LOS ANGELES (AP) — After taking an unusual route to its second straight Pac-12 title last season, Oregon is the preseason favorite to make it three in a row.
The Ducks received 27 of 40 first-place votes in the annual poll of media members released Tuesday before the start of Pac-12 media day. Southern California got 10 votes, and Utah received three.
Oregon beat the Trojans 31-24 in the conference title game last December, representing the Pac-12 North after Washington could not participate because of a COVID-19 outbreak among its players. It was the second conference title in three seasons under coach Mario Cristobal, rewarding his emphasis on recruiting that has seen Oregon bring in the likes of junior edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who could be the first player selected in the next NFL draft.
Although the teams did not play each other in the shortened conference-only season last year, Oregon got the nod over the Pacific Northwest rival Huskies to represent the North. The Ducks received 38 first-place votes in the division, with Washington getting two.
California, Stanford, Oregon State and Washington State rounded out the voting in the North, which has won nine of 10 title games since the Pac-12 expanded in 2011.
USC, which won the Pac-12 South’s lone conference title in 2017, was picked to represent the division again. With star quarterback Kedon Slovis returning, the Trojans received 27 first-place votes.
Utah and Arizona State each got six first-place votes, but the Utes edged the Sun Devils for second place.
UCLA, which got the remaining first-place vote, was picked to finish fourth, followed by Colorado and Arizona.
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