Best of the West: Oregon on top, WSU rises and BYU returns

Each week, the Hotline ranks the best major college football teams across the western third of the country — not only the Pac-12 but the Mountain West and Independents — using a formula that’s partly results-oriented and partly subjective.

We will publish a similar ranking once the basketball season begins, incorporating the top teams from the West Coast Conference, Big West, Big Sky and Western Athletic, as well.

Here’s our assessment through the results of Week 10 …

1. Oregon (8-1/6-0 Pac-12)

Last week: 1
Result: won at Colorado 49-10
Next up: vs. Washington (4 p.m. on Fox)
Line: Oregon -13.5
Comment: The conference schedule certainly broke right for the Ducks to take a run at 9-0 with Washington, UCLA and Utah all visiting Autzen Stadium and no regular-season game against USC.

2. UCLA (8-1/ 5-1 Pac-12)

Last week: 2
Result: won at ASU 50-36
Next up: vs. Arizona (7:30 p.m. on Fox)
Line: UCLA -19.5
Comment: So Zach Charbonnet doesn’t play and the Bruins finally score 50. Coincidence?

3. Utah (7-2/5-1)

Last week: 3
Result: beat Arizona 45-20
Next up: vs. Stanford (7 p.m. on ESPN)
Line: Utah -24
Comment: We feel confident in saying Tavion Thomas is the best fourth-string tailback in Utah history.

4. USC (8-1/6-1)

Last week: 4
Result: beat Cal 41-35
Next up: vs. Colorado (Friday at 6:30 p.m. on FS1)
Line: USC -34.5
Comment: If it continues, USC’s turnover margin of plus-1.78 per game would be the best in the FBS since Wyoming in 2017, excluding the shortened 2020 season.

5. Washington (7-2/4-2 Pac-12)

Last week: 6
Result: beat Oregon State 24-21
Next up: at Oregon (4 p.m. on Fox)
Line: Washington +13.5
Comment: Loads of discussion about the rivalry with Oregon and the matchups, but let’s not forget UW’s only road win of the season came against the only team to lose to Colorado.

6. Washington State (5-4/2-4 Pac-12)

Last week: 8
Result: won at Stanford 52-14
Next up: vs. Arizona State (12:30 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Line: WSU -7.5
Comment: As an astute observer noted, WSU generally, and Cam Ward specifically, sure missed Nakia Watson’s pass-blocking skills.

7. Oregon State (6-3/3-3 Pac-12)

Last week: 5
Result: lost at Washington 24-21
Next up: vs. Cal (6 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Line: OSU -13.5
Comment: There is a subjective element to these rankings, hence the current positions of OSU and WSU relative to their head-to-head result. We think the Cougars are a tad better right now on a neutral field.

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8. Boise State (6-3/5-0 MW)

Last week: 7
Result: lost to BYU 31-28
Next up: at Nevada (7:30 p.m. on CBSSN)
Line: Boise State -20.5
Comment: Feels like too many points until you realize Nevada hasn’t won since Sept. 3.

9. Fresno State (5-4/4-1 MW)

Last week: 10
Result: beat Hawaii 55-13
Next up: at UNLV (Friday, 7:30 p.m. on CBSSN)
Line: Fresno State -9.5
Comment: With head-to-head wins over San Jose State and San Diego State, the Bulldogs hold a comfortable division lead as they gear up for a likely MW title matchup against Boise State.

10. Brigham Young (5-5)

Last week: N/R
Result: won at Boise State 31-28
Next up: idle
Line: N/A
Comment: From the Department of Results We Did Not Expect: BYU winning at Boise State the week after losing at home to East Carolina.

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