PAC-12 Preseason Media Poll
The PAC-10 becomes the PAC-12 and splits into two divisions - North and South - with the additions of Colorado from the Big 12 and Utah from the Mountain West. The conference will stage a title game at the home site of the team with the better conference record between the two division champions. The computer picks Oregon to host, and win, that game by 10.41 points over - shockingly - Utah.
The computer correctly forecasted Oregon as the conference champion last year. Utah went 10-2 in the regular season after the computer picked the Utes to go 11-1.
The only blemish on Oregon's 11-1 regular season projection is an opening weekend loss to LSU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. If the Ducks prove that pick to be incorrect, a return trip to the BCS Championship seems likely.
While the computer has Utah hitting the ground running in its new conference, Colorado will find itself in last place in the South Division. But under first-year head coach Jon Embree, the Buffaloes won't be a bad team. In fact, the computer has Colorado mere percentage points from winning two more games when it hosts Arizona as a 0.44-point underdog and then visits UCLA as 0.42-point underdog in consecutive November contests.
Embree was hired to replace Dan Hawkins who was relieved of his duties on November 9 with the Buffaloes in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. Long-time assistant Brian Cabral took over as interim coach and immediately won his first two games before finishing with a loss to Nebraska. Hawkins was 19-39 overall in just over 4-1/2 seasons at Colorado after going 53-10 in five seasons at Boise State. Hawkins' final game may long be remembered around Boulder as Colorado blew a 45-17 lead in the 4th quarter and lost 52-45 at Kansas State.
Last season's 2nd-place team in the conference, Stanford, is projected to complete its campaign with a 10-2 record. The Cardinal are a 2.80-point underdog at Oregon on November 8. Stanford returns Andrew Luck at QB but loses head coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers. David Shaw was promoted from offensive coordinator to replace Harbaugh.
Washington draws 3rd place in the computer's forecast for the North Division with Cal and Oregon State battling it out for distant 4th- and 5th-place finishes, nearly 16 power points behind the Ducks. Washington State is once again expected to bring up the rear, a whopping 24-1/2 power points behind Oregon and 9 power points out of 5th. The Cougars are 2-25 in conference games over the last three seasons.
The South Division is expected to be much more competitive as Utah leads Arizona, Arizona State and USC by no more than 3.23 power points. Even UCLA and Colorado are less than 10 power points out of first-place.
Due to favorable schedules, the Trojans and Sun Devils are both projected to go 7-2 in league play and finish just a game behind the Utes' 8-1 mark.
The Wildcats have to travel to USC and Arizona State and get projections of 5-7 overall and 3-6 in league play.
USC is once again ineligible for the conference championship and bowl games due to NCAA sanctions.