The Pac-12 schedule has wrapped up and the league hardly finished the way anyone anticipated. Many figured it would be Oregon and USC running the show for the 2012 season, but instead we have Stanford and upstart UCLA battling for the crown while the rest of the standings panned out differently than most expected.
With the conclusion of the 2012 regular season campaign, here is how the teams rank.
The convincing victory over UCLA this past weekend showed that Stanford's season has been no fluke. Its defense has been extremely strong and will need to continue to impress if it wants to represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins get another shot at Stanford in the Pac-12 title game and the Cardinal will need to bring their A-game again.
The Ducks bounced back from their loss to Stanford by crushing rival Oregon State. Despite its loss to Stanford, it’s very likely UO ends up in a BCS bowl game, which would give the Pac-12 two teams in prestigious postseason contests.
The loss the Stanford was disappointing for the Bruins, but doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. It certainly showed that the Cardinal are the better squad, but the Bruins will get a chance to turn that around Friday in the conference championship game – a rematch against Stanford.
4. Oregon State
After falling at home to Oregon, the Beavers finish 6-3 in conference play. OSU still has one contest left – a makeup game against Nicholls State - and will likely pick up its ninth victory. There were a lot of questions surrounding Oregon State going into the season, so a 9-3 season should be viewed as an overwhelming success.
5. Arizona State
After upsetting their rival on the road, ASU’s regular season ended on an extremely high note under first-year head coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils will await their postseason fate, but regardless of how the season ended, the Sun Devils appear to be headed in the right direction.
The Wildcats collapsed again, but this time it was at home and at the hands of rival Arizona State. Fortunately for the Arizona, it was already bowl eligible and now awaits the announcement of where it will be headed. Despite losing to ASU, Rich Rodriguez’s first year at the helm should be considered a complete success given everything he was dealt.
The Trojans' loss to Notre Dame wasn’t much of a surprise given that they were without quarterback Matt Barkley. The Fighting Irish proved they deserve to be in the title game, whereas USC proved that its preseason number one ranking wasn’t an indicator of how good it really was this season.
A loss to the Cougars puts a serious damper on what was an otherwise successful 2012 season for the Huskies. Finishing the season at 7-5 still assures UW of a bowl game, but losing to a team of Wazzu’s caliber is an embarrassing way to end the campaign.
The Utes were challenged by Colorado, but ultimately Utah pulled off the victory and avoided the embarrassing upset. It was a disappointing second season in the Pac-12 for Utah, so avoiding the upset at the hands of CU prevented further disappointment from surfacing.
10. Washington State
By defeating Washington in the Apple Cup, Wazzu was able to avoid going winless in conference play in head coach Mike Leach’s first season leading the Cougars. There were times Washington State battled with good teams this year, so picking up a victory to close the season allows the team something to build on going into 2013.
The Golden Bears' disappointing campaign ended with no bowl appearance, which led to the termination of head coach Jeff Tedford. At one point Cal was 3-4 and looked to have an outside shot at making a run for a bowl game, but the Bears proceeded to lose their final five games.
Colorado ended the season with another loss and given the fact Wazzu defeated Washington, CU has been leapfrogged and assumes the last spot in the 2012 Pac-12 rankings.