Across the ESPN blogosphere, we’re looking at the 10 best conference games in each league. That shouldn’t be too hard -- no one ever gets too bothered over lists.
1. USC at Oregon -- Saturday, Nov. 21
Potentially a preview of the Pac-12 championship game, there were fireworks aplenty when these teams last met in 2012 (the Ducks won 62-51). This game should feature likely high draft picks and Heisman Trophy candidates, and USC coach Steve Sarkisian has already leaked some bulletin board material. Coming late in the season, it will be interesting to see what these teams reveal, knowing they might see each other again in two weeks.
2. UCLA at USC -- Saturday, Nov. 28
The Bruins miss Oregon this season, but they still have to negotiate the brutal South division. If USC is as good as many think, this rivalry should be taken to another level. UCLA has dominated the past three meetings. If this is the game that determines the Pac-12 South, it will reignite the rivalry in a way the schools and fans haven’t seen for years. Or . . .
3. Arizona at Arizona State -- Saturday, Nov. 21
. . . the Territorial Cup could determine the division, which was the case last season. In public, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and Arizona State coach Todd Graham are cordial enough. But let’s be honest -- they like each other’s programs as much as I like root canals. But that doesn’t mean they don’t respect each other. Each coach has won a division title since joining the league in 2012.
4. Oregon at Stanford -- Saturday, Nov. 14
The league title still has to go through the North -- at least until a South team can wrestle it away. This game always features a clash of tempos, styles and philosophies. As has been the case in recent years, whichever team can dictate the pace is the one that usually wins.
5. UCLA at Stanford -- Thursday, Oct. 15
Oregon and Stanford have been the Great White Buffaloes of Jim Mora's tenure at UCLA. He’s oh-fer against both schools. UCLA gets the Cardinal earlier in the season, and Mora has previously said he hasn’t liked the way his team performed against Stanford because it was usually coming off a big win the previous week. The Bruins have 12 days between the ASU game and Stanford. Speaking of which . . .
6. Arizona State at UCLA -- Saturday, Oct. 3
. . . this game has blossomed nicely into an ultracompetitive rivalry that has directly affected the division title two of the past three years. In 2012, it was Brett Hundley leading a comeback in Tempe. A year later, the Bruins' comeback failed at home. Last season, UCLA routed the Sun Devils in the desert.
7. California at Stanford -- Saturday, Nov. 21
If you haven’t guessed already, Nov. 21 is going to be a pretty epic day for the Pac-12. Is the North due for a little reorganization of the pecking order? The Golden Bears haven’t fared well lately in this rivalry, but many believe they will be bowl-bound. They would love nothing more than to earn a spot in the postseason at the expense of their rival. Stanford, of course, wants to keep the good times rolling.
8. Washington State at Cal -- Saturday, Oct 3
Calculator? Check. Defibrillator? Check. Numbing liquid of your choice? Check. Bear Raid vs. Air Raid gave us "MythBusters"-like explosions last season in a 60-59 win for Cal that ended on -- of all things -- a missed 19-yard field goal in the closing minute. Quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Jared Goff combined for 11 touchdowns and 1,261 passing yards with zero interceptions. We're not sure how important this game will be on a national level, but chances are it’s going to be entertaining.
9. Stanford at USC -- Saturday, Sept. 10
A major test for each team early in the season. Given the history of dramatic endings between these in-state rivals, this might end up being one of the most entertaining games of the season. The past five meetings have been one-possession games, often coming down to the final possession. We'll learn a lot about the trajectory of each team by the end of Week 3.
10. Utah versus . . . everyone
With no natural rival, Utah is this year’s X factor. The Utes swept the L.A. schools last season, but were swept by the Arizona schools. They beat Stanford, but lost to Oregon. They lost to Wazzu and struggled against Oregon State, but looked unstoppable in their bowl game. Utah is the toughest team in the league to get a bead on. The Utes could finish first or fifth in the South, and neither would be surprising.