Pac-12 Conference Football: Games to Watch Week by Week for 2012

By James Gomez

Sometimes the powers that be do you a solid.

This week marked the launch of the Pac-12 Network.  I’m not Gene Siskel (rest his soul) or Rodger Ebert, but I give it two thumbs way up.  For anyone who has yet to check out the network, or doesn’t get it because of a bad cable provider, (I won’t name names fellow Rant Sports writer David La Rose) lets just say you are missing out.

Now that I can virtually be assured of catching every Pac-12 game, here are my games to watch if you had to pick but one each week.

Between you and I, there will be plenty of flipping between channels.  Let’s just pretend otherwise for the integrity of the article.  Enjoy, debate, but most of all… watch.

*Note: With the release of the AP Top 25 earlier today, the preseason rankings are in parenthesis.

Week 1

Washington State at BYU

The first couple weeks of a college football season are usually filled with directional cupcakes schools with maybe one or two awesome non-conference match-ups.  Here is the gem in the Pac-12’s first week.  The Cougars are breaking in Mike Leach‘s Air Raid offense and have a quarterback in Jeff Tuel who can lead the way.  BYU is coming off a 10 win season.

Honorable Mentions:  Nevada at California, Colorado State at Colorado

Week 2

Washington at (3) LSU

Damn you week 2!  Trying to pick a game to watch this week is akin to Daniel’s having to choose which hot rod to drive off Mr. Miyagi’s lot in The Karate Kid.  But alas, just like the All-Valley Tournament champ, I must choose.  Give me UW at LSU.  The Tigers are stacked but are still a question mark at QB.  If the Huskies can manage some defense it might be interesting for a while.  The environment in Baton Rouge is too much to turn down on a Saturday.

Honorable Mentions: (12) Wisconsin at Oregon State, Fresno State at (5) Oregon, (17) Nebraska at UCLA

Week 3

(1) USC at (21) Stanford

Two ranked Pac-12 schools meet for the first time in 2012.  I’m watching.  Plus the USC versus Stanford rivalry is more than worth my time.  The Cardinal is at home which should help them out.  A stingy D and solid run game give the boys in the Bay Area a punchers chance against the top ranked squad in the nation.  This game barely edges what could be the final Holy War for the conceivable future.

Honorable Mentions: Cal at (18) Ohio State, Arizona State at Missouri, Colorado at Fresno State, BYU at Utah

Week 4

Arizona at (5) Oregon

Rich Rodriguez gets to see if his offense can match up with Pac-12’s golden standard.  My guess is it won’t, but it will be fun to find out.

Honorable Mentions: Cal at (1) USC, Utah at Arizona State

Week 5

(5) Oregon at Washington State

Depending on  how fast the Cougars latch onto Leach’s offense, this could be a dicey proposition for the Ducks.  Judging on Tuel’s performance in Spring and Fall practices, I’m guessing it will be.

Honorable Mentions: (21) Stanford at Washington

Week 6

(1) USC at Utah

Don’t be surprised if the Utes are ranked by this point in the season.  Plus this Thursday night game could very well be the game that decides the Pac-12 South.  My guess is Salt Lake will be rocking for what could be the biggest game in Rice-Eccles Stadium history.

Honorable Mentions: Arizona at (21) Stanford, Washington at (5) Oregon

Week 7

(21) Stanford at Notre Dame

This game could be much more meaningful for Brian Kelly and Co.  Either way this has all the makings for a classic.  I’m in.  The Trojans meanwhile, are on upset alert in Seattle.

Honorable Mentions: (1) USC at Washington

Week 8

(5) Oregon at Arizona State

Thursday night the Ducks meet the Devils in the desert.  New head coach Todd Graham can score some major points with the fan base if he can pull this upset.

Honorable Mentions: (21) Stanford at Cal

Week 9

(1) USC at Arizona

Not a lot happening this week as far as attractive match-ups, so I’ll take best squad the conference has to offer on the road.  The Wildcats might be a tough out for the Trojans in Tuscon.  Keep an eye on the Utes and Bears.

Honorable Mentions: Cal at Utah, Washington State at (21) Stanford

Week 10

(5) Oregon at (1) USC

If all goes to plan, both the Ducks and Trojans will be 8-0 on the first Saturday in November.  If that is the case, we have ourselves a Pac-12 top 5 showdown in the Coliseum.  In other words, get your popcorn ready.

Honorable Mentions: Washington at Cal

Week 11

Utah at Washington

Both the Huskies and Utes could be top 25 teams when they meet in Seattle November 17.  An evenly matched game that could come down to the final minute garners my interest in week 11.

Honorable Mentions:  (5) Oregon at Cal

Week 12

(21) Stanford at (5) Oregon

Thunder meets lightning in Eugene.  Power or flash will come out the victor in this anticipated week 12 ballgame.  If the Cardinal can get decent play from the quarterback position late in the season, watch out Duck fans.

Honorable Mentions: (1) USC at UCLA

Week 13

Notre Dame at (1) USC

It’s rivalry week and the Golden Domers show up again in my list of games to watch.  ND might be able to cause havoc to the BCS rankings with a surprise in LA.  Key word here is might.

Honorable Mentions: Every other game on Pac-12 docket.

James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America

You can follow James on Twitter as well.

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