Every year around Pac-12 Media Day, a Pac-12 media poll is released. In this poll, reporters and other media personnel submit their ballots for how they believe the Pac-12 will turn out. Not to be left out, CGB gathered a few of our own pollsters and locked them in a room until they voted:
Pac-12 North (1st place votes)
1. Oregon (9)
2. Cal (1)
5. Washington State
6. Oregon State
Pac-12 South (1st place votes)
1. USC (10)
5. Arizona State
Who did we think would win the Pac-12? Who will be this year's surprise team? Who will disappoint? How did each Bear vote? More detailed analysis and the answer to those questions after the jump!
Who will win the conference championship game?
Berkelium97: I'll be surprised if it's anyone but USC. With a new QB, Oregon will not quite be the well oiled machine they have been on offense recently. They will still average 30+ per game, but they will be shut down a couple times.
atomsareenough: [Southern] California. Sigh. How completely maddening would it be for them to go right back to the Rose Bowl as soon as their bowl ban is lifted? Unfortunately I think we're going to find out.
Ohio Bear: USC. They're baaaack.
LeonPowe: USC. I have them National Champs too.
norcalnick: USC, sadly. They're stacked and Kiffin and company have managed the sanctions magnificently. That said, it wouldn't shock me in the least to see Oregon on top once again. There's a pretty gigantic gap between those two teams and everybody else.
Vincent S: Oregon. USC simply does not have the speed to keep up with Oregon, and will only have had a week to prep for the Oregon offense in the Pac-12 Championship game. I also think by the end of the year, USC will be affected by injuries, as they do not have their usual stable of 5*s waiting to fill the ranks.
unclesam22: I just don't see how USC doesn't make it. Picking the lesser of two evils I'd probably rather Oregon won (wow, that kinda hurt to type that...) but given USC's talent and experience, I'd be surprised if they did not win.
Cugel: USC, they're back!!!!!
Berkelium97: I hate to sound like a homer, but I believe Cal has the tools on offense and defense to take the conference by surprise. We will not win the conference, but it's not impossible that Tedford pulls out a 9-win season. Other than USC, every single game is absolutely winnable for the Bears. In fact, I only expect them to be underdogs against tOSU, USC, Utah, and Oregon. If they win two of those, a 9-win season is likely. Several Pac-12 teams have serious flaws this season and the Bears have the defense to give them a shot of winning every game.
atomsareenough: Hmmm.... Aside from Oregon and USC, question marks abound in the Pac-12. I feel like anything could happen. Cal, Washington, Stanford, and Utah could be even better than we think... or they could be quite a bit worse. UCLA has a lot of talent but who knows if Mora will be able to cure the nasty case of DERP-es they seem to have contracted (I hope we didn't catch it when we played them, BTW). I'm not expecting much from Colorado, Oregon State, Wazzu, or the Arizonas, who all seem to be in rebuilding mode, but who knows, maybe something will click or they'll find out they have a star player or something. Boy, this question is a lot harder than it seems. Okay, biggest surprise: The Dread Pirate Leach will work his dark arts to finally land Wazzu a bowl game.
Ohio Bear: I'll go with Ucla, just because I don't really have a good answer that comes to mind. I do sense that Jim Mora Jr. will turn the page on the program and bring some energy. That could be worth something for the Bruins.
LeonPowe: Maynard not throwing a million picks. He only threw 2 down the stretch.
norcalnick: That's a tough question - nobody strikes me as a team that could really surprise. Washington St. is the likely candidate to significantly improve their win total and general competitiveness, but everybody and their mother thinks Leach will get things going in Pullman. So would that really be a surprise then? I think one of Cal or Washington could surprise with a 2nd place finish in the North.
So I guess I'll go with Utah. I think the Utes are probably the 2nd best team in the South, and USC is coming to Salt Lake City early in the season. If there's a way to stop the seemingly inevitable USC/Oregon championship game clash it might be a Utah upset of USC on the road. The Utes certainly gave the Trojans a run for their money in L.A. last year. It's not likely, but at least it's in the realm of possible.
Vincent S: Arizona. Rich Rod has a competent quarterback tailor-made for his offense ready to go. Incidentally, r/cfb recently did a thread asking what everyone thought the most underrated team in the nation was. At first, everyone voted for Washington, but then the consensus turned to one looking upon Washington as the "underrated team that everyone talks about", which everyone took to mean that Washington would actually faceplant.
unclesam22: I think that Washington State is going to make a little noise. I think that Leech will bring some energy to the program that hasn't been there in recent years and I'd be surprised if they didn't pull at least one mild upset of somebody...just not us.
I also think that UCLA is going to be better that people expect. Mora Jr might be able to do the Pete Carroll thing where he's a middling coach in the pros but connects with college kids and gets the best out of them. They've also brought in some decent talent so I think that they might be tougher this year.
Cugel: I'm guessing UCLA will improve, so I guess them.
