Power Ranking the Pac-12’s 2015 Non- Conference Schedules

By Amy Daughters -

After looking at the non-conference schedules for the SEC, Big Ten and ACC, this week we shift gears to the Pac-12.

What sets the Pac-12 (and Big 12) apart from the other Power Fives is its members play three non-league games opposed to four. Though this makes the non-conference schedule easier to manage, it means that they must play an additional Power opponent, only in this case that foe hails from its own conference.

Like the Big Ten—and as opposed to the SEC and ACC—the Pac-12 has a substantial number of members not playing FCS teams. Where the ACC has every school squaring off with an FCS school, the SEC has all but one member playing such a game. The Big Ten, on the other hand, has only seven of its members (or half) playing a FCS opponent while the Pac-12 has eight, meaning four won’t face a lower-level program.

Here’s a look at the Pac-12 non-league schedules, top to bottom. In the race for the North division crown look for Washington to have an edge to go 3-0 in non-league play vs. Stanford or Oregon, both with tougher slates. In the South, Arizona’s non-Pac-12 line-up could be the competitive edge it needs to launch it back into contention again.

12. Arizona

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: UTSA, at Nevada, FCS Northern Arizona

Arizona is one of three Pac-12 teams that won’t play a Power-Five opponent out of conference. The only winning FBS foe the Wildcats will face is Nevada, a team that went 7-6 last season.

The last time Arizona scheduled a regular season game vs. a non-conference Power Five was in 2012 when it hosted No. 18 Oklahoma State and won 59-38.

11. Colorado

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Hawaii, UMass, Colorado State (in Denver, Col.), FCS Nicholls State

Like Arizona, Colorado also doesn’t have a Power-Five scheduled out of Pac-12 play. But, the Buffs draw 10-3 Colorado State rather than 7-6 Nevada and they have to travel to Hawaii for the opener.

Colorado and Colorado State have split the last four games, the Rams winning 31-17 last season in Denver. The Buffs haven’t had a Power-Five team out of conference since 2011 when they traveled to Ohio State and lost 37-17.

Overall, Colorado’s four non-conference foes (it is the only Pac-12 school with four) combined for a 17-33 (34%) mark in 2014, the lowest in the league.

10. Washington State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Portland State, at Rutgers, Wyoming

What saves Washington State’s non-league slate is its road trip to Rutgers, a Big Ten team that went 8-5 last season, including a 41-38 win over the Cougars in Seattle.

Other than that, WSU draws 3-9 FCS Portland State and 4-8 Wyoming.

The Cougars haven’t played a game on the East Coast since 1996 when they traveled to Philadelphia and beat Temple 38-34.

9. Washington

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Boise State, FCS Sacramento State, Utah State

Though Washington doesn’t have a Power Five out of Pac-12 play in 2015, they do have Boise State (in Boise) and Utah State, teams that combined for a 22-6 record last season.

In fact, the Huskies are the only Pac-12 school that will play all its non-conference games against winning teams, the combined mark of 29-11 (72.5%) is the best in the league.

All that said, Washington is 2-1 all-time vs. Boise State (the only loss coming via a 28-26 decision in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl), 2-0 vs. Utah State and has never played FCS Sacramento State.

8. Oregon State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Weber State, at Michigan, San Jose State

Oregon State’s entire ranking comes down to its road trip to Michigan. Other than that it’s 2-10 FCS Weber State and 3-9 San Jose State. Combined with the Wolverines 5-7 finish in 2014, that makes the Beavers the only Pac-12 team that won’t play a non-league game vs. a winning opponent.

But, keep in mind that before Utah’s 26-10 win over Michigan last season the last non-Big Ten team to win in the Big House was Toledo, who rolled into town in 2008 and shocked the world with a 13-10 victory.

7. Utah

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Michigan, Utah State, at Fresno State

Utah draws three solid non-conference foes this season: Michigan, a team that based on its talent pool underperformed to a 5-7 finish last season, 10-3 Utah State and 6-8 Fresno State.

Plus, it is one of the four Pac-12 teams without an FCS team on their schedule.

The last time Utah didn’t play an FCS opponent was in 2010 when it faced No. 15 Pitt, San Jose State, Iowa State and Notre Dame out of Mountain West play and finished the season 10-3.

6. UCLA

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Virginia, at UNLV, BYU

What gives UCLA’s non-Pac-12 slate a lift is its date with BYU, an independent team that would compete well in any of the Power Five leagues.

