Pac-12 rankings: Oregon continues rise among nation's elite

Poll voters might be undervaluing the Pac-12 considering how much respect the College Football Playoff selection committee is giving them. The top tier of the conference is strong, but the bottom of the league might hold the Pac-12 back from overtaking the SEC.

1. Oregon (9-1, 6-1 in Pac-12)

Up next: vs. Colorado, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny: The Ducks have ascended to the No. 2 spot in the country after a big win at Utah that saw them make plays on both sides of the ball. The only issue with the team might be the mounting injury list, but with somebody like Marcus Mariota taking snaps, that might not matter.

2. Arizona State (8-1, 5-1)

Up next: at Oregon State, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: Todd Graham is blitzing his way to another South Division title and doing a terrific job getting his players ready for each challenge. The offense came alive under quarterback Taylor Kelly in the big win over Notre Dame while making an emphatic statement to the rest of the country.

3. Arizona (7-2, 4-2)

Up next: vs. Washington, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: The Wildcats are still on the outside looking in when it comes to winning the division title, but there's still a shot if they keep playing well. They'll need all they have to get past a tricky Washington team.

4. UCLA (8-2, 5-2)

Up next: vs. USC, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny: Will the real Bruins stand up? The team might have turned the corner the past few weeks and has really started to play better on both sides of the ball. A tough task awaits, though, in a rivalry matchup with their crosstown foes.

5. Utah (6-3, 3-3)

Up next: at Stanford, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: The Utes remain a top-25 team, but barely. The defense was able to hold up decently against Oregon for three quarters, but that wasn't enough to get a win. The once stagnant offense showed some signs of life with a downfield passing game to go with stud running back Devontae Booker.

6. USC (7-3, 6-2)

Up next: at UCLA, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny: Things don't get any easier for the Trojans after a Thursday night win over Cal, as they face a pair of top-15 teams in rivalry games to close out the regular season. At least the team appears to be healthy going into the stretch run.

7. Washington (6-4, 2-4)

Up next: at Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: Injuries have been a big issue for Chris Petersen in his first season, but there have still been some encouraging signs on both sides of the ball. The only issue is that the schedule doesn't get any easier.

8. Stanford (5-4, 3-3)

Up next: vs. Utah, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: Hard as it is to believe, the Cardinal are still second in the North Division. A strong finish to the season would make it a less frustrating year, but only if fans avoid watching the offense in the red zone.

9. California (5-5, 3-5)

Up next: vs. Stanford, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny: Despite a loss Thursday night to USC , Sonny Dykes has the Bears on the cusp of a bowl berth in a remarkable turnaround from last season. Jared Goff and the offense have been great, but it's the strides on defense that have been the real reason for the wins.

10. Colorado (2-7, 0-6)

Up next: at Oregon, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny: The only team in the Pac-12 South that won't be going to a bowl, the Buffs have still remained a tricky test for opponents. The offense is one of the most underrated units in the country, but turnovers have killed a number of chances.

11. Washington State (3-7, 2-5)

Up next: at Arizona State, Saturday, Nov. 22
The skinny:Mike Leach knows how to groom quarterbacks, as he showed again with the surprisingly great performance by Luke Falk in a big upset win over Oregon State.

12. Oregon State (4-5, 1-5)

Up next: vs. Arizona State, Saturday, Nov. 15
The skinny: If Sean Mannion sets a Pac-12 record, but nobody is around to see it, does it really happen? That's a question we're asking after the Beavers have slipped to the bottom of the league.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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