The Pac-12 isn't in the national title hunt, but its top troika is the best in the nation, according to the AP poll released Sunday.
Three Pac-12 teams rank in the top six: No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Oregon. No other conference matches that.
USC is ineligible for the coaches' poll due to NCAA sanctions. It ranks Stanford No. 4 and Oregon No. 5.
Of course, on Nov. 12, the Ducks won 53-30 at Stanford.
And USC won at Oregon 38-35 and lost at home to Stanford in triple overtime.
But the Trojans' second loss was at Arizona State -- by 21 points -- while the Ducks' second loss was to No. 1 LSU by 13.
The ultimate pecking order should work itself out in the bowl games, even though USC is ineligible.
Or maybe not: How would Stanford beating No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl rate beside Oregon beating No. 9 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl?
And, if both lost, obviously USC would advance.
As I have noted before, college football, without a playoff, is not unlike a beauty contest. And just as ideas of beauty are different person to person -- and can change on whims -- so is our ranking of college football teams.