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Pac-12 nonconference schedule rankings: Stanford stands out

Stanford's nonconference schedule looks that much more impressive when you look around the Pac-12 and the rest of the non-league opponents.

Here we have Colorado, unquestionably the one program that for decades scheduled elite nonconference games like no other.

Yep, decades.

NON-CON RANKINGS: NationalACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | SEC

Then the Pac-12 happened, and now we have this from CU: at Hawaii (a trip to the island that gives the Buffs an extra non-con game for 2015), UMass, Colorado State, Nicholls State. The Buffs have gone from the best in the business to scheduling body bags (with the exception of rival Colorado State).

So the next time you complain about the SEC nonconference schedule, or whine about the lack of good non-con games from the Big Ten (that changed this fall), just remember that it’s a necessity now in college football. Especially if you’re playing nine conference games like the Pac-12.

It’s not just Colorado. USC has always been among the top 5 in scheduling non-con games, and this year has Arkansas State, Idaho and at Notre Dame (a rivalry game). This, of course, makes Stanford’s non-con schedule — at Northwestern, UCF, Notre Dame — all the more impressive.

A breakdown of the Pac-12:

  • 1. Stanford: at Northwestern, UCF, Notre Dame

    2. Utah: Michigan, Utah State, at Fresno State

    3. UCLA: Virginia, at UNLV, BYU

    4. California: Grambling State, San Diego State, at Texas

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    5. USC: Arkansas State, Idaho, at Notre Dame

    6. Washington: at Boise State, Sacramento State, Utah State

    7. Arizona State: Texas A&M (Houston), Cal Poly, New Mexico

    8. Oregon: Eastern Washington, at Michigan State, Georgia State

    9. Oregon State: Weber State, at Michigan, San Jose State

    10. Washington State: Portland State, at Rutgers, Wyoming

    11. Arizona: UTSA, at Nevada, Northern Arizona

    12. Colorado: at Hawaii, UMass, Colorado State, Nicholls State


    Games against Power 5 teams: 10 of 36 (28 percent).

    Games against Group of 5 teams: 18 of 36 (50 percent)

    Games against FCS teams: 8 of 36 (22 percent)

  • Breaking down the Power 5 conferences (four of five analyzed):

    Games against Power 5 teams: ACC (38 percent), Big Ten (30 percent), Pac-12 (28 percent), Big 12 (27 percent)

    Games against Group of 5 teams: Big Ten (57 percent), Pac-12 (50 percent), Big 12 (46 percent), ACC (36 percent)

    Games against FCS teams: Big 12 (27 percent), ACC (26 percent), Pac-12 (22 percent), Big Ten (13 percent)

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  • 1. Oregon at Michigan State, Sept. 12

    2. California at Texas, Sept. 19

    3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 17

    4. Michigan at Utah, Sept 3

    5. Washington at Boise State, Sept. 4

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  • 1. Eastern Washington at Oregon, Sept. 5

    2. Nicholls State at Colorado, Sept. 26

    3. Weber State at Oregon State, Sept. 4

    4. Grambling State at California, Sept. 5

    5. Sacramento State at Washington, Sept. 12

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  • — Say this much for CU, it’s giving good guy coach Mike MacIntyre every chance to reach the postseason this fall — something that hasn’t happened since Dan Hawkins took the Buffs there in 2007. If Colorado can beat rival Colorado State (with a new coach and a new QB), the Buffs should be 4-0 by the end of September. Unfortunately, the next three weeks looklike this: Oregon, at Arizona State, Arizona. CU likely needs two winnable road games (Oregon State, Washington State) to qualify for a bowl game.

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    — Stanford needed a game, and the Cardinal choose one of the few non-Power 5 teams no one wants to deal with: UCF. It’s not just the UCF talent, it’s any potential series that likely will include a game in the Florida heat in September (Stanford returns the game in 2019). Yet here’s why it’s a good move for Stanford: it’s a strong game for the College Football Playoff committee, and more important, it allows the Cardinal into the talent-rich state of Florida. There currently are only two returning players on the roster from the state of Florida, both valuable players on the two-deep (LB Noor Davis and C Jesse Burkett). In February, Stanford signed 4-star defensive back Ben Edwards from Jacksonville, Fla.

    — A week before Oregon travels to East Lansing, Mich., for the best non-con game in the Pac-12, it gets the worst in the league when it plays host to Eastern Washington. While the Eagles are an elite FCS team, the game is the worst in the Pac-12 this fall because Oregon will have taken (and likely will start) EW’s former star QB Vernon Adams in the season opener. Adams arrives at Oregon (or maybe he won't?) as a graduate transfer, and his departure leaves a huge void for the Eagles — and gives Oregon the ultimate opponent scouting report. As if the pounding won’t be awful, anyway.

    — A sleepy, almost forgotten non-con game happens Friday night of opening weekend, late in the 10 o’clock hour of East Coast time. In other words, only hardcore junkies will be up to watch Chris Petersen return with his Washington team to Boise State. A Washington team that has been gutted on defense, returns only 10 team starters and has serious concerns at quarterback. Boise State, meanwhile, returns 16 starters — but a brand new quarterback (likely Ryan Finley).

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