Athlon picks USC over Oregon in Pac-12

It's that time of the year: 'Da season previews are coming!

Here's a nice one from Athlon.

I type that it is a "nice" not just to praise Athlon, but to note that its prediction for how the North and South Divisions will stack up looks a lot like what I just sent in to the Pac-12 on Monday for the annual media poll. Hmm.

It goes like this:

North: 1. Oregon; 2. Stanford; 3. Washington; 4. California; 5. Washington State; 6. Oregon State

South: 1. USC; 2. Utah; 3. UCLA; 4. Arizona; 5. Arizona State; 6. Colorado

My guess is this will be the most popular configuration for most predictions. I doubt anyone will pick division winners other than USC and Oregon. Stanford feels like a solid No. 2 in the North, and just about everyone will have Colorado last in the South.

I received a special delivery -- I'm just cool like that -- of my Phil Steele preview last week. He sees things differently.

North: 1. Oregon; 2. Stanford; 3. California; 4. Oregon State; 5. Washington; 6. Washington State

South: 1. USC; 2. UCLA; 3. Utah; 4. Arizona; 5. Arizona State; 6. Colorado

Obviously, he's higher on UCLA and Cal than most likely will be but his projection is perfect reasonably with both. The Bruins have a lot of guys back and plenty of talent, while the Bears' young defense could be a revelation. I'd be surprised if the Huskies are fifth in the North but there are O-line issues and no guarantees the defense gets better.

The good news is the onslaught of predictions means we are rounding the bend to preseason camps and then real live college football. Which is nice.