Every season, certain games get circled in red pen. And because Pac-12 teams aren't fraidy-cats like many teams in other AQ conferences, some of those are nonconference games.
Such as Oregon facing LSU in Cowboys Stadium. That could be the national game of the year, pitting two teams expected to be ranked in the preseason top-five in the season opener.
Hard to beat that.
Of course, you might just get two more top-five teams starting nose-to-nose when the Ducks visit Stanford on Nov. 12. Oregon handed the Cardinal its only loss last year, and the Cardinal will be thinking about revenge. Oh, and the game will feature Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck and Oregon running back LaMichael James, so it might decide the Heisman Trophy, too.
Stanford plays two other potential marquee games. For one, it's developed a bit of a rivalry with USC. In 2009, coach Jim Harbaugh ran up the score on the Trojans in the Coliseum. Last season, the Cardinal broke the Trojans hearts with a last second field goal for a second consecutive victory. Might USC spoil a special Stanford season?
Stanford's final game also is of note: a visit from Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are always a draw, even when they are down. But coach Brian Kelly is expected to have them back up. And who knows what the stakes might be for the Cardinal?
Finally, the potential top two teams in the conference's south division meet on Sept. 24 when USC visits Arizona State. That's a measuring stick game for both programs. Are the Sun Devils for real? Is USC back? One or the other team figures to be ranked afterward.
What's your take?