Entering the season with almost a half-dozen viable College Football Playoff contenders, every week counts for the Pac-12 this year.

Especially Week 1, which offers the promise of renewed hope.

For 3 Pac-12 squads, including a pair of would-be champions — Washington, which hosts Boise State, and Utah, which tangles with Florida — the opening week will not be a walk in the park. Then there’s Colorado, which starts the Deion Sanders Era with TCU.

For the rest, the season kickoff should be but a harbinger of good things to come.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap this weekend …

Florida at No. 14 Utah

When – Thursday, 8 pm ET


One of the 3 tastiest games on the Pac-12 schedule, made all the more exciting because it is a rematch of last year’s season-opener at The Swamp. If this weren’t a rematch, it would be a very good matchup between an upper-tier Pac-12 squad and a middle-tier Florida squad.

But even though these teams met last year, their offensive profiles could be vastly different.

For the Gators, do-everything quarterback Anthony Richardson is gone, off to the NFL, where he’s as selected with the No. 4 overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts. Last year, he had 168 passing yards and 106 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in Florida’s 29-26 win.

Utah, meanwhile, might have to turn to a backup  if Cam Rising is unable to go, even though Rising is listed as the No. 1 quarterback on the 2-deep depth chart. The Utes are keeping their backup a secret, too, with high-floor, low-ceiling standby  Bryson Barnes and potential dual-threat Nate Johnson vying for the gig. Even should Rising go, he might not be 100%, but you know he’ll be motivated — his late interception sealed Florida’s win last year.

With the game shifting to Salt Lake City, plus Utah returning a ton of defensive talent, things could play out much differently this time.

Southern Utah at Arizona State

When – Thursday, 10 pm ET

TV – Pac-12 Network

Even in last year’s chaos, Arizona State demolished its lone FCS opponent, Northern Arizona, 40-3.

But the Sun Devils are hoping touted freshman QB Jaden Rashada gets off to a better start than Emory Jones last year. Jones had just 152 passing yards and no passing touchdowns, though he added 48 rushing yards and 2 scores to go with Xazavian Valladay’s 116 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns.

That set the stage for an unimpressive season for Jones, the former Florida starter. Kicking off the Kenny Dillingham Era, you know he’ll pull off all the stops to get Rashada going early. What would have been a pretty boring watch of Trenton Bourguet got the nod now turns into a compelling contest.

Stanford at Hawai’i

When – Friday, 11 pm ET


Hawai’i was an embarrassment last year, and the shame started in Week 1 with a 63-10 to regular SEC doormat Vanderbilt. That the Commodores turned into a respectable 5-7 team was not a reflection of that walloping. But after hanging with a suddenly sweetheart Vandy squad in Week Zero this year, the Warriors raised some eyebrows.

And it should raise Stanford’s alerts. The Cardinal have to travel to the island in Week 1, not an easy gig. But if Brayden Schager made as many strides as he appeared to in Week Zero — he went 27-for-35 for 352 yards and 3 scores with 2 picks — then Stanford is in trouble. Troy Taylor’s debut might not be so fun.

Colorado at No. 17 TCU

When – Saturday, Noon ET


The Buffaloes drew the short straw and open up with the defending national runner-up in a game that will serve as a good litmus test for Colorado’s incredible makeover. A year after fielding one of the worst — if not the worst — Power 5 teams, the Buffaloes turned to Deion Sanders in what was the biggest move of the offseason.

This could either be a springboard to great things for the Buffs, or it will confirm what most major pundits think of Colorado: That the team is a paper tiger despite its great gains.

The biggest thing we’ll learn from Week 1 will be Shedeur Sanders’ ability to navigate a good defense. We’ll also learn a little about the Horned Frogs post Max Duggan — but only a little. The Buffs shouldn’t be very good on defense.

Portland State at No. 15 Oregon

When – Saturday, 3 pm, ET

TV – Pac-12 Network

Speaking of learning little, this certainly won’t be a Duck dissertation. Oregon will win this game by 50-plus.

But how the Ducks dance will be of interest. With Dillingham in Tempe, we get our first look at the new-look Oregon offense under new offensive coordinator Will Stein. Will Heisman contender Bo Nix skip a beat with his new OC, or will he pine for the good old days?

It’ll also be exciting to see some of Nix’s new weapons, as Oregon’s additions might put the passing game in a new stratosphere.

Boise State at No. 10 Washington

When – Saturday, 3:30 pm ET


Now we’re talking. Utah/Florida is a revenge game. Colorado/TCU is morbid curiosity. But this matchup of conference title contenders is the goods.

