The Pac 12 looks to be loaded in 2014. Oregon will go back to its usual high flying style, UCLA returns Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley and the swiss army knife Myles Jack, and Washington welcomes former Boise St. frontman Chris Peterson to town. All this, plus Stanford, Arizona St., and USC. The conference will be full of great matchups, but here are the four best on the 2014 Pac 12 Conference slate.
4. USC at Stanford, September 6th
The first game on the Pac 12 schedule will be a huge one. The winner of this game will take the first step forward in challenging UCLA for the South division crown. David Shaw is an excellent coach, but his stubbornness in the Rose Bowl against Michigan St. may have cost his Cardinal a shot at history. The Trojans return Cody Kessler at QB and are poised to not only regain their prominence but also take back over the city of Los Angeles. The loser of this game will have a huge climb to get back into the mix as both teams must play road games at UCLA later in the season.
3. Washington at Oregon, October 18th
It’s not Chris Peterson’s first game in the Pac 12, but it’s the first time he’ll have to experience the true rigors of the conference. Games against teams like Stanford and California would not have been that stunning for Peterson’s Boise St. teams, but to play both of them before heading to Oregon, Peterson will certainly get a feel of just how much a step up this conference really is. Oregon will be coming off one of their toughest games, a trip to UCLA, and could fall into a trap. Peterson’s Bronco teams always had a few surprises up their sleeves, the same should be expected with the new look Huskies. Oregon is looking for a National Title in 2014, there’s just this sneaking feeling that a team they’re expected to beat could once again be their undoing. Might Washington be that team?
2. UCLA at Arizona St., September 25th
Brett Hundley is looking to be the first UCLA Bruin to win the Heisman Trophy since Gary Beban in 1967. He’ll have to start hot to make sure he’s clearly in the view of every voter. A road win against Arizona St. could be the perfect start to a dominant 2014 campaign for he and his Bruins. However, trips to Sun Devil Stadium do not always go as planned for ASU’s opponents. Arizona St. is likely headed for somewhat of a rebuilding year as they are much younger than they’ve been, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pull a big win off at home. It’s the first real home game for the Sun Devils and the second straight road game for UCLA. If the Bruins aren’t careful, this could spoil their hopes and dreams of a big year.
1. Oregon at UCLA, October 11th
Most pundits are predicating this game to be a preview for the Pac 12 Championship game. The good news for football fans everywhere, these two teams are scheduled to meet no matter how the season plays out. It has a chance to be a complete shootout in which 50 points may not be enough to tally one in the win column. Oregon’s up tempo offense led by Marcus Mariota against Jim Mora’s experienced defense retuning multiple five star players should provide plenty of fodder. The Rose Bowl will play host to the game which adds so much more allure to this contest. Most believe Oregon is the more talented team, but on the road, that offense can be vulnerable at times. The winner will not only stake claim as the Pac 12’s best, but they’ll also have one foot in the door towards the College Football playoff.