Arizona St Utah Football

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins has helped lead the Sun Devils to a 3-1 Pac-12 record and into position to challenge for a Pac-12 South title.

Rick Bowmer, The Associated Press

What a difference two weeks have made in the Pac-12 football season.

Two weeks ago, Washington and Washington State were undefeated and in the talk for a possible College Football Playoff berth.

Then, both teams stunningly lost on the road — Washington State at California and Washington at Arizona State.

While USC avoided an upset that week by edging Utah 28-27 at home, the Trojans saw their playoff hopes take a major hit with a 49-14 thumping at Notre Dame.

Those losses have shaken things up in the power rankings as well.

Stanford moves to the top of the list while Arizona State jumps from a tie for eighth to fourth with its wins.

Washington falls to second while Washington State is third.

Stanford will put its top billing on the line against Oregon State, which is once again in the cellar. However, the Beavers were not a unanimous pick with Oregon receiving one last-place vote this week.

The marquee matchup of the week is at Arizona State, where the Sun Devils welcome a reeling USC team with Pac-12 South title implications at stake.

The Sun Devils are a half-game behind the Trojans, who have dropped two of three overall. Arizona State has been sensational on defense the past two weeks, allowing just 17 points in wins over Washington and Utah.

Another key battle is in Tucson where Arizona hosts Washington State. The Wildcats have burst into the South title race with backup quarterback Khalil Tate leading the charge. Tate has won three straight Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors.

The Cougars rebounded nicely from their loss at Cal with a shutout of Colorado.

Washington will look to bounce back when the Huskies host UCLA in their first game that starts before 5 p.m. local time.

Also Saturday, Utah is at Oregon and California is at Colorado. All four teams are 4-4 and each needs two wins to be bowl eligible.

Here’s a look at Gameday’s rankings this week:

1. Stanford (57 points, 5-2, 4-1, last week 3t): Cardinal are coming off a bye and face an Oregon State team that is also off a bye and its best overall performance of the season in a loss to Colorado.

2. Washington (53 points, 6-1, 3-1, last week 1): The Huskies are coming off a bye after laying an egg in a 13-7 loss at Arizona State two weeks ago. UW still controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 North and plays four of last five at home.

3. Washington State (52 points, 7-1, 4-1 last week 2): Cougars followed up big win over USC with the road loss at Cal before rebounding to shut out Colorado last week. Cougars play three of last four on the road with the one home game against Stanford.

4. Arizona State (45 points, 4-3, 3-1, last week 8t): Maybe the hottest team in the conference, having stunned Washington at home two weeks ago and then Utah on the road last week. Sun Devils have allowed just 17 points the past two games as they host USC this Saturday.

5. USC (41 points, 6-2, 4-1 Pac-12, last week 3t): Trojans have played with fire all season and are lucky to be 6-2. Still, the blowout loss to Notre Dame after a close win at home over Utah does not bode well moving forward.

6. Arizona (36 points, 5-2, 3-1, last week 6): Where has Khalil Tate been all season? The Wildcats’ backup quarterback has been virtually unstoppable since taking over and has Arizona on the verge of a bowl game.

7. Utah (29 points, 4-3, 1-3, last week 5): Utah has fallen on hard times, dropping three straight after being blown out at home by Arizona State. Key battle at Oregon on Saturday as Utes still need two wins to become bowl eligible.

8. UCLA (25 points, 4-3, 2-2, last week 7): An up-and-down season continues for the Bruins, who outscored Oregon 17-0 in the second half last week to upend the Ducks. Big road game at Washington this week.

9. California (21 points, 4-4, 1-4, last week 11): Golden Bears are coming off a tough double-overtime loss and still need two wins to get to a bowl game. A win at Colorado would go a long way to reaching that goal in Justin Wilcox’s first season.

10. Colorado (15 points, 4-4, 1-4, last week 10): Buffaloes easily could be 0-5 in conference play if not for squeaking out a win at Oregon State two weeks ago, 36-33. Colorado offense was abysmal in 28-0 loss at WSU last week.

11. Oregon (10 points, 4-4, 1-3, last week 8t): Backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister has not been able to generate much in the passing game, limiting the Ducks’ ability to score. Oregon has combined for just 31 points the past three games.

12. Oregon State (6 points, 1-6, 0-4, last week 12): Oregon State played inspired and with passion under interim coach Cory Hall in the loss to Colorado two weeks ago. Now comes another major challenge trying to slow Stanford’s run game.

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Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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