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Looking back at the Pac-12 Media Polls Part 1

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NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the 2018 Pac-12 preseason media poll was released as part of media day. Not surprisingly, Washington was picked to win the Pac-12 North and the conference, while USC was the choice in the South. Utah was tabbed second in the Pac-12 South. Here at Block U, we thought it would be interesting to see how the media has done in each preseason media poll since the conference expanded to 12 teams and split into divisions in 2011 (it is worth noting that for the last 11 years of the Pac-10, the media correctly picked the conference winner 10 times).

In this two part article, we will first take a look at the Pac-12 media polls from 2011-2014. In part two, we will look at 2015-2017 and have some overall analysis.

2011

The conference had that fresh new conference smell. Colorado and Utah had just joined and the conference would have divisions to vote on in addition to a conference winner (who would be crowned for the first time in a championship game). Remember all the excitement you felt Utah fans. Finally, the Utes were in a “big boy” conference and would get the national respect they deserve. USC was still on probation in response to the Reggie Bush scandal, so they could not play for the Pac-12 championship if they won the Pac-12 South (nor could they appear in a bowl game).

Oregon, fresh off a national championship game appearance was tabbed the favorite to win the conference over Stanford and quarterback Andrew Luck. The two new additions to the conference, Utah and Colorado, were picked third and sixth respectively in the Pac-12 South. With USC on probation, Utah actually had a shot to win the South, all they had to do was beat 2-10 Colorado at home, but they fell 17-14 after kicker Coleman Peterson missed three field goals.

2011 Pac-12 Media Poll

North Points South Points
North Points South Points
1. Oregon (29) 239 1. USC (24) 230
2. Stanford (13) 220 2. Arizona State (13) 207
3. Washington 142 3. Utah (4) 170
4. Oregon State 120 4. Arizona (1) 140
5. Cal 110 5. UCLA 89
6. Washington State 51 6. Colorado 46
PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (28 votes)
Others receiving votes: Stanford (11) and ASU (3)

Final standings

2011 Pac-12 Final Standings

North South
North South
1. Oregon 1. USC
2. Stanford 2. UCLA
3. Washington 3. Utah
4. Cal 4. Arizona State
5. Oregon State 5. Arizona
6. Washington State 6. Colorado
Pac-12 Champion: Oregon

Flip Oregon State and Cal and the Pac-12 media got the North almost perfect. They were quite off on the South though. USC, Utah, and Colorado finished where they were predicted to, but the big miss was UCLA, tabbed fifth, they finished second and played for the Pac-12 title. Oregon destroyed UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game to win the inaugural Pac-12 title.

2012

After the way USC finished the 2011 season, beating Oregon on the road and finishing No. 6 in the AP Poll, there was a huge amount of hype around the Trojans, who returned senior quarterback Matt Barkley and no longer had a bowl ban (though they did have to deal with scholarship reductions). They were preseason No. 1 in the nation and the favorite to win their first national championship since 2004. Oregon and Stanford were still seen as the class of the North, even though both would be breaking in new quarterbacks, a lightly recruited Hawaiian named Marcus Mariota for Oregon and for Stanford, the quarterback had the unenviable task of replacing No. 1 pick Andrew Luck.

2012 Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll

North Points South Points
North Points South Points
1. Oregon (117) 732 1. USC (117) 729
2. Stanford (5) 533 2. Utah (1) 514
3. Washington 502 3. UCLA (2) 435
4. California (1) 382 4. Arizona 385
5. Washington State 228 5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Oregon State 205 6. Colorado 164
PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: USC (102 votes)
Others receiving votes: Oregon (18), Arizona State (3)

Final standings

2012 Pac-12 Final Standings

North South
North South
1. Stanford 1. UCLA
2. Oregon 2. Arizona State
3. Oregon State 3. USC
4. Washington 4. Arizona
5. Cal 5. Utah
6. Washington State 6. Colorado
Pac-12 Champion: Stanford

Everyone in the country missed on USC. The Trojans went from preseason No. 1 to unranked, finishing 7-6, losing the Sun Bowl. The other really big miss was Stanford, who won the Pac-12. Not one media member predicted them to win the conference (and three picked ASU). Oregon State was tabbed to finish sixth in the North, and they finished ranked in the top 20. UCLA and ASU finished 1-2 in the South and were tabbed third and fifth respectively. The Utes massively underachieved, missing and a bowl and finishing fifth.

2013

There was not a clear favorite for either division, with Oregon barely topping Stanford in the Pac-12 North and UCLA just edging out Arizona State in the South. UCLA returned quarterback Brett Hundley and was the defending Pac-12 South Champions. The media went with Mariota’s Ducks under first year head coach Mark Helfrich (after Chip Kelly bolted to the NFL) over the defending conference champions Stanford. Oregon followed by Stanford was the favorite to win the conference.

2013 Pac-12 Media Poll

North Points South Points
North Points South Points
1. Oregon (15) 145 1. UCLA (12) 135
2. Stanford (11) 139 2. Arizona State (10) 130
3. Oregon State 95 3. USC (4) 117
4. Washington 84 4. Arizona 76
5. California 47 5. Utah 60
6. Washington State 33 6. Colorado 28
PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (14 votes)
Others receiving votes: Stanford (8), UCLA (3)

Final standings

2013 Pac-12 Final Standings

North South
North South
1. Stanford 1. Arizona State
2. Oregon 2. UCLA
3. Washington 3. USC
4. Oregon State 4. Arizona
5. Washington State 5. Utah
6. Cal 6. Colorado
Pac-12 Champion: Stanford

The media was really close on the South, just barely missing on ASU over UCLA at the top. They got spots 3-6 correct though. They were less close on the North, barely missing on Stanford over Oregon, but they had each of of the bottom four incorrect as well, meaning that while no team was ranked way off, no team in the Pac-12 North was ranked correctly.

2014

Oregon and UCLA led by Mariota and Hundley were the heavy favorites to win the Pac-12 North and South respectively. After back-to-back losing seasons, expectations were low for Utah.

2014 Pac-12 Media Poll

North Points South Points
North Points South Points
1. Oregon (37) 232 1. UCLA (37) 231
2. Stanford (2) 192 2. USC (1) 181
3. Washington 142 3. Arizona State (1) 163
4. Oregon State 125 4. Arizona 119
5. Washington State 87 5. Utah 82
6. California 41 6. Colorado 43
PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (24 votes)
Others receiving votes:  UCLA (13), Stanford (1), USC (1)

Final standings

2014 Pac-12 Final Standings

North South
North South
1. Oregon 1. Arizona
2. Stanford 2. UCLA
3. Washington 3. Arizona State
4. Cal 4. USC
5. Oregon State 5. Utah
6. Washington State 6. Colorado
Pac-12 Champion: Oregon

Mariota won the Heisman and led Oregon to the National Championship game against Ohio State after winning the Pac-12. The Pac-12 South proved to be far more competitive than expected in the preseason with five teams finishing ranked. Only Oregon finished ranked from the North. Cal exceeded expectations in the North, but outside of that, the order was mostly correct. The media called the bottom two in the South, but they missed big at the top. Oo one had Arizona winning the division, picking the Wildcats fourth. USC ended up finishing fourth not second.

Look for part two tomorrow.