top teams in the country.


5. USC (6-2, 4-1) ▼1
A failure. There’s no other way to characterize USC’s season other than a complete and total failure.

usc logoThe Trojans have talent at nearly every position group on both sides of the ball. Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch both have depth within their units.

Yet, the coaches aren’t able to get the job done. During the preseason, many expected USC to take steps forward due to the talent they acquired on defense.

But after giving up 34 points to Utah’s third-string quarterback, it’s clear what needs to be done. Grinch should have been shown the door at the end of last season and now there’s no longer any excuse.

At this point, Riley is risking his own tenure in Los Angeles by keeping him around.


6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2) ▲1
The Bruins might be legitimate. Quarterback play has been holding the team back and Ethan Garbers may have provided the solution.

It was only Stanford, but the junior led the team to over 500 yards of offense without committing a single turnover. Combined with the elite management of the defense by D’Anton Lynn, UCLA could be a complete team.

Still, Chip Kelly is a wildcard. He stated to the media that Dante Moore’s production was not what led to the change in quarterback. If that’s true, Moore could end up returning as the starter and bring the team back to Square One.


7. Arizona (3-3, 1-2) ▼1
Jedd Fisch and his staff used the bye week to catch up on recruiting.

Arizona football Pac-12The high-profile decommitment of five-star Elijah Rushing was damaging, but Fisch made a point to attend his game on Friday night.

Whether or not there is any mutual interest in repairing the relationship remains to be seen. Despite the recruiting setbacks, Arizona is exceeding expectations on the field.

The path to bowl eligibility is clear and the momentum within the program is the highest it’s been in half a decade. Facing Oregon State in Tucson this weekend, the Cats could be a trendy upset pick.


8. Washington State (4-3, 1-3) ◄►
Some of Jake Dickert’s coaching decisions raised eyebrows. There was zero emphasis on tempo in the latter half of the fourth quarter and it appeared as if Washington State had resigned to its fate.

That’s an odd development that puts Dickert’s Michigan State rumors into a different context.

With all the unknowns facing Wazzu’s program heading into next year and the lack of success in conference play, it’s fair to question whether Dickert has a foot out of the door.

Perhaps that’s reading too much into the time management decisions, but the aura feels off in Pullman.


9. Colorado (4-3, 1-3) ◄►
There’s a culture problem in Boulder. Instead of focusing on getting better during the off week, Shedeur Sanders posted a video of himself on a boat in Miami.

Money and internet clout have changed College Football, potentially altering the norms of what to expect from the players.

But for a team that’s lost three out of the last four and has a difficult path to bowl eligibility, it’s not a good look when your leader is partying out of state.

Even Tom Brady half-jokingly told Sanders he needs to spend more time in the film room earlier this year. The message from the best quarterback in history has apparently fallen on deaf ears.


10. California (3-4, 1-3) ◄►
The bye week could not have come at a better time. After half of a season rotating quarterbacks, California finally appears to have resolved the situation.

But Fernando Mendoza was injured in Salt Lake City and the extra time off could prove invaluable. Facing USC this weekend, the path to bowl eligibility is narrow.

Yet, a postseason birth becomes much more realistic if the Bears can upset the Trojans. To do so, Mendoza will need to be at full strength along with the Cal running backs.

And with a full week to prepare for USC’s offense, the game could be closer than expected.


11. Arizona State (1-6, 0-4) ▲1
So close, yet so far. Arizona State was one fourth-down conversion away from putting itself into position to secure the most shocking upset win of the season. But the Sun Devils threw a Pick-Six instead and that was all she wrote.

Still, the performance of the team in Seattle was a result to build on.

Brian Ward’s command of the defense is one of the most underrated storylines in the Pac-12. In a year where nothing has gone right in Tempe, the strength of the defense has been a beacon of hope.

There’s no telling what ASU could have done this season if it stayed healthy on offense.


12. Stanford (2-4, 1-3) ▼1
Just when the program appeared to be gaining momentum on the field, the Cardinal took three steps back.

Almost every opponent this season has struggled to score on D’Anton Lynn’s defense and the seven points Stanford put up wasn’t much of a surprise. But the Tree gave up 42 points to a UCLA offense that had been struggling.

Perhaps Troy Taylor’s defense prepared all week for Dante Moore and was not ready for the more mobile Ethan Garbers.

Even so, the Cardinal were embarrassed on their home field and put right back in the same position they were in.




—More from Dane Miller—