Power ratings: Clutter in the South offset by simplicity in the North, where it’s down to two teams and one rivalry


The Hotline already provided a deep dive into the South race, a rare Sunday afternoon posting for a rarely seen level of division chaos.

But let’s make quick mention of the North situation, which took a turn for the clean-and-simple when Washington State conjured yet another last-minute victory.

The Cougars’ escape from Cal’s clutches provided them with a crucial level of margin for error and effectively created a two-team race.

WSU has three games left: at Colorado and home against Arizona and Washington.

The Huskies have a bye, then finish with Oregon State and the Apple Cup.

* Washington wins the North by winning out.

* The Cougars win the North by 1) winning out or 2) by beating UW and either Colorado or Arizona.

In other words, WSU can afford one loss, so long as it isn’t the finale.

Oregon and Stanford, meanwhile, are done.

(They were basically done before the weekend, but WSU’s victory sealed it — if not mathematically, then practically.)

Unless the Huskies lose at home to the Beavers, it’s all about the Apple Cup.

Location: Martin Stadium.
Date/time: Nov. 23, 5:30 p.m.
Forecast: Mustachey

1. Washington State (8-1/5-1)
Last week: 1
Result: Beat Cal 19-13
Next up: at Colorado
Comment: Utah’s loss/Tyler Huntley’s injury might improve WSU’s prospects for the conference title, but it would seem to complicate a possible path to the playoff: Less chance the South champ will be ranked at kickoff in Levi’s Stadium.

2. Washington (7-3/5-2)
Last week: 3
Result: Beat Stanford 27-23
Next up: Bye
Comment: UW has scored touchdowns on 53 percent of its red zone opportunities, a conversion rate that ranks 111th nationally — just below Rice and just ahead of San Jose State. With a veteran quarterback, that doesn’t compute.

3. Utah (6-3/4-3)
Last week: 2
Result: Lost at Arizona State 38-20
Next up: vs. Oregon
Comment: After much consideration, the Hotline has determined that Utah will, in fact, win the South, with the running game and defense leading the way (and with Arizona State’s daunting finish).

4. Stanford (5-4/3-3)
Last week: 4
Result: Lost at Washington 27-23
Next up: vs. Oregon State
Comment: Had Oregon taken a knee, the Cardinal would be on a five-game losing streak in danger of missing the postseason for the first time in a decade.

5. Oregon (6-3/3-3)
Last week: 5
Result: Beat UCLA 42-21
Next up: at Utah
Comment: Had Oregon taken a knee, the Ducks would be one game out in the North and in need of only modest help to win the thing.

6. Arizona State (5-4/3-3)
Last week: 10
Result: Beat Utah 38-20
Next up: vs. UCLA
Comment: Yes, the Sun Devils were fortunate to get USC without JT Daniels for four quarters and Utah without Tyler Huntley for the fourth quarter. But they were also tough and resourceful in both games … and N’Keal Harry is the best player on the field each time he steps on it.

7. USC (5-4/4-3)
Last week: 6
Result: Won at Oregon State 38-21
Next up: vs. Cal
Comment: Here’s an element to consider when assessing performance: The cross-division rotation. Had the Trojans drawn Oregon and UW instead of the Beavers and Cougars, they very well could be 4-5 … or …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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