Utah's trip to Washington should be the Game of the Year
The Pac-12 might lack a true national championship contender, but this is still an intriguing league with compelling storylines in 2019.
Can Utah live up to the hype? Can Clay Helton save his job at USC? Will Jacob Eason provide Washington with an upgrade at QB? Will Oregon’s defense improve enough to make the Ducks a true contender? We will find out the answers to these questions and more over the next few months.
Here is our list of the top 15 games involving Pac-12 teams on the 2019 college football schedule.
1. Utah at Washington, Nov. 2
Let’s hope the rematch of the 2018 Pac-12 Championship Game — won by Washington 10–3 — is a bit more entertaining. The Pac-12 hopes both teams enter this game without a loss.
Fun fact: Washington has won six of the seven meetings between the two schools since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011. Utah won 34–23 in 2015 in Seattle.
2. Oregon at Washington, Oct. 19
It’s more fun when this rivalry means something — and if both teams live up to expectations, this game could decide the Pac-12 North title.
Fun fact: Washington did not score a point against Oregon from 1928 through 1933, a span of six games.
3. Utah at USC, Sept. 20
The Utes head to USC for their Pac-12 opener. It’s a stretch to call this a must-win matchup, but beating the Trojans on the road sure would be a nice start.
Fun fact: The home team has won all but one of the eight meetings in this series since Utah joined the Pac-12. The one exception: 2012, won by USC in Salt Lake City.
4. Oregon vs. Auburn, Aug. 31 (Arlington, Texas)
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert can make a statement on a national stage against an elite Auburn defense.
Fun fact: Oregon is 4–5 all-time against SEC teams, with two wins apiece over Mississippi State and Tennessee and losses to Auburn (in the 2010 national title game), Georgia and LSU (three times).
5. Washington at Stanford, Oct. 5
The Huskies hit the Farm one week after hosting USC. We will know after this two-week stretch if UW is a legitimate CFB Playoff contender.
Fun fact: Stanford has won nine of the last 14 games in the series after previously losing 20 of 22 from 1977 through 2003.
6. Oregon at Stanford, Sept. 21
Washington is the team to beat in the Pac-12 North, but the winner of this game will put itself in position to put some heat on the Huskies.
Fun fact: Stanford rushed for 71 yards in last year’s overtime win over Oregon, the fewest the Cardinal have had in a league win since rushing for 20 in a 20–3 victory at Washington in 2006.
7. UCLA at USC, Nov. 23
An otherwise lackluster Year 1 for Chip Kelly at UCLA was highlighted by a 34–27 win over USC. The Bruins would love to make it two straight.
Fun fact: UCLA has not been ranked in the top-10 at the time of this game since 1998, when the Bruins, ranked No. 3, lost to unranked USC 34–17.
8. Washington State at Washington, Nov. 29
Mike Leach knocked off Washington in his first season at Wazzu but has since lost six straight in the series — and the last few have been costly.
Fun fact: Washington State has scored 17 points or fewer in six straight games against Washington. During that stretch, the Cougars have scored 17 or more in all but five Pac-12 games against teams not named Washington.
9. Stanford at USC, Sept. 7
The Cardinal defense — which held the Trojans to three points last season — will get its first look at the new USC attack under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.
Fun fact: Stanford is 7–4 against USC in the 2000s and has secured its first winning decade against the Trojans since going 4–3 vs. USC in the 1940s.
10. California at Stanford, Nov. 23
Justin Wilcox has Cal on the right path. Beating Stanford would accelerate the rebuild in Berkeley.
Fun fact: Stanford’s current nine-game winning streak over Cal is the longest ever by any team in the history of The Big Game. Cal’s longest streak, six games, came in the first six games of the series (1918-23).
11. Arizona at Arizona State, Nov. 29
Herm Edwards capped off his first regular season at Arizona State with a thrilling 41–40 win in Tucson. The rematch in Tempe will be heated.
Fun fact: The losing team has scored at least 30 points in the last five games in the series.
12. UCLA at Washington State, Sept. 21
Two of the game’s great offensive minds — UCLA’s Chip Kelly and Washington State’s Mike Leach — get together in Pullman.
Fun fact: Over the last four seasons, Washington State has 12 more wins in league play than UCLA. The Cougars are 26–10 in the Pac-12 during that span; UCLA is 14–22.
13. Stanford at UCF, Sept. 14
This might not garner national headlines like the Oregon-Auburn clash in Week 1, but this is an important game for the Pac-12. And it comes at a tough time for the Cardinal — one week after a trip to USC and one week before a home date with Oregon.
Fun fact: This will be Stanford’s first regular-season game in the state of Florida.
14. Washington State at Houston, Sept. 13 (NRG Stadium)
Two of the best offensive teams in the country will meet at the home of the Houston Texans. Houston’s D’Eriq King will be one of the top QBs the Cougars will face in 2019.
Fun fact: Houston coach Dana Holgorsen played at Iowa Wesleyan from 1991-92. The Tigers’ offensive coordinator at that time? Current Washington State coach Mike Leach. The two then served on the same staff at Valdosta State from 1993-95, and Holgorsen was an assistant at Texas Tech while Leach was the head coach from 2000-07.
15. Utah at BYU, Aug. 29
Utah is getting a ton of positive publicity as a potential dark horse to reach the College Football Playoff. The Utes will be eager to make a statement in the Holy War.
Fun fact: This is the first time these two teams have ever met in Week 1. It’s only the sixth time they have played in September.