HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - After Colorado surprised the college football world last year by winning the Pac-12 South division, media that covers the conference isn't expecting a repeat performance.

A last-place finish isn't expected, either.

In the poll released Wednesday morning, prior to the start of Pac-12 media days, the Buffs are projected to finish fourth in the South. It's the first time since joining the conference in 2011 that CU wasn't picked to finish last.

USC and Washington are the overwhelming favorites to play for the conference title, with USC projected as the champion. Defending North champion Washington received 49 of 52 first-place votes to win the North again. USC received 49 of 52 first-place votes to win the South.

USC received 28 votes to win the title game, with Washington receiving 22. The North champion has won all six of the previous title games.

In the South, Utah is projected second, UCLA third and CU fourth, but the voting was close, with only 38 points separating the three.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.