2014 marks the first year that Pac-12 teams will be aiming for the Rose Bowl not simply because of the glory a win in Pasadena provides, but because winning there on Jan. 1 will earn a spot in the national championship game.
The notion of the Rose Bowl as a springboard to something bigger is yet another sign that college football is in the middle of major changes, and fans everywhere are buzzing about the new four-team playoff that will determine the sport's champion.
The top four teams in the country will play for the trophy, but each program's resume will be under the microscope more than ever, and big games will weigh heavily in the mind of the selection committee, which has the ultimate say in which squads belong in the top tier.
It's likely that given the rise of the Pac-12 in recent years, the conference champion will have a spot in the playoff. Which games will have the most say in the race to be among the top four?
Here are five such games that will go a long way in determining which Pac-12 team(s), if any, will make it into the inaugural College Football Playoff.