Thursday, February 10, 2011
Pac-12 games on 'perfect schedule'
By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com's Ryan McGee went in search of the "perfect 2011 schedule," which is made up of the "most scintillating matchups" of the 15 weeks of college football.
Three feature Pac-12 teams. Here are those games with comments from McGee -- and me.
Week 1: Sept. 3
Oregon Ducks versus LSU Tigers in Dallas, Texas
McGee: This game edges out the Boise State Broncos' trip to Atlanta to face the Georgia Bulldogs because it will pit the Oregon offense, which loses three linemen and little else, against LSU's top-10 defense. Yes, the Tigers will be without Patrick Peterson, but they will return at least a half-dozen starters on defense and all but one starter on offense. One of these projected top-5 teams will have their national title hopes dashed (or at the very least, severely wounded), in the season's first week.
My take: I haven't been as juiced for a season opener since, well, I don't know. (I was going to type USC-Ohio State, but that wasn't a season-opener). This is: 1. A matchup of potential top-five teams. How often do you get that in a nonconference game? 2. Another SEC-Pac-12 showdown, which we never get enough of. 3. Another game that will test the theory of extra preparation time foiling Chip Kelly and the Oregon offense. The winner places itself squarely in the national title hunt. And it might even rise to No. 1.
Week 2, Sept. 10
Utah Utes at USC Trojans
McGee: The Utes open up conference play early with a trip to Troy, meaning the conference's South division may already be decided two weeks into the season.
My take: Talk about a statement game for the old guard Pac-10 and the new guard Pac-12. If Utah goes into the Coliseum and wins, well, that would certainly announce that the Utes didn't just join the conference for a bigger revenue stream. And with no Oregon or Stanford on the 2011 schedule, Utah would immediately become the top foil for Arizona State in the South Division.
Week 9, Oct. 29
Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans
McGee: Stanford will be undefeated and Andrew Luck's Heisman nameplate will be all but engraved. USC could also be undefeated, or it could already have three losses. Either way, the Trojans would love nothing more than to knock Stanford out of the BCS title hunt, especially after last year's last second loss.
My take: Lots of confidence in Luck and Stanford here, but the Cardinal could be undefeated heading into this game. What does it mean if the Cardinal win? Two weeks later they play host to Oregon, which figures to be the game of the year in the Pac-12 North -- maybe the entire Pac-12. And maybe it will have national title implications?