- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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We've analyzed the schedules in both the Pac-12's North and South Divisions.
We've also asserted our picks for the toughest schedule. Now it's your turn.
Because the ESPN.com poll tool only allows for a maximum of five choices, we've been forced to narrow a field that could include seven or eight teams to California, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Utah.
No, you can not vote for Oregon. Sorry. Truly. Feel free to tell me about how you would have voted for Oregon here.
Here's a review of the options.
California: The Bears have tough nonconference games at Northwestern and against BYU. They play five teams that will be ranked in the preseason: Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, USC and Washington. The home conference schedule is much tougher than the road trips, but that can operate against a team struggling to climb from the bottom of the standings.
Oregon State: The nonconference schedule isn't demanding and the Beavers miss UCLA, but Oregon State was Chantel's pick for toughest schedule because it's backloaded, just as it was last fall. She writes:
But the last part of the Beavers schedule just gets brutal. And by brutal I mean uphill both ways without shoes on broken glass.
Yes, the Arizona State and Oregon games are at home, but those games are going to be tough. And a road trip to Washington sandwiched in the middle could be very bad as well. Early in the season, a visit to Seattle might not be that terrible but I’d imagine that by the end of November, Chris Petersen is going to have the Huskies clicking on all cylinders and that isn’t the friendliest of stadiums.
Stanford: The Cardinal was my pick for toughest Pac-12 schedule. The nonconference slate features a trip to Notre Dame, one of six road games against five teams that will likely be ranked in the preseason Top 25 (the Fighting Irish, Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA). Oregon and UCLA are top-10 teams.
Then there are the Pac-12 misses: Arizona and Colorado. Neither will be ranked in the preseason. Oregon, the Cardinal's chief rival for the division crown, misses Arizona State and USC.
UCLA: The Bruins face two Power Five teams on the road in nonconference play -- at Virginia and Texas in Cowboys Stadium -- two of six total road games. The conference misses -- Oregon State and Washington State -- are not ideal. UCLA and Stanford are the only two conference teams to miss two teams that have almost no shot for a preseason ranking. Three of the first four games are on the road, and the final troika -- at Washington, USC and Stanford -- is a brutal homestretch.
Utah: The Utes play Fresno State and at Michigan in their nonconference schedule. They miss California, which didn't win a conference game a year ago, and Washington. They play six road games, including five in conference play. Six foes are almost certain to be ranked in the preseason -- Michigan, UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford -- and four of those games are on the road. Other than the opener with Idaho State, no week is a gimme.
So, what's your take?
We've analyzed the schedules in both the Pac-12's North and South Divisions. You can review our thoughts on the North here and the South here.We've also asserted our picks for the toughest schedule.