Hitting up the top 30, which means we're getting into the meat of the schedule. So many compelling matchups here, and plenty of games that could be great, intense, heated, or just plain fun. Time to start peeling back their layers.
30. Washington at Oregon, October 6
If this list was based on venom, this game would be top-three. In terms of competitiveness though, it's closer to dead last. The Ducks haven't lost to the Huskies since 2003, and they've won by three scores or more every single time. Despite a good Washington offense, the Oregon defense shut them down pretty easily in Seattle last season. It's still worth top 30 because of the rivalry though, which has the simmering heat of any typical SEC contest.
29. UCLA at Washington State, November 10
The Bruins have had their road difficulties, and a November visit to Pullman could very well test a defense that has been woefully inconsistent the moment they leave Los Angeles. The good news is that WSU's defense is inconsistent everywhere. This could also be one of those bowl eligibility games, so both sides will probably be fighting equally hard in this contest.
28. Utah at Colorado, November 24
An absolutely shocking upset by Utah at home to Colorado cost them a chance at the Pac-12 South title and a shot at the Rose Bowl. This isn't a rivalry game yet, but you have to figure that the Utes will have revenge on the mind in Boulder, and they will try their hardest to obtain victory against a likely underdog in the Buffaloes.
27. Arizona at UCLA, November 3
Remember the brawl from last year? Remember a headless Arizona team absolutely pantsing a Bruins squad with a lot to play for? Remember UCLA getting run all over the field by spread teams the past few seasons? Jim Mora will have a lot to prove in this contest.
26. Oregon at Arizona State, October 18
Last year's matchup was very exciting, but the Ducks will now get a taste of their own medicine as they face an offense similar to them in scheme (spread-option) and style (up-tempo). If Oregon wasn't a better team, this would be higher on the list, but watch for the trap in the desert, a place where the Ducks have been involved in highly-entertaining but offensive-minded blowouts.
25. Arizona State at Missouri, September 15
A bizarre Pac-12 vs. SEC battle takes place here, and both squads figure to have a lot of matchups that favor them. There could be a lot of offense in this game or Missouri could assert themselves. Neither squad quite knows how good they are, which means even the result could have very little bearing on how their season ends up going.
24. Cal at Ohio State, September 15
This is a really interesting game because Cal generally does well against the Big Ten and the Buckeyes will be dealing with sanctions plus still trying to click together their new scheme. The Bears will definitely have a defense that can shut down the spread option attack, but will the Buckeyes have the superior personnel on both sides of the football that will overwhelm Cal? A very intriguing non-conference matchup this early in the season.
23. Oregon at Oregon State, November 24
This is only high on this list because of the rivalry, because recently these games haven't been close. In the past four Civil Wars, Oregon has won by an average win margin of 19 points. This game is a bit more intriguing this year because of Oregon State's hopefully revitalized offense, but they'll be facing a stiff Oregon defense. Still, the Civil War can get chaotic even if one team is a decided underdog.
22. Utah vs. BYU, September 15
Utah absolutely obliterated BYU the last time they faced each other, and the Utes figure to still have the stronger side in Salt Lake City. However, seven of the last ten games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, with two going into overtime. Utah was extremely lucky to blow BYU out in Provo thanks to turnovers; you have to figure a much closer contest will result this time around.
21. Washington State at BYU, August 30
The most interesting game of Opening Night has Mike Leach returning as a coach to his alma mater and showing how much rust has accumulated from spending two years away from coaching. Will Washington State show what they're capable of offensively? Or will the Cougars prove they still have a long way to go as a team? There is optimism in Pullman, but a lot has yet to be decided.