In vote by media members, Huskies expected to topple USC in the Pac-12 championship game in 2018.

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The Washington Huskies, in a vote of 42 media members who cover Pac-12 football, have been picked as a near-unanimous favorite to win the conference championship this fall.

The Huskies received 40 first-place votes to win the North and 37 first-place votes to win the Pac-12 championship game.

It’s the second year in a row that the Huskies have been picked to win the North, and the first time UW has been selected to win the conference title since 2000.

UW coach Chris Petersen, when asked about being the conference favorite, predictably shrugged during his press conference Wednesday at Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Hollywood & Highland Entertainment Center.

“That doesn’t mean anything to us,” he said. “There’s no more expectations put on us from the day that we walked into that building. We expect to be good and win games, and that’s never changed.”

This fall, the Huskies return 16 regular starters from a team that went 10-3 in 2017, including nine starters on a defense that ranked among the best in the nation last year. Washington also returns fourth-year starters at quarterback (Jake Browning), running back (Myles Gaskin) and both offensive tackles (Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary).

UW opens fall camp Aug. 3 and opens the season with a marquee game against Auburn on Sept. 1.

Stanford and Oregon each received a single vote to win the North division this year.

USC has been picked as the favorite in the muddled South, where five teams received at least one vote to win the division. USC received 22 first-place votes; Utah was second with 14 first-place votes.

USC was the media favorite to win the 2017 Pac-12 title, and the Trojans defeated Stanford in the conference championship game last fall. The media has correctly predicted 30 of 57 previous polls, but just three times in the last 11 years.

Preseason media poll; first-place votes in parentheses

1. Washington (40) — 249 points
2. Stanford (1) — 198
3. Oregon (1) — 178
4. California — 108
5. Washington State — 98
6. Oregon State — 45

1. USC (22) — 225
2. Utah (14) — 209
3. Arizona (3) — 178
4. UCLA (2) — 116
5. Colorado (1) — 80
6. Arizona State — 72

Pac-12 Championship Game winner: Washington (37 votes)
Others receiving votes: USC (2), Oregon (1), Stanford (1), UCLA (1)