Despite all their speed, Oregon will never be able to run away from Roboduck (via dannykf)
Who will be this season's biggest disappointment?
Berkelium97: Jim Mora, RichRod, and whoever is coaching at ASU (I can't remember his name without googling it, but he's that lousy former Pitt coach) [Editor's Note: Arizona State's new coach is Todd Graham] all are going to have a tough time turning around these programs--all of which have been stuck in the mud in recent years. It's tough to see any of these teams earning more than 6 wins this year.
atomsareenough: Aside from Leach, I predict a rough year for the new coaches in the league. I don't really see a lot of immediate success on the horizon for Mora, Graham, or Rodriguez. Also, so far the biggest disappointment for me has been Shaq Thompson's professional baseball career. Still hitless, going 0-for-27 with 26 strikeouts. That's definitely the kind of batting line that makes you think he'll stick to football. Ah well, I was rooting for him!
Ohio Bear: Cal.
LeonPowe: Tie between Ohio Bear and Twist
norcalnick: Arizona State. The Sun Devils lost a ton of talent from a team that underachieved already (they're tied for fewest returning starters in the country), and they replaced a lame coach with another coach that might be even lamer. I haven't heard any reason to think that Arizona St. has anything exciting going on. I look at their schedule and see a 4-8 record as very possible.
Vincent S: Stanford. The national media is expecting them to reload, but you can't replace 3 first-round draft picks very easily, especially when one of them is a "franchise QB".
unclesam22: Arizona State. I just don't see anything there to be excited about and I think that their run of mediocrity will continue despite their recent changes.
Kodiak: Tie: Oregon-Washington.
Cugel: This depends on pre-season perceptions more than reality, so I say Washington, even though they won't have the worst season.
Welcome home, California (via TouchedTheAxeIn82)
Berkelium97: Deciding whether Cal or UW is #2 was extremely tough. Since this is a predicted finish poll, I looked at each team's schedule to decide (since I think they're basically even otherwise). Based on home-road matchups, Cal has a much easier path to 6 or 7 wins than UW does. UW only has 4 conference home games, one of which is an automatic loss to USC. The Bears, meanwhile, have 5 home games and three are against the teams we will be competing with for the North title. Despite being even with UW, Cal has a pretty big advantage schedule-wise over the Huskies.
atomsareenough: I think the Pac-12 South will have the best team in USC, but the Pac-12 North will be the much better division, top-to-bottom. I think Cal, Stanford, and Washington are all a cut above UCLA, ASU, Arizona, and Colorado.
Ohio Bear: I have a bad feeling about this season. I am hoping my low expectations will translate into a banner season.
LeonPowe: Why does Ohio Bear hate Cal? I'm surprised he didn't spell it 'Kal' and call us 'weenies'. KA21 will be a force to be reckoned with.
norcalnick: The race for 2nd in each division should be fascinating. I think you can put Cal, Stanford and Washington in any order and it would be reasonable, and you might even be able to throw Washington St. into that mix depending on how much respect you give Leach. And in the South you've got three new head coaches along with two programs that should be plenty adapted to their new conference by now. It's wide, wide open after the presumed juggernauts.
Vincent S: I actually thought about Washington 2nd in the North due to a projected prolific offense, but I gave the nod to Cal, as no one else gets Oregon, Stanford, and Washington all at home. If Memorial Stadium comes through, I think we'll challenge Oregon. If it doesn't, there's always 2013.
unclesam22: I think that the main battle in the Pac-12 this year is for second place. USC and Oregon should both have the #1 spots locked down, but after that you might as well flip a coin to differentiate between furd, Cal, Udub, Utah, and UCLA. Arizona might sneak in there too, but the middle is a jumbled mess so it is going to be interesting to see how that ends up playing out.
HydroTech: Stanfurd sucks.
Kodiak: I hate Stanfurd.
Cugel: Many: It was really hard to do the North, even though I have USC winning it all, the North is stacked and the difference between 2-4 is very slight. In fact, the only reason I have Cal over UW & Stanfurd is I feel our offensive line will gel this year; if that doesn't happen, we could be 4th instead of 2nd. I also don't think Oregon will be as good as last year. I still have them winning the North, but they won't be as good, but their drop off isn't going to be as great as Stanfurd's.
The winner of the South is easy, but number 2 is Utah's mainly by default: no big changes,and they get their QB back. But they are aren't going to be all that, they are beatable, and hardly scary, but I think they have the inside track on #2. Life in the Pac 12 will be increasing tough for them as the coaching changes in the South kick in.
Histograms of Vote Distributions (Mean Ranking, # of First Place Votes in parenthesis)
There you have it - this year's Pac-12 Media Poll, California Golden Blogs-style! What do you think is going to happen?
Who do you think will finish one place below Cal in the Pac-12 North?
Stanford (46 votes)
Oregon (24 votes)
Oregon State (31 votes)
Washington (69 votes)
Washington State (26 votes)
No One (note: this means you think Cal will be last) (18 votes)
214 total votes