- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you don't like where you are in the power rankings, play better.
1. Stanford: Remember the preseason question among national pundits: Will Stanford go quietly into the night now that Andrew Luck is gone? The Cardinal would now like those pundits to bring them a steak sandwich and ... a steak sandwich, please. And how's the lobster thermidor? Just put it on Chip Kelly's bill. Of course, Stanford needs to take care of business at UCLA to control its own North Division destiny.
2. UCLA: It's not just that the Bruins are 9-2, highly ranked and the Pac-12 South Division champs in Year 1 with new coach Jim Mora. It's that they are 9-2, highly ranked and the South Division champs in a year when a much-hyped USC team face-planted and these selfsame Bruins provided a decisive kick in the Trojans' britches. Up next: A visit from Stanford. Beat the Cardinal, and the Bruins would visit Oregon on Nov. 30 for the Pac-12 championship game (if Oregon beats Oregon State). Lose, and the Bruins would get a rematch at Stanford for the title.
3. Oregon: That was a tough loss to Stanford. The Ducks -- both coaches and players -- surely will experience regret looking at the game film. But college football is crazy. If USC beats Notre Dame on Saturday, the Ducks could still crawl back into the national title mix. It probably would help that cause if UCLA beats Stanford, thereby giving the Ducks the Pac-12 North title over Stanford and setting up a quality matchup with the Bruins in the Pac-12 title game.
4. Oregon State: This is only the second time since 1962 that the Beavers are 8-2 or better through 10 games, so it's difficult to view the season as anything other than an unqualified success. An outstanding coaching job by Mike Riley and his staff after consecutive losing seasons had fans chirping. Of course, the first Civil War win since 2007 would really, really make Beavers fans happy.
5. Arizona: It's been a surprisingly good first season for Rich Rodriguez in Tucson. But the term "good season" gets an asterisk among the Wildcats faithful if it doesn't include a win over Arizona State. An eighth win also would match the high point for victories reached twice by former coach Mike Stoops.
6. Washington: The Huskies' front-loaded scheduled has allowed them to meander forward in the power rankings. Win the Apple Cup at Washington State on Friday, and they finish the regular season with eight wins for the first time since 2001.
7. USC: If someone said in the preseason the Trojans would stay pretty healthy but would nonetheless lose four games, they would have seemed ridiculous. And the chance for five losses looms with Notre Dame coming to town with national title hopes and QB Matt Barkley hurt. But a Trojans victory would be at least a nice Band-Aid for a horribly disappointing season. And the Ducks sure would appreciate it.
8. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are bowl eligible, so it's fair to call Season 1 under new coach Todd Graham a success. Now, winning at Arizona will produce a lot more grins among the Tempe faithful, not to mention a better bowl game.
9. Utah: The message for the Utes is fairly simple. This team can compete in the Pac-12, but it's not ready to compete in the top half of the Pac-12. That's made clear by the program's first losing, bowl-less season since 2002.
10. California: This is where the power rankings transform into the "powerless rankings." And that California starts that off is why many believe coach Jeff Tedford's tenure is over in Berkeley.
11. Washington State: It's been a horrible first season for new coach Mike Leach. But his fans will tell him this: We'll like you a lot more if you beat those freaking Huskies.
12. Colorado: Buff fans, I've got something positive for you: Basketball season.
4hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy