Pac-12 Football: Best Games of Each Week
July came and went and August is now upon us, which for college football fans means one thing: football season is now less than a month away.
Slates are wiped clean and every team is gearing up for what could potentially be their greatest season in school history (except for those unfortunate schools who are facing NCAA sanctions).
One conference that will have a bevy of teams turning the corner this season as they look to dethrone their previous champions is the Pac-12. Teams such as the Washington Huskies, California Golden Bears, Stanford Cardinal and USC Trojans will all be looking to unseat the three-time reigning champions of the Pac-12, the Oregon Ducks.
More than any year in recent history, the Pac-12 is going to be extremely competitive. Players such as Keith Price of Washington, De'Anthony Thomas of Oregon, Cameron Marshall of Arizona State, Matt Barkley of USC and John White of Utah coupled with all of the rest of their teammates will shed blood, sweat and tears in order to forward the goals of their universities on the football field.
These beasts of men, gods of the football arena, will stop at nothing to ensure their team remains as the last one standing come the end of the season.
Yet, it will not be easy to do so.
For any team that plays in the Pac-12 will face a gauntlet of teams the magnitude of which has not been seen in recent Pac-12 history.
Here are the marquee Pac-12 games of every week.
Best Non-Conference Games
Although Pac-12 teams will see a myriad of great contests against each other during the season, there are plenty of non-conference games that are guaranteed to be instant classics.
Wisconsin at Oregon State—September 8, 2012 (1:00 p.m. PST)—FX
Whenever a high-profile team such as Wisconsin comes to a Pac-12 venue it is always a fun game to watch. Make that Reeser Stadium, home of the giant killers, and that game gets all that much better.
The Beavers will be returning a bevy of starters on both sides of the ball and looking to improve them for a run in the Pac-12 North Division. They will be tested against Montee Ball and Wisconsin as the Badgers are coming off a loss in the Rose Bowl to the Oregon Ducks. They will surely be looking to enact revenge on the Pac-12.
Washington at LSU—September 8, 2012 (4:00 p.m. PST)—ESPN
Keith Price will be looking to contend for a Heisman this season when he brings his Washington Huskies to Death Valley to face an LSU team that will be looking to contend for yet another BCS National Championship.
Washington is on their own path back to greatness and will have to face a stout defense in LSU, one that will show them just how much firepower they have this season.
Oklahoma State at Arizona—September 8, 2012 (7:30 p.m. PST)—Pac-12 Networks
The bevy of great non-conference games continues on September 8 with Oklahoma State visiting the Arizona Wildcats. After losing both their starting quarterbacks to the NFL, these two teams will be entering new eras and trying to prove that they can still play with the big boys.
Despite the loss of quarterbacks, this game should still be quite the contest and game to watch as Arizona begins walking down the path of redemption.
California at Ohio State—September 15, 2012 (9:00 a.m. PST)—ABC
Trying to contend for a spot in the North Division, the California Golden Bears will visit the horseshoe and Ohio State on September 15 for a big non-conference game that will help to define California as a football team.
Facing an Ohio State squad led by Urban Meyer, the Golden Bears will be looking to make a resounding statement before they embark upon a grueling Pac-12 schedule.
Notre Dame at USC—November 24, 2012 (TBD)—ABC/ESPN
Coming late in the season, USC and Notre Dame will once again square off in one of the more anticipated non-conference rivalries of the 2012 season.
Looking to make a true statement that they are back from their NCAA sanctions, the USC Trojans will throw everything they have at Notre Dame as they will likely be priming themselves to claim their first Pac-12 Championship and dethrone the pesky Ducks of Oregon.
Week 3: USC at Stanford: September 15, 2012 (4:30 p.m. PST)
One of the best new rivalries in all of college football is turning out to be Stanford vs. USC.
Last years' slug fest went into overtime and saw the Trojans begin their path to Pac-12 prominence and college football redemption despite the loss they suffered.
Though Andrew Luck has left for the NFL, Stanford still looks to be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 with the return of running back Stepfan Taylor and a hard-nosed defense.
Coming off of their NCAA sanctions, USC is the predicted Pac-12 Champion and may very well contend for BCS National Championship this season. Players such as Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Marqise Lee give the Trojans some of the most potent talent in the nation.
After last year's defeat, the Cardinal will be poised to be playing at home when the Trojans come to visit in what is sure to be yet another classic tale between Stanford and USC.
Week 4: California at USC: September 22, 2012 (TBA): Pac-12 Networks
For the second straight week, USC will face a tough running back in Isi Sofele of the California Golden Bears.
Though Cal has had a rough time finding their foothold in the Pac-12 as of late, the Bears are priming themselves for what could be one of the more surprising runs this year. Arguably one of their more important games of the season will be when they go on the road to face a retooled USC team.
If the Bears can hang with the Trojans in this one, expect them to be contenders in the Pac-12 North as they try to finally find their place among the best of the Pac-12 once again.
An intimidating linebacking corps should give USC a scare as the Trojans will be coming off a big game at Stanford.
Week 5: Stanford at Washington: September 27, 2012 (6:00 p.m. PST): ESPN
A primetime matchup on Thursday evening should set the stage for quite a contest between the Washington Huskies and the Stanford Cardinal.
Add a boisterous CenturyLink Field to the mix and we have ourselves quite the atmosphere for a clash of two teams that look to be contenders in the Pac-12 North Division.
A growing defense as well as a potent offense led by Keith Price should give the Huskies the firepower to make this a close game against a Cardinal team that has many of its own weapons.
Though the Huskies were the laughing stock of the Pac-12 not too long ago, Steve Sarkisian has put together a squad that should continue to rise in the North Division.
Week 6: USC at Utah: October 4, 2012 (6:00 p.m. PST): ESPN
Though the Pac-12 South Division is set to have another off year, two teams that will help to give the Division some credit are Utah and USC.
We already know how good USC is supposed to be this year. Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, Curtis McNeal and now Silas Redd highlight an offense that should be one of the most potent in the nation.
While it is always fun watching a powerhouse such as USC in any game, it is their matchup against Utah that makes this the Pac-12 game of the week. After a relatively successful first season in the conference, Utah and their running back John White will be looking to make a big impact in 2012 as they are the best competition in the South Division for USC.
The quarterback issues that surrounded Utah last year are now gone and both their offense and defense should present quite the test as the Trojans continue their quest for dominance.
Week 7: USC at Washington: October 13, 2012 (TBA): TBA
CenturyLink Field will once again be roaring at its peak decibel level when the USC Trojans visit the Washington Huskies on October 13.
The Trojans know all too well their recent struggles against the Huskies and city of Seattle and will be tested once again by a resurgent Washington team that will be motivated to generate momentum and secure a big conference victory.
Sarkisian will once again reunite with his former employer as two of the more explosive teams in the Pac-12 go head-to-head in Week 7.
If USC is not careful, Washington may just pull the huge upset and change the season outlook in the Pac-12.
Week 8: Stanford at California: October 20, 2012 (TBA): TBA
No matter how good or bad the teams may be, this game is always exciting.
One of the more documented rivalries in college football, Stanford and Cal will go at it on October 20 as they will both be seeking to position themselves favorably as the Pac-12 North Division race enters its final weeks.
Featuring talented running backs Stepfan Taylor of Stanford and Isi Sofele of California, this game will feature some of the brightest stars in the Pac-12.
Week 9: California at Utah: October 27, 2012 (TBA): TBA
As the conference season begins to wind down and teams look to make statements to the pollsters, Utah and California will clash in a North-South Pac-12 conference game that should provide viewers with two more great running backs in Isi Sofele and John White.
Coming off their game against Stanford, California will have to be careful to not underestimate a Utah team that is poised to make their constituents remember what they did to Alabama in the not so distant past.
Heading into the season, Cal and Utah are probably two of the more underestimated teams in the Pac-12 and may provide for some great headlines this season.
Week 10: Oregon at USC: November 3, 2012 (TBA): TBA
This is the big one.
After heading into Autzen Stadium and taking down the Ducks last season in thrilling fashion, the USC Trojans will play host to Oregon in the Coliseum in what could be the Game of the Century part two.
Led by De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner, the Ducks will be looking to establish dominance over USC once again and truly assert that they are the new kings of the Pac-12.
USC will be looking to take down the Ducks for the second-straight year and assume their prior role as the best team on the West coast.
Ripe with story lines, hatred and possibilities, this will surely be a game for the ages.
Week 11: Oregon at California: November 10, 2012 (TBA): TBA
Oregon has had its fair share of scares when visiting the Golden Bears in the recent past.
Despite handling the Bears soundly in most of their games at Autzen Stadium since 2008, the Ducks have struggled to play their top game on the road against a dangerous California team.
Coming off of their game against USC, the Ducks will have to be careful when the travel to Berkeley to face the Bears as Keenan Allen, Isi Sofele and company will be priming themselves for a shot at a Pac-12 North Title.
Week 12: Stanford at Oregon: November 17, 2012 (TBA): TBA
Oregon will have is third straight tough game when they play host to the Stanford Cardinal on November 17.
Despite the easy start to the season schedule wise, Oregon faces a slew of opponents that will be looking to unseat the Ducks as Champions of the Pac-12.
While Stanford has had two great opportunities to take the reigns from the Ducks, Oregon has always figured out a way to handle the Cardinal soundly.
2012 will be yet another year that Stanford and Oregon meet in a marquee matchup that could determine the fate of the Pac-12. Autzen will once again be rocking for this one as the Ducks look to establish primacy in a tough Pac-12 North.
Week 13: Oregon at Oregon State: November 24, 2012 (TBA): TBA
While the Beavers may not be one of the headliner teams in the Pac-12 this season, their game against the Ducks in Reeser stadium is sure to draw attention.
Known as the Civil War, this rivalry is always a thriller no matter how unevenly the teams match up.
The Ducks will have to be extremely careful in this one as the Giant Killers will look to deal their mightiest blow in what will be their last conference game of the season.
Led by returning quarterback Sean Mannion, the Beavers will be poised to make a statement against the Ducks and become recognized once again as one of the Pac-12's most dangerous teams.
Look for the Ducks and Beavers to pull out everything they got in this one in yet another edition of one of the most bitter rivalries in all of college football.