Week 1 can't get here soon enough. Every team plays an out-of-conference opponent in the first two weeks of the season, so we thought we'd take a quick look at who is coming up in Week 1. We'll go into greater detail as the start of the season draws closer. This is just a primer for those who need their beaks moistened and whistles whet. We'll take a look at the North later today.
Game: at Arizona, Saturday, Sept. 1
Coach: Matt Campbell (1-0, first full season)
2011 record: 9-4 (7-1 MAC)
Did you know: Even though the Rockets lose seven starters on offense, quarterbacks (yes, plural) Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin both ranked in the top 20 nationally last year in passing efficiency. Fun fact: Owens was also drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round (pick 1,215), even though he has almost no baseball experience. (Wisely, he turned down the offer and as someone who used to be on the Padres beat, can't say I blame him).
Game: at Arizona State, Thursday, Aug. 30
Coach: Jerome Souers (76-82, 15th season)
2011 record: 4-7 (3-5 Big Sky)
Did you know: Running back Zach Bauman returns after posting 1,435 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011. He's joined by returning quarterback Cary Grossart, who completed almost 66 percent of his passes for 2,745 yards with 16 touchdowns to seven interceptions. ASU downed the Lumberjacks 41-20 in 2010, pulling away in the fourth quarter after NAU drew to within 27-20 at the end of the third.
Game: at Colorado, Saturday, Sept. 1
Coach: Jim McElwain (first year)
2011 record: 3-9 (1-6, MWC)
Did you know: Last year Colorado State ranked 116th in rush defense and Colorado ranked 106th in rush offense. Something's gotta give, and since Colorado's offensive line is fairly solid this year, I'm banking on the Buffs and Tony Jones. The Rams also need to break in a new quarterback after Pete Thomas, a two-year starter, opted to transfer following the firing of Steve Fairchild.
Game: UCLA, Thursday, Aug. 30
Coach: David Bailiff (23-38, sixth year)
2011 record: 4-8 (3-5 Conference USA)
Did you know: Canadian-born tight end Luke Willson played in the Toronto Blue Jays extended spring training and was drafted by the Toronto Argos of the CFL. The running joke around campus is that the Maple Leafs will draft him next (yes, he played hockey in high school). This is someone Jim Mora & Co. will have to worry aboot.
Game: at USC, Saturday, Sept. 1
Coach: Norm Chow (first season)
2011 record: 6-7 (3-4 WAC)
Did you know: Chow spent four years at USC. Of course you knew that. Everyone knows that, which is what makes his return to Southern California such a fascinating reunion. Though it's not entirely novel because he spent time at UCLA prior to Hawaii. But now he's coming back as a head coach. This will be Hawaii's first year in the Mountain West Conference and they return seven starters on offense, four on defense.
Game: at Utah, Thursday, Aug. 30
Coach: Earnest Collins Jr. (0-11, second year)
2011 record: 0-11 (0-8 Big Sky)
Did you know: The Bears only lose three offensive starters and those who return accounted for 94.5 percent of their total offensive yards. However, returning quarterback Seth Lobato (Buffs fans might remember the name) loses his favorite receiving threat in Patrick Walker, who had 84 catches last year for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns.