Pac-12 football rankings heading into Week 15 of the 2016 season. Washington locked up a conference title in a rout in Santa Clara.
For 30 minutes it was a contest. Despite losing Sefo Liufau on the game’s first drive, Colorado gave it everything it had, and kept the Pac-12 Championship Game tight by going into halftime down only 14-7 to Washington.
And then the wheels came off.
Liufau returned for the second half and promptly threw a pick six on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The next series: interception. Then a Washington field goal. A couple of four-play series from the Buffs, another touchdown by the Huskies, and the rout was on.
A 41-7 title game victory later, and now it’s a waiting game for the Huskies. How will the CFP committee treat a conference champion whose only defeat came at the hands of a resurgent USC at a time when it was sufficiently injured? Time will tell.
Now that the dust has settled for the Pac-12 football season, here’s a look at the rest of the conference heading into Week 15.
Week 15 Pac-12 Football Rankings
12. Oregon (Last Week – 11)
Oregon may not have the conference’s worst record, but this ranking goes beyond wins and losses. The Ducks fired Mark Helfrich this past week, and while the move may not have been that much of a surprise, it was a bit disingenuous doing so one day after Helfrich was trotted out to the media for a weekly press conference. Toss in a poorly crafted press release and reports of discontent within the locker room, and the Ducks continued to fail even when there were no games being played.
11. Arizona State (9)
ASU’s 357.4 passing yards allowed per game was the worst in the country (roughly 14 yards worse than No. 127 Pitt). When on October 8 you only need one victory to reach bowl eligibility and you fail to make the postseason, well, that’s enough to earn this penultimate slot.
10. Arizona (12)
Will the big rivalry win over ASU carry over into the offseason? Looking ahead to Week 2 next year, the Wildcats will play Houston in Tucson. Should they pull that out it could set the tone for a nice bounce-back season.
9. Oregon State (10)
Two nice victories to end the season for Gary Andersen’s club gives reason for positivity. Offseason questions include who steps up to take the quarterback slot and who will replace playmaker Victor Bolden.
8. UCLA (8)
Jim Mora’s job is safe, for now, but there will be plenty of shakeups on the coaching staff, which started with the dismissal of OC Kennedy Polamalu. UCLA’s AD is behind Mora, but when the top brass is saying things like, “From a football standpoint, God, it hurt,” that should serve as notice that the reins might be tight next season.
7. California (7)
Sonny Dykes’ name has been tossed around for some coaching openings across the landscape. So has offensive coordinator Jake Spavital’s. Will both (or either) be back in Berkeley next year? If so, it’ll be another year, another new quarterback under center.
6. Utah (6)
Utah was one of the conference’s top teams before wilting over the last month of the season. Look for red zone offense to be a point of focus for Kyle Whittingham during the offseason.
5. Washington State (5)
Our colleague here at Campus Insiders, Matt Stanford, is a Washington State alumnus. He brought in a Cougs flag to fly in the office. Wazzu went 0-2 while Ol’ Crimson was hoisted. It’s now draped over the cubicle – so maybe the Cougars will get back to their winning ways. Anywho, whether Luke Falk decides to stay in school or leave for the NFL Draft should be the prevalent storyline over the next month.
4. Stanford (4)
When Stanford was 4-3 in late October, who thought the Cardinal would end up with a chance at winning double-digit games this season? Win the bowl game and that’ll make five of six seasons that David Shaw has done so.
3. USC (2)
Would anyone in the country want to play USC right now? Smart money says no. Is Adoree Jackson the best two-way player in the game? It’d be fun to see him lined up across from Jabrill Peppers and settle that debate on the field. Alas, that bowl pairing is doubtful.
2. Colorado (3)
The Pac-12 Championship Game was a bad final look at what has been one of the game’s great stories this season. The Buffs reached the title game, hence their placement above USC. It’d be nice for Liufau to heal up and push the Buffs to their first 11-win season since 1994.
1. Washington (1)
Washington proved against Colorado that it has the defensive chops to hold firm while the offense works to find a groove. Such an overwhelming victory should be more than enough to push the Huskies into the CFP – now what seed do they land?