Pac-12 ultimate road trip: Week 9

Welcome back to the road trip. We're taking a week-by-week look at the entire Pac-12 schedule and picking out the game we feel is the marquee matchup of the week. If you have the time and means, this is the game you want to see.

By the way, just to clarify, this isn't only about picking the best game. There's also an effort to diversify the Pac-12 "road trip" experience. So far we've sent you on nonconference jaunts to BYU, LSU and Notre Dame -- three pretty cool road trips -- as well as jaunts to California, Utah, Washington, USC and Stanford. And no repeats. Yet.

Week 9

Saturday, Oct. 27

  • USC at Arizona

  • UCLA at Arizona State

  • Colorado at Oregon

  • California at Utah

  • Oregon State at Washington

  • Washington State at Stanford

My choice: UCLA at Arizona State

Why? An interesting weekend -- all 12 conference teams playing on Saturday, with USC on the road ahead of its seismic showdown with Oregon in Los Angeles. And, no, we don't expect either the Ducks or Trojans to suffer a "looking-ahead" upset defeat.

The other four games are intriguing in their own ways, though Washington and Stanford figure to be solid favorites playing at home. Cal's visit to Utah is probably the best matchup of likely top-half-of-their-division teams, but we were in Salt Lake City on Week 6. And the Bruins' visit to Tempe has plenty of interesting angles.

Start with it being the first game pitting two of the Pac-12's four new coaches against one another: Jim Mora for UCLA and Todd Graham for Arizona State. Further, South Division and bowl positioning likely will be at stake. Both fan bases figure to view this as a winnable game, so losing will strip away some of that honeymoon smiling that greets a new coach. Winning on the road certainly would boost Mora's standing with beleaguered Bruins fans -- UCLA is 2-12 on the road over the past two seasons. And this seems like a crucial game for Graham if the Sun Devils are going to reach six wins his first season. He's also trying to fire the locals up about the program so he can get a major stadium renovation project started

Further, late October isn't a bad time to be in Arizona. Temperatures start to drop into the low 90s and high 80s. Plenty of nice places to stay and great golf opportunities. Grab a bite at Cowboy Ciao and then hit downtown Scottsdale. Outstanding sightseeing! On game day, there's Casey Moore's Oyster House, The Chuckbox for burgers and Four Peaks Brewery.

Or you could just drive north to my house and we could grill out!