4. The Pac-12 has to dominate the non-conference schedule
The Pac-12 non-conference slate just isn’t that bad.
In the past, the Pac-12 bent over backwards to go anywhere and everywhere for tough non-conference games to raise the profile, test the teams, and play good games. But with a nine-game conference schedule, there’s just no reason for anyone to go crazy.
There are some decent Pac-12 non-conference games, but …
Again, it just isn’t that bad.
Washington couldn’t take care of Auburn in last year’s opener in Atlanta, and now Oregon will give it a shot against the Tigers in Arlington.
USC has its annual game against Notre Dame, Utah will Holy War up against BYU to start the season, Arizona State and Michigan State will go at it again after last year’s Sun Devil win.
However, of the ten biggest non-conference games – loosely ranked, Oregon vs. Auburn, USC at Notre Dame, Stanford at UCF, Utah at BYU, Notre Dame at Stanford, Oklahoma at UCLA, Northwestern at Stanford, Arizona State at Michigan State, Texas Tech at Arizona, Fresno State at USC – the Pac-12 needs to take down at least seven of them.
Oklahoma will probably beat UCLA, but it would be a massive step forward for Chip Kelly’s club if the Bruins won in Pasadena.
Stanford can’t lose at UCF, and it needs to take out Notre Dame. Arizona State losing at Michigan State wouldn’t be a stunner, but Arizona can’t lose at home to Texas Tech, and USC definitely can’t blow it at home against Fresno State.
Go 70% in these ten games, and it’ll be a strong non-conference run.
One thing about the Pac-12, though, is that the non-conference games other than Notre Dame dates almost all come at the beginning, so …
2019 Pac-12 Football Schedules
Pac-12 Composite, Ranking Top Games
North Cal | Oregon | Oregon State
Stanford | Washington | Washington State
South Arizona | Arizona State | Colorado
UCLA | USC | Utah