Andy Avalos shook off a 7-5 start in Year 1 and a 2-2 start in Year 2 to lead Boise State to a 10-4 record last year, including an 8-0 run in Mountain West play. The Broncos dropped the MWC championship game to Fresno State, so they have big aspirations as well.

But UDub has stars in its eyes. The Huskies are gunning for a national title, and that is no lip service. Washington can be that good. But it needs to take some strides against the pass, and Taylor Green will be a good season-opening test. Green was the MWC Freshman of the Year after passing for 2,042 yards with 24 total touchdowns.

His head-to-head with Michael Penix Jr., on ABC, no less, will be good viewing.

Cal at North Texas

When – Saturday, 4 pm ET


A head-to-head between a pair of new offensive coordinators adds some intrigue to this game.

After the Cal offense collapsed last year under starting quarterback Jack Plummer, head coach Justin Wilcox jettisoned former OC Bill Musgrave and turned to a familiar face around Berkeley, Jake Spavital. Spavital inherits an offense in flux, with former TCU backup Sam Jackson V taking over as starting quarterback. The Bears have a big talent in Jaydn Ott, and he didn’t get the kind of love he should have last year. If Spavital turns to him often, that sets a good tone for the season.

The Mean Green have gone bowling in 6 of the past 7 seasons, though some of those appearances are questionable. But they let go of Seth Littrell, turning instead to former Washington State offensive coordinator Eric Morris.

Nevada at No. 6 USC

When – Saturday, 6:30 pm ET

TV – Pac-12 Network

The Trojans were somewhat of a mixed bag in their early debut on Saturday against San Jose State. They were tremendous on special teams and very good on offense, the branches in which freshman Zachariah Branch shined. Defensively, as was the case last year, USC was not altogether impressive.

This game isn’t so much about what Nevada will do, but more about what USC does to itself. The Trojans got a little too cute at times against SJSU, a familiar refrain from last year.

Reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, meanwhile, is looking to build on a 278-yard, 4-touchdown season debut.

Washington State at Colorado State

When – Saturday, 7 pm ET


With the program in a bad spot, Wazzu can make a statement in Week 1 against a Colorado State team coming off a 3-9 campaign in Jay Norvell’s first season. Jake Dickert has pledged to pour everything into this season and the current Cougars, and he’s going to look to overachieve in key spots. This is one of them.

The Rams are a weak team ripe for the picking, a perfect test dummy for new coordinators on both sides of the ball for the Cougars. Cameron Ward should have a big day.

Northern Arizona at Arizona

When – Saturday, 10 pm ET

TV – Pac-12 Network

Two years after suffering a stunning Week 3 loss to Northern Arizona, the Wildcats are in a much different position than they were then. Jedd Fisch has the team rowing in the right direction and the Cats are gunning for their first bowl berth since 2017.

Getting off to a resounding start will be important for Fisch’s messaging, and the handful of Arizona players left from the 2021 season will be hungry to get things going.

For a defense that has been the Cats’ Achilles’ heel for years, anything more than 2 scores sets things off on the wrong foot.

Coastal Carolina at UCLA

When – Saturday, 10 pm ET

TV – Pac-12 Network

Unlike Dillingham, who is going with true freshman over incumbent backup-turned-starter Trenton Bourguet, Chip Kelly might not be ready to hand the offense over to 5-star true freshman Dante Moore. Instead, redshirt junior Ethan Garbers likely will get the Week 1 starting gig. Garbers is more familiar with the offense which gave him an edge heading into fall camp, but we should expect to see some Moore, as well.

For the Bruins, that would be a wise way to start a season that has some major promise. With a truly easy nonconference schedule, solving the quarterback position early is going to mean all the difference.

It’s also going to be fun watching UCLA’s defense take the lead this year. The Bruins have been offense-first during Kelly’s entire tenure.

No. 18 Oregon State at San Jose State

When – Saturday, 3:30 pm ET


The Spartans put a nice little scare into the USC defense in a Week Zero loss. Hanging up 28 points on a team with national championship aspirations is no small feat, no matter how maligned the Trojans’ D might be. Chevan Cordeiro, the Mountain West preseason player of the year, had a nice game for the Trojans and should put a little fear into the Beavers.

But Oregon State fans will have all eyes on new starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who many think may be the answer to the Beavers’ passing game problems. Jonathan Smith has OSU in a terrific place entering the season, even with conference realignment dealing his beloved Beavs a cruel hand.