The Pac-10 is involved in a number of high profile games that will demand a lot of airtime this season. These are the Pac-10 out of conference games that the country should pay attention to this year. Moreover, they are games that many BCS teams would be afraid to schedule.
Top Pac-10 Non-Conference Matchups
1. USC vs. Ohio State, Sept. 13 ABC
There is a lot to like about this game. Both teams will be ranked in the top five when they play. The linebackers in this game are unbelievable. On one side, there is James Laurinaitis and on the other side, the Trojans feature Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. There is the tradition of Ohio State and USC. Ohio State running back Beanie Wells is a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The history between these two schools in the Rose Bowl is very rich. In 1973, USC defeated Ohio State 42-17. In 1974, the Buckeyes returned the favor with a 42-21 victory over the Trojans. In 1975, the Trojans got by Ohio State 18-17. This game will give one team the inside track to the National Championship Game.
2. Arizona State vs. Georgia, Sept. 20 ABC
The Bulldogs have been placed in the No. 1 position by many preseason publications and the Sun Devils want to prove that they can be Pac-10 Champions. This game will feature two of the countries best quarterbacks in Rudy Carpenter and Matthew Stafford. Arizona State will be counting on the home crowd and the heat to give them a slight advantage. This is a game that the Sun Devils will want to jump ahead quickly to avoid getting a heavy dose of UGA RB Knowshon Moreno. With a tough SEC schedule ahead of them, the Bulldogs cannot afford to drop this game.
3. Cal vs. Michigan State, Aug. 30 ABC
The Spartans have a good chance of finishing second in the Big Ten this year. Michigan State has a couple of underrated players in quarterback Brian Hoyer and running back Javon Ringer. Hoyer threw 20 touchdowns last season and Ringer ran for 1,484 yards. The Bears will rely on its offensive line led by All-American C Alex Mack. The Bears should also have the edge at the quarterback position in this game.
4. Oregon at Purdue, Sept. 13 ABC
Last season, the Ducks went on the road and defeated Michigan 39-7. Now, Oregon is going into another hostile environment in West Lafayette to face a Purdue squad that has a chance to finish in the top three of the Big Ten. This will be a tough test for the Ducks, but after defeating Michigan last season the atmosphere should not affect them.
5. UCLA vs. Tennessee, Sept. 1 ABC
For the second year in a row, Tennessee makes a trip to the West Coast, but they hope they can leave the state of California with a victory this time. The Bruins are trying to get their program back on track with new head coach Rick Neuheisel. Neuheisel brought in offensive guru Norm Chow and retained defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker. The Bruins are hoping Norm Chow can get QB Kevin Craft up to speed in the next few weeks. Moreover, Bruin fans hope Walker can devise a scheme to slow down the Volunteers.
6. Cal at Maryland, Sept. 13 ESPN/2
The Bears will travel cross-country to battle the Terrapins. This will be the Bears third game of the season and the passing game should be in sync for this game. California will rely on a steady dose of Jahvid Best on the ground. Defensively, Syd'Quan Thompson will look to contain wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Bey is one of the best at his position in the country.
7. Oregon State at Penn State, Sept. 6 ABC
Penn State's tradition speaks for itself. In this match-up, the Beavers will have the best QB on the field. Lyle Moevao and Sean Canfield both have experience behind center. Oregon State has one of the least talked about receivers in the country in Sammie Stroughter. This would be a tremendous win for the Oregon State program if they could pull it off. The Nittany Lions' Derrick Williams is looking to be used as a receiver, runner, and returner to increase his chances of making a big play. This will be a big game for both programs.
8. Oregon vs. Boise State, Sept. 20
There is a very good chance that when both these teams meet on September 20 it will be a battle of unbeaten teams. This game might mean a lot more to the Broncos. If Boise State can get past the Ducks it is likely they could run the table until the season finale versus Fresno State on November 28. All Boise State will have to do is walk into Auzten Stadium and win. That will be a difficult task to accomplish.
9. Washington vs. Notre Dame, Oct. 25 ABC or ESPN/2
No matter what the records are for both of these teams, this game will be built up as Willingham vs. Weis. The loser of this game will have a lot of pressure on them. This game should come down to the quarterbacks. At this point in time, Jake Locker is better than Jimmy Clausen is. The home crowd will give the Huskies the edge. Expect the Washington players to give a lot of extra effort for Willingham.
10. UCLA vs. Fresno State, Sept. 27 ABC
The Bruins face another tough test when the Bulldogs come to town. Under the guidance of Pat Hill there is no way Fresno will be intimidated by the surroundings. If the Bruins are a couple years away from being a legit football team, they will have a very tough time dealing with the Bulldogs. Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews led the team with 866 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
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