Unlike their counterparts in the SEC, the Pac-12 media has gotten pretty good at choosing a champion. West Coast scribes and broadcasters have correctly chosen 11 of the last 13 conference champions. (Of course, Pete Carroll's Trojans made their jobs pretty easy for most of the last decade.)
With that said, Oregon fans and coaches should be feeling pretty good today. The Ducks were chosen as the 2013 Pac-12 pre-season favorites as the league's media day is held in Los Angeles.
Oregon narrowly edged out Stanford as the media's pick to win the North Divison, but took home 14 of the total 25 votes as the conference's overall champion. The Ducks and Cardinal gobbled up every available first place vote in the North, which isn't rocket science considering the pair are a combined 47-7 and have claimed both conference titles in the Pac-12's divisional era. Stanford will host Oregon on Thursday, Nov. 7.
1. Oregon - (15 first-place votes) 145 points
2. Stanford - (11) 139
3. Oregon State - 95
4. Washington - 84
5. California - 47
6. Washington State - 33
The South is pegged as a three-horse race between UCLA, Arizona State and USC. The Bruins have won both of the Pac-12 South championships and are slight favorites to bring home a third divisional crown.
1. UCLA - (12) 135
2. Arizona State - (10) 130
3. USC - (4) 117
4. Arizona - 76
5. Utah - 60
6. Colorado - 28
Conference Championship: Oregon (14), Stanford (8), UCLA (3)
While Oregon is (obviously) far from guaranteed from a Rose Bowl berth as we sit here on July 26, we can say with some certainty it will be very difficult for anyone other than Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State or USC to rise up and take the league by storm. The Pac-12 has been unkind to darkhorses of late, with the last true surprise champion being Ty Willingham's Stanford squad back in 1999, who rebounded from a ninth-place finish in 1998 to win a Rose Bowl berth with a 7-1 conference record a year later.
The Pac-12 Championship will be held the night of Dec. 7 at a Pac-12 campus site with television provided by ABC or ESPN.