LOS ANGELES, Calif. - USC has been picked to win the 2003 Pacific-10 Conference football title in a pre-season poll of West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. It marks the first time since 1996 that the Trojans have been selected to win the league title in the pre-season poll. USC narrowly edged out ARIZONA STATE in the media voting. The Trojans garnered 10 of 25 first-place votes, with the Sun Devils getting nine. WASHINGTON (4) and OREGON STATE (2) also picked up first-place support. USC tied for the league title last year with a 7-1 Conference record and finished 11-2 overall, capping the year with a 38-17 win over Iowa in the FedEx Orange Bowl. WASHINGTON STATE won the Pac-10 berth in the Rose Bowl last season, but is picked to finish seventh in the media poll this season. The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 20 of 42 previous polls, including the last three and four of the last five years. Following are the results of the pre-season media poll (points 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):
|2.||Arizona State (9)||224|
|4.||Oregon State (2)||172|
POLL NOTES: Pre-season media poll has correctly picked the Conference champion 20 of 42 times and has been very accurate of late in correctly identifying the Conference champ the last three years in a row and four of the last five. . . . The last time the poll selected USC to win the league title was 1996. The Trojans finished fifth that season. . . . It is the highest predicted finish for ARIZONA STATE since 1998, when the Sun Devils were picked to finish second behind UCLA. . . . Of all the teams, the pollsters seemed to have the most difficulty predicting how OREGON STATE will fare this season. The Beavers were picked to finish as high as first and as low as ninth. . . . Hope for ARIZONA. The last two years the team picked to finish 10th in the Conference--WASHINGTON STATE (2001) and CALIFORNIA (2002)--has posted a winning record. . . . Six different teams have been the pre-season favorite the last six years. And why not? Five different teams have won the Pac-10 title in the last five years years, and seven different teams have won the title over the last eight years.