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Pac-12 football preview, opening weekend: Utah, ASU, Washington with stiff tests

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College football is FINALLY back! Let's check-out the big games that Pac-12 teams are playing this first week of the 2015 season.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

College football is finally back!  The long dreaded summer for football fans is finally over. Are you ready for some football? Or, more appropriately, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME PAC-12 FOOTBALL?!

Let's preview some of the Pac-12's biggest games this week. (Because some teams opted to play cupcakes, we won't include their games in this Week 1 preview.)

Thursday Games

Utah vs. Michigan (5:30pm PST, FOX Sports 1)

Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh makes his debut for the Big Blue on the opening night of the 2015 season in Salt Lake City. Michigan is a 5.5-point favorite in this one and it's not hard to see why. The Wolverines always have great talent (coaching has recently been a whole other issue). Utah HC Kyle Wittingham will have his hands full right off the blocks. Many media folks are expecting big/surprising things from the Utes this season - well, if any of that is going to come true, they need to impress in this big-time match-up against a storied program.

Colorado @ Hawaii (10:00pm PST, CBS)

Let's hope the Buffaloes aren't too busy vacationing and enjoying their Hawaii trip and forget to show-up for this game. Colorado is expected to be a Pac-12 bottom feeder this year. If HC Mike MacIntyre and his crew are going to dispel their lowly status, this semi-warmup game (Buffs are 7.5-point favorites) should help them get more real game reps in before their next 12 games on the mainland.

Friday Games

Washington @ Boise State (7:15pm, ESPN)

There's only one real storyline to this game - HC Chris Petersen goes up against his former team. The Huskies are 12-point underdogs, so we shouldn't hold our breath for a Pac-12 win here. Nonetheless, being the only game on nationwide on Friday night is great exposure for U-Dub, who's trying to figure-out who their next set of stars are going to be after a pretty massive departure of talent (particularly on the defensive side of the ball).

Saturday Games

Stanfurd @ Northwestern (9:00am PST, ESPN)

The Cardinal travel to Evanston to face Northwestern in this early Saturday matchup. Don't expect a lot of offensive fireworks from this game as both teams like to take it slow and methodically work down the field. QB Kevin Hogan - aka "the ultimate game manager" - is heading into this final year on the Farm. He's a steady hand and should lead his squad to a decent victory - they're 12-point favorites in this one.

UCLA vs. Virginia (12:30pm, FOX)

This might as well be one of the aforementioned patsy games that our conference is playing this week. But, since UVa has a respectable program that hasn't always been horrible, we'll include this matchup in this preview article. The Bruins (19.5-point favorites) are expected to throttle the Cavaliers. All West Coast fans are wondering - will HC Jim Mora start the true freshman QB Josh Rosen? Or, will he humble the kid a little and really remind him that he's not at St. John Bosco anymore? Either way, UCLA should have no problem dispatching Virginia in this matchup.

Arizona State @ Texas A&M (4:00pm, ESPN)

Now, THIS is what we're talking about! A ranked Pac-12 team that's not afraid to go on the road in Week 1 and take on a college football powerhouse (as of late, and definitely with recruiting) - this is what college football fans want to see. HC Todd Graham has instilled toughness into the Sun Devils program that is fresh and fun to watch. HC Kevin Sumlin is still in search of his next Johnny Football wannabe. This will be a hard fought game at a neutral (well, sorta) site in Houston. Much props to ASU for scheduling this game - let's hope it doesn't backfire on them (they're 3-point underdogs).

Which Pac-12 game are you looking forward to this week?