Pac-12 Week 13 Power Rankings: South champ USC rises


Welcome to this week’s Power Rankings -- the final ones of the regular season. They’ll be updated throughout the bowl season. So if you don’t like where you’re ranked, win a bowl game. You can see last week’s rankings here.

1. Stanford Cardinal: The North proved to be the stronger of the two Pac-12 divisions, and the Cardinal won the North. Plus, finishing with only one Pac-12 loss in a season when the league is as deep as it’s ever been is impressive. Beating No. 6 in the nation helps, too.

2. Oregon Ducks: They needed the offense to bail out the other two phases (defense, special teams) of the game after Oregon State rallied in impressive fashion. But what an offense it is with Vernon Adams Jr., Royce Freeman and Bralon Addison all clicking at the same time.

3. USC Trojans: You’d be hard-pressed to find a more roundabout way to a division title than the Trojans took. Then again, it is the Pac-12 South. Still, they are division champions for the first time (officially) following a three-phase win over rival UCLA (scoring on offense, defense and special teams) and they'll get another shot at the Cardinal next week.

4. Utah Utes: South Division co-champions sounds nice in title form ... but they aren’t playing in the conference championship game. Still, six conference wins is solid for a team looking to become a permanent fixture at the top of the division. If Utah could just figure out a way to beat Arizona.

5. Washington State Cougars: The pleasant surprise of the Pac-12 this season, the Cougars are clearly a more efficient offensive team with Luke Falk at the helm. That’s not a knock on Peyton Bender. It's just a tough draw to make your first start against the top defense in the conference. We’re on notice. The Cougars will be a player in the North for a while.

6. UCLA Bruins: A lot of “what could've beens” for this team heading into bowl season. The fact that the Bruins let the Pac-12 South slip away on the final weekend, for the second season in a row, has to be disheartening. Even more so when it’s USC celebrating the division at your expense.

7. California Golden Bears: After a terrible midseason slide, the Bears won two of their final three and the last one in glorious, come-from-behind-#Pac12AfterDark fashion. It was a legitimate victory over an ASU team that was playing good football.

8. Washington Huskies: Needing another win to become bowl-eligible, the Huskies came up huge in the Apple Cup, especially on defense, to turn a rebuilding year into a pretty successful campaign, all things considered. Look for there to be a lot of buzz in Seattle for the next couple of seasons.

9. Arizona State Sun Devils: A weird, streaky regular season ended with a weird, streaky loss.

10. Arizona Wildcats: As far as we know, no middle linebackers were injured during the bye week, so that’s a relief. The Wildcats experienced the perfect storm of compounding injuries, lots of night games and 12 straight weeks without a break. And they play in the South. It would be best not to linger and just enjoy the bowl season.

11. Colorado Buffaloes: So many points left on the field. If that’s not a metaphor for the Buffs’ season, I don’t know what is. Moving, moving, moving, but can’t quite finish.

12. Oregon State Beavers: They didn’t win the Civil War. But the Beavers earned a level of respect for their failed comeback, and while morale victories need not apply, there were at least some positives to build on. Couldn’t say that about many of the games leading up to the finale.