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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 1, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Thursday links — and reviewing how we Picked the Pac

Not a lot of UW-related links out there today. So I thought I would start off this entry with a quick review of my pre-season Pac-12 poll — as well as that of the readers of this blog — now that the regular season is completed.

First, here are the final Pac-12 regular season standings:
NORTH (conference record, overall record)
Oregon 8-1 10-2
Stanford 8-1 11-1
Washington 5-4 7-5
California 4-5 7-5
Oregon State 3-6 3-9
Washington State 2-7 4-8
SOUTH
USC 7-2 10-2
UCLA 5-4 6-6
Arizona State 4-5 6-6
Utah 4-5 7-5
Colorado 2-7 3-10
Arizona 2-7 4-8

(In the case of each of the ties, the team that won the head-to-head is listed first. For the purposes of the official standings, however, the teams are just considered to have tied other than when determining the winner of a division).

Now, here are my pre-season picks that I submitted for the official Pac-12 media poll last July:

NORTH
1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. UW
4. Cal
5. Oregon State
6. WSU
SOUTH
1. Arizona State
2. USC
3. Utah
4. Arizona
5. Colorado
6. UCLA

Well, as you can see, I got a direct hit on all six of the placings in the North. I thought Oregon would win it, despite having to go to Stanford, and the Ducks did just that (though I didn’t anticipate a later home loss to USC). And the rest of the North went pretty much as expected, though I might have guessed one or two more overall wins out of Oregon State.

My biggest misses in the South were Arizona State and UCLA, and to a lesser extent, USC. I thought ASU would beat USC at home and use that to go on to win the South. ASU did beat USC at home to take early control of the division, but then fell apart in the last month to not only lose the division but cost Dennis Erickson his job. I didn’t anticipate USC being quite as good as it was. And while I’m not sure UCLA is really much better than I thought it would be, the Bruins did a good job of winning the close ones — each of its four conference losses was by 25 points or more while it won three conference games by eight points or less — to “win” the division crown.

Now, here’s how the readers of this blog saw it:

NORTH
1, Stanford
2, Oregon
3, Washington
4, Cal
5, Oregon State
6, Washington State

SOUTH
1, USC
2, Arizona State
3, Utah
4, Arizona
5, UCLA
6, Colorado
The only miss for the readers in the North was picking Stanford ahead of Oregon. Otherwise, they got a direct hit on every other spot in a division that went pretty much to form this year —- the official Pac-12 media poll transposed OSU and Cal but otherwise also picked it exactly as it finished.

Readers had more faith in USC — or maybe just more skepticism in Arizona State — than I did, and got the South champ right (on the field, anyway.) Like me, readers didn’t think UCLA would be the team to benefit from USC’s sanctions to sneak into the title game. But if ASU converts that field goal at UCLA and beats the Bruins, the final South standings would have looked pretty close to how the readers picked them.

There’s a long way to go until next July. But as the moment, I would suspect Oregon would be the favorite in the North and USC in the South. The rest, though, could be a lot more of a jumble with the coaching changes putting new life into some of the programs that struggled this year.

Now for a few links. …

— A New York Times story on WSU’s hiring of Mike Leach quotes Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott saying such a hire is proof of how the conference’s new TV deal could level the playing field.

Steve Kelley says the hiring of Leach has pumped new life into the Apple Cup. The Wall Street Journal also has more on Leach.

— SI.com’s Stewart Mandel says the Pac-12 is getting a lot more competitive.

— Sounds like Houston’s Kevin Sumlin is Arizona State’s first choice. Sumlin, if you recall, visited UW last spring and spoke at Washington’s coaches clinic.

— USC’s Matt Barkley has filed papers to the NFL to get a gague of his draft standing — not that it’s probably not pretty obvious. As I heard Lane Kiffin say in a TV interview last night, that’s not the issue — it’s simply whether he would want to play another year of college football, as was basically the case with Jake Locker.

— ESPN.com’s Ted Miller picks Oregon to win the Pac-12 title game 45-17. He also looks at what to watch in the game.

— Dr. Saturday with a good rundown of the morning’s news.

— Here’s a guess at an Oregon State spring depth chart.

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