We’re precisely six Saturdays from the start of the college football season, and I’m champing (yes, champing) at the bit to watch some big-time football.

Luckily for me, and the rest of the college football universe, the season starts with one heck of a kickoff.

It just so happens that my pick for most anticipated Pac-12 game comes in Week 1.

Here’s a look at the 10 games that I’ve got circled on my calendar.

Oregon vs. Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, 9/3

The last time a Pac-12 football team opened up the season against the defending national champions didn’t go so well for our lads from the West. In 2016, the 20th-ranked USC Trojans kicked off the campaign with a 52-6 loss to mighty Alabama, fresh off a title game win over top-ranked Clemson. Like this illustrious matchup, the Alabama/USC tilt took place on neutral territory.

This time around, Oregon will head to less-than-neutral territory, as the defending-champion Bulldogs will travel just down the road to Atlanta to go Duck hunting.

Oregon is no stranger to early season SEC matchups. In 2019, the Ducks traveled to AT&T Stadium for a matchup with Auburn and a precocious freshman named Bo Nix. The Tigers outlasted the Ducks, with Nix out-dueling future NFL first-rounder Justin Herbert.

And what’s the old saying? If you can beat them, join them? Now Nix is in the saddle for the Ducks, hoping to resurrect a career that didn’t really go anywhere. If he can lead Oregon to a big upset over Georgia, consider his career kick-started.

But he’s not the only one with SEC bonafides. Former Georgia defensive coordinator returns to the Peach State for a matchup against his former team.

This one is must see.

USC vs. Notre Dame, 11/26

There is a realistic chance that this game could help determine the College Football Playoff bids. Both of the legendary programs enter the season as top-10 teams, both break in new head coaches and new starting quarterbacks.

Playing the Fighting Irish uncharacteristically in the season last year, the Trojans fell 31-16 on Oct. 23 in front of nearly 80,000 fans. The win was the fourth straight against USC for Notre Dame, which has dominated the rivalry the last dozen years. The Trojans had won eight straight under Pete Carroll.

USC will need to clean things up this time around against the Irish. Last year, USC had nine penalties and two turnovers while allowing 170 rushing yards.

Utah vs. USC, 10/15

Both teams have a better-than-average shot at being undefeated when they meet in this mid-October clash. The Utes have the harder early-season slate, with games at Florida, Arizona State and UCLA as well as home games against Southern Utah, San Diego State and Oregon State before they host the Trojans.

The last time the two teams met on anything resembling equal footing was 2019, when un-ranked USC took down the No. 10 Utes, 30-23. In 2020, USC came out on the high side again in a 33-17 win, but the Utes struck back last year with a 42-26 win in Los Angeles. It was Utah’s first win in the Coliseum in program history and doubly emotional, coming two weeks after the shooting death of Ute defensive back Aaron Lowe.

Oregon vs. Stanford, 10/1

At one point the best rivalry in the conference, Stanford’s slide over recent years has removed the prominence from the Pac-12 North contests.

But the pesky Cardinal can turn it on every so often, as it did last year in a 31-24 overtime win over the third-ranked Ducks, squashing Oregon’s CFP hopes.

Stanford QB Tanner McKee torched the Ducks last year, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions in the second overtime matchup between the two teams in four years.

Oregon State vs. Oregon, 11/25

Don’t worry, the Ducks stop here. The last Oregon game on the list might just be the most fun.

With Oregon State being a shell of itself in the last decade, non-Civil War fans might forget that this was once one of the game’s best rivalries. The teams traded wins from 1998-2005, then the Beavers won two straight and mixed with the flow.

Oregon got payback, winning the next eight matchups and 12 of the next 14. That includes last year’s matchup, which saw the Ducks prevail, 38-29.

UCLA vs. Utah, 10/8

Back in the USC/Utah preview above, I pointed out that both teams could be undefeated when they meet on Oct. 15.

Same goes for this matchup, though the Utes should have the upper hand, at least based on recent history.

Utah has won the last five matchups between the two teams, though UCLA has improved markedly the last couple years. The QB matchup alone—Cameron Rising vs. Dorian Thompson-Robinson—is one to watch.

If the Bruins can wrestle this one away, they’ll find themselves in prime position heading into the heat of the Pac-12 season.

Arizona vs. Arizona State, 11/25

Sure, this one may seem strange. One team coming off a one-win season, the other facing a coach and player exodus.

But the Territorial Cup has always been bigger than its circumstances. Truthfully, it’s just been darn weird.

The Sun Devils have won five straight, including a 70-7 walloping in 2020 that cost Kevin Sumlin his job. Prior to the Sun Devil streak, Arizona had won five of the previous nine matchups.

Both teams added transfer quarterbacks, which introduces some new blood to the rivalry. And one thing to note: Arizona may have brought in a transformational recruiting class. If the baby Cats buy in to what Jedd Fisch is selling, Tucson may swinging.

UCLA vs. USC, 11/19

The Battle for the Victory Bell had been so lopsided for so long that UCLA’s 62-33 last season didn’t feel like a win so much as a purging. It was the rivalry’s most convincing showing since a 50-0 USC win in 2011.

And it happened at the Los Angeles Coliseum, no less.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Coliseum, though: USC went out and retooled.

The Bruins should have more camaraderie and cohesiveness in this year’s matchup, but the talent is close.

Washington State vs. Washington, 11/26

Like the previous two entries, we stick with rivalry matchups here.

And much like the Bruins’ resounding win over the Trojans a year ago, the Washington State Cougars’ trouncing of Washington last year had to feel a bit like retribution.

Wazzu pulled off the 40-13 win in Seattle, snapping a seven-year Washington streak.

What is perhaps surprising to even the most ardent of Coug supporters, though, was the one-sidedness.

Washington State hadn’t won a single Apple Cup contest by more than a touchdown since 1992. But it was clear the Cougars were narrowing the gap, whether that was their improvement or UDub’s receding toward the mean.

Utah vs. San Diego State, 9/17

Call me an SDSU homer (which I am), but I thought this game was one of the best of the 2021 season (which it was).

Listen, when a quarterback can throw for 44 yards and still be considered a hero, that’s a wild game.

But while Lucas Johnson only completed 10 of 19 passes, his two-point conversion reception lifted the Aztecs to the triple-overtime 33-31 win.

After both kickers missed field goal attempts in double-overtime, Johnson reeled in the game-deciding score. After officials reversed their call of a Connor O’Toole two-point conversion catch, deciding the ball hit the turf, the Aztecs rushed the field.

I doubt this year’s game will end with such histrionics. But it should be as exciting.