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Utes Face Tough Test As Top Pac-12 Team

Utah Utes wide receiver Bryan Thompson pulls in a touchdown pass against Idaho State Bengals defensive back Jay Irvine during NCAA football in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Pac-12 is gaining some traction among the national voters with six teams ranked in the top 25. Now, that most of the Pac-12 teams are done with non-conference play, the road to the conference championship begins on Friday night.

Utah is the highest ranked Pac-12 school in the AP Top 25 Poll and remain on top of the power rankings. The conference now has six teams ranked in the AP poll, which ties for the most with the SEC. It’s also the most that the conference has had ranked in the same week in four years.

Here’s the KSL Sports Pac-12 Power Rankings after the third week of the season:

NORTH

1. No. 16 Oregon Ducks (2-1)

Result: Beat Montana 35-3 at home.

Recap: As expected, this game was not close. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 316 yards and 5 touchdowns, becoming the only Oregon quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in back-to-back games. Running back Travis Dye ran for 101 yards on 17 carries. Both Johnny Johnson III and Jacob Breeland caught two touchdown passes. The Ducks defense held Montana to just eight rushing yards in the win.

Previous Ranking: 1

Next up: at Stanford (1-2), Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

2. No. 19 Washington State Cougars (3-0)

Result: Defeated Houston 31-24 at NRG Stadium on Friday.

Recap: Houston held a one touchdown lead at halftime, but Washington State scored two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter. With a 21-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter, each team scored 10 points as Washington State picked up a big win at a “neutral” site. Quarterback Anthony Gordon passed for 440 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. Running back Max Borghi had 9 carries for 40 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Brandon Arconado didn’t find the end zone but hauled in nine receptions for 115 yards.

Previous Ranking: 2

Next up: vs. UCLA (0-3), Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

3. No. 22 Washington Huskies (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12)

Result: Beat Hawaii 52-20 at home.

Recap: The Huskies jumped out to a 38-7 lead at the half before Hawaii made a small comeback attempt with 13 unanswered points in the third quarter to trim the lead to 18 but 14 fourth quarter points by Washington to put the game away. Quarterback Jacob Eason threw three touchdown passes to go with his 262 yards. Richard Newton had just 8 carries for only 29 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hunter Bryant finished with 5 catches for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. Former Orem High School star Puka Nacua scored his first college football touchdown on a 28-yard score.

Previous Ranking: 3

Next up: at BYU (2-1), Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on either ABC or ESPN2 and KSL Newsradio.

4. No. 23 California Golden Bears (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12)

Result: Defeated North Texas 23-17 at home.

Recap: Cal had a great first quarter, scoring 20 straight points. North Texas hit a field goal to claim the only points in the second quarter. They trimmed the lead to 10 on a touchdown to begin the second half, but the Golden Bears hit a field goal later in the third quarter. The Mean Green scored a touchdown late in the fourth but their comeback attempt came up short. Cal quarterback Chase Garbers completed just nine of his 22 pass attempts for 129 yards and one touchdown, while running the ball 18 times for 70 yards. Linebacker Evan Weaver had 11 tackles, including one for a loss.

Previous Ranking: 4

Next up: at Ole Miss (2-1), Saturday at 10 a.m. on ESPNU.

5. Stanford Cardinal (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12)

Result: Lost to No. 17 UCF 45-27 on the road.

Recap: It’s very unusual to see Stanford struggle on the defensive side of the ball. They allowed 28 points in the first quarter and 38 of UCF’s 45 points came in the first half. K.J. Costello returned from injury and threw for 199 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Running back Cameron Scarlett struggled running the football, recording 12 carries for 45 yards.

Previous Ranking: 5

Next up: vs. No. 16 Oregon (2-1), Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

6. Oregon State Beavers (1-2)

Result: Beat Cal Poly 45-7 at home.