What hurts it is the combined record of its three opponents: 15-23 (39%).

The Bruins haven’t faced BYU since 2008, a game they lost 59-0 in Provo. UCLA’s last win over the Cougars came in the 2007 regular season, a 27-17 victory in L.A.

5. USC

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Arkansas State, Idaho, at Notre Dame

In 2015 USC has its easiest non-conference slate since 1999 when it faced Hawaii, San Diego State, Louisiana Tech and Notre Dame.

Other than the road trip to South Bend, where the Trojans haven’t won since 2011, it’s 7-6 Arkansas State and 1-10 Idaho. Arkansas State has only faced a Pac-12 program once, in 2012 when it fell 57-34 to Oregon in Eugene. Idaho is 0-8 all-time against USC and hasn’t beaten a Pac-12 team since edging Washington State 38-34 in 2000.

4. Arizona State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Texas A&M (at Houston, Texas), FCS Cal Poly, New Mexico

While Arizona State’s 2015 opener vs. Texas A&M is officially billed as a neutral game, it’s key to remember that Houston’s NRG Stadium is only 99 miles away from the Aggies’ home turf, Kyle Field.

It’s the first time the Sun Devils will open up on the road since 2002 when they traveled to Nebraska and got drilled 48-10 by the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

3. California

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Grambling State, San Diego State, at Texas

What gives Cal’s non-league slate the slightest edge over Arizona State’s is it’s true road trip to Austin to face Texas and it’s game vs. San Diego State, a team that finished 2014 7-6 vs. the Sun Devils’ contest with New Mexico, who went 4-8.

The Golden Bears have faced the Longhorns five times and never won. The last meeting came in the 2011 Holiday Bowl (a 21-10 loss) and the most recent regular-season match was in 1970, a game Cal dropped 56-15 in Austin.

2. Oregon

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Eastern Washington, at Michigan State, Georgia State

Not only will the Ducks travel across country to face Michigan State in East Lansing, they’ll host FCS Eastern Washington, a team that went 11-3 last season including advancing to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. It’s the same program that lost 59-52 to Washington in Seattle last season and upset Oregon State 49-46 in Corvallis in 2013.

The only “lock” is Georgia State, a squad that went 1-11 last season and has never beaten an FBS opponent in the five-year history of its program.

1. Stanford

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Northwestern, UCF, Notre Dame

Though Stanford’s three non-Pac-12 opponents in 2015 combined for a 22-16 (58%) record last season—third best in the conference—it’s clearly got the toughest slate.

First, Stanford gets Northwestern, on the road. The Wildcats may have slumped to 5-7 last season but the win column included victories over Penn State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

Next up its UCF, arguably the most dangerous non-Power team in the land. The Knights are fresh off their second straight conference championship and just a year away from beating Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Last, you’ve got Notre Dame. Sure, they finished last season 8-5 but they’ve beaten the Cardinal two of the last three times the two have met, the last three outcomes decided by an average of six points.

Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.

  1. Dave
    March 4, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    next year look for Washington to again (just like 2014) have the easiest OOC schedule, with 3 home games against-second tier Big Ten foe Rutgers and2 FCS cupcakes against Portland State and lowly Idaho. In 2017-look for Washington to again have the easiest schedule with a Trip to Rutgers and home for FCS Montana. They are still looking for a second cupcake to come to Seattle. Washington had 2 FCS home games last year in Seattle against Eastern Washington and Georgia State. In fact AD Scott Woodward has 8 FCS games scheduled through 2021 and only 4 games against Power 5 teams.

    • DJ
      March 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Idaho isn’t FCS (Sun Belt) but point taken.

    • MDawg
      March 4, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Idaho should be FCS. They make a lot more sense in the Big Sky than the Sun Belt.

    • G of F
      March 4, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      I get the impression that you consider the Sunbelt Conference as FCS, however it is in actuality FBS (Idaho, Georgia State).

    • Dave
      March 4, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      Idaho and Georgia State are FCS equivalents or worse. Idaho is consistently one of the worst teams in the country. Georgia State is the new kid on block who has never beaten anybody. Don’t get them confused with Georgia Southern.

      My point is the Husky OOC scheduling is pathetic-they must be trying to emulate Kansas State and Baylor.

      Let us hear it from all of the Husky defenders?

  2. Jeff
    March 4, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I guess I value multiple competitive games more than one seemingly big game and a couple lightweights, especially when I’m not really sure that I buy that that “big” opponent will actually be so good. These rankings seem pretty haphazard to me, but I can see where it would be hard to compare some of these schedules. Very apples-to-oranges.

