Let the games begin

Central Michigan at Arizona
(6 p.m. Saturday)
The Arizona Wildcats will begin their 2009 campaign with a respectable matchup against the Central Michigan Chippewas, in what will be the first meeting between the two schools. With the departure of Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama to graduation, the Wildcats will use their first few contests to choose between sophomores Matt Scott and Nick Foles to fill the vacancy. Both teams finished at 8-5 last season, and Arizona will look to use its strong returning defense to slow the dangerous CMU offense.
Key Stat: Chippewas QB Dan LeFevour has thrown for nearly 9,500 yards and 74 TDs in
his career.

Idaho State  at Arizona State
(7 p.m. Saturday)
In another first-ever matchup, the Sun Devils take on the Idaho State University Bengals. Similar to their in-state rival, the Sun Devils have big shoes to fill at the quarterback position now that Rudy Carpenter, who passed for 81 touchdowns and more than 10,000 yards during his ASU career, has graduated. Senior Danny Sullivan and sophomore Samson Szakacsy will compete for the starting spot early on and should get plenty of help from the offensive line, which features four returning starters.
Key Stat: Idaho State has just one running back who has a
carry in an NCAA game.

Maryland at No. 12 California
(7 p.m. Saturday) ESPN 2
The Terrapins’ biggest challenge will be containing California junior running back Jahvid Best. Best is among the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy after the 2008 season, in which he rushed for 1,580 yards (131.7 per game) and 15 TDs. Junior quarterback Kevin Riley will return to the starting spot this season, while the Cal defense will again be strong. The Bears return eight starters from last season’s defensive squad that allowed just 19.9 points per game, second in the Pac-10. The Terps lead the all-time series 1-0.
Key Stat: Cal was 7-0 at home in 2008.

Portland State at No. 25 Oregon State
(11:30 a.m. Saturday) Fox Sports Northwest
The matchup between the Beavers and the Vikings could be an offensive showcase, as neither defense has much playing experience. 2008 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers looks to shoulder most of the running game while his brother James will do a little bit of everything for the offense. Portland State also returns some of its top offensive weapons with junior quarterback Drew Hubel and senior running back Bobby McClintock.
Key stat: Viking QB Drew Hubel threw for almost 3,000 yards last year as a sophomore.

Stanford  at Washington State
(3 p.m. Saturday)
In an early Pac-10 matchup, the Cardinal travel north to take on the Cougars in what looks to be a battle of two of the weakest teams in the conference. When WSU visited Stanford last
season, the Cardinal came away with a 58-0 victory as they rallied behind Second Team All-Pac-10 running back Toby Gerhart, who rushed for four TDs in the first half. WSU returns 15 starters from last year’s 2-11 team.
Key stat: The Cougars gave up 50-plus points six times in 2008.

San Diego State  at UCLA
(4:30 p.m. Saturday) Fox Sports Northwest
The Bruins look to bounce back from their 4-8 finish in 2008 and fine-tune things before a big second-week contest at Tennessee. Defensively, UCLA is lead by First Team All-Pac-10 defensive tackle Brian Price and Second Team All-Pac-10 linebacker Reggie Carter. San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley will run the offense for the Aztecs. Lindley threw for more than 2,600 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2008, while earning the team’s offensive MVP award.
Key Stat: The Bruins have 17 returning starters from 2008.

San Jose State  at No. 4 USC
(12:30 p.m. Saturday) Fox Sports Network
Coming off a 12-1 season in 2008, the Trojans will likely have another strong season this year. USC will open with the collegiate premiere of true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley. He will be surrounded by the typical USC talent on offense, while the defense will have some adjusting to do after eight starters were drafted to the NFL. Two-time All-American safety Taylor Mays will be back to lead the secondary. Meanwhile, San Jose State returns seven starters to a defensive unit that ranked in the 2008 top 25 nationally in seven different categories.
Key Stat: This will be the first time USC has started a true freshman at quarterback at the season opener.

No. 11 LSU  at Washington
(7:30 p.m. Saturday) ESPN
After going 0-12 in 2008, the Huskies will learn just what this year’s team is made of as they open the season with the Tigers. The Huskies have converted to a pro-style offense under new head coach Steve Sarkisian — who spent the past four seasons as the quarterbacks’ coach and offensive coordinator at USC. QB Jake Locker will have the luxury of throwing to wide receiver D’Andre Goodwin, the Pac-10’s best returning receiver. Defensively, UW returns
10 starters.
Key Stat: UW’s 2008 season was the worst season in Pac-10 history, beating out WSU for
the honor.

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