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Top 10 games in the Pac-12 this season

The MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) awaits Pac-12 foes. Photo by Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The Pac-12 debuted Thursday night with two games that won’t show up on anybody’s best-of lists. ASU and Utah won against lower-division teams.

There are some of us who think any college football is good college football, but some — like these 10 games involving the Pac-12 — are, well, more good than others:

10. Oregon at Arizona (Sept. 24)
Can’t forget the thriller in Tucson in 2009, and this is one of only four true road games for the Ducks. Others would put Oregon’s rivalry game at Washington on a list like this, but the matchups vs. the Cats have been more competitive.

If I had to pick it now: Oregon 48, Arizona 35

9. USC at Notre Dame (Oct. 22)
USC had the edge in coaching for several years. Roles have reversed.

If I had to pick it now: Notre Dame 27, USC 24

8. Missouri at Arizona State (Sept. 9)
If the Sun Devils win this one, I’ll have to put them on my AP Top 25 ballot.

If I had to pick it now: Arizona State 34, Missouri 27

7. Arizona State at Utah (Oct.8)
Winner gets the tiebreaker edge in the Pac-12 South? The Utes have won 22 consecutive home games, including Thursday’s victory over Montana State.

If I had to pick it now: Arizona State 31, Utah 28

6. USC at Oregon (Nov. 19)
On the field, these are two teams coming and going. The Ducks rule the league the way the Trojans did just a few years ago. Off the field, these might be two programs coming and going — USC off NCAA sanctions in 2012, the Ducks going on?

If I had to pick it now: Oregon 48, USC 27

5. Washington at Nebraska (Sept. 17)
The Huskies de-cleated the Huskers in the Holiday Bowl (really, can you imagine a team not showing up to play in the Holiday Bowl?) and got a surprising split of the season series. Here’s the rubber match, with the 2010 postseason result putting more national attention on this matchup, which could do wonders for the Pac-12 reputation. Or not.

If I had to pick it now: Nebraska 42, Washington 24

4. Utah at USC (Sept. 10)
Perhaps not the sexiest matchup on the list, but bonus points for being the first Pac-12 conference game. It begins to answer the question of whether the Utes really belong in this ritzy conference zip code.

If I had to pick it now: USC 31, Utah 24

3. Notre Dame at Stanford (Nov. 26)
This comes on the final weekend of the regular season, and it’s not hard to see each team in the running for a BCS berth. The Irish are playing big-boy football once again under second-year coach Brian Kelly, and Andrew Luck gets one final go-around in front of the home crowd.

If I had to pick it now: Stanford 38, Notre Dame 35

2. Oregon vs. LSU, Dallas (Sept. 3)
I’m not a huge fan of suspended LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, so that doesn’t bother me too much. The Tigers still have the hosses to make this an Oregon-Auburn kind of slog from last season’s BCS title game. Sorry to bring this up, Arizona fans: The last time two AP top five teams met on the opening weekend was Arizona at Penn State in 1999.

If I had to pick it now (and I do): LSU 27, Oregon 24

1. Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 12)
Oregon won the speed vs. power matchup last season, zooming from behind to win 52-31. This looks the biggie — for the Pac-12 North, the right to play in the league title game and, perhaps, the ability to go on to compete for the national championship.

If I had to pick it now: Oregon 45, Stanford 33

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 16th installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.

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