Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/14/14
Around the Corner The best season in all of sports is lurking just around the corner. One defined by thousands of roaring fans cheering on their modern day gladiators, college football is truly a spectacle to behold. The athleticism of the budding and young players is unlike any sport, and the excitement that surrounds each and every contest makes every gameday feel like the Super Bowl. Here in Pac-12 land we are blessed to be able to witness some of the best teams go toe-to-toe year-in and year-out. Featuring some of the more storied programs in college football (USC, UCLA, and UW immediately come to mind), fans of the Conference of Champions really are given quite a treat every fall.   This year, in 2013, look for things to remain that way. With Oregon and Stanford coming into the season as potential BCS National Championship teams and UCLA looking to continue building towards further greatness, 2013 may be the year we see multiple teams – instead of just Stanford or Oregon – contend for a Pac-12 Championship. Here are the top-five games you should be looking forward to already. Arizona State vs. Stanford – September 21, 2013 – TBA Arizona State could be priming for a shot at a BCS Bowl. (Rick Scuteri/AP Photo) If you’re not already excited about this matchup, you need to start doing your research on these two teams. On the one hand, we’ll see Stanford going against their first tough team of 2013. Not meaning to discredit San Jose State or Army, it’s just that, compared to this game, the Cardinal don’t start of their season with any real bang. For the first time of the season they’ll really have to put everything they have on the field in order to avoid a loss. Can Kevin Hogan continue his development and become an elite leader? Will the loss of Stepfan Taylor hurt the Cardinal? How good will their offensive line be? On the other hand, you have Arizona State. Though there are a few questions surrounding their squad as well, many consider them to be a Pac-12 South contender and potential upset pick for a BCS National Championship. Todd Graham has started to build a great program in Tempe and the expectations are high in 2013. Both these teams bring a different style of play to the field, but this will definitely be a game to keep your eye on, as it could really impact the way the season plays out for both Stanford and the Sun Devils. USC vs. Arizona State – September 28, 2013 – TBA A huge game early on that will help determine the eventual Pac-12 South champion, this contest between USC and Arizona State seems like it should have been placed a little further back in the schedule because of the way it may impact the standings. Though the Trojans lost Barkley to the NFL, there is no denying the fact that their school reputation alone should keep Pac-12 fans fearing the return of USC to college football prominence. Don’t think Arizona State will be wanting that to happen on their home turf, either, as the Sun Devils could very well be coming off a huge win in Palo Alto. Should that be the case, the Sun Devils could come into this game with a huge wave of momentum while looking further than a Pac-12 Championship. UCLA vs. Oregon – October 26, 2013 – TBA Oregon will look to down the Bruins once again in 2013. While USC and Arizona State are two contenders in the Pac-12 South, one of the contenders that has made appearances in the first two Pac-12 Championship Games is UCLA. With Brett Hundley returning and more than enough potential on their roster to contend in the conference and nationally. Oregon, meanwhile, will be looking to make a trip to their fifth straight BCS Bowl game, and many believe the Ducks could be headed for a BCS National Championship once again.  This game, which will be a rematch of the 2011 Pac-12 Championship, could very well be a preview of this year’s Championship as well. The backdrop of Autzen will only make this game that much more intense. Oregon vs. Stanford – November 13, 2013 – 6:00 pm/ESPN The game of the year in the Pac-12 last year will remain the same for 2013. Once again having both Pac-12 Championship and BCS National Championship implications, this contest pits two of the top programs in all of college football against one another in an epic clash that will, once again, likely decide the North. Stanford will look to defend their home turf against the Ducks while Oregon will look for revenge after dropping an overtime contest to the Cardinal at home. This one is already making me shake in my boots. Arizona State vs. UCLA – November 23, 2013 – TBA USC will be good in 2013, but I really believe the Pac-12 South will come down to Arizona State and UCLA. And with just a few weeks left in the regular season, what an end it will be with these two teams going head-to-head. Both looking to vie for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship, this will be a fast-paced, up-tempo, and thrilling contest that will highlight an outstanding 2013 Pac-12 season. Expect the Sun Devils to give the Bruins a run for their money at home while the UCLA faithful turnout to potentially give their home team a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl once again.  Though these five games are but a small sampling of the greatness the Pac-12 will be this year, make sure to keep an eye on these ones, as they will likely play a much bigger role in the outcome of the conference than any of the other contests on the current schedule.
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