- Washington vs. Auburn - September 1
The Huskies take center stage on opening night against an SEC power. This game has massive importance for Washington, and the Pac-12, as the Huskies enter 2018 as the conference’s only team anywhere near the top four. The Huskies have whiffed on the big stage under Chris Petersen so this game takes on an extra level of pressure for them. Win and they lock themselves in as an early-season CFP contender. Lose and the world probably continues looking at them as a very good Pac-12 that just isn’t ready to play with elites.
2. USC at Texas - September 15
The Trojans and Longhorns played a classic last year in The Coliseum. They reunite this year in Austin with the Longhorns likely improved and the Trojans likely reloading. I expect another closer game that the Trojans need to win if they want to be a Playoff contender this year.
3. Stanford at Notre Dame - September 29
A huge road test for the Cardinal at the end of non-conference season and one that should be another brutal back and forth between the Cardinal and Irish. This is probably a must-win if the Cardinal want to be a Playoff contender and a big showcase game for Bryce Love.
4. Notre Dame at USC - November 24
The other Notre Dame Pac-12 rivalry. This one might have Playoff implications for one or both of these teams, but either way will be a huge game for two teams that should be ranked somewhere between 11-25 in the preseason.
5. UCLA at Oklahoma - September 8
Chip Kelly gets a nice trial by fire in Norman against a Top 10 Oklahoma team. Will be a very interesting game to see Kelly’s Bruins in their first test against a major power.
6. San Diego State at Stanford - September 1
The Aztecs shocked Stanford in San Diego last year, but now have to head up to Palo Alto and play the Cardinal with a much better K.J. Costello and senior Bryce Love. This will be a big one to see if Stanford is ready to get back to being elite and to see if the Pac-12 can widen the gap between them and the Mountain West again.
7. Michigan State at Arizona State - September 8
A huge chance for Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils to make a statement against a potential Top 10 team. This is a very tough match-up for the Sun Devils with how strong Michigan State should be, but it should be an electric atmosphere in Tempe and Manny Wilkins will have a chance to make a star turn as a senior.
8. Arizona State at San Diego State - September 15
Things don’t get much easier for the Sun Devils as they travel to San Diego. This is a great test of mid-Pac-12 versus upper-Mountain West.
9. Colorado at Nebraska - September 8
Nice to see this game getting played again. Will be fun to see the Buffs try to bounce back this season against a former rival who is trying to bounce back themselves.
10. BYU at Utah - November 24
Another rivalry that I’m glad to see played. I don’t know how good BYU will be, but I’m sure they will be fired up to take on the Utes at the end of the season
11. Arizona at Houston - September 8
A mid-Pac-12 versus upper-AAC showdown in Houston. This will be a fun early test for Kevin Sumlin back in the state of Texas.
12. Oregon State at Ohio State - September 1
Huge stadium. Huge opponent. Major first test for Jonathan Smith and the Beavers. It will be very hard to keep this one competitive, but it’s a chance for the Beavers to test themselves and play on the biggest stage.