Thursday, June 23, 2016

Week 1 Pac-12 schedule highlights

While everyone enjoys the fruits of summer vacations across the country, the aroma of charcoal grills and tailgates on Saturday afternoons in the fall are closer than you think as the first full weekend of games begin on Sept. 1.

Here are some of the key Pac-12 non-conference games to watch for:

USC vs Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Sept. 3, 7 p.m., ABC

In a weekend full of top-tier games, this one could stand out amongst all with two traditional powers meeting in Arlington.

The venue for the Crimson Tide has become a home away from home as they won both games last season (35-17 vs Wisconsin on Sept. 5 and 38-0 vs Michigan State in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Dec. 31).

With the interim tag removed, USC coach Clay Helton has the tough task of pulling a upset and monkey wrench in the early rankings of the AP and Coaches' polls.

UCLA at Texas A&M, Sept. 3, 2:30 p.m., CBS

Texas A&M opens its second straight season against a Pac-12 opponent and UCLA comes calling to Kyle Field.

After completing 60 percent of his passes and throwing for 23 touchdowns as a freshman, Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen will look to take things to the next level as a sophomore and what better place to begin a potential run at the Heisman Trophy than at an SEC site.

Kansas State at Stanford, Sept. 2, 8 p.m., FS1

One of the more underrated games of opening weekend takes place in Pao Alto as two of the more successful teams this decade meet.

Wildcats coach Bill Snyder oversaw a Big 12 championship in 2012 and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, while Cardinal coach David Shaw is fresh off leading a 45-16 thrashing of the Iowa Hawkeyes in last season's Rose Bowl Game.

Expect points to be at a premium in the opener, or maybe not.

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