The Pac-12 may be the best conference in college football next season, and the conference has officially released the 2014 slate for all conference teams.
Let's pick the most highly anticipated matchups from each week!
Week 1 -- Aug. 30, Fresno State at USC
A rematch of this year's New Mexico Bowl will see Steve Sarkisian's first go at being the Trojans' head coach. Can USC play up to the extraordinary talent level on its roster?
Honorable Mention: Aug. 30, California at Northwestern. Both teams will be healthy again (seemingly for the first time since they played each other in last year's opener), and Cal's offense could be scary good in Year Two under Sonny Dykes.
Week 2 -- Sept. 6, Michigan State at Oregon
The style-of-play difference here is tantalizing. It's hard to think of two teams with such different offensive pace, and it'll be an early test for the Pac-12's claim at conference superiority, up against the reigning Rose Bowl champions.
Honorable Mention: Sept. 6, USC at Stanford. Pac-12 play starts early with a good one, as both of these teams should compete for their respective divisional titles. If the Trojans can start the year 2-0, questions about the Sarkisian hire will likely be (temporarily) muted.
Week 3 -- Sept. 13, UCLA vs. Texas
The game will be played at Arlington Field, and will see Brett Hundley, likely a Heisman contender, go against a new Charlie Strong Texas defense. This will be another big test of the Pac-12's conference strength -- the Longhorns have a lot of talent and could make a quick turnaround under Strong, while the Bruins are expected to compete for a divisional title.
Honorable mention: Sept. 6, Illinois at Washington. This will be the first real test for Chris Petersen's Washington squad, unless FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington gives it a hard time in Week 2.
Week 4 -- Sept. 20, Oregon at Washington State
An early litmus test for both programs, who had quite opposite ends to the 2013 season. The Ducks performed poorly down the stretch but blew Texas out of the water in the bowl game, while the Cougars won two of their last three games to make their first bowl game in a decade, but lost in a heartbreaker to Colorado State.
Honorable mention: Sept. 20, Utah at Michigan. Utah is one of the few Pac-12 programs expected to take a step back in 2014, but Michigan won just one of its final six games last season and could be a perfect opportunity for a Utes' upset win.
Week 5 -- Sept. 25, UCLA at Arizona State
The top two teams from the Pac-12 South will face off relatively early in the 2014 season. Who has made more progress in their rebuilding effort -- Jim Mora or Todd Graham? This game could answer that question (although Graham has the advantage from the 2013 season).
Honorable mention: Sept. 27, Oregon State at USC. Sean Mannion will be back for the Beavers, and will face a tough test against the Trojan secondary.
Week 6 -- Oct. 4, Stanford at Notre Dame
Notre Dame is always a big draw, and the Irish will be an interesting team to watch with the return of quarterback Everett Golson. The Cardinal defense is suffocating, however, and they will be a popular pick to make a run at the playoffs.
Honorable mention: Oct. 4, Arizona State at USC. This is the game that got Lane Kiffin fired in 2013. Let's see what happens in 2014!
Week 7 -- Oct. 11, Oregon at UCLA
Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley both elected to return to school rather than test the NFL Draft waters, and this could be a key game in deciding the Pac-12 divisional races (with possible playoff implications as well). The Ducks also return center Hroniss Grasu and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and this will be an important game in their quest to finally win that elusive national title.
Honorable mention: Oct. 11, USC at Arizona. Rich Rodriguez tries to continue his rebuilding project with what would be a very nice home win.
Week 8 -- Oct. 18, Stanford at Arizona State
A rematch of the 2013 Pac-12 Championship Game, Stanford blew out the Sun Devils in both 2013 matchups. Will the Cardinal have a harder time without star running back Tyler Gaffney? Both of these teams could be in play for the playoffs, and could easily be undefeated at this point in the season, with the loser possibly being knocked out of playoff contention.
Honorable mention: Oct. 18, Washington at Oregon. Petersen's Boise State was one of the few teams to knock off Oregon during its elite stretch under Chip Kelly. Could he do it again with the Huskies?
Week 9 -- Oct. 25, Arizona State at Washington
The Sun Devils are certainly a threat for the Pac-12 title after Todd Graham's impressive season in 2013, but Chris Petersen is a complete wild card, even with a Washington team that loses some key parts. The Sun Devils will be coming off that tough game against Stanford, and will be hoping not to suffer a let-down here.
Honorable mention: Oct. 25, Oregon State at Stanford.
Week 10 -- Nov. 1, Stanford at Oregon
This is always a fun one. The Cardinal have played spoiler to the Ducks multiple times over their recent histories, and Mariota will surely be looking for vengeance. This has all sorts of stakes -- the history within the rivalry, different styles of play, competition for the playoff spot -- and could be the top game of the season.
Honorable mention: Nov. 1, Arizona at UCLA.
Week 11 -- Nov. 8, Notre Dame at Arizona State
This was the only non-Stanford game Arizona State lost in the 2013 regular season, and it was a fun one. With the progression of Graham's Sun Devils, it should be again in 2014. It's hard to accurately read how good the Irish will be next season, but their talent is undeniable and they will give the Sun Devils a stiff test yet again.
Honorable mention: Nov. 8, UCLA at Washington.
Week 12 -- Nov. 15, Utah at Stanford
The upset that stunned the Pac-12 world in 2013, Stanford will be looking for revenge at home. The Cardinal have the home advantage this time around, and an upset here would be even more shocking -- considering the location and Utah's losses since the last contest.
Honorable mention: Nov. 15, Washington at Arizona.
Week 13 -- Nov. 22, USC at UCLA
One of the top rivalries in all of sports, both of these teams should be improved in 2013. Cody Kessler will be an interesting quarterback to watch, moving from Lane Kiffin/Ed Orgeron to Steve Sarkisian, and he played incredibly well in the Las Vegas Bowl. If he continues that through the 2014 season, the Trojans could definitely be a team to watch.
Honorable mention: Nov. 22, Oregon State at Washington.
Week 14 -- Nov. 28, Stanford at UCLA
This could very well be a preview of the Pac-12 title game, setting up a weird situation in which these teams play each other twice in a row in the same location. If everything goes right, the Bruins could have a pretty crazy end to their season.
Possible finish to UCLA season: USC at Rose Bowl, Stanford at Rose Bowl, Pac-12 title at Rose Bowl, semi at Rose Bowl, National title game.— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyanRosenblatt) January 8, 2014
Honorable mention: Nov. 29, Notre Dame at USC