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SI Pac-12 Football Power Rankings: Utah Unchallenged at the Top; Cal is No. 7

Golden Bears finished atop the group of six teams that won't play in a bowl game.

Utah confirmed its spot at the top of our SI Pac-12 Football Power Rankings and Cal established itself as the highest-rated team in the conference that won’t be headed to a bowl game.

Those were the outcomes of the only two games played in the Pac-12 last week, leading to our final regular-season rankings.

The Utes crushed Oregon 38-10 in the Pac-12 championship game, their second decisive win over the Ducks in a span of three weeks. None of the six panelists from the network of SI Pac-12 team sites balked on the Utes this time.

Oregon wound up No. 2, although our Jake Curtis opted for UCLA in that spot, a valid appraisal based on what both teams have done in recent weeks.

Cal closed out a 5-7 campaign with its 24-14 win over USC, a result that easily broke a seventh-place tie between the two teams in our rankings. The Bears, who won four of their final six games, are No. 7 this week while the Trojans slipped to ninth.

Here’s where the six teams at the top will be playing during the bowl season (presented chronologically):

— OREGON STATE vs. Utah State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 18, 4:30 p.m., ABC

— UCLA vs. North Carolina State in the Holiday Bowl, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 5 p.m., Fox

— OREGON vs. Oklahoma at the Alamo Bowl, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 6:15 p.m., ESPN

— ARIZONA STATE vs. Wisconsin at the Las Vegas Bowl, Thursday, Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

— WASHINGTON STATE vs. Miami at the Sun Bowl, Friday, Dec. 31, 11 a.m., CBS

— OREGON vs. Ohio State at the Rose Bowl, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2 p.m.

.SI PAC-12 FOOTBALL POWER RANKINGS

1. Utah (6) 10-3, 8-1 . . . 72 votes

2. Oregon 10-3, 7-2 . . . 65

3. UCLA 8-4, 6-3 . . . 61

4. Washington State 7-5, 6-3 . . . 51

5. Arizona State 8-4, 6-3 . . . 49

6. Oregon State 7-5, 5-4 . . .44

7. Cal 5-7, 4-5 . . . 35

8. Colorado 4-8, 3-6 . . . 30

9. USC 4-8, 3-6 . . . 23

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10. Washington 4-8, 3-6 . . . 18

11. Stanford 3-9, 2-7 . . . 12

12. Arizona 1-11, 1-8 . . . 8

DONNIE DRUIN, ALL SUN DEVILS

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

Comment: The Utah Utes are Pac-12 champs, and perhaps deservingly so after a strong season where no team truly wanted to prove they were the team to beat in the conference. Lots of change has happened, and plenty more is on the horizon moving forward. Here's to hoping the conference only gets stronger for next season.

JAKE CURTIS, CAL SPORTS REPORT

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

Comment: I should have put Oregon lower considering its pitiful performance in the Pac-12 championship game but the Ducks are still ranked in the CFP rankings. I think Arizona could beat Stanford now, so that’s why I have Stanford last.

MAX TORRES, DUCKS DIGEST

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

Comment: Oregon is in limbo now with Cristobal leaving for Miami and it's going to be hard to find another coach that can recruit at that level. Very few in the entire sport can. Utah is far and away the best team in the conference, erasing any shred of a doubt after demolishing an Oregon team that looked like it had lost its fight and had very little hope of offensive success with Anthony Brown staying in at quarterback the entire game.

SAM CONNON, ALL BRUINS

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

Comment: The Utes further separated themselves from the pack by stomping the Ducks yet again, and they've been justly rewarded with a Rose Bowl berth to show for it. UCLA still sits above Arizona State, despite the Sun Devils getting the technically superior bowl placement, which can mostly be chalked up to politics and a head-to-head matchup two full months ago.

CLAUDETTE PATTISON-MONTANA, ALL TROJANS

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

Comment: The USC Trojans had a tough ending to the 2021 season, losing to Cal on Saturday. But good news for Trojans fans is that the future looks bright and promising as we embark on the new Lincoln Riley era.

DAN RALEY, HUSKY MAVEN

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

Comment: Washington has a new coach. Time to start over from scratch. Re-evaluate everything. Rebuild a physical program. USC is saying the same thing. So is WSU. Oregon could be asking some of those questions, too. Time to take the Pac-12 up a notch. 

Cover photo of Utah players celebrating their Rose Bowl bid by Kirby Lee, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo