BERKELEY CA - NOVEMBER 20: The Stanford Cardinal celebrate with "The Axe" after beating the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on November 20 2010 in Berkeley California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
If Pac-12 football expects to seep into the national consciousness this season, the league has to provide some high-grade entertainment on their tubes. That means they'll need some great match-ups that everyone will remember and re-watch going into next season.
We've touched on how the past 30 games or so can be solid candidates for close-notch entertainment. These next five probably are close to the cream of the crop.
10. Arizona at Oregon, September 22
Chip Kelly is probably not going to have much trouble rocking to his fourth straight victory at home. Still, it'll be entertaining to see Kelly go against the innovator of the modern spread run attack that Chip has taken to warp speeds.
Oregon is well-advanced in their offensive concepts and should win, but who knows? If Arizona can run the football and beat the Ducks at their own game and control the clock, things could get very interesting very quickly. At worst, many, many points shall be scored.
9. Arizona State at Arizona, November 23
Run, run, run. Don't stop running until the clock stops ticking.
This game could mean nothing to anyone (neither are projected to do much this year), but this will be a fun match to potentially end each team's season. You've got the classical spread option from Rich Rodriguez against the up-tempo spread option led by Todd Graham. Both teams will be facing defenses that are not likely to have much success stopping anyone.
8. Oregon at Washington State, September 29
Chip Kelly vs Mike Leach is like the turbo version of Steve Sarkisian vs. Rich Rodriguez Perhaps one of the greatest passing innovators of all of college football meets perhaps the best offensive mind in the game today. There's probably a huge talent disparity (and Oregon is well-suited to stopping passing offenses with their five-man secondary base defense), but with Jeff Tuel and Marquess Wilson, Washington State has the tools to score an upset in the Palouse.
7. Stanford at California, October 20
The Big Game has been jolted up early in the schedule, and you figure emotions to be raw on both sides. The Cardinal will be looking to provide they're more than just Andrew Luck. The Bears will be going hard to get back the Axe after two consecutive losses. Both teams will be fighting to be the second Pac-12 North contender at this point in the season with November matchups with Oregon looming.
On both sides, defense could be the dominant unit, so don't expect a high-scoring affair here. With no real difference separating either unit, this figures to be a close and intense game with plenty at stake.
6. Washington at Washington State, November 23
The Territorial Cup in the air. Two of the best passing offenses in the country match up for the Apple Cup a day after Thanksgiving, and I doubt either defense will be strong enough to halt the other for too long. You have the pure athlete Keith Price and the West Coast Offense marching up against Jeff Tuel and the Airraid attack, but the running games should also be able to factor in with defenses super-charged to pack the passing zones.
There's solid potential for fireworks everywhere on this board. Prepare to be entertained.