Schedules are one of the hottest topics of debate heading into the 2014 College Football season. For the PAC-12 North the overall quality of the non-conference schedules this season are very lackluster at best. Now, with the overall balance of quality teams in the division it is understandable that teams don’t want to overextend themselves out of conference.
But, there is a risk by having a lack of difficult non-conference games for the PAC-12 North. For example, if Oregon or Stanford were to lose to Michigan State or Notre Dame that could force either team to have to run the table the rest of the way to make the playoffs.
With that here is my ranking of the non-conference schedules for the PAC-12 North starting from the toughest to the weakest.
1. California- The Golden Bears have two difficult games on the road at Northwestern on August 30 and at home against Brigham Young on November 29. The scheduling of two probable losses before factoring in the conference schedule will make it tough for the Golden Bears to get to six wins.
2. Oregon- The September 6th showdown with Michigan State is the best overall non-conference game on the schedule for the Ducks and the division as a whole. The other two games against South Dakota and Wyoming will both be easy victories without question. This schedule should have Oregon fresh for conference play.
3. Stanford- A road trip to Notre Dame on October 4 will be fascinating as it falls after the trip to Washington. It also salvages the overall non-conference schedule as the UC-Davis and Army games will be walkovers for the Cardinal.
4. Washington State- The opener against Rutgers in the annual Seattle game highlights the Cougar non-conference schedule. Washington State will have plenty to prove after the way the New Mexico Bowl ended last December. A win here will set the Cougars up for three wins heading into conference play.
5. Oregon State- This schedule should set the Beavers up nicely for a fast start. San Diego State comes to Corvallis on September 20 and that will be toughest test. Oregon State should have zero issues with Portland State and a trip to Hawaii on September 6.
6. Washington- This schedule like I have mentioned previously is a nice fit for this year’s Husky team. However, it is probably the easiest non-conference schedule that Washington has had in a long time. Illinois comes to Husky Stadium on September 13 and that should be the most competitive of the four non-conference games.