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Pac-12 Media Days: WSU picked to finish 3rd in North

Washington, USC are overwhelming choices to win their divisions.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Washington State Cougars will begin their season more highly regarded than at any time in Mike Leach’s tenure, as the Pac-12 media picked the Cougs to finish third in the Pac-12 North in their preseason poll.

The Washington Huskies and USC Trojans were overwhelming choices to win their respective divisions.

2017 North Division

Finish Team First Place Votes Total
Finish Team First Place Votes Total
1 Washington 49 309
2 Stanford 1 247
3 WSU 1 206
4 Oregon 1 163
5 OSU 0 101
6 California 0 64

2017 South Division

Finish Team First Place Votes Total
Finish Team First Place Votes Total
1 USC 49 309
2 Utah 1 220
3 UCLA 1 209
4 Colorado 1 182
5 Arizona State 0 109
6 Arizona 0 61

The Cougars are a solid third behind the Stanford Cardinal, which is not a surprise; Stanford “quietly” won 10 games last season after a slump in the first half of the season that included consecutive losses to UW and WSU by a combined 86-22, and the conference media tend to include a heavy dose of reputation in their predictions. However, the Cardinal lost their best offensive player (Christian McCaffrey) and still have questions at quarterback.

It’s worth noting that someone gave the Oregon Ducks a first place vote. Uh, yeah ... anyway, the media seemed to actually have a pretty good consensus on the North, where each team is solidly in its spot.

That’s not the case in the South. After the Trojans, it’s a bit of a muddled group with the Utah Utes, UCLA Bruins and Colorado Buffaloes all within a handful of points of each other. I’d guess this is a case of how you value Kyle Whittingham’s reputation vs. the Bruins’ collection of talent vs. Colorado having won the division last season.

The media picked USC to win the Pac-12 Championship Game, something they’ve predicted correctly twice in the six seasons since the conference expanded in 2011 (Oregon in 2011 and 2014). Three times, the media has failed to pick even one division winner correctly, including last season, when Washington was picked behind Stanford, and Colorado was picked sixth. (SIXTH!)

With that, Pac-12 media days are officially underway; you can find the broadcast schedule here. WSU doesn’t get its moment in the sun until Thursday.