We're approaching the midpoint of our list. It's time to start looking into the intriguing if probably still inconsequential matchups of the season.
It figures we get a lot of Bruins and Sun Devils, teams with dark horse potential to capture the Pac-12 South, but are more likely to fall by the wayside once matters conclude.
60. San Diego State at Washington, Sept. 1: Could be a good game if Washington wants to make a good game of it. There should be a better defense in place this season, but talent can only do so much. UW struggled in their home OOC games last year, and this contest figures to be no different. Washington should pull away though, particularly if they can pack the Seahawks NFL arena like they pack Husky Stadium.
59. Arkansas State at Oregon, Sept. 1: This is a very compelling matchup of minds, as Gus Malzahn faces off with Chip Kelly. Two of the most compelling champions of spread will put their own brands of offense on the field, and they're figure to be points on the board.
Not such a compelling matchup of muscle, as Oregon should run away with this one by the time we reach halftime. Arky State is no pushover, but most of their defense is gone, and you need defense to beat the Ducks. Oregon has reduced mid-major teams not named Boise to rubble in Autzen. It's usually a matter of how many touchdowns the margin of victory will end up being.
58. Arizona State at Cal, Sept. 29: Arizona State has lost to Cal in Berkeley four times running, with the average margin of victory being about three touchdowns. I'm sure the new head coach should change things, but Tedford seems to know how to beat the Sun Devils every season (only one loss in his tenure at Cal).
57. Oregon State at UCLA, Sept. 22: This game was very close last season in Corvallis, but this is more notable for being the conference debut of Jim Mora. What can Mora bring to the table as the Bruins head coach? How will their units start the season in what figures to be one of their easier matchups?
56. Arizona State at Oregon State, Nov. 3: This was actually a much closer game than it should've been this year because of turnovers, but now ASU goes to Corvallis and tries to bring the running game to the Beavers. Oregon State has struggled with up-tempo offenses, so scoring a victory against ASU would be a positive step. A close game could result between two teams that aren't expected to do much.
55. Arizona State at Colorado, Oct. 11: Yikes, three ASU road games in four? The Sun Devils clobbered Colorado last season, but I think this game should be a bit more interesting in Boulder. These might be the cellar-dwellers in the Pac-12 South, which is why this game ends up a little bit lower on this list, but it has the potential to provide some wild Thursday night fun.
54. UCLA at Colorado, Sept. 29: This is actually a fun little game that might in the long run might make no difference, as the Bruins have struggled away from home as of late. UCLA is nondiscriminatory when it comes to who they end up losing to on the road, they will fall to the mighty (USC and Furd by a combined 76 points), the nondescript (Utah by 25) and the weak (Arizona by 36). This will be a crucial barometer of what Mora can conjure out of this team on the road.
53. Cal at Utah, Oct. 27: Cal has won two games in-conference on the road the last two seasons--one was an overtime win against 3-10 Colorado, the other was a touchdown victory against a 2-10 Washington State squad. A trip to Salt Lake City the week after the Big Game seems like a recipe for disaster, particularly facing one of the stoutest defenses in the conference.
52. Illinois at Arizona State, Sept. 8: In what appeared to be the first sign that there was trouble afoot in Sparkyville, the Pitchforks fell apart in Champaign against the Zooker. Illinois ended up collapsing even more spectacularly than ASU down the stretch. The Sun Devils should have the advantage in their rematch, but it's hardly a striking one. This game could provide an early indicator of what ASU is capable of doing this season, although the Sun Devils seem to have far less trouble starting a season as opposed to finishing it.
51. UCLA at Arizona State, Oct. 27: Figures this matchup would end the list. It's kind of weird that this was the pivotal matchup that propelled the Bruins to a Pac-12 South crown and the rematch somehow doesn't even make the top 50. Last year's game was a back-and-forth affair too! However, the Sun Devils and Bruins probably are dark horses to win the South this season in what figure to be transition years. Still, this has the potential to be another good one that isn't worth missing out on.