December 7, 2022

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Pac-12 nonconference schedules are smart and measured in most cases

It’s not too early to evaluate college football team schedules for the coming season. This is what the offseason is good for!

Oregon-based writer and radio talk show host John Canzano, at his Substack site, provided every Pac-12 team’s nonconference schedule for 2022.

When you look at the nonconference games in the schedule grid below (we’ll provide the lists of games for each team, don’t worry), you will see a relatively consistent philosophy among most of the Pac-12 programs. This is, moreover, the right philosophy to use. Smart scheduling is in evidence in a clear majority of the league, a good sign for this year and the seasons to come.

Here is the schedule. More notes appear below.

A good nonconference schedule should have a really challenging game, to test the team; a moderately challenging game to get a decent win for strength of schedule purposes; and a cupcake to weed out problems without worry of losing. Most Pac-12 teams did this. UCLA’s schedule is especially soft, while Colorado’s and Arizona’s are more difficult. USC has the ideal mixture.

ARIZONA

July 27, 2021; Hollywood, California; Arizona Wildcats head coach Jedd Fisch speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football media day at the W Hollywood. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats play San Diego State (away), Mississippi State (home) and North Dakota State (home).

The Wildcats have two challenging games and one cupcake, which is more ambitious than most Pac-12 teams.

ARIZONA STATE

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts after the loss to the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Oct. 16, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Chris Gardner/Getty Images

ASU’s noncon games: Northern Arizona, at Oklahoma State, Eastern Michigan.

One challenging game and two cupcakes.

CALIFORNIA

Dec. 30, 2019; Santa Clara; California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox during the second quarter against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Levi’s Stadium. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Cal’s games: UC Davis, UNLV, at Notre Dame

One cupcake, one moderately challenging game, one hugely challenging game.

COLORADO

July 27, 2021; Hollywood, California; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell, wide receiver Dimitri Stanley, linebacker Nate Landman speaks with the media during the Pac-12 football media day at the W Hollywood. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s noncon games: TCU, at Air Force, at Minnesota

Three challenging games, but no overwhelmingly challenging games.

OREGON

Nov. 20, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah; Oregon Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown (13) looks to pass as he scrambles from the pockets against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks’ games: at Georgia, Eastern Washington, BYU

One massively challenging game, one cupcake, one significantly challenging game

OREGON STATE

Sept. 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan (10) scrambles for a first down in the first half against the USC Trojans at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State’s games: Boise State, at Fresno State, Montana State

Two moderately challenging games and a cupcake.

STANFORD

Head coach of the Stanford Cardinal David Shaw, watches from the sidelines during the second quarter against the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images

Stanford’s games: Colgate, at Notre Dame, BYU

A cupcake, a massively challenging game, and a moderately challenging game.

UCLA

Nov. 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California; UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly in the first half against the Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA’s games: Bowling Green, Alabama State, South Alabama

Three cupcakes for the Bruins.

USC

March 1, 2022; Los Angeles, California; USC football head coach Lincoln Riley attends the USC Trojans and the Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball game at Galen Center. The Wildcats won 91-71. Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

USC’s games: Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame

One cupcake, one moderately challenging game, one hugely challenging game.

UTAH

Nov. 30, 2019; Salt Lake City; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks the field prior to their game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah’s games: at Florida, Southern Utah, San Diego State

One hugely challenging game, one cupcake, one moderately challenging game.

WASHINGTON

Dec. 5, 2020; Seattle, Washington; General view of Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium during the fourth quarter of a game between the Stanford Cardinal and Washington Huskies. Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington’s games: Kent State, Portland State, Michigan State

Two cupcakes and one very challenging game.

WASHINGTON STATE

Nov. 13, 2021; Eugene, Oregon; Washington State Cougars head coach Jake Dickert walks out to the field during a time out in the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State’s games: Idaho, at Wisconsin, Colorado State

A cupcake, a hugely challenging game, and a moderately challenging game.