The Pac-12 media days started off with the Oregon Ducks being picked as the favorite to win the conference championship this season. The preseason poll was gathered by members of the media, with the Ducks receiving 37 of the 39 first-place votes to the North Division. The UCLA Bruins received the same amount of votes to win the South Division and thus projected a meeting with Oregon for the Pac-12 Championship on Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Ducks have now been picked five straight years as the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12, with their only championship win coming back in 2011. After an 11-2 record last year, Oregon’s sophomore head coach Mark Helfrich has the Ducks on track to compete amongst the teams in college football favored to win a national championship. The list includes the defending champions of Big 10 and Pac-12 conferences, the Michigan State Spartans on Sept. 6 and Stanford Cardinal on Nov. 1. The good news for Oregon is the Ducks will have home-field advantage, with both games scheduled at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon is led by Heisman Trophy candidate QB Marcus Mariota, who decided to return to school this year for another chance at improving his NFL Draft stock. With the four-team College Football Playoff format, the Ducks will be an elite contender for a championship this season. 17 of the starting players from last season are returning this season for Oregon on both sides of the ball, along with seven seniors including key players CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and LB Derrick Malone.
The Ducks should win the Pac-12 Championship because they’re the best team in the conference. The real competition for Oregon won’t start until after December.