The 2010 intrigue is once again large, rivaling Dallas Cowboys Stadium, which will host one of the above-referenced contests. Here's a TV viewers' guide to all the action, catered specifically for Pac-10 followers living in Pacific Time. Feel free to pass this along to any wives/significant others as a heads up, or to Bob Bowlsby as complaint to ante up Stanford's schedule.
Oregon State vs. TCU, at Arlington, Tex.
When: 4:45 p.m.
Why to watch: A testament to upward mobility. Both the formerly lousy foes have their sights set on national importance once again. One team vies for a Pac-10 title, while the other wants a repeat BCS berth. In the case of Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers and Jeremy Kerley of TCU, two of the most exciting players in the country will be on display. Could you imagine all that 12 or 13 years ago? The Frogs are 15-point favorites. On cause of concern for this game is attendance. Ticket sales have been slow, and the crowd at the Jerry Jones Dome may not even exceed 25,000. That would look like some old Bluebonnet Bowl.
Syracuse at Washington
When: 4 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Northwest
Why to watch: A case study on recovery (and lack thereof) from a downward spiral. From 2002 to 2008, Washington fell from its longstanding perch to the depths of a winless season. The Huskies – who improved by five games in 2009 – face another program big on tradition but light on recent success. My alma mater, which once upon a time went to 11 bowl games in 13 years, hasn't exceeded four wins since 2004.
Oregon at Tennessee
When: 4 p.m.
TV: ESPN 2
Why to watch: Another warm-up for Stanford's huge tilt with UCLA that night. So what if the Vols are down? Any Pac-10/SEC clash is worth a look-see. As for historical perspective, Mike Bellotti's team won at Mississippi State in 2003 in the Ducks' last Dixie visit.
Wake Forest at Stanford
When: 8:15 p.m.
Why to watch: When I think of Stanford against Wake Forest, I think of this game. Still, be mindful that revenge is in order. The Demon Deacons' last-minute win a year ago only came about after a very iffy holding penalty wiped out a long run by Toby Gerhart earlier in the fourth quarter.
Iowa at Arizona
When: 7:30 p.m.
Why to watch: It's Big-10 against Pac-10 for supremacy, with a personal connection on the line. Mike Stoops roamed for the secondary for the Hawkeyes back in the early '80s. Remember that funny clip of the guy from Iowa in pass coverage, running into and knocking over the Michigan State goalpost? That was the Arizona head coach in his playing days. Ricky Stanzi of the Hawkeyes squaring off against Nick Foles figures to be a nice quarterback duel. FYI, Stanford's last home game against a Big 10 foe wasn't that long ago, if you don't think of 1995 as that long ago.
Nebraska at Washington
When: 12:30 p.m.
Why to watch: The Cornhuskers resembled their scary, Tom Osborne-led selves in last year's Holiday Bowl thrashing of Arizona. Here lies a chance for Washington – which plays four of its first six games at home – to reclaim some respect on behalf of the Pac-10. The teams last met in Seattle in 1997, the year of Nebraska's last national championship.
Stanford at Notre Dame
When: 12:30 p.m.
Why to watch: It's the second of the Cardinal's three imposing road games, two weeks after visiting UCLA and a week away from going at Oregon. And as if there were more reasons to hate Notre Dame, let's introduce Brian Kelly. The Irish's new coach is the guy who ditched his Cincinnati team before the Sugar Bowl last year. Real classy.
UCLA at Texas
Why to watch: Another pair of storied programs face off. An upset may be afoot. The Longhorns, led by new starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert, will be coming off their conference opener against always tough Texas Tech and will be a week away from facing Oklahoma. It's also worth tuning in just to see clips of the teams' last meeting in Austin. The winless Bruins' 66-3 flaying of the No. 11 Longhorns in 1997 remains the worst loss ever for a ranked team.
Oregon State at Boise State
TV: ESPN or ESPN2
Why to watch: The Beavers get a home respite against Louisville in between their murderous nonconference road dates. This one looks a real challenge. It's the home opener for the preseason No. 3 Broncos.
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