  3. JackStriker
    March 5, 2015 at 1:43 am

    Is it just me, or do others find it annoying the author’s use of a teams previous season’s record as an indicator for the toughness of this year’s schedule?

    • Kevin Kelley
      March 5, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Previous season is used as a guide or starting point. You have to start somewhere.

    • JackStriker
      March 5, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      Agreed, Kevin. I just I meant not blindly adhering to records. Michigan was 5-7 last year. Temple went 6-6. So Team A has Temple on their sched and Team B has Michigan…….you see where this is going.

  4. Maverick
    March 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

    At least the worst schedules of the Pac-12 are better than any of the ACC and SECs schedules. 9 conference games is no joke. Every other league, take note.

    • Patrick Ryan
      March 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      “Goose” you aren’t even close to right. There are many teams in the Sec with schedules tougher than teams in the Pac12s schedule even with the nine game conference schedule. And there are teams in the ACC with equally tough schedules, however a little less due simply to the fact that the ACC and SEC have 14 team conferences. You do know there can only be so many 10-2 teams and so on. If you are only looking at out of confernce games you may have a little weight on a few specific teams but not if you are looking at tough, quality opponents. I broke them down a few weeks ago in the Big10s power rankings I believe. Go back and check them out or don’t because you seem like a hater as a lot are with your mind made up. It’s easy to hate the best I get it, I’m just jot a hater Stanford may have the toughest schedule in all of college football I’ll give u that but when you look at quality matchups the Sec as a whole has more quality matchups than the Pac12. Basing this on how teams were last year, obviously things won’t be the same this year. Would love to see all the conferences play nine games and have the same number of teams in each conference and so forth. However just because they play nine conference games doesn’t mean everything. You guys twist numbers to confirm your own biases. The Sec has been the best for a long time and I expect this trend to continue but don’t get me wrong there is much parity in college football so it will vary from year to year. I expect it will be a while for the Pac12 to get another national title since they didn’t get one with Mariota but hey if the Pac12 does get one I think it will be USC. I personally think it’s better for college football when teams USC, Nebraska, Florida and Texas are at the top of their conferences. Go tigers baby. This may just be our year. We too deep!

    • Bob Gibson
      March 8, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Actually Patrick, I think it’s you that’s not close to right. Outside of Alabama and South Carolina, not a single team in the SEC has a tougher schedule than most of the Pac 12 squads. I think you’re just twisting things to fit your own preconceived bias. The SEC isn’t as strong as ESPN tells you. If it was, they’d never lose a non-conference game or a bowl game, yet they do it every year and most of the time in spectacular fashion. Doesn’t mean that they don’t have great teams, but that’s simply LSU and Alabama. Everyone else is simply riding the coattails. Oregon will take a step back, but I fully expect Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Missouri to take an even bigger step back. 2 of those 4 will be lucky to win 6 games. Alabama and LSU can reload, these schools can’t.

    • Patrick Ryan
      March 8, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      LSU and Alabama are the only two. Hahaha. That ridiculous! On a regular basis, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn have been consistently legit for quite a few years. After those five you can throw in even more. You are quite forgetful. The Pac12 doesn’t have close to five legit teams like that. No confernce does on a year to year basis. Once again I’m not a sec fan just have respect for great football. Don’t get me wrong other conferences play gray football as well.

    • Bob Gibson
      March 8, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      Really? Auburn has as many losing seasons in the last 8 years as they have 10 win seasons. South Carolina only over the last 3, the other years they either hovered around 6-6 to 8-4 and then lose a bowl game. Same with Georgia who went from 2010 to 2012 without a single victory against a ranked opponent. That level of consistency you speak of doesn’t exist. And after those 5, you can’t. If you think that, you’ve been drinking that ESPN kool-aid for far too long. Tennessee, Arkansas. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky all have a consistent level of losing. Florida since Meyer left had one good season and still got blown out by Louisville. But keep preaching, somebody who doesn’t actually watch them play will believe it.

  5. JC16
    March 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    I for one am excited to see how Stanford’s season pans out especially with that ooc schedule on top of their conference schedule. More so, however, I can’t wait to see how UCF performs this season, their 2nd without QB Blake Bortles, having two real tough road games at Stanford and South Carolina. If they want to improve their 9-3 regular season mark from last year this game is a big one. How will the Knights fair in Pac-12 country against one of the west’s major powers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FBSchedules.com