The good\bad news is we should know early whether the Pac 12 will be playing meaningful football beyond Sept.15. The league’s typically brutal slate of non-conference games could put Larry’s League out of contention before the quarter-semester kids have checked into their dorms. The Pac 12 should be applauded for its take-on-all-comers philosophy. The exceptions this year are the uninspired non-con efforts of Oregon (Bowling Green, Portland State, San Jose State) and Washington State (Wyoming, San Jose State, Eastern Washington). Listed below is my rating of the top 12 games. And no, New Hampshire at Colorado on Sept. 15 did NOT make the list despite SID David Plati dutifully noting it will mark “the furthest east location of any opponent in CU history.” Plati also adds the schools have only met previously in one sport: skiing.

1: Washington vs. Auburn, Atlanta, Sept. 1

Last year ESPN announcers brought out cupcakes to ridicule Washington’s non-conference schedule. This year’s offering is the appetizer from hell, an all-important moment for U-Dub, the Pac 12 and Western Civilization. Or, as coach Chris Petersen bluntly puts it: “I don’t think one game determines anything.”

2: UCLA at Oklahoma, Sept. 8

Not a good September road choice for first-year UCLA coaches. In 2003, Karl (deer-in-headlights) Dorrell led his Bruins straight into the front bumper of the Sooner Schooner in a 59-24 rout in Norman. Chip Kelly has one advantage: this isn’t his first run around the park.

3: USC at Texas, Sept. 15

A win for USC would finally avenge that heart-breaking 2005 title-game loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl. Oh, wait, that was last year’s hogwash story line. We can only hope this year’s game in Austin can match last year’s double OT thriller at the Coliseum.

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