We've taken one step closer on this slow, torturous journey back to college football this morning as the 2014 Pac-12 preseason media poll has been released. The Oregon Ducks are favored to win their fourth conference title since 2009. The UCLA Bruins are picked to win the south division.
There weren't too many surprises in the full predictions. Stanford is picked to finish second in the north behind Oregon, while Washington, Oregon State, Washington State and Cal come filing in respectively. In recent years in the north division, it has been Oregon, Stanford, and then everyone else. That looks to remain the same in 2014 unless Chris Petersen can work some instant miracles up in Seattle. Oregon picked up 37 votes to win the division, while Stanford scooped up the last two votes.
In the south division, UCLA also picked up 37 first place votes while USC and Arizona each took one first place vote. If the polls hold true, UCLA would play in their third conference championship game in the four years since the expansion of the conference created the championship game. I'll give them credit for 2011 even though USC "technically" won the division that year. Rounding out the rest of the south is USC, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. My Pac-12 poll I submitted had identical results in both divisions with the exception of USC. I took them to finish third, just because I think the whole Steve Sarkisian thing is going to crash and burn there. I give him two years max with the Trojans.
Oregon received 24 votes to win the Pac-12 title game while UCLA received 13 votes. Stanford and USC each received one vote, as well.
The Ducks were also the favorites to win the conference in the Pac-12 poll submitted by SB Nation bloggers.
With a new shiny venue in Santa Clara, the Pac-12 decided to get rid of the format where the team with the better record would host the championship game. Remember that spectacle at Autzen in 2011? They replaced all the boards along the wall with Pac-12 boards. Each team got their own entrance complete with pyrotechnics. And of course, one of Chip's finest moments when he said, "We're going to go drink some Dr. Pepper and mail our Christmas presents with UPS!" This year, the game will be held on December 5 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, the sparkling new home of the San Francisco 49ers.
If you believe in numbers, the media poll has correctly predicted the conference champion in 11 of the last 14 polls. Those are some odds that Ducks fans can get behind.