College football is still a few months away from kicking off, but that hasn’t stopped me from scouting out some fantastic matchups throughout the season. I’ll have several articles going over the best games from each power five conference, but today we’re heading out west and checking out the best games that the Pac-12 has to offer this season.
10. Oregon State @ Washington State (Week 4)
This matchup might not seem that exciting on the surface, but I am very excited to watch transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei make his first conference start for the Beavers. He was for the most part a pretty big disappointment in his first two seasons at Clemson, but I’d be lying by saying he couldn’t turn it around and be a star at OSU. This will be a good test for him against a Wazzu defense that had the third lowest PPG in the Pac-12 last season.
9. UCLA @ Utah (Week 4)
In my mind, this one hinges on the UCLA quarterback competition, but if true freshman Dante Moore can win the starting job, this game will be electric. The fourth overall prospect in the 2023 recruiting class showed out at the All-American Bowl in January, and will be looking to recreate some of that success on the road against the reigning conference champions, who sported the top defense in the Pac-12 last season. This game acts as a tone-setter for both teams early on in the season, as a big win will be huge for their momentum in their conference championship hopes.
8. Colorado @ Oregon (Week 4)
Colorado would be an afterthought on this list just several months ago, but that was before they brought Deion Sanders in as head coach to change the culture of the program. Tons of people will tune in to watch the Buffalo’s first real test when they head to Eugene to play the Oregon Ducks. Now, everyone will go into this game expecting a win from Oregon, and rightfully so. You can’t say you aren’t excited to finally see the team that’s been hyped up all offseason to take the field in a big matchup.
7. Utah @ Washington (Week 11)
I love this matchup anytime, but in week 11 where so much is on the line for both of these teams’ championship chances. This is a long-time coming, as these two teams haven’t squared off since November of 2019, which doesn’t seem too long ago until you think about how that was pre-covid. Both of these teams have improved dramatically since then, and I’d expect both of these teams to lay it all on the table to save their season. This game will most likely have massive implications for the pac-12 standings, so many fans that don’t support either one of these teams will be watching in hopes their school gets a favorable result and might even sneak into a championship game spot.
6. OSU @ Oregon (Week 13)
Last year, Oregon had a 17 point lead late in the game against their arch rivals. A win meant a trip to the Pac-12 Championship game in Las Vegas, all they had to do was maintain a two score lead. The Beavers mounted a massive fourth quarter comeback and stunned the ducks by scoring 21 points unanswered to spoil the Ducks season by a score of 38-34. The Ducks will be looking to avenge their heartbreaking loss at home in week 13, and possibly secure their spot in the championship game.
5. UCLA @ USC (Week 12)
After this game went over 90 total points last year, it’s hard to imagine this game topping the one we saw last year. Nonetheless this will be a duel of two top head coaches in a huge rivalry game. Even if UCLA is out of contention at this point, they would still obviously love to ruin USC’s playoff chances. Also as a bonus, this game is always so visually pleasing when both teams wear their home uniforms and is honestly the best jersey matchup of the entire season.
4. Utah @ USC (Week 8)
Caleb Williams did just about everything you can hope for in his first season at USC, but the one thing the Heisman winner couldn’t do was beat Utah. A mix of horrendous defense and an injury to Caleb ended the Trojans playoff hopes in the early going of the Pac-12 Championship game and allowed Ohio State to snag the bid from their grasp. This will be superman trying to conquer kryptonite, and has a chance to happen twice just like last year.
If you’re noticing a pattern here, people get excited for high-scoring affairs. It also helps these are the two biggest brands in the conference at the moment. With the matchup this late in the season, I would think the winner of this matchup would have all but locked up a spot in the championship game if both of their season’s go to plan. This will most likely be the last matchup between these two we see for a long time due to USC’s move to the Big Ten beginning in 2024.
2. Oregon @ Washington (Week 7)
If I’m being honest, if this matchup is like two weeks later it’s atop this list. I am excited to watch both of these quarterbacks go to work this season. If you gave me the opportunity right now to choose the conference championship, these would be the two teams squaring off without a second thought. This matchup will be must watch for years to come barring any unexpected conference realignment.
The two best quarterbacks in the conference go head to head in a high stakes late season matchup. We haven’t seen this matchup in several years, and won’t see it again for a while. The turnaround of Washington football makes this a classic “blue blood vs new blood” game that will no doubt be the best type of pac-12 game, late at night with no defense, just vibes.