The University of Utah is the favorite to win the Pac-12 this fall.
So say the 33 media members who voted in the league’s preseason poll, released on Thursday afternoon. As expected, the Utes are the consensus pick to win the league for a second straight year, picking up 26 first-place votes and 384 total points.
Oregon and first-year head coach Dan Lanning were No. 2 with two first-place votes and 345 points.
USC, which hired away Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, who then brought in an infusion of talent led by former Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams, was voted third despite despite receiving the second-most first-place votes with five.
Utah, which defeated Oregon twice in 13 days last season, including a 38-10 win in the Pac-12 championship game, will play the Ducks in Eugene on Nov. 19, but another potentially-critical showdown will come a month earlier.
The Utes and Trojans will square off Oct. 15 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in what will be the latter’s final game in Salt Lake City as a Pac-12 member. Should both sides be 6-0 entering the game, it would have major conference championship and College Football Playoff indications.
The Pac-12 is eliminating divisions this season, which had been in place since Utah and Colorado joined the league in 2011. The teams with the two-highest winning percentages will play in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Utah, 10-4 last season including wins in nine of its final 11 games, is coming off its first Pac-12 championship and subsequent Rose Bowl appearance.
Pac-12 preseason poll
1. Utah, 384 points (26 first-place votes)
2. Oregon, 345 (2)
3. USC, 341 (5)
4. UCLA, 289
5. Oregon State, 246
6. Washington, 212
7. Washington State, 177
8. Stanford, 159
9. Cal, 154
10. Arizona State, 123
11. Arizona, 86
12. Colorado, 58