Pac-12 ultimate road trip: Week 1

I found out long ago (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

It’s a long way down the holiday road (oh, oh, oh, oh, oh)

Now that that song is officially stuck in your head for the rest of the day (you're welcome), it’s time to embark on the yearly adventure that we call the Pac-12 Ultimate Road Trip (this is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy).

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at every week in the Pac-12 and pick the can’t-miss game. We’ll probably pick a couple for the Thursday-Friday-Saturday games as well if your checkbook can swing it.

Buckle up. The road trip begins.

Welcome to Week 1.

Thursday, Sept. 3

  • Michigan at Utah

  • UTSA at Arizona

  • Colorado at Hawaii

Friday, Sept. 4

  • Weber State at Oregon State

  • Washington at Boise State

Saturday, Sept. 5

  • Portland State at Washington State

  • Virginia at UCLA

  • Grambling at California

  • Eastern Washington at Oregon

  • Arkansas State at USC

  • Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (at NRG Stadium, Houston)

  • Stanford at Northwestern

My choice: Washington at Boise State

Why: Last year, Week 1 didn’t offer many salacious matchups. Not necessarily the case in 2015. First, you have Jim Harbaugh’s grand return to college football -- and Pac-12 football, for that matter. That’s going to draw plenty of national eyes. But for as colorful and exciting as it is to have Harbaugh back in the game, Utah simply is a better football team right now. Utes win.

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M should be a ton of fun with a couple of high-scoring teams. And who isn’t all tingly for a Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup in Week 1? Granted, we have to wait another year for the USC vs. Alabama throwdown in 2016. But this is still a nice teaser.

However, this is my series, and I’ve said for a few months now that the Washington-Boise State matchup is the most intriguing nonconference game in the Pac-12 this season. Granted, it doesn’t have the same national appeal that Oregon at Michigan State has in Week 2. (Spoiler alert, that’s my pick for Week 2. Sorry Idaho at USC.) But in terms of storylines and drama, this is must-watch football.

While one game -- especially the season opener -- never truly sets the trajectory for an entire season, it can certainly set a tone. And the tone in Seattle right now is one of concern. The Huskies are rebuilding on both sides of the ball, and Chris Petersen doesn’t have all of his OKGs yet. And he might not for at least another couple of years.

The reasons for this intriguing matchup are obvious. Petersen returns to Boise, the program he helped mold into a national powerhouse. He was rewarded as two-time national coach of the year for his efforts. But no matter how amicable, divorces always are messy. And Petersen broke up with Boise State. That stings. Throw in the fact that the Broncos have lost only four home games since 1999 and you have an uphill battle for Washington. And it's not like Boise State crumbled into some middling mid-major when Petersen left. The last time we saw the Broncos, they were taking care of business against Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.

This game is silly with storylines and should be a great Week 1 destination. I’ve never been to Boise, but I was reading about Spacebar Arcade and it seems pretty sweet. You can suck down a couple of Old Boise Lagers and play Tron. Come on, that’s win-win and totally worth the eight-hour drive from Seattle to Boise.