1. Oregon Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12 conference play)
Oregon is the undisputed leader of the conference at the halfway point of the season. After having a nice week off, the Ducks head into hostile territory to take on ASU in what could be a season-defining game for both programs. For Oregon, a big win in Tempe would send a message that they are hell-bent on the BCS National Championship Game. An ASU victory would send the Pac-12 into chaos.
2. Oregon State Beavers (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12 conference play)
Another impressive win for the Beavers, who went into Provo and defeated a capable BYU team without Sean Mannion. Cody Vaz appears to be the real deal, and OSU is the toast of the town right now. No one saw this coming.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12 conference play)
Much like Oregon against Wazzu earlier this season, the Sun Devils had some trouble on the road against an inferior team for the first 30 minutes. In the second half against Colorado, ASU scored 31 points while holding the Buffaloes scoreless. That type of effort is what good teams put forward against bad ones, and now Arizona State faces their stiffest test on Thursday night at home against UO.
4. USC Trojans (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12 conference play)
Southern Cal went on the road to Seattle and came out with a victory over Washington, a small consolation for the fact that their offense seemed to be off-kilter all night. USC needs a signature win, period. Their resume is essentially equal to Arizona State's, and thus I view USC and ASU as interchangeable in this column.
5. Stanford Cardinal (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12 conference play)
Stanford lost to Notre Dame on a questionable (at best) review in overtime. If they would have pulled off the victory, the Cardinal would be #3 in these rankings. For now, they settle for middle of the Pac, but can take solace knowing that a loss to Notre Dame does not damage their Pac-12 Championship Game ambitions.
6. UCLA Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12 conference play)
The Bruins put up a pedestrian performance against Utah in Pasadena, winning 21-14. UCLA's schedule continues to be difficult as they have road games against ASU and Wazzu and home battles against Arizona, USC and Stanford. Don't sleep on the Bruins just yet, but they are fighting an uphill battle with two losses in conference play already on the books.
7. Washington Huskies (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12 conference play)
UW has lost three games this season, against the #2, #3, and #11 teams in the country, respectively (Oregon, LSU, USC). Their schedule has been very difficult and they deserve credit for the effort they've put forth. They only face one ranked team from here on out (Oregon State) and they have a real chance at winning eight games when it's all said and done.
8. California Golden Bears (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12 conference play)
Suddenly, the Bears are fighting on an upward trajectory. Coach Tedford went from hot seat to middle of the Pac in two weeks flat. A road win in Pullman is always worthy of praise.
9. Arizona Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 Pac-12 conference play)
Bye week for the boys down in Tucson. They needed it after losing three straight conference games against ranked foes. Will be interesting to see if UA can win at least three of their final six games to make a bowl game. They seem capable of it.
10. Washington State Cougars (2-5, 0-4 Pac-12 conference play)
Sheesh. These guys are terrible... for now. Expect results in a few weeks.
11. Utah Utes (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12 conference play)
Utah is charting a new course with Travis Wilson under center. Wilson played relatively well, completing 22 passes and even making a 23-yard catch. With a new QB, the Utes could win some games in the second half against a manageable schedule.
12. Colorado Buffaloes (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12 conference play)
A spirited first half against ASU turned into more of the same for Colorado on Thursday night. This team is a few years away from being a factor in the Pac-12.