- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not surprised to see Stanford versus Notre Dame and Washington versus Boise State as the two games people view as most intriguing. Though I thought it would have been a little closer. I voted Washington -- and I think I've pretty sufficiently hammered home my thoughts on how important that game is over the last few weeks.
On to the South, with another round of excellent matchups. Arizona State has two of them, but in the interest of getting more teams into the poll I had to make a Solomon-like choice between the Wisconsin and Notre Dame games. Some of you might agree, some won't.
So, on to the poll. What's the most intriguing nonconference game in the South Division? Your options (determined by chronological order):
Sept. 1, Colorado versus Colorado State (in Denver): One of Colorado's oldest rivals, Colorado State could provide a tone-setter for Mike MacIntyre's first season as the Buffs' coach. Last year's game was a close one, and a lot of people are eager to see what the Buffs will look like once shaped in Mac's image. Colorado gave Jim McElwain his first win as CSU's coach. We'll see if the Rams can return the favor.
Sept. 14, ASU versus Wisconsin: As noted, I was on the fence between this one and Notre Dame. But I picked this one because it's the first game of that four-game stretch that also includes Stanford, USC and then Notre Dame. If the Sun Devils don't win this one, it could be bad vibes going into those next three games. Win it, and they've got the Big Mo moving forward.
Sept. 14, UCLA at Nebraska: The return trip from last year's game at the Rose Bowl should be a great one. Two athletic quarterbacks -- two teams that will likely start in the top 25 and a fantastic showcase game for the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
Sept. 21, Utah at BYU: I think the season opener against Utah State is also critical for the Utes. But this one is the Holiest of Holies. And while discussions are in the works to keep the series going, there is still going to be a two-year gap where bragging rights will mean everything.
Oct. 19, USC at Notre Dame: A classic rivalry that always garners plenty of national attention, this year's contest has plenty of intrigue. What will USC's quarterback situation look like in mid-October? Will the Irish still have their regular-season win streak? Last year's game in LA was a microcosm of everything that went wrong for the Trojans in 2012 and they'll be eager to make amends on the road.
5hChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell