Who will battle the Ducks for all the Tostitos in this season's Pac-12 Championship Game?
The inaugural Pac-12 Media Day is coming up, a welcome reminder that the long offseason has only six weeks left. One of the traditions during media day is the unveiling of the preseason media poll. Since we will not know the official results of the poll until next Tuesday, we at CGB decided to put together a preseason poll of our own. Several of us mods made an assortment of predictions about the first ever Pac-12 season, and below we have our results.
First up we have our mock poll, where we ranked teams from first to last for each division. First place teams earned 6 points, second place earned 5 points, and so on to last place, who earns a single point. Below I have tallied up the results of our ballots, with the number in parentheses indicating the number of first place votes.
- Oregon, 47 (7)
- Stanford, 38 (1)
- California, 32
- Washington, 24
- Oregon State, 16
- Washington State, 11
Predictably enough, we expect Oregon to win the North. Whether they will be eligible for the championship game and potentially the Rose Bowl remains to be seen...We were nearly unanimous in our votes for Oregon, though I will let the lone abstainer (who voted for Stanford, of all teams!) to remain anonymous. Cal comes in third, followed by the Huskies, a surprisingly low Oregon State, and those lovable last-place finishers up in Pullman. The point differentials between each team indicate that there is a pretty clear hierarchy here.
Who will win the South and face Oregon championship game? Our Pac-12 South poll is after the jump as well as out thoughts on who will win the championship game, who will be the biggest surprise, and who will be the biggest disappointment this season.
- USC, 44 (5)
- Utah, 40 (2)
- Arizona State, 33 (1)
- Arizona, 26
- Colorado, 17
- UCLA, 8
Here the results were a bit more varied, though we're pretty sure who the bottom two teams will be this year. In fact, our only unanimous vote was that UCLA would finish last! Do not be surprised if this is Neuheisel's last season in Westwood. We expect USC and Utah to be the strongest competitors for the South title, though ASU has an outside shot at winning it. Of course, USC's bowl ban includes the championship game, which means we might see an Oregon-Utah matchup in the first ever Pac-12 Championship Game.
Who will win the conference championship game?
Kodiak: Utah. Only because I can't stand predicting that it will be the Ducks, furds, or 'sc.
Yellow Fever: Oregon. Though if this whole Willie Lyles thing explodes, it wouldn't surprise me to see Utah heading to another BCS game.
Ohio Bear: Oregon
Avinash: Furd. They have the best signal-caller in the nation. Their defense will suck, so they'll likely lose a few games, but Andrew Luck probably earns them eight wins with the talent they have, and they'll only need a win over Oregon to roll on (no way they lose to whatever pitiful Pac-12 South team stands in their way).
It looks like Puddles and the rest of the Ducks will once again march down Colorado Ave on New Year's Day. Better them than the Lobsterbacks.
Who will be this season's biggest surprise?
norcalnick: Either Utah, for winning a weak, injury and sanction ravaged Pac-12 South in their first year in the conference, or Washington St. for finishing above somebody in the standings.
atomsareenough: I'd say ASU for living up to the hype or Cal for rebounding from 5-7 to an 8-4 record. Maybe UCLA for being terrible.
Berkelium97: This is tough. I think it's going to be a rough year this year. I expect several teams to regress this year (UW, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona, ASU). The biggest surprise will be whoever can take advantage of these teams. I'd tab Cal or Utah as one of the top candidates to kick those teams when they're down.
Kodiak: Cal...for the first time in years we won't under-perform relative to pre-season expectations.
Yellow Fever: The cratering of the Stanfurd offense after the departure of Jim Harbaugh. And thank god for that.
Ohio Bear: Zach Maynard
Avinash: Back to parity. Despite having two BCS teams last season, I doubt any team in the Pac-12 will win ten games next year. My standings from 1st to 4th generally don't reflect any more than a game or two of win-loss differential.
We are not pumping much sunshine for the conference this season, which leads us into our next topic.
Who will be this season's biggest disappointment?
norcalnick: Arizona St. and Oregon St. I just don't see enough offense for Arizona St. to live up to their vaguely lofty pre-season expectations, particularly after potentially losing stud cornerback Omar Bolden to a knee injury. And it's not like Dennis Erikson has done much in Tempe to make me give him the benefit of the doubt.
atomsareenough: UCLA, and Neuheisel will be gone as a result. Also, I'm sure Andrew Luck didn't come back to the Farm for another year hoping to finish 9-3. Probably a 4th place divisional finish for Arizona with Nick Foles will also be considered a disappointment.
Berkelium97: ASU. Except for the '07 team, Erickson's teams have been continually disappointing. I don't see this ASU having enough offense to challenge for the Pac-12 South crown. I am not even certain that they will finish in the top half of their division. Osweiler showed promise last season, but at some point his stats have to regress to the mean, a la Riley in '08 and '09 after the brilliant '07 debut.
Kodiak: Cal. Because we'll have to wait one more year for roses..
Yellow Fever: Oregon State. Because...I don't know, it felt right.
Ohio Bear: Utah. The transition to the Pac-12 will not be seamless.
Avinash: The putrid Pac-12 South. I'd be surprised if any team wins nine or more games next year.
The battle for the Pac-12 South title is a pillowfight we all look forward to watching!
Any final thoughts?
norcalnick: I'd be surprised if Oregon and Stanford don't finish 1st/2nd in some order, if Cal and Washington don't finish 3rd/4th in some order, and if WSU and OSU aren't in 5th/6th in some order. The south is much more muddled, with the top four teams (Arizona, Arizona St., USC and Utah) all having a shot with Colorado and UCLA bringing up the rear.It will be interesting to see how unbalanced schedules impact the final standings. Utah is the only school that avoids both Oregon and Stanford. Stanford and Oregon have identical schedules except the Cardinal take on UCLA rather than Arizona St. Washington St. avoids both USC and Arizona, which might help their slow rebuilding project.
atomsareenough: Maynard will be good. Chip Kelly will still be annoying. We will finally beat Oregon State. I don't know why I am feeling so optimistic.
Berkelium97: As I've said, I am not pumping much sunshine for the Pac-12 this season. Several teams should be at least a loss or two worse than they were last year. Meanwhile, I don't expect any team to be much better than they were last year. Of course, you can't have teams doing worse without another team in the conference doing better. Someone is going to benefit from the conference's overall regression--the big question is who will be the team to benefit?
Kodiak: This is the year that Wazzu is going to break out and knock off a few teams because their QB(Tuel) is halfway decent. Don't write off Riley and OSU because of their struggles last year - their QB(Katz) now has a year of experience under his belt. This is always when those darn Beavs rise up and pounce on someone when they're under the radar. Conversely, I think Sark and the Huskies are going to struggle mightily without Jake Locker.
Yellow Fever: I think every team in the league takes at least two losses in conference play, taking itself out of the national championship race. It's just hard for me to imagine Oregon not seeing a bit of a drop off under the weight of this Lyles thing, and it's difficult to imagine Stanfurd sustaining its level of success without Harbaugh there. Although I freely admit that might just be wishful thinking.
Ohio Bear: Cal offense, 2011: The return to competence.(Just a hunch anyway)
Avinash: I hope Stanford's defense really, really, really sucks.
Ohio Bear: So Avi predicts Stanfurd in the Rose Bowl. Hope he's wrong. That could push me over the edge.
atomsareenough: Final thought: I'm either going to look really smart or pretty stupid re: ASU, because everyone else seems to be down on their chances.