Media picks UCLA to finish third in Pac-12 South

The results of the 2017 Pac-12 Media Poll (Courtesy Pac-12 Conference)

UCLA was picked to finished third in the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll released Wednesday before the conference’s two-day media event in Hollywood and Highland.

The Bruins (4-8, 2-7 Pac-12 last year) finished fifth in the division in 2016. After USC picked up 49 first-place votes in the division, Utah, UCLA and Colorado all received one vote to win the Pac-12 South.

The 52 media members who voted in the poll tabbed USC as the favorite to win the conference. USC and Washington both received 49 first-place votes to win their divisions and the Trojans grabbed 28 votes to win the conference championship to UW’s 22.

(More to come from Pac-12 Media Days this morning. UCLA’s Jim Mora, Scott Quessenberry and Kenny Young will take the main stage at 10:30 a.m.)

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Pac-12 football preview: Predictions, media days schedule

UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora speaks to the media at Pac-12 Media Days in 2016. (Photo by John McCoy/So Cal News Group)

It’s almost time for football.

Some teams have already started training camp and representatives from all Pac-12 schools will meet with the media Wednesday and Thursday at Hollywood and Highland during Pac-12 Media Days.

The official media poll will be released Wednesday morning before Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott opens the two-day event at 9 a.m. Below is how I voted in this year’s poll, along with each team’s Media Days representatives and the interview schedule for the next two days.

What are your predictions for the Pac-12 this year?
Continue reading “Pac-12 football preview: Predictions, media days schedule” »

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UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: Cal

California’s Demetris Robertson scores on a 39-yard reception against Utah on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. California’s Demetris Robertson scores on a 39-yard reception against Utah on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. (AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Cal at UCLA
Friday, Nov. 24 | Rose Bowl

Justin Wilcox has a big project on his hands.

Not only is Cal starting over at quarterback, but its defense has been one of the worst in the country for the past four years under former head coach Sonny Dykes.

The rebuilding process under Wilcox, a rookie head coach, will be slow, but it’s been deliberate so far.

“They don’t let the little things go,” running back Tre Watson told the San Francisco Chronicle of the new coaching staff. We’re trying to win, and that’s their main focus. They want everyone to buy in and be as one. Once you build that, you’re a team. Teams win games.”

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UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: USC

USC celebrates after winning the Rose Bowl over Penn State. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily News / SCNG)

UCLA at USC
Saturday, Nov. 18 | L.A. Coliseum

USC returned to the national stage with an epic record-setting Rose Bowl shootout. The Trojans aren’t willing to stop there.

“Of course (the College Football Playoff) is something we want to get to,” receiver Deontay Burnett said on the first day of spring practice.

With Sam Darnold at quarterback, the Trojans (10-3, 7-2 Pac-12 last year) are the favorite to win the Pac-12 Championship Game. Darnold is a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy after leading the Trojans to their first Rose Bowl victory since the 2008 season and is eager to build on his success.

“I’m past the Rose Bowl,” said Darnold, who passed Vince Young for the Rose Bowl record for total offense with 473 total yards. “People know me from the Rose Bowl, but I feel I have a lot more to prove as a player and person.”

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UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: Arizona State

Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage, right, runs with the ball as UCLA’s Adarius Pickett (6) moves in for the tackle during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona State at UCLA
Saturday, Nov. 11 | Rose Bowl

Arizona State answered its first major question for the 2017 season last week: Manny Wilkins is its starting quarterback. Now to address its defense, which gave up the most points per game over a full season in school history last year, the rest of its offense, which is led by its third coordinator in as many years, and the special teams unit that lost one of the best field goal kickers in FBS history.

Like UCLA, the Sun Devils (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12 last year) have struggled mightily in the past two years. Head coach Todd Graham didn’t get his usual one-year contract extension this year, seemingly leaving the head coach on the hot seat with new coordinators on both offense and defense heading into his sixth year in Tempe.

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