UCLA rises, UNLV and SJSU debut

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 Five …

(All times Pacific)

1. USC (5-0/3-0 Pac-12)
Last week: 1
Result: beat Arizona State 42-25
Next up: vs. Washington State (4:30 p.m. on FOX)
Line: USC -13
Comment: Survive WSU and escape Salt Lake City next weekend, and the Trojans become a frontrunner for the playoff. They can afford one loss down the stretch, as long as it’s not in the conference championship.

2. Utah (4-1/2-0 Pac-12)
Last week: 2
Result: beat Oregon State 42-16
Next up: at UCLA (12:30 p.m. on FOX)
Line: Utah -4.5
Comment: Back-to-back Saturdays against the Los Angeles schools — with all three teams ranked and both games on FOX — create a stellar opportunity for the Utes to offer a narrative counterweight to the Florida loss.

3. Oregon (4-1/2-0 Pac-12)
Last week: 3
Result: beat Stanford 45-27
Next up: at Arizona (6 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks)
Line: Oregon -13
Comment: The offensive line lacks a headliner like Penei Sewell, but its effectiveness can be summed up with one number: 5.96 yards-per-rush. We expect a 200-yard game Saturday night.

4. Brigham Young (4-1)
Last week: 4
Result: beat Utah State 38-26
Next up: at Notre Dame (4:30 p.m. on NBC)
Line: BYU +7
Comment: Clearly, the Cougars aren’t the worst major college team in the state of Utah. Unfortunately, we won’t find out if they are the best.

5. Washington State (4-1/1-1 Pac-12)
Last week: 6
Result: beat Cal 28-9
Next up: at USC (4:30 p.m. on FOX)
Line: WSU +13
Comment: Combined score the past two years: USC 83, WSU 27. This edition should be more competitive.

6. UCLA (5-0/2-0 Pac-12)
Last week: 9
Result: beat Washington 40-32
Next up: vs. Utah (12:30 p.m. on FOX)
Line: UCLA +4.5
Comment: If Dorian Thompson-Robinson follows his sterling performance against Washington with a first-rate showing this week (on broadcast television, no less,) Los Angeles will have its second Heisman Trophy contender. And we could be looking at 1988 all over again.

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