Recap: The Beavers scored 38 points in the first half, while Cal Poly had their only touchdown come in the opening quarter. Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Running back B.J. Baylor had 101 rushing yards on just seven carries and one touchdown. Champ Flemings hauled in five catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

Previous Ranking: 6

Next up: Bye Week

SOUTH

1. No. 10 Utah Utes (3-0)

Result: Beat Idaho State 31-0 at home.

Recap: The Utes’ offense was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter with 17 points. Quarterback Tyler Huntley went 15-of-19 passing for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns in just two and a half quarters. Running back Zack Moss finished with 10 carries for 106 yards and one touchdown in a quarter and a half. He moved up to No. 2 in school history in career rushing yards and touchdowns. Wide receiver Bryan Thompson had two catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Previous Ranking: 1

Next up: at USC (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12), Friday at 7 p.m. on FS1.

2. No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)

Result: Beat No. 18 Michigan State 10-7 on the road.

Recap: The Sun Devils knocked in a field goal in the second quarter and neither team scored in the first and third quarters. Michigan State scored a touchdown to take the lead with 8:37 left in the game, but ASU running back Eno Benjamin ran in a touchdown with 50 seconds left. The Spartans had the ball in field goal range and made the field goal but was nullified due to a penalty for 12 players on the field. When they had to retry the attempt, they missed the game-tying field goal. On Monday, the Pac-12 admitted that the officials missed a call at the end when an Arizona State player leaped over the lineman in an attempt to block the kick but wasn’t flagged for it.

ASU was held to just 76 rushing yards and 140 yards through the air but was able to get the win with the defense. Evan Fields had 13 total tackles for Arizona State.

Previous Ranking: 4

Next up: vs. Colorado (2-1), Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.

3. USC Trojans (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12)

Result: Lost to BYU 30-27 in overtime on the road.

Recap: In a back-and-forth game, USC tied the game with a 52-yard field goal with 1:43 left in the game to go to overtime. BYU scored first on a field goal but Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis threw an interception to give BYU the upset win. Slovis went 24-of-34 passing for 281 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. had 9 receptions for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Previous Ranking: 2

Next up: vs. No. 10 Utah (3-0), Friday at 7 p.m. on FS1.

4. Colorado Buffaloes (2-1)

Result: Lost to Air Force 30-23 in overtime at home.

Recap: Colorado had a 10-6 lead after the first quarter before Air Force scored two second quarter touchdowns to lead 20-10 at the break. The Falcons made a field goal to start the fourth quarter, but two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a two-yard run by wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. with 28 seconds left sent the game to overtime. Air Force scored a touchdown on their first possession in overtime, but Colorado turned the ball over on downs, handing the win to the Falcons.

Quarterback Steven Montez threw for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Shenault finished with three carries for 25 yards and one score, while hauling in 8 receptions for 124 yards and another touchdown through the air.

Previous Ranking: 3

Next up: at No. 24 Arizona State (3-0), Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.

5. Arizona Wildcats (2-1)

Result: Defeated Texas Tech 28-14 at home.

Recap: Arizona scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter when trailing by one point to get the win. Quarterback Khalil Tate looked like his old self after racking up 129 rushing yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Running back Gary Brightwell had 85 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

Previous Ranking: 5

Next up: Bye Week

6. UCLA Bruins (0-3)

Result: Lost to No. 5 Oklahoma 48-14 at home.

Recap: The Bruins are off to another 0-3 start to the season, it’s the first time that they have started 0-3 in back-to-back seasons since 1921. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 201 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Demetric Felton had five carries for 65 yards. Wide receiver Devin Asiasi recorded three catches for 71 yards.

Previous Ranking: 6

Next up: vs. No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0), Saturday at 6 p.m. on FOX.

The full Pac-12 power rankings without divisions:

  1. Utah
  2. Oregon
  3. Washington State
  4. Washington
  5. Arizona State
  6. California
  7. USC
  8. Colorado
  9. Arizona
  10. Stanford
  11. Oregon State
  12. UCLA