College football is made for marquee matchups.

Stud running backs going up against linebackers who are missing a few teeth but rarely tackles. Quarterbacks trying to thread the needle against cornerbacks who close faster than cheetahs. Wideouts trying to outleap those same DBs for 50-50 balls.

With so much talent residing in the Pac-12, here’s a look at the matchups I’ve got circled on my calendar.

UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson vs. Utah CB Clark Phillips III

The last time Thompson-Robinson squared off against the Utes, he turned in one of the worst performances of his career in one of the Bruins’ biggest blowout losses under Chip Kelly. In that 2019 matchup, DTR went 20-for-36 for 219 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions, was sacked five times and finished with negative-26 rushing yards in a 49-3 defeat. Since then, Thompson-Robinson has avoided the league’s best defense; in 2020, the teams did not meet in the pandemic-shortened season, and in 2021, he missed the game with a shoulder injury while backup Ethan Garbers, younger brother of former Cal QB Chase, went 27-44 for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns with an interception in a 44-24 UCLA loss.

With the taste of the 2019 letdown still lingering almost 3 years later, now DTR gets a chance to tangle with Clark Phillips III, arguably the best cornerback in the conference. Phillips, who was a freshman in 2020, has an aggressive style that matches up well against DTR’s speed and agility, particularly in the ground game, where the Utah corner ranks among the best tacklers in the game at his position.

Thompson-Robinson will struggle reaching the edge against this Utah defense and he’ll have to do much of his damage in the seams and inside the hash marks.

Utah DE Van Fillinger vs. USC OT Andrew Vorhees

With a dominating year in the spotlight, protecting Caleb Williams’ blind side and opening holes for Travis Dye and Co., Vorhees can play himself into the first round after finishing last year with 90+plus grades in pass and run blocking by Pro Football Focus.

One guy who can give him fits? The Utes’ young stud Fillinger, who fills Mike Tafua’s shoes as the team’s top edge rusher. We’ve seen glimpses of Fillinger’s talent – he dialed up the first 3 sacks of his career in a Week 4 24-13 win over Washington State last season — but he’s due for more consistent production.

With Caleb Williams regularly looking far downfield, he’s found himself in trouble at times. He’s got to watch out for Fillinger teeing off on him. That’ll primarily be up to Vorhees.

USC’s Jordan Addison vs. Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly

Perhaps the conference’s best 1-on-1 matchup this season takes place in Week 2 as the Trojans travel to Palo Alto for an early matchup with the Cardinal. There is a fluidity to both of their games that should lead to a ballet recital between the two. Addison will likely line up all over the field for the Trojans — he spent plenty of time in the slot for Pitt last year — but he’ll get his fair share of 1-on-1s with Kelly.

Washington OT Jaxson Kirkland vs. Washington State DE Ron Stone

Last year’s Apple Cup matchup was one of the most lopsided in recent years, a 40-13 Washington State win that helped solidify the permanent head coaching position for Jake Dickert.

While the Cougars only sacked Washington State quarterback Sam Huard once, the constant Cougar onslaught caused 4 interceptions and never let the Huskies find any rhythm.

This year, with Washington under new management and ostensibly cleaner up front than last season, Cougars edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. will need to leave his paw print on the Apple Cup.

Standing in his way, quite literally, is Jaxson Kirkland, one of the top tackles in all of college football. Kirkland doesn’t have top-line speed for a left tackle, so Stone will have his opportunity to ring up a couple of sacks.

Utah RB Tavion Thomas vs. Oregon LB corps

Last season, Thomas had nearly a quarter of his Pac-12-best 22 touchdowns in 2 games against the Ducks. In the regular-season and conference title-game tilts, Thomas found the end zone 5 times, punishing Oregon defenders who were focused on the Utes’ two impressive tight ends.

While Justin Flowe’s draft prospects hinge on his availability through the season, he will be particularly important in this matchup against Utah’s well-developed offensive front. If Flowe and Noah Sewell can bring their A-games, the Utes might be in trouble.

Oregon’s Bo Nix vs. Cal’s Daniel Scott

Against good quarterbacks, Cal really struggled last season. Heck, against mediocre quarterbacks, the Bears were not exactly imposing. They gave up 408 yards to Sacramento State after all!

Well, Bo Nix is no Jake Dunniway, and the Oregon Ducks are no Sacramento State. While Nix never quite rediscovered his freshman groove at Auburn in his ensuing 2 seasons with the Tigers, he gets a fresh start in Eugene with a talented offense.

It’ll be up to Scott, the Bears’ last line of defense, to rein him in. And Scott has certainly been there before. Now in his 6th season with the Bears, Scott has become the team’s defensive anchor, and he’s looking to build upon a season that included 82 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 interceptions, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble.

USC QB Caleb Williams vs. Alabama QB Bryce Young

Heading into the season, the two quarterbacks as the favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Why might Williams have a leg up in this competition?

Start with the fact that Archie Griffin (1974 and 75) is the only player to win more than one Heisman Trophy and we all know the pressure that will be on Young to exceed his 2021 numbers. And those numbers were pretty good.

Williams was no slouch either, throwing for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions in 7 starts for Oklahoma last year. Now Williams is in Hollywood with a supporting cast that ranks among the game’s elite. Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, Oklahoma transfer Mario Williams, Washington transfer Terrell Bynum, running backs Travis Dye and Raleek Brown…the list goes on.

Another reason Williams might have the edge: Let’s not forget what Lincoln Riley does to quarterbacks. Riley produced back-to-back Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, then followed that up with Jalen Hurts’ sensation 2019 campaign. He knows how to dial it up, and he knows Williams has one big arm.