3. The non-conference games
The Pac-12 is keeping it relatively close with more of the non-conference games – there are plenty of Mountain West games and a few play BYU and teams in New Mexico – and there are a whole lot of FCS layups.
However, the conference deserves a bit of a break – there are plenty of showdowns against massive Power Five powerhouses.
Really, Pac-12? You couldn’t schedule the Purdues and Vanderbilts of the world?
The league is trying make a statement in several key battles, and it’ll be in the spotlight early on. So what’s everyone’s big non-conference game, and who’s each one’s FCS pay-to-play date?
Cal – TCU should be better than it’s been over the last few years, and at the very least, we all get a repeat of the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl classic (yeeeeeeeeesh). That’s followed up by a scrimmage against Cal Poly.
Oregon – The Ducks get every possible fist-bump for its FCS game – defending national champion North Dakota State. Up next? Ohio State.
Oregon State – Outside of the teams that play Hawaii, OSU has to make the longest road trip by any Pac-12 team with its game against Oklahoma State. Portland State comes to Corvallis two weeks later.
Stanford – William & Mary open up the season in Palo Alto, and BYU is the regular season closing act. However, Stanford has its date against Notre Dame, and it’s on the road.
Washington – Well this should be fun. Michigan is in Seattle to kick off the season, and the Dawgs get to rest up the week after against Sacramento State.
Washington State – It was awfully nice of Wazzu to ease in new head coach Nick Rolovich with no non-conference games against a Power Five team. Houston is probably the toughest game, and that’s just before playing Idaho.
Arizona – The Cats beat Texas Tech at home last year, and now they have to travel to Lubbock. They also get Portland State.
Arizona State – ASU isn’t pushing itself like it did last year with a trip to Michigan State. The toughest non-conference game this season is against BYU, and it opens things up against Northern Arizona.
Colorado – The Buffs get a pat on the back with no games against FCS teams. They have to go to Texas A&M – yikes.
UCLA – UCLA doesn’t have a date against an FCS team, but New Mexico State isn’t far off. The have to go on the road, though, to play dangerous Hawaii and San Diego State teams.
USC – There aren’t any FCS games, and the two key non-conference games are brutal bookends – Alabama to start the regular season, and Notre Dame to finish.
Utah – The game against BYU is a big enough rivalry date to excuse the lack of non-conference games against Power Five programs. Montana State comes the week after.