Half the Pac-12 ranked in coaches poll

In another sign of the Pac-12’s rise, half the conference is ranked in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday.

Oregon, unsurprisingly, leads the way at No. 4, followed by No. 7 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 15 USC, No. 18 Arizona State and No. 25 Washington. Oregon State (four votes) and Arizona (one) also received some love from the coaches.

Defending national champion Florida State is an overwhelming No. 1, receiving 56 of the 62 first-place votes. Oregon was one of four other teams to receive at least one first-place vote, along with No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 South Carolina.

With seven teams in the poll, the SEC leads all conferences, but it should also be noted the Pac-12 and SEC both had the same percentage of teams from their respective conferences included.

As a result of the Pac-12’s depth, five of the six most difficult schedules in the country, according to ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index (FPI) belong to teams in the conference: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Utah, No. 3 Cal, No. 5 Washington State and No. 6 USC.

The way things stand, there are 12 games during the Pac-12 conference schedule that will feature two ranked teams.

Pac-12 coaches Mike Leach, Mike MacIntyre, Chris Petersen, Mike Riley, Rich Rodriguez and Steve Sarkisian are among the voters.