Pac-12 rankings: Oregon regains footing as conference's elite

The Pac-12 North is shaping up to be a race that's pretty clearly defined (Oregon, and then everybody else), but the South might end up being a battle to the very end. This makes for an entertaining race to San Francisco for the title game but might be trouble when it comes to the College Football Playoff.

1. Oregon (6-1, 3-1 in Pac-12)

Up next: vs. California, Friday, Oct. 24 (in Santa Clara)
The skinny: The Ducks appear to be back to their usual form and are suddenly a trendy pick to make it into the final four after easily dispatching their rival to the North in Washington. Next up is a trip to acquaint themselves with the site of the Pac-12 Championship Game.

2. Arizona State (4-1, 2-1)

Up next: at Washington, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: ASU got the last laugh in their title-game rematch with Stanford last week, firmly announcing their intentions to remain atop the division. We'll see if the offense can keep things up with the return of Taylor Kelly at quarterback.

3. Arizona (5-1, 2-1)

Up next: at Washington State, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Seems like forever ago that this team beat Oregon, but don't overlook the Wildcats continuing to make noise in the South. A tricky trip to Pullman awaits.

4. Utah (5-1, 2-1)

Up next: vs. USC, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Questions remain at quarterback but certainly not at running back behind the bruising Devontae Booker. Plenty of tests remain in the team's hunt to get bowl eligible and make a run at the South division, starting this week with USC.

5. USC (5-2, 4-1)

Up next: at USC, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: It seems like the Trojans are flying under the radar out West, and that might be a good thing for Steve Sarkisian's crew. Cody Kessler threw seven touchdown passes last week but will have his hands full with a tough Utah defense on the road.

6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)

Up next: at Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: It wasn't pretty, but the Bruins survived their trip to Strawberry Canyon last week, thanks to some timely big plays. They're in for an easier road trip this week as they try to get things going on a team that has plenty of talent.

7. Washington (5-2, 1-2)

Up next: vs. Arizona State, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: It was the same old story for the Huskies at Autzen last week, and news that QB Cyler Miles might not be cleared until Saturday sets up a tricky test against a feisty Arizona State team.

8. Stanford (4-3, 2-2)

Up next: vs. Oregon State, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: There are no issues on defense, but Kevin Hogan and the offense simply have not been able to move the ball effectively. Perhaps a return to The Farm to face the Beavers will help them get back on track.

9. California (4-3, 2-3)

Up next: vs. Oregon, Friday, Oct. 24 (in Santa Clara)
The skinny: It wasn't long ago the Bears were leading the Pac-12 North. They've been brought back to reality, however, and face a huge test Friday against Oregon.

10. Oregon State (4-2, 1-2)

Up next: at Stanford, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Mike Riley's Beavers became just the latest team to give up a victory to the road team in the Pac-12. Oregon State hopes that trend continues during the team's trip to Palo Alto.

11. Washington State (2-5, 1-3)

Up next: vs. Arizona, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: The Cougars appear set to play the role of spoiler the rest of the season, and they can start this week against a difficult Arizona team that should result in plenty of offensive fireworks.

12. Colorado (2-5, 0-4)

Up next: vs. UCLA, Saturday, Oct. 25
The skinny: Another game against USC came and went with the Buffs' defense getting blasted. Now they have to defend against Brett Hundley and company. Such is life at the bottom of the Pac-12 for Colorado.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter *@BryanDFischer.*

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