The ultimate Pac-10 road trip
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
An ultimate Pac-10 road trip? Are you kidding me?
Know what the rest of the country would call that: A dream vacation.
You've got the Bay Area (wine country!), Los Angeles (Hollywood!), Seattle (seafood! skiing!), Phoenix (the sun!), Eugene/Corvalis (pinot noir country!), Tucson (the sun, take 2!) and Pullman (the Coug!).
What's more, because the Pac-10 isn't afraid to schedule tough nonconference road games, you've also got some marquee road trips across this great nation of ours.
So buckle up.
Sept. 3 -- Oregon at Boise State
Oregon hits the blue Smurf Turf looking to get a measure of revenge for last season's home loss. Both teams have BCS dreams. One might see them end the first Thursday of September.
Dinner at: Gernika Basque Pub & Eatery
Sept. 5 -- LSU at Washington
Talk about a dream tailgate -- this one might provide the best buffet of contrasting regional cuisine ever (Does Tabasco work on salmon?). My guess is these two groups of fans will get along famously. Now, if the Huskies pull the monumental upset, all bets are off.
Dinner at: Elliott's Oyster House
Sept. 12 -- USC at Ohio State
UCLA at Tennessee and Stanford at Wake Forest would be fun, too, but this is the nation's biggest intersectional game for the second consecutive year and is not to be missed.
Dinner at: G. Michael's Italian-American Bistro & Bar
Sept. 19 -- California at Minnesota
Minnesota has 18 starters back from a bowl team and a fancypants new stadium, so this is a big road test for the Bears. Recall the embarrassing egg the Bears laid last year at Maryland.
Dinner at: The St. Paul Grill
Sept. 26 -- California at Oregon
It's hard to pass up Arizona State's visit Between the Hedges -- Athens, Ga., can be riotous fun (not that I'd know anything about that ...). But this is a major showdown of Pac-10 contenders who both envision dethroning USC.
Dinner at: Beppe & Gianni's Trattoria
Oct. 3 -- USC at California
If California survives its early-season gauntlet -- and USC survives Ohio State -- this could be a matchup of national title contenders. Or, at least, it should have major Rose Bowl implications.
Dinner at: Le Cheval
Oct. 10 -- Stanford at Oregon State
The Beavers will be looking for revenge after dropping their 2008 opener at Stanford, while the Cardinal will make a bid for legitimacy in the conference.
Dinner at: Aqua Seafood Restaurant and Bar
Oct. 17 -- USC at Notre Dame
It's the nation's marquee annual intersectional game, and the stakes should be high. USC will be doing its USC thing while Notre Dame will be either re-entering the national picture or getting ready to fire coach Charlie Weis.
Dinner at: Anywhere in Chicago because that's where you should stay.
Oct. 24 -- Oregon State at USC
I feel a little scatterbrained -- did these two teams play last year?
Dinner at: Father's Office in Santa Monica
Oct. 31 -- Washington State vs. Notre Dame in San Antonio
Your first thought is Riverwalk, which is nice, but what's great about this trip is you can visit ESPN.com blogger Tim Griffin. He covers the meat-eating Big 12, so you just know he's a maestro over the grill. And he's got a big screen TV so you can watch USC at Oregon.
Dinner at: Tim Griffin's house
Nov. 7 -- Washington at UCLA
Any legs left on the "Washington blames Neuheisel for everything" angle? Hopefully not. Get the idea that one of these two teams might be in the midst of a surprisingly good season.
Dinner at: Mijares Mexican Restaurant
Nov. 14 -- Arizona at California
Arizona put a pretty good whipping on Cal last year, so the Bears are sure to be hungry for revenge.
Dinner at: Chez Panisse
Nov. 21 -- California at Stanford
The Big Game might actually live up to its name.
Dinner at: Original Joe's
Nov. 28 -- Arizona at Arizona State
The nasty rivalry is great fun, and a trip to Arizona in late November is always nice. Got a feeling the stakes in this one should be fairly substantial in the overall bowl picture, too.
Dinner at: Blowfish Sushi (hey, it's 45 minutes from Tempe but two minutes from Chez Pac-10 Blog!)
Dec. 3 -- Oregon State at Oregon
The "Hail fellow well met" good-natured Civil War re-enacts again (joking, guys, joking!), and it's hard to imagine one -- or both -- of these teams won't be looking at high stakes.
Dinner at: Adam's Place
Dec. 5 -- Arizona at USC
The Wildcats might be standing in the way of the Trojans and a date with Florida in the national title game.
Dinner at: El Cholo