.Cal was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 North in a media poll released Tuesday.
The Bears were picked to finish second last year and wound up 1-3 in the pandemic-shorted 2020 season.
But with Chase Garbers returning for a fourth season as the Bears' starting quarterback and some standouts back on defense, they have enough talent that they are expected to finish in the top half of the North this time. They did not receive any first-place votes in the poll, but received 140 voting points to barely edge out Stanford, which garnered 137 points.
Oregon was picked to finish first in the North, and received 38 of the 40 first place votes. Washington got the remaining two first-place votes. The Ducks were picked to win the Pac-12 championship game.
USC was the choice in the South after receiving 27 first-place votes. Utah received six first-place votes and was picked second, and Arizona State also got six first-place votes and was picked third. UCLA was selected to finish fourth in the South and got the remaining first-place vote.
At the moment, there are no restrictions on practice time, schedules and crowd attendance for the 2021 season, although a spike in the virus could alter things.
Voting points were awarded on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, with the team picked to finish first in a division getting six votes and the last-place selection getting one point.
Predicted order of finish, with first place votes in parentheses followed by total voting points:
1. Oregon (38) 238
2. Washington (2) 189
3. Cal 140
4. Stanford 137
5. Oregon State 71
6. Washington State 65
1. USC (27) 223
2. Utah (6) 183
3. Arizona State (6) 170
4. UCLA (1) 135
5. Colorado 88
6. Arizona 41
Cover photo of Cal coach Justin Wilcox by Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports