College football gave us an appetizer with Week 0 action. Notre Dame battered Navy in Ireland. USC stars showed out. A ref took a laser of a pass right to the face at short range. A quarterback threw a blind pass after having his head nearly taken off.

The main buffet that is Week 1 promises to be fantastic. Football is back.

And that means the final season of the Pac-12 is upon us. It looks like the Pac-12 could rival the SEC in terms of entertainment factor at the top this fall. There are at least four teams who fancy themselves College Football Playoff contenders at the outset. Which also means there’s a chance upsets happen each and every week.

The late-season conference slate promises to be a good one.

But there are a handful of enticing matchups in the month of September. Here are the top five.

(Utah-Florida doesn’t make the cut considering it takes place in August and I’m extremely literal. Played on a Friday and not Thursday? It would be No. 1. Alas…)

Coastal Carolina at UCLA, Sept. 2

The Chanticleers lost their entire coaching staff but returned one of college football’s best quarterbacks. Grayson McCall dipped a toe in the transfer portal but decided to stay at Coastal, and he’ll lead a group into Westwood that is looking for respect.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the combination of Tim Beck and McCall works.

“Tim knows how to use the quarterback. So we would anticipate Grayson being used, both his arm and his legs,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “He has the ability to beat you with both. He’s a tremendous runner, but he’s also one of the all-time accurate passers in NCAA history.”

McCall has 78 career touchdown passes against eight interceptions. he has a career 70.6% completion rate.

UCLA’s strength will be getting after the quarterback. That’ll be good-on-good. UCLA will also use a three-quarterback system against Coastal. How in the world is that going to work? A 14.5-point spread feels too big here.

Nebraska at Colorado, Sept. 9

If you drive through Colorado with Nebraska plates you run the risk of having your tires slashed. These former Big 8 rivals loathe each other. And the last time Nebraska played at Folsom it turned the stadium red.

Take all that energy, then add in the fact this game will be the home debut for Deion Sanders, and you have the makings of an explosive afternoon.

No one knows how Colorado will look. The Buffs might be licking wounds after a season-opener at TCU in Week 1. Or they could be soaring off an upset!

And no one knows how the new-look Huskers will debut under Matt Rhule, who takes over after a ghastly four-plus years under Scott Frost.

Oregon at Texas Tech, Sept. 9

If this game will be your introduction to Texas Tech, strap in. The Red Raiders are for real. They open the year No. 20 in FPI after closing out 2022 with four straight victories. Tech beat Oklahoma 51-48 in overtime to close the regular season, then jumped all over Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl.

The offensive brain trust of Joey McGuire, Zach Kittley, and (former Duck) Tyler Shough could give Oregon fits.

On the other side, the Ducks want a better nonconference showing than what they had last season. Offensive line departures seemingly have Oregon flying a bit under the radar but this is a CFP team if newcomers click and the ball bounces right a few times.

A win over Tech in Lubbock would absolutely be a bullet point in such a résumé for Oregon.

Washington at Michigan State, Sept. 16

The Huskies’ 39-28 win over Michigan State in Seattle last season was the nation’s official introduction to the remade Washington football program.

All of the major pieces of that team return in 2023 seeking a Playoff run. A trip to East Lansing this season could be our first bit of proof that such a quest is to be taken seriously. The Spartans were bad last year (5-7) after handing a massive contract to coach Mel Tucker. The 2023 season is an important one, which means the Spartans will be desperate for a top-10 win in Week 3.

The energy should be there at kickoff. Whether MSU has the horses to hang with UW remains to be seen.

Utah at Oregon State, Sept. 29

Utah makes it on here anyway thanks to a midweek game at the end of the month. This has “coming out moment” written all over it for the Beavs, who should be 4-0 entering the game. A 10-win season a year ago was nice, but Oregon State is looking to prove it wasn’t just a flash in the pan.

Beating the two-time defending Pac-12 champs would go a long way toward that goal.

Also, expect some emotion here from the home crowd in Corvallis. Oregon State faces Washington State on the road to begin conference play. This will be the first conference game at the recently renovated Reser Stadium in a season that could be the last in which Oregon State gets to call itself a Power Five team.

Utah is headed to the Big 12. Oregon State and Washington State got left behind in conference realignment. And the Beavs are justifiably feeling some type of way about that. Don’t discredit the role that particular storyline could play in this game.